Toronto Raptors edge past Orlando Magic at O2 Arena
The Toronto Raptors snatched a 106-103 overtime win against the Orlando Magic at the O2 Arena on a night when the NBA commissioner Adam Silver hinted a future All-Star Game could be played in Europe.
The Raptors, beaten twice in London on back-to-back nights by the New Jersey Nets in 2011 including a triple-overtime epic, squandered three double-digit leads but came good in the extra period to keep up their recent hot form, recording a fourth straight win.
Kyle Lowry led the way with 24 points while his fellow All-Star DeMar DeRozan added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Toronto.
DeRozan, a veteran of that 137-136 loss to the Nets five years ago, admitted he had some bad memories when the game when the game went to overtime.
“I thought, how ironic,” he said. “But it was a great game. The last time we played here it was a great game, both teams wanted to win, the crowd was into it, and it was the same tonight. We put on a great show. I’m glad we got a win out of it though.”
There was another star-studded, sell-out crowd on hand at the O2 for what was the sixth regular-season game to be played here in as many years, and Silver described the atmosphere as being like a “European All-Star Game” before suggesting the real thing could one day be staged on this side of the Atlantic.
“We would love to figure out a way to do it,” he said. “Logistically it’s very difficult to travel to Europe and travel home from Europe.
“No question it’s something we would like to figure out a way to do at some point, I think it would be fantastic experience for everyone.”
Silver ruled out adding European franchises any time soon, saying “this doesn’t feel like the right time”, but reaffirmed the NBA’s commitment to staging events in London and potentially expanding the series.
The Raptors may have banished their London demons to keep the win streak going, but their coach Dwane Casey was not happy with how they went about it.
He saw his team overcome an early deficit but they allowed Orlando to rally three times, and it was the Magic who had opportunities to snatch victory in the final seconds of regulation.
“We did not play well,” he said. “It was one of our worst games in the last couple of weeks. We knew it would be a dogfight coming in. No lead is safe because of how hard they play and we need to be smarter on both ends of the floor.”
Though both scored in double figures, Lowry and DeRozan shot poorly, with Lowry hitting on five-of-20 from the field and DeRozan four-of-19. Their coach, however, was not interested in any excuses about jet lag or heavy travel schedules.
“You can have any excuse you want to,” he said. “If you’re playing on the moon you’ve still got to come out with force.”
For the Magic it was a sixth loss in seven, with the frustration only intensified by how close they came as coach Scott Skiles dismissed the notion of taking any positives from the trip or the game.
“We played better in the second half than we’ve been playing but there’s a reason they’re wins and losses,” Skiles said. “One goes on the left, one goes on the right and this goes on the right as a loss. We can talk to some guys individually about things they did well but the first half was just unacceptable.”