The Toronto Raptors thought they could just stroll to Orlando and get a win easily. Franz Wagner and the Orlando Magic showed the Raptors that if they don’t show up, they’ll take a loss, even to a tanking team, and the Magic did just that, handing the Raptors a 113-109 loss.
It was an embarrassing effort to start the first and third quarters. A team that prides itself in effort, hustle, and defense allowed Franz Wagner to just slice and dice to the basket. Wagner dropped 32 points through three quarters, finishing with 34 points and five rebounds for the night, including a clutch putback late in the game to give the Magic the lead for good.
The Magic shot 59% from the field, while the Raptors had to rely on Pascal Siakam to put forth an MVP performance, carrying the team the entire game. Siakam put up a game-high 36 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Gary Trent Jr. had a heat-check stretch in the middle of the game, finishing with 20 points and two steals. Fred VanVleet added 19 points and six assists but had his usual (of late) struggles shooting from the field.
O.G. Anunoby had a quiet night but did manage to pick up five steals. However, Scottie Barnes was not just a non-factor but a negative factor on the floor, and this is not his first of the season.
The Raptors won the turnover and possession battle with a landslide (7 vs 18 turnovers, 85 vs 71 FGA). Still, winning is hard if your team can’t shoot well while letting the opposing team get what they want unimpeded. Aside from Trent Jr., Siakam really had no consistent help. He should have been more selfish with the ball, as his teammates are not giving him quality contributions offensively.
Pascal Siakam tonight:— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 10, 2022
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Pascal Siakam opened the game with a smooth three-pointer. Still, the Magic seemed determined to rope-a-dope the Raptors into a slop-fest, with both teams exchanging several turnovers. Surprisingly, Markelle Fultz drained his third and fourth perimeter shot of the season. With Paolo Banchero’s layup, the Magic forced coach Nick Nurse to call a timeout, with the Raptors trailing 11-11.
The Raptors switched to zone after the timeout while leaning on Siakam offensively. With the Raptors playing seriously defensively and with Siakam taking over, a 10-2 run to cut the Magic lead to 21-23, forcing the Magic to call a timeout. However, Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner started to heat up, powering a 14-4 run to end the quarter with a 37-25 lead.
Franz Wagner continued the Magic attack to start the second frame, with the Magic getting a Nexus lane to the basket. Gary Trent Jr. got going, helping Siakam put together an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 38-45. The Magic went zone, but it didn’t stop Siakam from putting his fingerprints everywhere. He unlocked Trent Jr., who erupted for 13 points and gave the Raptors a brief lead before the Magic started double-teaming him. The Magic got their composure back, and Banchero’s late spurt gave them the lead back, ending the half with the Raptors trailing 67-63.
The Raptors opened the second half flat, and the Magic rebuilt their lead again, thanks to Fultz’s third (!!!) three-pointer to go up by nine. It took a couple of minutes before the Raptors picked up their defense again, but Siakam went ice cold to start this period. Wagner continued to barbecue Scottie Barnes, and an and-1 put the Magic’s lead to thirteen, forcing Nurse to call a timeout to stop the bleeding.
Wagner kept cooking, or rather, barbecuing the Raptors’ defense, and just like that, the Raptors were down 88-68. Fred VanVleet finally got something going, converting a four-point play and a bunch of steals and deflections. Siakam pinched in, turning the run to a 16-2 run to cut the lead to 90-84, including this dunk:
However, Anthony and Banchero kept the Raptors from fully swinging the momentum, stretching the lead back to seven, 94-87, heading into the final frame.
Trent Jr. opened the fourth with a trifecta to cut the lead to four, but the Raptors’ defense started leaking again. A coast-to-cast dunk by Banchero swung the momentum back to the Magic. With Fultz’s hook shot, the Raptors’ deficit went back to 10, forcing Nurse to call a timeout to put Siakam back in.
The Raptors’ clunky offense didn’t help, but at least they managed to slow down the Magic. Siakam went back to work, scoring nine straight points and playing excellent defense to cut the lead to 106-103, forcing the Magic to call a timeout. The Raptors’ defense responded well, forcing Banchero to a shot-clock violation, but failed to tie the game through several possessions. Anunoby earned a couple of freebies to tie the game at 108 with two minutes left, but Barnes fouled Banchero the next play.
Banchero made one freebie, but the Raptors failed to capitalize. Trent Jr.’s floater was whistled for an offensive foul, which Nurse challenged immediately, but the challenge was unsuccessful. VanVleet stripped Wagner on the next play and grifted for a trip to the line. He split his freebies, tying the game at 109. Fultz’ short jumper rolled out, but Wagner’s putback gave the Magic a 111-109 lead. The Raptors opted not to call a timeout, but Siakam was trapped in the baseline, prompting Nurse to call for time with 18 seconds to go. The Magic forced Siakam to give up the ball, and VanVleet had to take a tough shot at the end of the clock. The Raptors fouled Banchero with 4.8 seconds to go, and he made both freebies, putting the game away, 113-109.
What a wasted Siakam performance.
Up Next: The Raptors and the Magic get at it again this coming Sunday.