Raptors nearly blow big lead
ORLANDO, Fla.—After Toronto locked up its first post-season berth since 2008 last week, coach Dwane Casey cautioned the Raptors to not get complacent down the stretch with teams still vying for playoff position.
He’s hoping that a nearly disastrous letdown against Orlando will send a stronger message.
Toronto led by as many as 21 points before having to stave off Orlando’s late charge.
Trailing 96-93 with 8.9 seconds to play, the Magic had the ball and an opportunity to tie the game.
But coming out of a time-out, they failed to inbound the ball—turning it over on a five-second violation.
DeRozan later was fouled and hit a pair of free throws to save the win.
“They saw the 20-point lead and like any NBA team, they let their guard down,” Casey noted.
“That’s a development we’ve got to have—to keep the intensity, keep your foot on their neck and keep it down,” he stressed.
Kyle Lowry added 16 points.
The win was the Raptors’ third in a row and seventh-straight over the Magic.
Toronto swept the season series 3-0.
“We still haven’t done anything yet in this league,” DeRozan acknowledged. “We haven’t played a playoff game, we haven’t won a playoff series, we haven’t done anything.
“So we still have a long way to go and we understand that,” he noted.
“It’s time to take the next step, finish the season off strong, and then the next step will come after that.”
Nik Vucevic led the Magic with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Jameer Nelson and Victor Oladipo each added 16 points.
Orlando shot 55 percent for the game, but also had 19 turnovers that led to 19 Raptors’ points. DeRozan had more free-throw attempts (16) than the entire Magic team.
Casey, meanwhile, said his team needs to work on its mental approach before the playoffs.
“We’re still learning to put games away, [and] not make games interesting at the end,” he remarked.
“We’ve got to learn to put them away so we won’t be fighting so hard the last minute or two.”