Thursday , Apr , 24 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

PG Play Carries Toronto Raptors to 108-94 Game 3 Victory over Orlando Magic

PG Play Carries Toronto Raptors to 108-94 Game 3 Victory over Orlando Magic

The Raptors took Game 3 108-94, getting off to a hot start in the first half behind T.J. Ford, as he scored 18 of his 21 points, as he keyed the run that pushed their lead back up to 21 points at the end of the first half.  Point guard play was really important tonight, as Jose Calderon was even more impressive, scoring 18 points off the bench while adding 13 assists and grabbing 7 rebounds.  Additionally, Jameer Nelson was limited to 6 points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field.

Improved defense was really the other key of tonight’s game, as the Raptors did a good job limiting Orlando’s role players.  Beyond Hedo Turkoglu (26 points, 7 rebounds), Howard (19 points, 12 rebounds, 6 turnovers), and Rashard Lewis (19 points, 6 rebounds), the rest of the Magic scored only 30 points, with Bogans (12 points) and Keyon Dooling (8 points) providing the only scoring help off the bench.  Maurice Evans (0 points) and especially Nelson were effectively limited tonight, which was key.

One reason this was key was because the Raptors didn’t have a spectacular offensive game beyond the point guard play tonight.  However, it was more solid then spectacular, something improved overt Games 1 and 2, where it was a lot more hit or miss with Toronto’s players, but the Raptors had more balanced scoring, with 6 players in double figures, not including Andrea Bargnani’s 9 points. Jason Kapono continued his impressive play off the bench, adding 15 points while Jamario Moon added 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Anthony Parker added 10 points and 6 rebounds. Tonight’s key was a more balanced scoring effort.

One thing that must improve though is Chris Bosh, who had an underwhelming game (15 points, 5 rebounds and assists, 4 turnovers).  Bosh really needs to step up and lead the team, and tonight he followed up a poor second half with an unspectacular game.

The Raptors got off to a hot start, which was key, as they used the middle portions of the first two periods to pull away from the Magic, grabbing an 11 point lead in the first quarter, and then an 18 point lead while holding Orlando scoreless for close to four minutes.  But the real key was Ford late in the first half, who used a run in the final three minutes of the quarter to push the lead from 10 to 21 heading into the half, as he scored 8 straight points to start the run and 11 of the 16 points in the 16-5 run in the final 2:52 of the second quarter.

The key tonight was limiting Orlando’s role players, as it was Nelson and Evans who were really hurting the Raptors in Games 1 and 2 because their production and hot shooting was unexpected.  But Toronto did a good job limiting their shots and putting pressure on Dwight Howard down low, limiting him in the final three quarters to 6 points.

The Raptors still will need more from Bosh, but Toronto limiting Orlando’s role players tonight was really big, putting pressure on their three unproven playoff stars (I know Turkoglu has experience with the Kings, but it was the underachieving ‘Queens’ as Shaq called them, so that’s no proven to me).  Also, the point guard play tonight was what I expected all series, and hopefully these trends can continue in Game 4, which will be key for Toronto to tie the series and keep the Magic back on their heels.