Quick Reaction: Raptors 113, Magic 102

His name is Paul Watson Jr.

Sahal and Zarar on Rap Up.

ORL Magic102Final
Box Score
113TOR Raptors

K. Birch26 MIN, 7 PTS, 6 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 3-7 FG, 0-1 3FG, 1-2 FT, 3 BLK, 1 TO, 3 +/-

Aggressive takes to the cup, active challenges at the rim on D and a little “f**k you” attitude in his game was on display tonight as Birch drew the start against his former team. Birch is already a breath of fresh air to watch log 28+ minutes at the center position in comparison to his Australian predecessor and is settling in nicely with his new team. His size, rim protection and consistency finishing around the rim are welcome additions to this Dino front court.

M. Flynn34 MIN, 6 PTS, 3 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 3-12 FG, 0-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 6 +/-

Taking on more of an off-ball role than he has in recent weeks with VanVleet back, Flynn looked good in his time on the floor this evening. Flynn did an excellent job of being poised with the ball, not turning it over and facilitating it when he did run point on Friday night. His raw talent and sense for the game are really starting to shine through in recent weeks as his leash has been lengthened by the Raptors coaching staff. Turns out when you’re not looking over your shoulder every time after making a mistake, it helps grow your confidence!

C. Boucher31 MIN, 11 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 3-6 FG, 0-1 3FG, 5-5 FT, 2 BLK, 0 TO, -2 +/-

Boucher and his loveable pool noodle arms got up in the grills of the any Magic player who dared take it inside on him tonight, as he did a superb job of contesting shots at the rim. The Montreal native could also be seen throwing his body on the floor on numerous occasions, injecting some much needed hustle and life into the Raptors game when they needed it most.

P. Watson25 MIN, 30 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 10-13 FG, 8-11 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, -3 +/-

In his first career NBA start, Watson Jr. set the city of Tampa Bay on fire. There was a noticeable uptick in his dribble drives and bit of variation in the sorts of looks he got on offense . He still delivered his fair share of triples (as many as the entire Orlando roster) when the defense forgot how lethal he can be from distance, but it’s encouraging to see Paul show us more facets of his game than the catch and shoot skillset we’ve come to love him for. Great showing from the supremely hard-working 905 product.

F. VanVleet23 MIN, 6 PTS, 1 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 3-11 FG, 0-6 3FG, 0-0 FT, 2 BLK, 2 TO, 0 +/-

Call it rust, COVID-19 hangover or an appetite for a high draft pick, but Freddy struggled mightily shooting the ball tonight. VanVleet opened the game 1/9 from the field and never really looked like himself all night long. FVV is a fantastic 3rd or 2nd option on a nightly basis, but when you ask him to be the heart of your team’s offense, odds are you’re going to be disappointed with the results. His 76 game streak of games with a three made, ended tonight.

Y. Watanabe26 MIN, 21 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 7-11 FG, 2-4 3FG, 5-5 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 9 +/-

Yuta’s playing time has been far from consistent this season, which is why sublime performances like tonight’s are that much more impressive. Watanabe was an energizer bunny from the moment he checked into the game tonight, and his persistence on both ends of the court set an example that several of his teammates were in desperate need of following. Fantastic movement, shooting and taking advantage of the space he was allowed on the perimeter. Yuta poured in a career-high 20 points, was the best Raptor on the court tonight not named Paul.

F. Gillespie21 MIN, 10 PTS, 7 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 5-8 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 8 +/-

Gillespie is starting to find his feet in a Raptor uniform and did an excellent job of filling the back up big man void in Toronto’s rotation tonight. As he learns the ins and outs of his teammate’s games, things should only continue to trend upwards.

S. Johnson20 MIN, 13 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 5-8 FG, 3-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 10 +/-

There’s such a thing as being too aggressive and Stanley Johnson showed us what that looked like on Friday evening. His strengths lie on the defensive end, and he did a fine job on that side of the ball tonight, but when he takes it upon himself to create his own shot and barrel to the rim out of control, bad things happen. His box score looks a lot nicer than his game tonight.

R. Hood17 MIN, 7 PTS, 0 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 2-6 FG, 1-3 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 16 +/-

Hood entered the game ready to contribute on offense and showed no fear of letting it fly from the jump. He didn’t make that many of them to start, but simply having a bench guy out that who doesn’t play scared can be a really valuable thing on a basketball court. Every time Hood caught the ball in a threatening position, it felt like he was going to make the defense work. Great minutes from the Duke product tonight.

D. Bembry12 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 3 TO, 8 +/-

Bembry played very limited minutes in this one, but when he was on the court he was his usual productive self. Making good passes, good decisions and pushing the ball in transition as much as possible.

Nick Nurse

I’m unsure if it’s a shorter leash being used with the starters, or a lean towards losing basketball games, but Nurse did a good job of playing his bench big minutes tonight. The starting 5 that trotted out there had a big problem scoring the ball, so he pivoted to a different group – and it worked wonders.

Things We Saw

  1. Paul. Watson. Junior. The 905 rockstar had a career night on Friday, outscoring the entire Orlando Magic team on his own in the 3rd quarter, 20-19. It was like throwing a pebble in the ocean for Watson Jr. in the second half, as it looked like he couldn’t miss for a solid 9 minute stretch. Unbelievable 30 point performance from an unbelievably hard working guy.
  2. This was one of the best games from the Raptors bench that we’ve seen in quite some time. In a game that looked like it could be another loss to a subpar team, Toronto’s bench came in and totally changed the compete level of the game. Excellent effort from a group of guys who not many people thought would be playing meaningful minutes this season, even as little as a few weeks ago.
  3. Don’t look now tankers, but the Raptors would be included the NBA’s playoff format if the playoffs started today. In a season where Toronto’s management seems to be doing its best to throw games, this team continues to prove itself to be too talented and too well coached to go quietly into the basement of the NBA.