Playing on New Years Day and ringing in 2012, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Toronto Raptors by the score of 102-96, extending their current winning streak to four games. The Magic played with very little energy for most of the game and trailed by 11 points entering the fourth quarter but they hung in there, grinded it out, and were able to come away with a victory. This is the type of game the 2009 roster would win. Speaking of 2009, Hedo Turkoglu turned back the clock once again, leading the comeback charge for Orlando in the final period and finishing with 15 points (10 in the fourth quarter) and seven assists. It was a stellar outing for Turkoglu and the type of stuff that Magic fans saw with regularity when he guided head coach Stan Van Gundy’s offense in 2008 and 2009. Ryan Anderson finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field (5-of-8 from three-point range) and five rebounds. J.J. Redick was brilliant coming off the bench, contributing with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field (3-of-5 from three-point range), three rebounds, and three assists. Dwight Howard did his usual grunt work with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks.
For three quarters, the Raptors were in firm control of this game. Head coach Dwane Casey, former assistant coach of the Dallas Mavericks last season, has his fingerprints all over Toronto’s roster already. Casey was hired to instill a defensive mentality with the Raptors and that showed forth against the Magic. Casey doesn’t have Tyson Chandler to anchor a defense like he did when he was with the Mavericks. But even so, Casey has the players for Toronto fighting defensively, and Orlando was visibly bothered by it. For 36 minutes, the Magic were unable to get into much of a flow offensively. Howard, especially, seemed invisible at times, as Amir Johnson and Jamaal Magloire battled with him in the post, not allowing the big fella to get to his favorite spots around the paint.
And on the flipside, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, and DeMar DeRozan really had their way on offense at times.
Orlando’s pick-and-roll coverage was not very good for a majority of the game and Calderon happily took advantage. Calderon expertly ran pick-and-rolls to set himself up for jumpshots and to feed his teammates around the perimeter. It was an efficient outing for Calderon, as he finished with 18 points and 13 assists, notching his 3,000th assist (the most in Raptors franchise history) along the way.
When it wasn’t Calderon burning the Magic, it was Bargnani. It didn’t matter if Anderson, Glen Davis, or even Earl Clark was defending Bargnani, he dominated offensively for long stretches. What was most impressive about Bargnani was that he didn’t really rely on his perimeter game too much. Instead, Bargnani did a lot of his damage off the dribble, attacking the rim and either making layups or drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line. Bargnani has historically always been a thorn in the side for Orlando and this game was no different. However, in the fourth quarter when the Magic were making their run, Bargnani was shut down and only produced three points in the period.
As for DeRozan, his jumpshot wasn’t pretty, as he shot 4-of-12 from the field but he got to the free-throw line a total of nine times, which allowed him to score 17 points on 12 shots even though he only made four field goals.
So with Bargnani, Calderon, and DeRozan clicking, and a defense for Toronto that was active, Orlando looked in trouble. The Magic were trailing by as many as 16 points in the game.
But then the fourth quarter came.
[8:41, 87-76 TOR] Turkoglu makes 22-foot jumpshot
[8:03, 87-78 TOR] Howard makes tip shot
[7:48, 89-78 TOR] DeRozan makes layup
[7:28, 89-80 TOR] Turkoglu makes layup
[6:26, 89-83 TOR] Anderson makes 25-foot three-point jumpshot
[5:41, 89-86 TOR] Redick makes 27-foot three-point jumpshot (Turkoglu assist)
[4:26, 89-88 TOR] Howard makes layup (Nelson assist)
[3:34, 91-89 ORL] Turkoglu makes 29-foot three-point jumpshot
[3:12, 94-89 ORL] Turkoglu makes 26-foot three-point jumpshot (Nelson assist)
The score was 87-74 in favor of the Raptors after DeRozan made two free-throws. Orlando then proceeded to go on a 20-2 run.
Turkoglu was the driving force of the surge. When it became clear that Howard was not having a lot of success on the low block against Johnson and Magloire, Van Gundy made a tactical change and started to utilize Howard in pick-and-rolls since he’s more athletic. Plus it put a lot of pressure on Toronto’s defense to rotate properly as the bigs were defending the pick-and-rolls. The strategy worked like a charm, as Turkoglu was able to slice up the Raptors defensively. Turkoglu ran 3/5 pick-and-rolls with Howard to perfection. For example, on two separate possessions, Turkoglu was able to make layups off the dribble after running a 3/5 pick-and-roll with Howard. On another possession, Turkgolu was able to find Redick for a three-pointer using the same play.
It was a systematic sequence by Turkoglu on offense and the type of stuff Orlando needs from him consistently. The fact that he’s been able and willing has to be an encouraging sign for the Magic.
Van Gundy made another smart decision when he decided to go with Redick for the stretch run than Richardson. Redick was vastly outplaying Richardson against Toronto and he was key in Orlando’s massive scoring burst. Redick had most likely the play of the game as the Magic surged ahead of the Raptors. With less than two minutes left in regulation and the shot clock winding down, Redick found himself with the basketball after Orlando was unable to create a shot off a set play. Redick had the ball way beyond the three-point line and he began to dribble along the baseline strictly because Johnson and Bargnani were forcing him that way. Redick eventually made it inside the arc near the right corner when he hoisted up an 18-foot fadeaway falling out of bounds.
Redick made the shot.
Casey called timeout.
For nearly the entire possession, the Raptors had the Magic bottled up but then Redick pulled a rabbit out of his hat and made the score 98-93. Amazingly enough, this came immediately after Redick drew a charge on a fast break opportunity for Toronto. The Raptors had a 3-on-2 advantage in transition but Leandro Barbosa made the critical error of barreling into the lane and Redick, who’s made a career out of plays like this, forced a charge. That kept the score at 96-93 when Toronto had a chance to cut the lead to one or tie it up. So of course Redick makes an insane fallaway jumper out-of-bounds on the following possession.
In many ways, those were probably the two most important plays of the game and Redick was in the middle of both of them.
As for Anderson, what more positive superlatives can be thrown at him? Let’s not get it twisted. Bargnani had his way with Anderson offensively for a majority of the game. But Anderson toughened up in the fourth quarter and allowed just one made shot for Bargnani. As for Anderson on offense, he continues to shoot the lights out and put together efficient performances as a result.
All in all, this was a great win for Orlando. When the going got tough, the Magic rose to the occasion and persevered.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.