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Raptors struggle to score, lose to Magic 103-97

Pascal Siakam did everything he could, but the Raptors — still missing two starters — didn’t have enough offensive juice to overcome an early deficit.

Orlando Magic v Toronto Raptors Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images

If you thought Thursday’s game between the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons was a less-than-savoury affair, well, the Orlando Magic came to town to show you — it can always be worse!

It was very much the same script, and same outcome, as Thursday: The Raptors fell behind early, fought back late, but couldn’t get over the hump — in fact the Raptors didn’t even get as close as they did on Thursday, only closing the Magic lead to seven into fourth, as the Magic hun on for the 103-97 win.

Where the two games differed though, is that Thursday featured too many whistles, and tonight featured too many bricks.

The two teams combined to shoot 32-for-93, a blistering 34%, in the first half! Things got better in the fourth — both teams shot over 50% in the final frame — but on the whole, the two sides combined to miss 117 shots over the course of the game. The Raptors even missed six of their 17 free throw attempts!

The Scotiabank Arena rims probably needed an ice bath after this one.

Pascal Siakam was a bright spot for Toronto; he scored 34 points on 20 shots, and added 14 boards. Malachi Flynn also chipped in 20 points along with 8 assists.

Orlando’s backcourt of the future, Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs, each dropped 15 to lead seven Magic players in double digits. Anthony added 12 rebounds as well.

After the game, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse singled out Siakam’s play, saying he did a good job on the offensive end despite the lack of spacing that comes with missing two starters. It was “tough” tonight, spacing-wise, he said, but despite the way the Magic packed the paint, Siakam shot a decent percentage, scored, rebounded, defended well — “played his guts out,” according to Nurse.

On the other hand, one couldn’t help but notice that Gary Trent Jr’s icy cold streak continued tonight. Trent was just 2-for-12 from the floor, and missed all nine of his three-point attempts. Nurse said he was happy with the looks Trent and his teammates got, they just needed more actual production — i.e., more shots to drop.

It’s reductive to say “you gotta hit shots” (or “shats” as our old friend Sam Mitchell would say), but sometimes, well… “Sometimes you have a hard time putting the ball in the basket,” Nurse said, “and tonight was one of those nights.”

In terms of highlights, Malachi Flynn had another solid game, orchestrating the offense effectively and finding his running mates on drives for easy buckets on more than one occasion — but perhaps, at times, Flynn was too unselfish, turning down good looks to feed others — other with, shall we say, less shooting touch. To go to another Sam Mitchell-era flashback, you could call his performance Jose Calderon-esque. He didn’t have a single turnover, but probably passed up five opportunities to make players for himself or others for fear of a miss or a turnover.

As he searched for a spark, Nick Nurse gave Yuta Watanabe a good chunk of fourth quarter run, and Yuta’s energy helped the Raptors hang around. he had a highlight block of a Jalen Suggs layup attempt, and drained a big three as well.

Unfortunately Yuta also had a costly turnover with two minutes to go and the Raptors trailing by nine.

If you’re looking for lowlights, Scottie Barnes had perhaps his worst game, post-All-Star break, posting just 10 points on 15 shots. After the game, when asked if perhaps the 6-games-in-8-nights stretch had caught up with him, Barnes waved it off saying he’s still got his energy on point. He also dismissed concerns about the team’s spacing, saying it was simply on the players to execute better and get to their spots sooner.

Defensively, the Raptors were mostly fine, and holding an opponent to sub-40% shooting is usually a good way to put yourself in position to win; so is scoring 37 points in the fourth quarter! But when you only score 60 points through three, well, you’re making it pretty dang on tough on yourself.

The Raptors now head out on the road for six straight games, starting Sunday in Cleveland.