Raptors bare their teeth, bounce back in playoff series

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors high fives Marc Gasol during Game 2

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors high fives Marc Gasol during Game 2

In one of his finest nights since joining the Raptors, Leonard scored 37 points on 15-of-22 shooting as the Raptors crushed the Magic 111-82 on Tuesday night to tie their best-of-seven playoff series 1-1. Lowry bounced back in a major way, and it wasn't just with his 22 points.

With Toronto's two big men more equally sharing the five-spot minutes in this game, Serge Ibaka contributed 13 points and eight boards, while Gasol had nine points (three three-pointers), three rebounds and five assists.

For more from the Raptors' blow out win, we have you covered with takeaways below. Despite the win, early books opened Orlando at +8.5 for tonight's Game 2 - a number that immediately drew the attention of bettors.

The Raptors kept Orlando off the scoreboard for the game's first four minutes, sprinting out to an 11-0 lead. They've been doing their best work at the defensive end, where they've been using the fact that they don't really have any weak links to force Orlando into choosing the least awful of many bad options to try to score, and that's generated plenty of turnovers and held Nikola Vucevic, fresh off his first All-Star season, to 36.0% true shooting thus far in the series.

After he went 0-for-7 from the field in Game 1, the Raps vowed they'd put Lowry in position to be more aggressive. "Tonight he was charging up the floor and pushing the ball, passing, shooting, driving, kicking, made steals, hands on everything, rebounded". If this performance is a sign of things to come, the Raptors have plenty to be optimistic about. After a stunning defeat in Game 1, Leonard (who, to his credit, went for 25 points and six rebounds in the loss) played like an MVP-caliber performer on Tuesday night.

And now they have him right where they need him to be for their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic.

"We feed off the crowd, we like their energy", Gordon said. "We made sure we helped each other and made sure that if someone went to help, that someone helped the helper, and helped the helper's helper", said Kyle Lowry.

The Orlando Magic deserve respect based on how they finished the regular season and what they did in their game one victory.

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The blowout win set a franchise record for Toronto as their largest playoff win in team history with a difference of 29 points.

Gordon and Ross were the only Orlando players putting up significant numbers, and the Raptors took a healthy 51-39 lead into the locker-room. Siakam was also at-times challenged by Orlando's length in the paint - as all the Raptors were - which is part of the reason why his 12-for-24 night wasn't more efficient.

Nikola Vucevic, the Magic's lone All-Star, continues to struggle in the series. The Raptors' veteran center, acquired midseason from the Memphis Grizzlies, posted a 3-for-5 shooting line in 22 minutes - every make was from deep - but that belied his overall net effect.

To make matters worse, the centre turned the ball over four times.

It was another Game 1 performance to forget for Lowry against the Magic at the weekend.

The Orlando Magic look to take advantage of home court advantage and improve to a 2-1 series lead. The Raptors should spam this combination ad nauseam for the remainder of the series.

Nurse feels they have Leonard in a good place health-wise. When Kawhi is in that form, there is simply no counter, he's too strong, too talented, to be really stopped, and the opponent's mission becomes simply slowing him down enough that they can keep pace, and that's an insurmountable task at times. The over/under total for the contest is listed at 211.5 points.

As we mentioned above, Vucevic was nowhere to be found.

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