Mired in a lengthy losing stretch, the Orlando Magic can't be happy to see the Toronto Raptors again.
Defensively challenged Orlando tries to avoid a four-game season sweep at the hands of visiting Toronto on Thursday night.
The Magic (14-27) haven't been able to slow anyone down of late, allowing 106.2 points per game - 7.3 more than their season mark - during a 2-14 skid.
Two of those losses came against the Raptors (15-27), who pulled out a 93-90 home win Dec. 21 before cruising to a 123-88 rout at Amway Center eight days later. DeMar DeRozan scored 21 and Jose Calderon had 15 points and 10 assists in that most recent matchup as Toronto shot a season-high 56.1 percent.
The Raptors also won 97-86 on Nov. 18, snapping a three-game skid in the series. Their only season sweep of Orlando came in 2006-07.
"They've been pretty tough for us," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "They made shots last time here in our building, and that kind of snowballed in their favor. We have to control their guards, keep them out of the paint, and also be able to contests shots. We got our work cut out."
The Magic suffered their third straight defeat Tuesday, 105-90 at Detroit. J.J. Redick scored 26 but Orlando was outrebounded 54-41 and only forced eight turnovers, dropping to 1-14 when creating 10 or fewer.
The Magic, who are last in the league with 489 forced turnovers, have created a combined 27 against Toronto this season.
"You have to take ownership, and in order to take ownership, you have to play harder and hold each other accountable," Redick said. "We, as a group, need to play harder and that's really on the defense end. We've harped on it now for a few weeks, we're having issues on that end. I don't think it's the schemes, I think it's just doing everything a little bit harder and trusting each other."
While it's been a disappointing first half for Orlando, Vaughn is trying to stay positive with 41 games still to come.
"I don't think any player on this team wants to lose basketball games, and our approach has always been if we continue to work hard, success will come," he said. "It's a long season, and it's filled with it ebbs and flows. It's a matter of having a will to get through those ebbs and flows, and staying together through it.
"This group's done that. It wasn't our best effort in Detroit - I think we would all concur - but the great thing is the NBA presents another opportunity."
After beating the Los Angeles Lakers 108-103 to snap a four-game skid Sunday, the Raptors couldn't keep up three nights later in a 123-116 overtime loss at Miami. Alan Anderson had 20 points off the bench to lead seven players in double figures but Toronto, which has seen three of its last four games go to OT, lost the rebounding battle 53-28.
"We've been competing against everybody," said Calderon, who made a season-high five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. "We're playing much better. We're sharing the ball. We can compete against everybody. We've got to compete every night. ... When we play as a team, we're good. We don't have LeBron James."
The Raptors are 4-18 on the road, where they're allowing 104.1 points to rank near the bottom of the league.
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