After a couple of easy victories over the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic will look to make it three straight when they take on the Toronto Raptors Monday night. The Raptors are coming off a heartbreaking, buzzer-beating loss to the Chicago Bulls Saturday that dropped their record to 16-33 while the Magic enter with a record of 31-18.
These two teams met in Orlando on New Years Day. The Magic rallied for a 102-96 victory, outscoring the Raptors 32-15 in the fourth quarter. They met again on March 5 and the Magic held off the Raptors to earn a 92-88 victory.
The Magic rank 16th in offensive rating (104.0), eighth in defensive rating (101.7) and play at the league’s fourth-slowest pace (89.4). The Raptors are 28th in offensive rating (100.0), 15th in defensive rating (104.2) and play at the 22nd-fastest pace (90.0).
Tip-off from the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST. The game will be shown locally on Sun Sports.
As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and FM 96.5 and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.
The officials for tonight’s game are Dan Crawford, Bennie Adams and Curtis Blair.
The Line: Orlando – 5.0 (183u)
*DeMar DeRozan missed Toronto’s loss to Chicago Saturday with a sore left ankle and is listed as questionable. Jerryd Bayless (hip pointer) is also questionable.
The Raptors are one of the worst offensive teams in the league. Of course, their leading scorer, Andrea Bargnani (19.3 points per game) has played in just 23 games. Bargnani is back in the Toronto lineup, but he’s really struggled – he’s averaging just 13.8 points per game on 33.8% shooting from the field over his last 1o games, including a dreadful 4-of-18 shooting night in their loss to Chicago Saturday night. Bargnani did, however, score 28 points and grab seven rebounds against the Magic earlier this season. Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy has been upset with Ryan Anderson’s defense as of late and he faces another huge challenge in Bargnani.
Jose Calderon (10.5 ppg, 8.5 apg) has always given the Magic trouble and that hasn’t changed this season – he’s averaged 13 points on 50.0% shooting and dished out 20 total assists in two games against the Magic this season. Jameer Nelson will once again have his work cut out for him.
DeMar DeRozan is Toronto’s second leading scorer (16.5 ppg) and his status is up in the air. If he can’t go, Gary Forbes will likely replace him in the lineup. Forbes has played better lately – he had 19 points in a win over the New York Knicks Friday and 12 points in that loss to Chicago Saturday.
The Magic are mostly healthy and had the weekend off while Toronto played both Friday and Saturday night, so there is no excuse for a Magic loss.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Topics: Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, Chris Duhon, Demar Derozan, Dwight Howard, Ed Davis, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Jose Calderon, Larry Hughes, Orlando Magic, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Toronto Raptors, Von Wafer