LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA (AP) — Fred VanVleet had 21 points and 10 assists, and the Toronto Raptors held on to beat the Orlando Magic 109-99 yesterday.
Pascal Siakam added 15 points and Kyle Lowry finished with eight points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
Toronto (49-18) has won its last seven dating back to before the hiatus and three straight games since the restart.
VanVleet said the Raptors knew early on that things were clicking for them.
“Just a rhythm and a flow, and everybody locked in and keying into the game plan,” he said. “I thought we started off strong, had a drop off and then got back to it late. We’ve been playing with each other long enough to kind of know when we’re in sync.”
The Magic (32-37) missed an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot following Washington’s loss to Philadelphia earlier on Wednesday. But they maintained their seven-game lead over the Wizards for the eighth seed with four seeding games to play.
They also may be without forward Aaron Gordon for an undetermined amount of time after he left the game in the third quarter with a left hamstring injury after taking a hard foul from Lowry.
Gordon was going up for a dunk and was hit on the arm as Lowry went to strip the ball. Gordon’s left leg extended high in the air before he crashed to the floor and immediately reached for his left hamstring. He was able to shoot the ensuing free throws but then struggled to run down the court. He went to the locker room on the next timeout.
Lowry received a Flagrant 1 foul after a review by officials. Gordon had nine points and 11 rebounds at the time of his injury. Magic coach Steven Clifford said he hadn’t seen the replay of the foul and didn’t known the extent of the injury.
“Obviously, officials didn’t think it was the right play because they called a flagrant,” Clifford said. “But, obviously, it would be a huge hit for us.”
Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross each had 15 points for Orlando.
Despite Gordon’s exit, the Magic cut into the Raptors’ 20-point halftime lead, trimming it to 78-71 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. But that would be as close as they would get to rest of the way.
The Raptors spaced the floor well early, building a 24-8 lead in the opening period. They also were active on the defensive end, limiting Orlando to five-of-20 shooting (zero for nine from three-point line). Orlando finished the quarter with 11 points, a season low by a Toronto opponent.
Toronto carried its momentum into the second quarter, taking a 51-30 lead late on the second of back-to-back three-pointers by Lowry. The Raptors held a 55-35 advantage at halftime.
Despite having a chance to clinch the second seed in the East tonight against the Celtics, coach Nick Nurse said the Raptors aren’t thinking that far ahead.
“I don’t know. Nothing seems to have a super high level of unimportance or importance,” Nurse said. “We want to play and we want to play to win that game. We’re going to play our guys and we’re going to play to win.”