The Toronto Raptors held off Orlando and took back some momentum in the series after dropping the first two games in Orlando. Toronto outplayed the Magic for most of the game, but Orlando faced an uphill battle from the beginning and never really could overcome the combination of poor shooting and even worse officiating.
Now, I don't want to turn into one of those guys that blame every loss on poor officiating, a la Violet Palmer, Crawford and Foster, quite possibly the worst officiating tandem in the league. The Raptors honestly brought more intensity than the Magic and responded to an amazing home crowd. Those fans were easily the most enthusiastic I've seen in the playoffs this year.
The Raptors shot an impressive 49% from the field and had a terrific game from several players, namely their guards. T.J. Ford, who made just 2 of his 17 attempts in games one and two in Orlando, finished the game with 21 points. Ford making jump shot after jump shot doesn't happen much, so the dominance at the point guard position was a major reason for Toronto's victory. Jose Calderon also was on fire, going 4-of-8 from behind the arc, and Jason Kapono also made 3-of-6 three's, two of those with hands in his face.
Orlando played uninspired ball through most of the game, and looked fatigued. Maurice Evans , Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu all seemed to be going through the motions. Turkoglu had 26 points, but that was a forced 26. Dwight Howard had 19 points and 12 boards, a dramatic drop off from the last several games against the Raptors, and he also was blockless.
Rashard Lewis finally made a three (he actually made 3) but his performance couldn't propel Orlando to a win. The team shot just 22% from behind the arc and also lost the turnover and rebound battle…never a good combination.
Despite Toronto's nifty shooting (Ford can't keep shooting like that, can he?), Orlando's poor shooting and total lack of motivation, the Magic actually had a chance to win the game. Trailing by 21 at half, Lewis made two treys to start the half, but after that officiating took over. Palmer made some tick-tack calls on both sides don't get me wrong, but the brunt of the bad calls went in Toronto's favor. Sure, Toronto had 24 fouls to Orlando's 21, but the calls that were or weren't made we absolutely appalling. Dwight Howard, the all-Star and best big man in the game, was called for three illegal picks. Three! Calderon faked getting fouled after Orlando cut the lead down to 11 points following an egregious error on a rebound that clearly never touched an Orlando player, and got to the line to take momentum back. Howard also got hacked numerous times and there was nothing called. Orlando was also called for hand-checks on several occasions and Toronto wasn't even called for one.
I have long said Palmer is the worst official in the league, and her inconsistency tonight only validated my theory. Palmer made some poor calls on Toronto as well, but that didn't come until the game was nearly out of reach.
Orlando looked fatigued last night and Magic fans can only hope their team shows more enthusiasm on Saturday. Game three was basically an elimination game for the Raptors (no NBA teams have ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs) so with all the chips on the table and with their loud fans (very impressive), poor officiating, and awful Orlando shooting, they still won by just 14, which isn't overly impressive. I would expect that Orlando will come out with a ton of energy in game four, and we can expect a much closer contest, assuming Orlando finds their range and there are a different set of officials.
Raptors / Palmer Sink Orlando
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