Magic beat Raptors 114-100 to take Game 1
ORLANDO, FLA. – The Orlando Magic rode the momentum from an historic first quarter to a 114-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series on Sunday at Amway Arena.
The Magic scored a team playoff record 43 points in the first quarter, and led by as much as 24 in the first half. The Raptors cut the lead to 13 at the break, but couldn’t get closer than five down the stretch.
Dwight Howard scored a game-high 25 points, grabbed 22 rebounds, and also recorded five blocked shots for the Magic. “He just did it all,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He went and got the ball on the glass. He did a tremendous job.”
Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said that Howard is tough to stop, and if the Raptors want to win the series they have to slow him down. “The rebounding part is going to be tough,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to do a better job of keeping him off the glass.”
Howard said getting the first playoff win of his young career was special, and that he was a little emotional after the game. “It was an amazing feeling for me,” Howard said. “I almost got some tears in my eyes. I was just happy to finally get a playoff win under my belt.”
Despite his postgame jubilation, Howard said he knows the Magic still have work to do. “It’s just the first game but we know we’ve got a long way to go,” Howard said.
Coming into the series many experts predicted that Toronto’s point guard tandem of T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon would give Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson fits, but it was exactly the opposite in Game 1. Nelson finished the game with 24 points and seven assists, while shooting 7-of-13 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free throw line. Calderon finished with nine points and eight assists, while Ford had just five points and six assists. As a pair, Calderon and Ford shot just 4-of-20 from the field.
“I thought he was very aggressive, which is good,” Van Gundy said of Nelson.
Nelson said he doesn’t listen to the experts, but that he was aware of the talk. “When people come to me and talk about it kind of frustrates me,” Nelson said. “I take all the challenges.”
Nelson added that he performed well against the Raptors in the regular season, so he’s not sure where the talk came from. “It’s my understanding we won 2-of-3 [versus the Raptors] during the regular season.”
Toronto all-star forward Chris Bosh was frustrated from the Orlando defensive strategy, which included aggressive play from Rashard Lewis. “They did a nice job of fronting me tonight,” Bosh said. “I should have been ready for it but I’ll be ready for it Game 2.”
Bosh finished the game with 21 points and six rebounds, but shot just 4-of-11 from the field.
Bosh said despite the lopsided loss, the Raptors are still confident about their chances in the series. “I think we really have good match-ups against them and we can really take it to them if we play the way we can play,” he said.
Orlando played the game in front of a jubilant sell-out crowd of 17,519 fans, who were given free t-shirts and noise makers branded with the Magic playoff slogan, “Blue and White Ignite!”
Game 2 will be Tuesday at Amway Arena in Orlando, with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.
Woody Wommack, a regular contributor to InsideHoops.com, is at email@example.com