Orlando’s Dwight Howard has four straight double-doubles and is coming off his best effort of the young season. That could be bad news for Toronto, as its own All-Star forward still is recovering from an injury.
Howard and the Magic look for their third straight victory Wednesday night when they visit Chris Bosh and the Raptors.
Howard collected season highs of 28 points and 16 rebounds to lead Orlando (3-1) to a 111-103 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday. He’s shooting over 65.2 percent (15-of-23) from the field to help the Magic win the first two games of their four-game road trip, which concludes Friday in New York.
The Raptors (2-2) are well aware of Howard, who averaged 21.0 points and 12.3 rebounds in four games against them last year. Toronto swept the season series, though, as Bosh averaged 34.3 points and 11.3 rebounds while playing only three of those contests.
Bosh hasn’t come close to putting up those kind of numbers in 2007-08 as he’s been hampered by a nagging left knee injury that has bothered him through the preseason. He’s averaging 12.8 points and 5.3 rebounds after enduring one of the worst games of his career Tuesday.
Bosh did not have a basket for only the second time as a pro, and finished with one point and two rebounds in 15 minutes in a 112-85 loss at Milwaukee. He refused to use his injury as an excuse.
“I am healthy enough to play basketball,” Bosh said. “If I’m on the court, there is no excuse. I just have to keep playing.”
Raptors coach Sam Mitchell didn’t single out Bosh as no starter reached double figures.
“I am not going to talk about an individual guy,” Mitchell said following Toronto’s second straight loss. “It was a whole team effort, not just one guy.”
Forward Jason Kapono, who is in his first season with Toronto, again struggled to defend an opposing small forward again as the Bucks’ Desmond Mason made all 10 shots and finished 21 points. Kapono, who is only averaging 8.5 points, watched as Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala scored 23 and New Jersey’s Richard Jefferson had 27 in games last week.
The Raptors now must decide how to defend Orlando’s Rashard Lewis, who made seven 3-pointers and scored 27 on Tuesday. The small forward - and the Magic’s prize offseason acquisition - is averaging 23.0 points through four games.
Orlando starting point guard Jameer Nelson missed Tuesday’s game with what the club called a slight concussion sustained the day before in practice. Carlos Arroyo started in his place and had 18 points and six assists.
With Bosh limited, Toronto could use a better performance from second-year forward Andrea Bargnani, who has only scored a total of 14 points in his last two games after averaging 20.5 in his first two. Bargnani averaged 17.0 points in two games against Orlando last season.