Kawhi Leonard shines for Raptors in win over Orlando Magic
Kawhi Leonard scored 17 of his 37 points during the third quarter, while Kyle Lowry added 22 to bounce back from his disappointing scoreless performance in Game one. As the Toronto Raptors battered the Orlando Magic 111-82.
The win for the Raptors sends the best-of-seven first round playoff series to Orlando level at one game each.
Three nights ago the Raptors were despondent in a 104-101 upset by the Magic in Game one. However, there was no duplicate, and the Raptors roared back with a vengeance — furthermore, they controlled the game from the start.
Leonard shot 15-for-22 on the night. Meaning he surpassed his previous playoff career-high of 14 which was set in 2017 with San Antonio Spurs. While he received a loud standing ovation from the red-clad Scotiabank Arena when he left the court with just over five minutes remaining.
Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam got in on the act with 19 points and ten rebounds. Serge Ibaka also had 13 points.
However, Aaron Gordon recorded 20 points to lead Orlando. They rode a wave of momentum into the playoffs and matched Toronto’s 22-9 record over their final 31 games of the regular season to grab the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, former Raptor player Terrence Ross had 15 points.
Toronto never trailed and charging out to a 16-point first-half lead that they would turn into 24 points in the third period. This was primarily thanks to a spectacular third quarter performance from Leonard. The Raptors led 90-66 with one quarter remaining.
“Leonard was, I mean, great,” said Magic head coach Steve Clifford after watching Leonard drop 37 points on 15-of-22 shooting with four assists and two steals. “What are you gonna do? He was great.”
The Raptors didn’t take their foot off the gas in the final 12 minutes and held the Magic to one-for-nine shooting through the first five minutes.
Things began to get heated down the final stretch. When Michael Carter-Williams threw a frailing elbow to Lowry’s face, which nearly knocked the point guard off his feet. Lowry followed this by shooting the technical to put the Raptors up by 33 points.
With the game easily in their hands, Raptors coach Nick Nurse went to his bench, and the crowd responded by serenading Lowry and Siakam when they were taken off with three-and-a-half minutes remaining.
Norman Powell connected on a three-pointer soon after to put Toronto up by 34 points. Therefore, sending many fans to the exits to beat the rush.
There was pressure on Leonard in the lead up after a disappointing first game. However, he was fantastic on Tuesday. He drew delighted gasps from the sold-out Scotiabank Arena crowd, and when he drew a foul for a three-point play in the third; the Arena started to chant ‘M-V-P’.
“(It was) just all of us buying in. Just wanting to come out and win this game,” said Leonard. “We didn’t feel like we played our best basketball in Game 1, and just wanted to protect home court, really, that’s it.”
Just three nights after he scored zero points, Lowry got his first point only 92 seconds into game two; via a free throw. Lowry missed his first, but with the Scotiabank Arena crowd chanting, he made the second. The crowd erupted.