Raptors drop sixth straight game despite big night from Gary Trent Jr.


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The losses are piling up for the Toronto Raptors.

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Most of the team couldn’t muster much offence against one of the NBA’s best defensive squads at home on Friday, falling 113-103 to the Orlando Magic.

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Gary Trent Jr. was the exception, scoring a season-best 31 points, but the other starters combined for only 36.

On the other hand, Orlando got a balanced performance from its players, with six scoring at least 10 points. Franz Wagner led the way with 19 while Paolo Banchero had 17.

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Toronto has now lost six straight games for the first time since December 2022 and is tied again with the Memphis Grizzlies for the NBA’s sixth-worst record.

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Orlando came in allowing the fourth-fewest points per 100 possessions in the league and looked the part. Long and athletic at every position, the Magic made life difficult on a team again missing some of its best players in Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett and Jakob Poeltl. Meanwhile, Orlando shot 50% from the field and was sharp from outside and the free throw line.

The Raptors actually led by three after a quarter, trailed by only two points at halftime and reclaimed the lead late in the third after consecutive three-pointers by Jordan Nwora, but things went south from there. Orlando scored the next 12 points, prompting the Raptors to call a timeout. The run went to 22-4 for Orlando, eventually putting the Magic up by as many as 19 points.

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But credit the Raptors for not quitting. The home side crept back within seven points late in the fourth before Orlando delivered a knockout punch.

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Toronto has now dropped 8-of-9 following a three-game winning streak coming out of the all-star break, a time that feels far longer ago than just a month or so.

Toronto was missing its two leading scorers — Barrett and Barnes — as well as starting centre Poeltl, but did have Trent Jr. back in the lineup. Trent started alongside rookie Gradey Dick, who had perhaps his worst game as a pro, veteran Kelly Olynyk, Ochai Agbaji and Immanuel Quickley. All but Trent struggled to make shots, though bench players like Nwora, Bruce Brown and newcomer Jahmi’us Ramsey found more success. Quickley did get to 10 assists for the fourth time in seven games this month.

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Orlando has been one of the big success stories of this NBA season. The team already has its most wins in six seasons and is on pace for its most over 82 games since the end of the Dwight Howard Era in 2011. The Magic leads the Southeast Division for the first time in years, too, and is battling New York for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

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Former NBA rookie of the year Banchero leads the team in scoring, while a pair of 22-year-olds the Raptors considered in the draft that landed them Scottie Barnes — Wagner and Jalen Suggs — are also having strong seasons.

The teams will meet again — this time in Orlando — on Sunday.

@WolstatSun

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