Sat, 09 Dec 2023

Magic, Raptors both riding high ahead of in-season tourney clash

Field Level Media
21 Nov 2023, 09:19 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The Orlando Magic will return from a 3-1 road trip Tuesday night to play the Toronto Raptors in an NBA in-season tournament game that opens their six-game homestand.

The Magic completed their trip with a 128-116 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday at Indianapolis.

The Raptors also won Sunday, 142-113 over the Detroit Pistons to finish a 2-2 homestand. The Raptors set a team record with 44 assists.

The Magic have split their first two in-season tournament games, while the Raptors have lost their only tournament game thus far.

The Magic and Raptors split four games last season.

Orlando has won three in a row despite being without Markelle Fultz (left knee tendinitis). Paolo Banchero led the way with 24 points against Indiana as the Magic led by as many as 40 points.

The Magic started fast on Sunday.

"Just come out and hit 'em in the mouth early," said Magic guard Jalen Suggs, who scored nine of his 18 points in the first quarter after missing the 103-97 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday with a sore left knee. "It's like a boxing match. Once you've got in their head, that they don't want to get hit, they don't want to play physical, they don't want to play against tough defense. ... That's hard to play against, night in and night out."

"I'm extremely pleased with how they played tonight," Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. "They came out right away and took on the challenge."

The Raptors also dominated their game against the Pistons from the beginning.

Their previous franchise high for assists was 40 against the Charlotte Hornets Nov. 18, 2019. Their season-best point total of 142 was a franchise record for a home game and the third-highest in team history. The highest total was 144 against the Sacramento Kings Jan. 8, 2021.

"I think today was one of those games where the ball was on a string for us," said Raptors center Jakob Poeltl, who had 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. "We saw it in the numbers, the assist numbers were pretty high and it wasn't just one person with 20 assists. It was the whole team. Everyone was sharing the ball. Everyone was moving well, so you create a lot of easy shots that way and we found a lot of ways to break down their defense. It feels like we just made the right read through most parts of that game."

Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 23 points while Gary Trent Jr. had 18. Scottie Barnes had 17 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, and Dennis Schroder also scored 17 points.

O.G. Anunoby (lacerated finger) returned after missing three games and scored nine points with two steals.

Anunoby helps the defense, and coach Darko Rajakovic feels that is the key to a good offense.

"We've got to understand that every possession matters," Rajakovic said. "We've got to understand how much talent, how good a team we are when we do certain things. So for us, it's a very simple recipe. When we play great defense, when we get our stops and steals and deflections, that opens up opportunities for us and to be better (on the) offensive end. Just continue to trust each other and play the right way. When we do that, when you just focus on winning, we're a really good team."

The Raptors are 2-3 on the road this season.

--Field Level Media

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