The Italian rookie hit five 3-pointers, scored 23 points and had
six rebounds to lead the Raptors to a convincing 91-84 victory over
the Eastern Conference-leading Magic on Wednesday night.
Bargnani came into the game shooting 27.9 percent from 3-point
range, but was 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter and finished 5-of-8. He helped make up for the absence of Chris Bosh, who missed his third straight game because
of a bone bruise on his left knee.
"Andrea got hot at the right moment and hit the big shots that
saved us," said Raptors center Rasho Nesterovic, who had 10
rebounds and five blocks, both season highs. "It's tough to come
in here from Europe as the No. 1 pick because a lot is expected,
but give him time and he'll be one of the best players in the
Bargnani hit three straight 3-pointers to start the fourth
period and give the Raptors their biggest lead of the second half,
74-64. The Magic went on an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 76-72
with 5:53 left in the game, but Bargnani killed the comeback with
another 3-pointer, this one from two steps behind the line.
"They were important shots," Bargnani said. "One day they go
in, one day they go out. I'm still learning about this league."
The Magic, meanwhile, are watching their hold on the Eastern
Conference quickly slip away. They have lost four of five since
returning from a successful West Coast trip and injuries are
starting to cripple them.
Starters Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu are out with injuries
and Grant Hill played only 19 minutes before the tendinitis in his
left knee flared up. He has been ruled out of Thursday night's game
Orlando got 22 points from Nelson's replacement, Carlos Arroyo,
and 17 points and 13 rebounds from Dwight Howard. However, the
Magic had only three assists against nine turnovers in the second
half when they shot just 31.8 percent.
"We had too many guys trying to win the game single-handedly
instead of playing together like a team," Magic coach Brian Hill
said. "We've got some injuries and the guys are probably tired,
but that's the way it goes in this league. We've got to play
Game NotesThe Magic were 12-4 in
November, but are only 3-5 in December.