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Raptors Fail To Snap Losing Streak Against Magic

While everyone else was out enjoying St. Patrick’s Day, the Toronto Raptors were trying to snap their six game losing streak as they visited the Orlando Magic on Sunday night. Coming into this game the Raptors were on a severe losing skid dropping six in a row and eight of their last ten games, with their most recent loss before this game also coming against Orlando when the two teams played the first half of a home-and-home in Toronto. Now playing the second half on the road in Orlando, the Raptors were looking snap their streak and split the back-to-back games against the Magic. However, a win would not be an easy task, as Orlando currently sits in the 5th seed in the eastern conference led by star Power Forward Paolo Banchero who is able to easily create offence inside and outside the painted area. Toronto will also be challenged by playing without their Center Jakob Poetl, and star forward Scottie Barnes, as Barnes continues to recover from surgery he had to repair a hand injury. Without the size and length from both Poetl and Barnes, Toronto will be vastly undersized against a tall and lanky Orlando squad. A key for Toronto to find success and hope to pull out a win will be to limit Banchero while relying on their team oriented play style, making the extra pass to find open shots and lanes to the basket.

To open the game, Toronto would run with the starting lineup of Immanuel Quickley, Gary Trent Jr., Gradey Dick, Ochai Agbaji, And Kelly Olynyk. Orlando would win the tip-off and the first quater would get under way, as Franz Wagner of the Magic would open with a drive to the basket and a layup to mark the first basket of the game. Toronto would retaliate moments later, after multiple quick passes and picks being set, Immanuel Quickly would find Kelly Olynyk rolling to the basket and give it to the big man for an easy two points. Orlando’s Wendell Carter would get off to a hot start in the first, drilling a three pointer to extend their lead to five and draining another jumpshot the very next possession. The Raptors would stumble out of the blocks, surrendering multiple turnovers allowing the Magic to capitalize and make the score 11-4 for Orlando as head coach Darko Rajakovic would call an early timeout for Toronto just over three minutes into the game. Out of the timeout, Toronto would try to fight back but Paolo Banchero would begin his scoring performance with a hook shot for two points and later would land a three while fading away in the corner to grow the Magic’s lead to ten. The Raptors would finally find their footing and go on a 7-0 scoring run and shorten the deficit to just three points with just over five minutes left to play in the first.  At the end of the quarter, Toronto would only trail by two as the score would sit at 26-24 despite the Raptors only shooting 1-8 from the three point line in the first.

The second quarter began and the Raptors would take their first lead of the game, as after a turnover Bruce Brown would drive to the basket and draw a shooting foul and after successfully sinking both free throws Toronto would take a 30-28 advantage. Continuing to fight and match Orlando’s fast paced intensity, Toronto would hang on and keep the game close only losing by three with just over halfway left to go in the second quarter. A weird moment would occur when Magic guard Cole Anthony lost one of his shoes mid-play, but continued and even ended up with a steal after intercepting a pass and coming down the court with the ball with only one shoe. Both teams began to struggle from beyond the arc, as with just a minute left before halftime Toronto was shooting 2-10 from three and Orlando 3-14. However, to close out the first half Orlando inbounded the ball from the sideline with just eight seconds remaining and found Caleb Houston in the corner who knocked down a three with only 0.6 seconds left on the clock. Halftime had arrived and Toronto still trailed in the game losing to the Magic 47-52 going into the second half. The Raptors were working a very well rounded offence in this game, with seven different players having at least six points with their leading scorer being Ochai Agbaji with nine. Meanwhile on the other end, Orlando was being led by both Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner who together combined for 24 of the team’s 52 points at the half. Toronto was as expected, struggling to deal with the height advantage of Orlando and the loss of Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poetl were being felt more than ever at this point in the game. Nevertheless, for what Toronto lacked in height they made up with in transition offence as they had a +7 advantage over the Magic in fastbreak points in the first half. Despite them being down going into the third quarter, Toronto was still at an arms length from getting back into the game and taking the lead.

Unfortunately for Toronto, the third quarter was the time when Paolo Banchero decided to unleash his full abilities scoring 14 of his game-high 29 points, scoring baskets in the paint as well as making shots from three. The Raptors were beginning to have a tough time guarding Banchero with his size mixed with his ball handling skills and ability to score and make plays from every place on the court. Immanuel Quickley tried to spark some life into the Raptors when he drove to the basket and drew a shooting foul on Franz Wagner while still making an impressive and-1 shot.

Toronto still down in the game, Orlando began to run away stretching their lead to 81-68 with only a minute left in the third. Toronto once again tried to turn the momentum, when Jahmi’us Ramsey found a lane on the right side of the court and attacked leading to a vicious slam dunk. Although, once again when it looks like Toronto was attempting to make a comeback the Magic would completely deflate them As Orlando’s Joe Ingles would catch a pass wide open in the corner and drain a three at the buzzer to end the third quarter putting them out in front 87-73.

Three quarters down, one to go and Toronto was starting to run out of time to mount a comeback. Gary Trent Jr. was trying his best to rally the team with his ten points and three rebounds, but was no match for Banchero who was dominating all areas with 26 points, four rebounds, and five assists while shooting an efficient 10-15 from the field. Ultimately Orlando was too much to handle, as Toronto falls to the Magic with a final score of 111-96. Toronto was outscored in every single quarter this game, as they continue to be ice cold losing seven games in a row now having a record of 23-45. Orlando has been unstoppable against teams below .500 at home this season going now a perfect 13-0 with a win tonight against the Raptors, the Magic have certainly been on a tear against teams they should be beating as well as having a good record against above .500 teams, showing that they are truly a powerhouse of a team in the east. After the game, Paolo Banchero was interviewed and asked what his mentality was coming into the game tonight. Banchero shared, “we played these guys (Toronto) a couple of days ago and they killed us in transition…coming into this game we were gonna have to lock in”. Paolo was also asked what he has been doing to take over games in the third quarter like he did tonight, to which he said, “I would blame it on not being as satisfied as i would like in the first half, if I’m struggling in the first or not playing as well as i want in the first imma make sure in the third to turn it on”.

Toronto’s schedule doesn’t get any easier after this game as their next two are against western conference opponents in the 6 seeded Sacramento Kings, and the number 1 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. One of the biggest reasons why the Raptors haven’t been able to find themselves in the win column, is simply by being out-manned with a majority of their key players being out of the lineup. As previously mentioned, Barnes is out with an injury as well as Poetl, but Toronto has also been without Chris Boucher and now R.J. Barrett after the sudden and tragic passing of Barrett’s brother. Once Toronto is able to be at full strength with all of their players able and ready to play, they should be back to winning in no time, the only question now is when that will be?


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