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Orlando Magic forward Ryan Anderson was on absolute fire Monday night, making a career-high eight three-pointers and leading all scorers with 28 points as the Magic (32-18) made their way just north of the border and rolled over the Toronto Raptors (16-34), 117-101.
“I had a lot of open looks,” said Anderson, “I think everybody did a good job finding me.”
Anderson, who continues to have by far the best season of his brief four-year career, with averages of 16.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, certainly aided the powerful case that he’s been making for this year’s Most Improved Player Award, with his lights out shooting performance from beyond the arc.
At 29 consecutive games, with at least one made three pointer, Anderson has the longest streak in the league. Not to mention he leads all players in the long range department, with 143 made this season.
“I’m happy for him,” said Magic center Dwight Howard, who was the game’s second-highest scorer, after posting 23 points and 10 rebounds. “I just want him to continue all the things that he’s been doing. We all love the way he’s been playing. He just has to keep it up, and we’re going to need that same effort and energy from him every night. We know he can do it.”
The Magic came out of the gate in a dominant fashion, scoring the game’s first 10 points. One might have gotten the feeling that this game would be over before halftime, after an alley-oop slam by Howard made it a 24-8 Orlando lead with about five minutes remaining in the first.
However, a nice push by the Raptors bench, that concluded with a fastbreak dunk by Ed Davis with 2.4 seconds left in the quarter cut the Magic’s lead all the way down to two, entering the second, 28-26.
Toronto’s second unit completely outplayed Orlando’s, which was non-existent over the first 12 minutes, outscoring them 16-0 and keeping them in the game at least for the time being.
The Raptors evened the score at 28 on the opening possession of the second quarter, but that would end up being the closest they ever came to winning.
Orlando never surrendered the lead, and combatted the Raptors’ 23 point quarter with 33 of their own, giving them a 61-49 lead at the half.
Six threes accounted for each one of Anderson’s 18 first half points. The Magic as a team went 9/19 from distance during that half, and went 15/34 in the entire contest, 44.1%.
Their overall field goal shooting percentage of 54.3% was even more efficient.
Reserve forward for the Magic, Glen Davis, was forced to exit the game with 7:49 left to go in the half, after a hit taken across the forehead from a Raptor opened a cut that would require five stitches.
Davis was able to return to the action in the second half, and finished the game with 13 points and seven rebounds.
After the Raptors fell behind by 20 early in the third, 75-55, they trimmed the deficit down to 12, 80-68, with a Jose Calderon three about eight minutes left.
But by the time the buzzer signaled the expiration of the third quarter, the Magic had regained their 20 point advantage, 93-73.
Failing to reduce the lead to less than 15, the Raptors posed no threat in the final period, and the Magic eased their way to a blowout victory, 117-101.
Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson did a solid job of keeping his teammates involved with seven total assists, and also did his fair share of scoring with 18 points.
The Magic made a concerted effort to stop Toronto’s lethal center, Andrea Bargnani, and definitely succeeded in doing so. Bargnani shot just 3/11 from the floor, with eight points and three rebounds.
Orlando also took better care of the basketball than they had been doing in recent games, turning it over just nine times.
The next stop for the Magic will be in the Big Apple on Wednesday night, as they visit the resurgent and suddenly defensive-minded New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, who are 7-1 since Mike Woodson took over as coach.
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