For the umpteenth time it feels, the Toronto Raptors took on the Orlando Magic, and you have to think at this point that there’s no shortage of confidence for the men in red who have now beaten their opponents for an eighth straight game, in both playoff and regular season competition, spanning just over a year.
Six Raptors found themselves in double digit scoring on the night, led by OG Anunoby’s 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor. Anunoby showed flashes of his growing handles, and was brimming with confidence, driving the lane and penetrating the paint consistently.
Meanwhile, the backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet were more than floor generals, dishing out 10 assists each on the night. Lowry was just shy of a triple double with eight points and nine rebounds, while VanVleet followed up his career-high performance two nights ago with an impressive shooting night of 61.5 percent from the floor.
But it was the Spaniard, Marc Gasol, who got things rolling for the Raptors, as the game hit a stalemate early with either side struggling to convert. It took two minutes and 19 seconds for either side to get on the board, as Gasol took control of the paint, giving an early notice to Nikola Vucevic that he would be in for a long night. Nothing unfamiliar for the Magic centre who always seems to get the best version of Gasol. Off a high pick and roll, the Spaniard picked up the guiding pass from Fred VanVleet to open the scoring.
Minutes later, Orlando switched to front the pass with Aaron Gordon mustering an attempt to contain Gasol, who seemed unstoppable, and effortless received the lob leading to the Raptors second bucket of the game. Gasol shot 62.5/66.7/50 splits on the night, connecting on 5-of-8 from the floor in just 24 minutes of action.
Not to be left out, Anunoby had his share of fun against Vucevic, driving right, and pivoting hard for the smooth spin move on the Magic centre to put the Raptors up 10-6. In all, the Raptors held the Magic to just 11 points in the first quarter. Orlando shot a mere 25/0/50 in that frame, as Toronto went up 26-11.
The Magic made a strong push in the second, but they were ultimately tamed by the second-best defense in the league. Off an Aaron Gordon fast break early in the quarter, Lowry drew his 33rd charge of the season. It comes as no surprise that he currently leads the NBA in that category.
Meanwhile on the offensive end, OG seemed to fall in love with the paint, as he took the rock to the rim with aggression possession after possession. A bump and shove play for positioning lead to an easy lay-in, to put the Raptors up by 23. Toronto would eventually end the first half leading the Magic by 20 with the score at 55-25.
At halftime, Orlando had shot 30 percent from the field, just 2-for-16 from behind the arc, and had also committed nine of their 13 turnovers in the first half.
Going into the second half, Orlando went on a 12-2 run that was halted by a Gasol three-pointer — his second of the night. Magic forwards Wes Iwundu and Gary Clark helped spark a second Magic run, going 8-0, but that was ultimately chilled by an Ibaka three pointer to end the third.
The Raptors held Orlando to just 25.6 percent shooting from behind the arc, as they cruised to the 109-99 win. The Magic have now lost their second straight game in as many days, and fall to 32-37, comfortably holding eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile the Raptors move to 49-18 on the season, with the longest current winning streak in the NBA at seven games. The Raptors are one win away from their fifth straight 50-win season, and could clinch the Atlantic Division title with their next dub.
It’ll be another short rest as they take on their divisional rivals, the Boston Celtics, on Friday 9 PM ET.