TORONTO - Having just given up a three-pointer and trailing by 11 points late in the first half, Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey called a timeout. Kyle Lowry took the ball and spiked it hard to the ground in frustration.
Lowry drew on that frustration, and, coupled with a huge fourth-quarter effort by Toronto's second unit, lifted the Raptors to a 104-100 victory Tuesday over the Orlando Magic — extending their Eastern Conference-best record to 7-1. They're a perfect 5-0 at the Air Canada Centre.
"Down the stretch in that fourth quarter, we were able to get stops when we needed stops and Kyle put the team on his back and was that leader out there that we needed, ran the team and set up the offensive plays, and we were able to hit shots," Patrick Patterson said.
On a night that saw Toronto trail almost the entire game, a key sequence down the stretch saw Lowry feed James Johnson for a running dunk, grab two rebounds, then draw a foul and drain two free throws to give the Raptors a three-point lead with a minute to play.
Lowry would finish with 19 points while Terrence Ross poured in 17 more, and DeMar DeRozan added 16.
Johnson came off the bench to grab a game-high 10 rebounds, while Lou Williams scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth, and Patterson had nine of his 12 points in the final quarter.
Lowry credited the second unit with the win.
"We lean on each other," he said. "Tonight we tip our hats to Lou, Greivis (Vasquez), J.J., Pat.
"Their intensity, their defensive pressure," he added, when asked how they changed the game. "They really got into them, got into the ball. They stuck to the game plan to a T."
Evan Fournier led the Magic (2-6) with 24 points, while Tobias Harris added 23, and Channing Frye finished with 19.
The Raptors, wearing their camouflage uniforms in honour of Remembrance Day, were coming off two solid defensive efforts in wins over Washington and Philadelphia.
But their poor defensive habits were back with a vengeance as the Raptors fell behind by double digits early to the Magic, and trailed almost the entire game.
"Where we want to go as a team, we can't be playing like that," Casey said.
Trailing Orlando 83-72 to begin the fourth quarter, the Raptors finally showed some life. Williams scored eight points in less than four minutes and then Patterson's three with 6:36 to go put the Raptors up 90-88 (Toronto's first lead since 14-13).
Patterson blamed the first three quarters on "lack of effort."
"Our inability to communicate in transition, them getting easy buckets in transition, easy scores at the paint, and just on the perimeter on the three. . . We weren't able to follow the scouting report and it showed those first three quarters," he said.
"I thought during (the fourth quarter), we were able to communicate, talk a lot better, help each other out, and finish the play with a solid rebound."
A basket by Harris pulled the Magic to within a point with 55 seconds to play, but a free throw by Patterson, followed by a miss by Harris, clinched Toronto's victory.
"It was a test of our character and we got the win," Vasquez said. "It wasn't pretty, stars didn't play the way we wanted them to play, but we got the second unit playing the right way, so we've got to give credit to James Johnson and Lou Williams coming off the bench and doing a good job and the rest of the guys bringing a lot of energy."
Vasquez referred to Johnson as "spicy," and when asked to elaborate, said: "He's spicy in a way that everybody knows he's a little crazy. Personally I love his craziness. . .10 rebounds in 15 minutes, that's energy, you can't really teach that.
"You need somebody crazy in the locker-room. He's not afraid to fight for you, he'll die for you, for the whole team."
The Magic shot 48 per cent on the night to Toronto's 46. Toronto had a narrow 40-39 advantage on the boards.
The Raptors' poor start on the defensive end showed in the Magic's 58 per cent shooting in the first quarter. Frye hit all three of his three-point attempts in the frame, and Orlando took a 32-24 advantage into the second.
A three by Fournier put the Magic up 60-49 with a minute to go in the second half, Orlando's biggest lead of the game to that point. The visitors went into the dressing room at halftime up 60-51.
The Raptors pulled to within seven points midway through the third, but two possessions later the Magic was back up by 11, and took an 83-72 lead into the fourth.
The Raptors host Chicago on Thursday and Utah on Saturday.
NOTES: Toronto's Landry Fields missed the game (flu). . . Canadian women's tennis star Eugenie Bouchard was at the game, and fired autographed tennis balls into the crowd during a timeout. . . The game began with a ceremony honouring Canadian military veterans and a moment of silence. . . The Raptors media pre-game notes included a section "What are the red flowers?" to explain the significance of poppies to travelling U.S. journalists.