The Raptors have won three straight and eight of their last 10 to move 3 1/2 games ahead of New Jersey in the Atlantic Division. Toronto (25-23) has twice put together a three-game winning streak in the last two weeks, matching its longest run of the season.
The Raptors, who will be trying to win a season-high fourth straight as they host the Magic in the middle of a three-game homestand, went two games over .500 with a 122-110 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Toronto hasn’t been three games over .500 since Nov. 10, 2004, when it was 4-1. The team hasn’t been above .500 this late in a season since 2001-02, when the Raptors finished 42-40 and made their most recent playoff appearance.
“It’s unbelievable,” point guard Jose Calderon said. “Everybody in this locker room is better than they were in the preseason because we’ve learned to play as a team.”
Sunday’s victory extended Toronto’s home winning streak to five games and gave it a 16-7 record at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors—who won only 15 home games all of last season—haven’t had a longer home winning streak since an eight-game run at the end of the 2001-02 season.
The Raptors matched a franchise record by shooting 70 percent in the first half against the Clippers and finished with a season-high point total. Toronto has scored at least 100 points in three straight games.
“We’ve just been trying to stay aggressive on the offensive end,” said Raptors All-Star forward Chris Bosh. “We’ve been moving the ball well to start off games. Guys just have wide open shots and we’ve knocked them down.”
Toronto beat Orlando 91-84 on the road on Dec. 13, despite the absence of Bosh, who was out with a bruised left knee. The Raptors have won five of the last seven between the teams, including four straight at home.
The Magic (25-24) continued their recent woes, losing 116-111 at Milwaukee on Tuesday. Orlando has lost 10 of its past 13 games and is in danger of falling back to .500 for the first time since being 3-3 on Nov. 10 after a 93-83 loss to Indiana.
The Magic shot 53 percent from the field on Tuesday, but allowed four Bucks to score at least 20 points, negating Dwight Howard’s 21 points and 11 rebounds.
“When four guys score 20 points or more, you know you’re not playing good defense,” Magic coach Brian Hill said. “It’s just disappointing because it was one of our poorest defensive efforts of the year.”
After a great start to the season away from home, the Magic have found it tough to win a road game. Orlando has lost two in a row and 10 of its past 12 road games after starting the year 7-4.
Howard has two 20-rebound games in eight career matchups against the Raptors. He had 17 points and 13 rebounds in December’s loss, but shot just 6-for-17 from the field.