DeMar DeRozan leads Toronto Raptors to sixth straight win

By Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange  |  March 28, 2017 at 6:32 AM
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors had lost to the Orlando Magic the two previous times the teams faced each other.

Things are different now, several weeks later. Despite the absence of injured All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, the Raptors are rolling toward the playoffs in good form.

DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points, despite missing five free throws in 14 attempts, and the Raptors dominated the Magic 131-112 Monday night to extend their winning streak to six games.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey found something to criticize, however.

"It was brother-in-law basketball," Casey said. "We'll take the win but we can't be happy with our defensive performance, trading baskets like that. We have bigger goals in mind and if we intend on achieving them, we have to have a better mindset than we did tonight defensively."

Cory Joseph added his first career double-double for the Raptors (45-29) with 15 points and a career-best 13 assists.

"I was just trying to make the right reads based on the defense they were playing," Joseph said. "The guys were knocking down shots. We shot a high percentage (59 percent) tonight and anyone I was passing to was hitting."

The teams finished their season series at 2-2.

"We fouled too much, we didn't protect the paint well in the first half," Magic coach Frank Vogel said. "A guy like DeMar DeRozan commands a lot of attention so at time we were bringing extra attention to him and let guys get loose on the weak side. But credit to the Raptors, they played a terrific basketball game."

Terrence Ross, who was traded to Orlando by Toronto last month, saw DeRozan from the other side in a game for the first time.

"It's a different feeling when you're on the opposite side," Ross said. "DeMar is a hell of a player, an All-Star, one of the best in the league and he's capable of doing anything. We just try to slow him down as much as we can."

The Raptors led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter and took a 10-point lead into the fourth that soon was stretched to 15.

Norman Powell added 16 points off the bench for Toronto, Serge Ibaka also had 16 points and nabbed seven rebounds, and Jonas Valanciunas contributed 17 points with nine rebounds. Jakob Poeltl chipped in with 12 points off the bench.

DeRozan understood what his coach was saying about defense. "It's everything," DeRozan said. "We can't get comfortable because we won a few games. Even tonight we could have played a lot better. We gave up too many points. We still have to stay focused on the defensive end."

Elfrid Payton led the Magic (27-47) with 22 points and nine assists. Evan Fournier added 20 points, Ross scored 17 and Aaron Gordon 16. Nikola Vucevic had 12 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Orlando.

"They were making shots," Gordon said. "Tough shots, fade-aways, fall-aways. They were moving the ball very well and they executed."

The Raptors trailed by as many as seven points before finishing the first quarter with a 35-34 lead. DeRozan scored 18 points in the first quarter and Gordon led Orlando with 10.

The Raptors used an 11-0 run during the second quarter to take a 51-42 lead with 6:33 to play in the half. They increased their lead to 18 points on an 18-foot pull-up jumper by Joseph with 3:50 left.

The Raptors led 73-57 at the intermission.

They increased the lead to 19 on a running layup by DeRozan with 8:16 to play in the third quarter.

Orlando went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to eight on a dunk by Vucevic with 3:35 to go in the third.

After the Magic cut the lead to five with 12.4 seconds left, the Raptors finished the third quarter with five straight points, including a 3-point buzzer-beater by Delon Wright after a turnover to make the score 99-89.

NOTES:

-- Raptors F DeMarre Carroll (sore lower back) did not play for the second straight game Monday. F P.J. Tucker took his starting spot at small forward.

-- Magic G/F Terrence Ross met with some former teammates before the game as he played against the Raptors for the first time since being traded to Orlando with a first-round draft pick for F Serge Ibaka on Feb. 14.

-- The Raptors beat the Magic in Orlando Dec. 18 and the Magic have won the past two games between the teams, Jan. 29 and Feb. 3.

-- The Raptors play the second game of four in a row at home Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets.

-- The Magic return to Amway Center Wednesday to play the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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