ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Credit the Toronto Raptors for being quick studies.
Inspired by a game film showing a recent fourth-quarter fade by Orlando, the injury-riddled Raptors rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat the Magic 115-109 Tuesday night.
Although the Raptors are without three starters and three reserves, they found strength by watching Orlando's previous game -- a 120-117 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. In that defeat, the Magic were outscored 11-2 down the stretch.
"We knew that if we stuck with it and didn't give up, there was a chance that they might let us back into the game,'' said Jerome Williams, whose layup with 57.8 seconds remaining broke a tie at 109. "So, we said we're going to continue to play hard, and we did and we were able to gut it out.''
After the tiebreaking basket, Orlando had a chance to win on Pat
Garrity's wide-open 3-pointer with 13.6 seconds remaining. But the
shot rimmed out, Jerome Williams rebounded and he hit a pair of foul shots to seal the win.
"We've been in a lot of games and been worn down, but we played a complete 48 minutes,'' Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens said. "This was a huge boost. Now we can go 48.''
The Raptors, who entered as the game as the least accurate team in the league, posted season highs in points and shooting (50 percent). Then again, the Magic were near the bottom of the NBA's defensive rankings, allowing 102 points and 46.2 percent shooting coming into the game.
"Defensively, our helps are late, we're not guarding guys on the ball,'' Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. "I know we're small, but you can't tell me we can't be a better defensive team than we are.''
McGrady's three-point play put Orlando ahead 104-90 with 6:52 left to play. But from then on, it was all Toronto, which closed the game on a 25-5 run.
Alvin Williams' two free throws with 2:40 remaining gave the
Raptors a 107-106 lead. But McGrady hit a free throw 10 seconds
later to knot the score. Orlando made 30 of 34 free throws, with
McGrady sinking 11 of 13.
A jumper by Alvin Williams put Toronto up two points, and again
McGrady responded. His runner tied the score at 109.
But Jerome Williams sold Garrity on a fake for the go-ahead score, and Toronto never trailed again.
"Jerome Williams was awesome. He, to me, won the game,'' Rivers said.
Early, it appeared Orlando would blow away the Raptors. The Magic made their first five shots, all in the paint, and scored 10 points in the first 2 minutes, 11 seconds.
But Toronto steadied itself and outscored Orlando 17-5 over the
next 4 minutes for a five-point lead. Jerome Williams had 11 points
in the run while Peterson added the other six.
"You know, I've always said offense is fool's gold and right now, we love our offense'' Rivers said. "We're scoring at will, it's a lot of fun -- but we're not playing defense.''
The Raptors are in such dire straits because of injuries, that the NBA granted a hardship exemption last week so they could sign center Greg Foster. Against Orlando, Foster had four points and eight rebounds.
"Everybody contributed in different ways, and that's what you have to have,'' Wilkens said. "We didn't have anybody try to do it by themselves, because we're not that type of team.''
Orlando caught the injury bug from the visitors, as Mike Miller
sprained his left ankle when he was fouled by Voshon Lenard late in
the third quarter. Last season, Miller missed 14 games after
spraining the same ankle.
Jerome Williams' previous career high was 26 points. ...
Alvin Williams' previous best was 28. ... The Orlando record for
points in a quarter is 21, set by Brooks Thompson on March 19, 1996
at Detroit. ... The replay system was used at the end of the first
three quarters to determine if shots beat the buzzer. All of the
calls were upheld.