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Magic's defence invisible, Raptors rip it to shreds

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Toronto Raptors know a lot about patching together a team beset by injuries. They gave the Orlando Magic a lesson Saturday night.

The Raptors have not had their starting five together since the fourth game of the season yet they routed the injury-ravaged Magic 123-88 with tight team play.

DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points, Ed Davis had 18 and Jose Calderon added 15 points and 10 assists as the Raptors had six players in double figures against the Magic's makeshift lineup.

"We don't have any Kobes or LeBrons who just go out and win games for us, we've got to do it as a team," Calderon said. "When we do that, we're pretty good."

"We've had a lot of bad luck early in the season with injuries and close games so it's desperation time every time we step on the court," DeRozan said. "When we make the game fun, everybody's confidence gets high and it feels like we can't be stopped."

There is a sense of desperation creeping into the Magic, who lost their fifth straight since Glen Davis went out with a shoulder injury. Starting point guard Jameer Nelson (hip) and his backup, E'Twaun Moore, joined Davis on the sideline, forcing Orlando to piece together a starting lineup and playing rotation.

It didn't work well. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn gave playing time to all 11 healthy players in the first half when Toronto shot out to a 67-47 lead, but none of the combinations were effective.

Rookie Andrew Nicholson, from Mississauga, Oht., starting for the second time this year, led Orlando with 22 points. Arron Afflalo had 14 points and Ish Smith, who started in place of Nelson, had 13 points and six assists.

"We were under-manned in the sense that guys had to play different roles in different minutes," Vaughn said. "Toronto made some shots early, which put us on our heels. We were trying to figure out whether it was change in personnel, change in coverage and they just had the ability to make shots. It was one of those nights."

Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who has put together 10 different starting lineups because of injuries this season, had some empathy for the Magic's situation but was more interested in how well his team executed.

Toronto had 33 assists and only eight turnovers while shooting 56.1 per cent from the field. The resurgent Raptors have won seven of their last eight games.

"We weren't trying to run up the score, but our guys were making shots," Casey said. "We had 33 assists which meant we were moving the basketball around. We were playing the game the right way."

Toronto had its best offensive half of the season in the first two quarters, shooting a season-high 58.1 per cent and scoring a season-best 67 points. The Raptors hit nine of their first 10 shots from beyond the three-point line and 10 of 14 for the half.

Mickael Pietrus started the run with three three-pointers in the first seven minutes, the last one tying the game at 19. Toronto finished the quarter on a 17-2 run, making its last seven shots, six layups and one three-pointer.

The Raptors hit six more three-pointers in the second, five of them by reserves Terrence Ross, Alan Anderson and Kyle Lowry. Calderon made the last of the threes, stretching their lead to 67-47 when Calderon nailed one from behind the arc just before halftime.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 30, 2012 B12

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