Raptors pull away late to beat Magic

The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla.–The Toronto Raptors have been on a tear offensively for the past month.
They paused for a few minutes of defence–and it made the difference against Orlando last night.
DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points and Kyle Lowry added 17 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds to lead the Raptors to a 117-104 victory over the Magic for their 11th win in the last 13 games.
Pascal Siakam had 14 points, Jakob Poeltl added 13, and Fred VanVleet scored 12.
The Raptors have averaged 116.4 points during that 13-game stretch and were blistering at that end of the floor.
But it was a short window of defence in the fourth quarter, with mostly reserves on the floor, that turned yesterday’s game.
Leading 97-96 with 7:12 left, the Raptors limited the Magic to a pair of free throws over the next five minutes, outscoring them 13-2.
Siakam, VanVleet, CJ Miles, and Deion Wright, all reserves, scored all the points in that stretch.
“We didn’t match Orlando’s intensity until the fourth quarter,” Lowry noted.
“We found the next level at the end of the game but it took us a long time to get there.”
Siakam’s fast-break lay-up finished off the run and gave Toronto a 110-98 cushion for the final two minutes of the game.
The second-year reserve had 10 of his 14 points in the final five minutes of the game.
“The most important thing was being out there at the end of the game and knowing the coaches trust us,” Siakam said.
“When the second unit comes in, we have to come in with energy [and] make the game go a little faster.”
Down the hall, the Magic were lamenting their seventh-straight loss and how familiar it felt.
“We kind of lose the same way every night,” Fournier said.
“Defence is where the game was lost,” said Magic coach Frank Vogel, finishing off the thought.
Fournier and reserve forward Mario Hezonja led Orlando with 17 points apiece.
Nikola Vucevic added 14 points and Aaron Gordon had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic, who had seven players score in double figures but still came up short.
“We’re doing some really positive things at the offensive end but we just don’t show enough resistance defending the paint, keeping our man in front of us, and it’s been costly,” Vogel stressed.
“Neither the starting group nor the bench group defended at a high enough level for us to win tonight,” he remarked.
The Raptors next visit Washington tomorrow night.
Elsewhere in the NBA, Detroit dumped Milwaukee 110-87, Atlanta beat Indiana 107-102, Boston bombed Charlotte 134-106, Golden State downed Washington 109-101, and Phoenix upended Memphis 110-102.
New Orleans topped San Antonio 121-116, Oklahoma City nipped Dallas 111-110 (OT), and Houston beat the L.A. Clippers 105-92.

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