April 16th, 2024

Paolo Banchero leads red-hot Orlando Magic past undermanned Toronto Raptors 113-103

By John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press on March 15, 2024.

Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. (33) gets fouled by Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs (4) during first half NBA basketball in Toronto, Friday, March 15, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Paolo Banchero flirted with a triple-double as the Orlando Magic routed the undermanned Toronto Raptors 113-103 on Friday.

Banchero finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as Orlando (39-28) won for the seventh time in nine games. Franz Wagner added 19 points and seven boards.

Gary Trent Jr. scored a season-high 31 points and matched a season-high of seven three-pointers as Toronto (23-44) lost its sixth straight game.

Immanuel Quickley had a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists as Jordan Nwora came off the Raptors bench with 14 points.

Toronto forward RJ Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., missed the game as he mourned the death of his younger brother.

His absence added to the roster woes of a Raptors squad that was already missing all-star forward Scottie Barnes (broken hand) and centre Jakob Poeltl (torn hand ligament) from its starting lineup. Reserve centre Chris Boucher (partially torn MCL) of Montreal was also unavailable.

A moment of silence was observed before the game to honour 20-year-old Nathan Tyler Barrett. The Raptors and Canada Basketball jointly announced that the younger Barrett died on Tuesday.

RJ Barrett missed Wednesday’s 113-104 loss in Detroit and Friday’s game. Toronto head coach Darko Rajakovic said there was no timetable for the older Barrett’s return.

“He’s going to take as much time as is needed to process this hard time for him and for his family,” said Rajakovic. “We’re in touch with RJ and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them. We’re hoping that they can feel our support and love.”

Raptors reserve guard Jahmi’us Ramsey banked in a 25-foot three-pointer with 2:45 left in the first quarter to tie the game 22-22. The two teams traded field goals after that, then Nwora made a layup and drained a free throw for Toronto’s first lead of the game and make it 27-24.

A 9-2 Raptors run to start the second quarter and open up a nine-point lead. Orlando tore away at that advantage, however. Wagner made a driving lineup with 5:30 left in the second to take a one-point lead. He scored eight points in the quarter as the Magic took a 50-48 lead into intermission.

Nwora drilled a 26-foot three-pointer with 4:26 left in the third to give Toronto a 69-67 lead with 4:26 left. Nwora bounced back down the court, egging on the sold-out Scotiabank Arena crowd of 19,800, as the Raptors claimed their first lead since the second quarter.

Orlando fired back with a 14-0 run for its biggest lead of the game. Banchero had five of those points and assisted on three other field goals. The Magic led 84-73 heading into the final quarter.

The Magic led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter, but Toronto clawed back into it, narrowing that gap to as few as seven points when rookie forward Gradey Dick made a field goal at the rim.

That didn’t slow Orlando, however, as the visitors held on for the win.

UP NEXT – The Raptors finish out their home-and-home series in Orlando on Sunday evening.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2024.

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