Magic fall to Raptors, remain on verge of clinching playoff spot

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Once again, the Orlando Magic couldn’t solve the Toronto Raptors.

The Magic made a third-quarter charge, but they couldn’t sustain it in the fourth and wound up with a 109-99 loss to the Raptors on Wednesday night at ESPN Wide World of Sports’ Visa Athletic Center.

Toronto swept the four-game season series and held Orlando under 100 points in each contest.

Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross scored 15 points apiece, Nikola Vucevic scored 12 points, Wes Iwundu totaled 11 and Gary Clark had 10 for the Magic (32-37).

Fred VanVleet finished with 21 points to lead six players in double figures for the Raptors (49-18).

Despite the loss, the Magic inched closer to a playoff berth, courtesy of the Wizards’ loss to the 76ers earlier in the day. Any combination of an Orlando victory or a Washington loss during the next four seeding games will secure a playoff spot for the Magic.

Still, another loss to Toronto stung. The Magic now have dropped eight straight games to the Raptors, dating back to last season’s playoff matchup.

Once the Magic fell behind by 11 late in the first quarter, they trailed by double digits for nearly the rest of the game and at one point were down by 24.

The Magic, who played without reserve guard Michael Carter-Williams, didn’t have forward Aaron Gordon for most of the second half because of hamstring tightness.

Gordon was fouled early in the third quarter by Raptors guard Kyle Lowry on a drive to the basket and landed awkwardly on the floor. Gordon almost immediately grabbed the back of his left leg.

Lowry, who had grabbed Gordon’s arm while Gordon was in the air, was given a Flagrant 1 foul on the play.

Gordon made one of two ensuing free-throw attempts. He stayed in the game and later scored on a power spin move from the low block. It’s unclear if that move contributed to the hamstring tightness, but Gordon left the game at the 8:48 mark — 46 seconds after he was fouled by Lowry.

Gordon finished with nine points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. His final points were part of a 14-2 run that pulled the Magic within 10.

An Iwundu 3 — his second of the game — pulled Orlando within seven, at 75-68, with 27.2 seconds left in the third quarter.

Orlando twice cut the lead to seven early in the fourth quarter, but each time Toronto responded with short scoring bursts.

The Magic had chances in the final two minutes to get within seven again, but Ross and Fournier missed 3-point tries in the same possession. The Magic wound up 11 for 41 from behind the arc.

The Magic went 0 for 9 from behind the arc and were 5 for 20 overall in the opening quarter, and Toronto used that poor shooting to build a 26-11 lead. The Raptors closed the quarter with an 18-5 run to create separation.

The gap widened after a 13-2 run by Toronto helped produce a 55-35 lead at halftime. Orlando’s 35 points were a season-low for points in a half.

Carter-Williams missed the game due to a tendon strain in his left foot. The team is hopeful he’ll be ready for Friday’s game against Philadelphia after two days of rest and treatment. The team is off Thursday.

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