Orlando can fight. That much is clear as the Magic erased a double-digit deficit from the first half and took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Magic seemed like they had the momentum to roll into another big road victory.
Amir Johnson had energy too. And he displayed it in going after the offensive glass and going after the ball for easy baskets. Johnson scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. Orlando went cold too and seemed to hang their head as Toronto turned misses and five fourth-quarter turnovers into transition baskets as Orlando could not stop the tide with a forced offense that seemed out of sync.
The Raptors used a 19-4 run to win the fourth quarter by double digits and secure a 97-86 win at Air Canada Centre on Sunday afternoon.
The Magic shot just 40 percent for the game and hit on only 4 of 13 3-point attempts. Jameer Nelson had nine assists, but scored only eight points on 3-for-13 shooting. That was the kind of day it was offensively for most of the game.
Orlando was not able to get the ball moving or do much in the way of attacking the basket, particularly in the fourth quarter. Orlando, a team that relies heavily on assists to generate offense, recorded only 18 assists. That did not help the Magic get good offensive looks. The Magic's offense was most effective in those middle quarters when they were able to get stops and push the pace.
This game really did start and end on the defensive end.
Toronto shot 47.5 percent from the floor and, with seven 3-pointers, posted a 51.9 percent effective field goal percentage. The 13 points off 16 Orlando turnovers hurt too, none more than Jose Calderon's 19th assist -- a lob to DeMar DeRozan on a 4-on-1 fast break. By that point in the fourth quarter, it seemed the Magic were hanging their heads low and resigned to defeat.
Arron Afflalo's analysis may have been the most apt. Afflalo said the team plays great when it has a focus on the defensive end. But when the team forces things offensively and is not committed on defense, the team tends to struggle. Considering the Raptors bookended the game with 30-point quarters.
Orlando faced some of the same problems in the fourth quarter with poor transition defense and poor rebounding. Jonas Valanciunas grabbed four offensive rebounds and did much of that work in that tell-tale fourth quarter.
Early on in the game, it was Nikola Vucevic (12 points, six rebounds) and Arron Afflalo (15 points, 4-for-10 shooting) scoring all of Orlando's points. Glen Davis scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while boosting the Magic in the second half. It all did not come together enough to be maintained as Davis spent most of his work outside the paint and there were very few drives to challenge Toronto's bigs.
You take the offensive issues along with the Magic's defensive inconsistency and it was not going to be a great afternoon.
The defensive intensity was not consistent enough throughout the game to get the win. It is that consistency that the Magic will need to find as they head for Atlanta and a game tomorrow against the Hawks.