Friday just wasn’t Jonas Valanciunas’ night.
Not only was he limited to eight points on just seven shots in 27 minutes of action, but the Toronto Raptors center was unsuccessful “dunking” mouth guard – on consecutive occasions. You can’t blame Valanciunas for not finding humor in his misfortune; we’d be frustrated, too. Thankfully, seldom-used Bruno Caboclo – the one giving a sly grin upon his teammate’s second Gatorade cup miss – enjoyed it enough for all of us.
Echoing their big man’s struggles, the Raptors mostly found baskets hard to come by against the suddenly competitive Orlando Magic. Toronto shot 41.5 percent from the field and made only nine of its 30 three-point attempts. But timing can be everything in basketball, and Lou Williams found the net when his team needed to most.
At 47-32 and holding a tie-breaker over the Chicago Bulls, Toronto controls its down destiny for the 3-seed in the Eastern Conference – whether Dwane Casey’s team wants it is another question entirely. Might the Raptors rather play the Atlanta Hawks than Cleveland Cavaliers in a presumptive second round matchup? Toronto is 3-1 against the East’s regular season champs, after all.
Stay tuned. The playoffs start a week from tomorrow.