Orlando takes it outside

Raps' Chris Bosh battled all afternoon with the Magic's Dwight Howard yesterday at the ACC. (Sun...

Raps' Chris Bosh battled all afternoon with the Magic's Dwight Howard yesterday at the ACC. (Sun Media/Craig Robertson)

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

Missing three starters, the Orlando Magic forced the Raptors to pick their poison ... and then still drilled them.

On an afternoon when the stats sheet -- for the most part -- read like a glowing endorsement of the Raptors, there was one number that sealed their fate. The Magic attempted 32 three-pointers and connected 17 times in a wild 125-116 win at the Air Canada Centre.

It didn't matter that the Raps themselves made good on 59% of their three-point attempts. Or that they outshot the Magic from the field 54% to 44%. Or that Andrea Bargnani, after a disappearing act in the first half, scored 22 in the final 24 minutes.

All of that was made irrelevant by the Magic's superior outside shooting, accomplished without Rashard Lewis (suspended), Vince Carter (sprained ankle) and Mickael Pietrus, who was put back on a plane to Orlando after coming down with the flu.

That's a lot of points not in the lineup but, in their absence, the likes of J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson and Matt Barnes stepped up to provide 59 points.

Raps coach Jay Triano wasn't pointing fingers at his own players after the game, although he could have. Instead, he opted to go the what-else-could-we-do route.

"They had 16 (threes) opening night, too," Triano said. "This is what they do. They put shooters around Dwight Howard. If you take away the shooters as we tried later, then Dwight Howard goes crazy inside or we foul him like we did and play the odds. He is a 50% free-throw shooter and he had a great night going 14-for-16 (from the line)."

Chris Bosh, with 72 points in back-to-back losses, wasn't as willing to give his own club a pass.

'CAME OUT FLAT'

"I think we came out flat defensively," Bosh said. "We didn't do the things defensively that we've been talking about since the pre-season, which is to contest all shots and get the rebound.

"If they are making threes, then we can switch up the game plan. They had a lot of wide-open threes and that is what killed us. They made a few with our hands in their face. They were contested and, if they make those, that is fine."

Jameer Nelson, who is normally a tough matchup for Jose Calderon, continued to give the Raptors point guard fits. Nelson had a team-high 30 points, including five threes.

Howard wound up with 24 points and 11 rebounds, but the telling stat was that 14-of-16 from the line. In his first two games this season, he was just 7-for-17 on free throws.

Howard and Bosh, two of the NBA's young elite and good friends off the court, got into it a bit with just more than five minutes left in the game. Howard went inside and, once he had position on Bosh under the basket, the Raptor wrapped him up in a clench that would have been whistled as a horse-collar in the NFL.

Howard was asked after the game if such a foul was out of character for Bosh.

"I'm accustomed to being fouled," Howard said. "Does it hurt sometimes? Yeah. I just try my best not to retaliate but sometimes it does get frustrating. It doesn't matter who it is. I don't think he meant anything by it. If he did, it's over with now."

Bosh saw no reason to be apologetic for the foul.

"I'm just trying to win basketball games and if it takes a hard foul, so be it,' Bosh said.

MIKE.GANTER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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