Magic-Raptors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 17, 2012
Jameer
The return of point guard Jameer Nelson gave the Orlando Magic a much-needed offensive boost. The Toronto Raptors need to do something to fix their defensive woes. Orlando looks to build off its first victory in nearly two weeks on Sunday when the host Raptors try to get back on track before hitting the road again. Out since injuring his groin and hamstring in the season opener, Nelson returned Friday to score 13 points and hand out 10 assists in a 110-106 victory at Detroit. The Magic (3-5) averaged 79.8 points on 40.8 percent shooting while losing their previous five contests. "This is so big for us,'' Nelson told the Magic's official website after the team opened its three-game trip. "It's tough to win any NBA game, but on the road it's even tougher. They made some runs and we got tougher and stopped them. So this is really big for us.'' Orlando received some bad news this week when it learned that Hedo Turkoglu could be out past December after suffering a broken left hand in the opener, but the team has been getting a nice scoring punch from J.J. Redick. Inserted into the starting lineup three games ago by rookie coach Jacque Vaughn, Redick is scoring a career-best 15.8 points per game - second on the team to Arron Afflalo (16.5) - after hitting three 3-pointers and finishing with a team-best 23 on Friday. "He's a guy when he shoots I think it's going in every single time,'' Vaughn said of Redick, who averaged 15.3 points as Orlando won all three matchups with Toronto for its first season sweep in this series since 1996-97. The Magic could make plenty of shots, and win for the sixth time in seven visits to Toronto, if the Raptors (2-7) can't clamp down defensively. They are yielding 101.3 points per game. "Until we get a rhythm defensively and take pride in our defense, stopping with our man-to-man and not have to play zone for such a long period of time, that's when we're going to be ok," coach Dwane Casey said after Saturday's 107-89 loss at Boston. Toronto will have to keep running its offense through backup point guard Jose Calderon as starter Kyle Lowry will likely be out another week or two with a bruised bone in his right foot. He's missed the last five games. The Raptors, who open a three-game trip Tuesday against Philadelphia, are also going to need DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani to help pick up the slack with Landry Fields (right elbow) and rookie swingman Alan Anderson (torn plantar fascia) out. DeRozan is scoring a team-best 20.0 points per game, but he's scored 10 or fewer three times after finishing with 10 against the Celtics. Bargnani's inconsistency still has Casey wondering what type of numbers the former No. 1 draft pick is going to put up on a nightly basis. The Italian big man is averaging 14.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in the last three games after totaling 48 points and 14 rebounds in the previous two. "I don't care if a guy's a rah-rah guy or jump-up-and-down guy, as long as he's putting the ball in the hole or rebounding or playing defense," Casey said. Magic forward Glen Davis posted his fourth double-double of the season Friday with 17 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, while teammate Nikola Vucevic recorded his fifth - and third straight - with 11 points and 13 boards.
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