January 4, 2009


The 26-7 Orlando Magic came into town as winners of 9 of their last 10 games. The Toronto Raptors were winners of 3 of their last 10. Normally, I would think this would be another L for the Raps but I had new outlook on this game. It's 2009 and the Raps are 1-0 for the new year. Today's starters for the Raptors looked a little different: Anthony Parker, Will Solomon and Jamario Moon were all starting with Jermaine O'Neal and Jose Calderon sitting out due to injury. This meant more run for Will Solomon and Roko Ukic at the point guard position.

First Half Pleasure & Pain

Pleasure - The G's were Money
The Magic had an early 17-14 lead on the Raptors seven minutes into the game but the Raptors guards put an end to it. The combo of Anthony Parker and Will Solomon went 6 for 6 from the field as the Raptors went on a 20-5 run from that point. Roko Ukic came into the game in the late first quarter hitting a shot and extended the Raptor lead to 15. By the end of the first, the guards (Parker-Solomon-Ukic) were 7 of 8 from the field and the Raps led 34-22. Raps had the hot hand shooting 66% and their defense held the Orlando Magic to only 40% shooting.

Pleasure - Andrea Bargnani
I don't know where this Andrea Bargnani has been, but I like it. More confidence, more swagger...we should have seen this a long time ago. Bargs played some decent defense on Dwight Howard and he also hit a big three to get up 38-26 on the Magic.

Pain - The infamous Toronto Raptors lead blowing
Dwight Howard started to get get things going with big dunks down low and had 18 points by mid second quarter. Jameer Nelson started to hit shots and knocked the Raptors lead down to only 6. Hedo Turkoglu continued the run and hit a jumper while Jameer Nelson hit another shot to get it down to a one-possession game. The Raps were lucky enough to have Will Solomon hit a jumper in the closing minutes of the second to put the Raps back up by seven. The Raps were up 56-49 at the half and were on pace to a 100 point game...which usually leads to Raptor wins.

Second Half Pleasure & Pain

Pain - Magic Eight Ball, No...More like Magic Three Ball

The Magic wouldn't go away and stayed in it with the three ball. Rashard Lewis came into the third quarter and hit a three and then the three ball came from everywhere. Everytime the Raps would double team Dwight Howard, there were open bodies on the three point line waiting for a shot. Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, Courtney Lee all hit threes and then with 40 seconds to go in the third, Dwight Howard came down with the ferocious jam to take the lead 78-77. At the end of the third, the Magic were 12 for 26 from three point land vs. the Raps 2 for 9 from three point land. The Magic finished with 15 threes in the game.

Pleasure - AP
Anthony Paker finally got it going, he had 14 points by mid third quarter. I've never seen this guy dunk so much until this game, the Magic just didn't defend him at all. He finished with 26 points going 13-15 from the field.

Pleasure - Raps actually maintaing composure
The Raps didn't seem to get rattled when the Magic came back. They kept their ground and actually played well down the stretch. Jamario had played great defense and got some key defensive boards. Andrea Bargnani was all over the place, hitting a three to get the Raps up by ten and then stole the ball and took it to the basket for a layup. And then when he got doubled, he dished it to Bosh for the dunk.

Pain - The Magic fought back
Dwight Howard had a big game (he finished with 39 points) and got it going in the 4th. Stan Van Gundy put in JJ Redick to get the offense going and he hit threes. Then Rashard Lewis hit another big three, his 6th three of the game.

Pleasure - Toronto clutch down the stretch
Bosh hit both free throws with 2:27 left to tie the game at 101. Up to the fourth quarter, the Raps were 18 for 18 from the free throw line. Bosh was key at the end of the fourth, grabbing key rebounds and hit a crazy almost And-1 circus shot (thanks to hoopdoctors.com)

Pleasure - We Will, We Will Roko U
Roko Ukic was important at the end and it was actually the first time fans got to see Roko in a decisive portion of a Raps game. Roko hit a key jumper in the closing minutes to seal the win as the Raps won 108-102.

For a Magic perspective, check out thirdquartercollapse.com The Raps are at Milwaukee tomorrow night.

Photo credit: (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)


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