“I think it was big for a lot of different reasons,” Williams said. “We need to keep the momentum going and we also need to learn from our mistakes. I thimk against Golden State (an overtime loss Friday), we didn’t come out and play with enthusiasm, but I think we did a better job of that this game. But we still have to figure out how to close teams out.”
Booed every time he touched the ball, McGrady collected 36 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists against his former team. His 3-pointer pulled the Magic within 99-97 with 31 seconds left.
Orlando got a final chance when Toronto’s Morris Peterson missed a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining, but the Magic had no timeouts remaining and could not get off a shot before time expired.
Orlando coach Doc Rivers lamented the Magic not getting the ball into McGrady’s hands on the final possession.
“We have to find the best player in the league and give him the ball, and that’s what’s most disappointing,” Rivers said. “T was right behind him and Darrell (Armstrong) just pushed the ball up the floor and that’s where you just got to turn around and give it to Tracy and spread the floor.”
Instead, Armstrong passed to Mike Miller, who missed a wide-open jumper after the buzzer.
“I was looking for it and it didn’t get to me,” McGrady said. “In situations like that, you got to get me the ball and spread out. You’ve just got to find your playmaker in situations like that.”
Orlando suffered its fifth straight road loss and has dropped eight of 10 overall. The Raptors won for the fifth time in six games.
Miller scored 16 points and Pat Garrity added 15 for the Magic. Miller was coming off a career-high 33 points in Friday’s 99-98 loss in Philadelphia.
The Raptors shot 52 percent (40-of-77) from the field, just the third time they have surpassed 50 percent this season. They are 3-0 in those games.
“I think for the most part, everyone has been doing a great job with different players stepping up each game,” Williams said. “Today, I was more aggressive.”
Acquired from the Raptors prior to the start of the 2000-01 season, McGrady is used to the booing he receives every time he plays in Toronto.
After scoring 35 points in 101-93 victory in his last visit to Toronto on January 19, McGrady said he welcomed the verbal abuse because it motivates him to play better.
Sunday was more of the same as the NBA’s leading scorer carried the Magic but did not get much help from his teammates. Orlando shot just 41 percent (35-of-85) from the field and trailed for most of the contest.
Shawn Kemp scored only five points on 1-of-6 shooting for the Magic in his first game since being reinstated by the NBA. He served a two-game suspension for a suspected violation the league’s drug program.
Vince Carter, McCrady’s cousin and fellow All-Star who did not play in the last game against Orlando, scored just 12 points for the Raptors.
“Who cares?” Carter said of his low output. “I play for the love of it and I think I’ve shown that throughout my years. That’s why I’m out there, for the challenge, for the obstacles, for the tough times, good times and bad times. It’s just fun to be in a game like this when you’re playing one of the best players in the league and you get the opportunity to defend him.”
The Raptors took control early, grabbing a 25-18 lead after the first quarter and stretching the advantage to 53-38 at the intermission. Orlando made a move in the third quarter but never got the lead after pulling within 76-70 entering the final period.
“Any loss is a bad loss but this one (is) because it was a winnable game for us,” McGrady said. “I think the first two quarters really killed us. We came out flat, cool, and those guys got off to a good start and are playing with a great deal of confidence right now.”
Peterson contributed 11 points for the Raptors, who took the lead for good midway through the first quarter.