ORLANDO — The state of Florida is a destination for those looking to take a load off and relax.
A two-game trip was no different for the Raptors, who played like they were on a working vacation, only with little actual work.
Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic barely lifted a finger Wednesday night — except, of course, when the star centre was swatting the basketball away from the Raps — in a 118-99 trouncing of Toronto before a capacity crowd of 17,461 at the Amway Arena, 24 hours after the Raps were spanked in Miami.
One could say the Raptors left their defence in Canada had there been any to leave behind.
“We’re all over the place right now,” said Chris Bosh, who led the Raps with 20 points. “One thing we really have to get better at is to know what we are doing and to know what we are supposed to do with intensity.
“Dwight played the first 14, 15 minutes of the game so you could tell they were trying to jump on us early. We have to know that.
“We need to impose our will. It’s something we don’t do.”
Raptors coach Jay Triano might want to pull out a tape of Howard for defensive tips when he next gathers his players.
Howard had a season-high eight blocks and added 12 defensive rebounds (14 in total), and sweated more than all of the Raptors combined. Toronto had no answer for Howard on offence, as he recorded his 19th double-double with 18 points. There’s a reason why the theme to Superman is played on the sound system here when Howard makes a big play.
“Any time we tried to go to the basket he was there,” Triano said. “He blocked that many but he changed that many. We had 40 points in the paint but he took away a lot more.”
The return to Orlando for Hedo Turkoglu was sour. Turkoglu, who played for the Magic for five years and helped take it to the NBA final last spring, was held to 14 points.
The reception for Turkoglu was about the same for any player who is back for the first time to a city where he had success. Turkoglu was cheered loudly during the pre-game introductions, but when he missed a jumper early in the game, the cheers were almost as plentiful. And he was booed each time he went to the free-throw line.
The Turkish national was asked afterward if he pined to be back with the Magic.
“No, not at all,” Turkoglu said. “I made the right decision. I’m in a Raptors jersey and will do my best to put the organization in a better position.”
Turkoglu had said he was not happy with his play in Toronto overall and Bosh concurred that the adjustment was a slow one.
“It’s okay, but not the best so far, to be frank,” Bosh said. “We still have to find ourselves and he still has to get comfortable.”
The Raps, 4-12 on the road, watched helplessly as the Magic attempted 30 three-pointers and made 14. Toronto’s four losses in its past five games each have been by at least 19 points. Where is the pride?
“We have to understand that the game plan isn’t going to work if we don’t have the effort,” Antoine Wright said. “It comes down to each individual.”