What should have been a favorable portion of the schedule for the Orlando Magic is not turning out that way.
The Magic try to avoid losing a fourth straight game for the first time this season as they visit the last-place Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
Grant Hill scored 16 points, but Steve Francis was held to 12 points on 3-for-12 shooting as Orlando was defeated, 105-90 by the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The Magic shot just 37.5 percent (30-of-80) and suffered their fifth straight road loss.
“It was tough,” Francis said. “There’s nothing you can really say. We didn’t play hard. And it started with the starters.”
Francis may have been referring primarily to the starting backcourt as he and Cuttino Mobley shot a combined 5-for-22. The Magic allowed the Bulls to reel off a 19-2 run in the first quarter and Orlando never recovered.
“The last three games we just haven’t started ballgames the way you need to start them,” Orlando coach Johnny Davis said.
After posting a 93-87 home win over the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs on Dec. 22, Orlando has lost to the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago. In each of those games, the Magic trailed by at least six points at the end of the opening period.
Toronto comes off a winless three-game road trip, but has won three in a row at the Air Canada Centre as it begins a five-game homestand.
The Raptors should be well rested as they have been idle since Wednesday’s 111-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors. Jalen Rose scored 23 points and rookie Rafael Araujo had a career-high 13 in his third start for Toronto, which allowed Golden State to shoot 50 percent (11-of-22) from 3-point range. Jason Richardson scored a season-high 35 points and Mike Dunleavy added a season-high 29 points, despite being battling the flu. Dunleavy went 4-of-4 from the arc and Raptors coach Sam Mitchell was upset with his team’s defense.
“We don’t guard,” Mitchell said. “Not taking anything away from (Dunleavy), but he’s been struggling. We run defensive schemes, we play zone, but at a certain point, you’ve got to guard your man. You’ve got to take responsibility.”
Eric Williams was limited to just 11 minutes as he sprained his left ankle in the third quarter and didn’t return. Williams, who came to Toronto in the Vince Carter trade with New Jersey on Dec. 17, is expected to play against Orlando. The Raptors are 2-5 since that deal.