“That was the most important game of the season so far and we played like it,” Chris Bosh said. “We stepped up to the challenge.”
Ford shot 2-for-17 in the first two games of the series, but looked confident and comfortable in this one, splitting time almost equally with Calderon.
“The way those guys played reminded me of just how good those two can be when they’re both on their game,” Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said.
“Right from the get-go, the Raptors were outstanding,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Their point guard play was phenomenal and probably the key to the game for them.”
The Raptors finished 12-for-34 from 3-point range and set playoff highs for points in a game and a half (61).
Game 4 is Saturday afternoon in Toronto.
“We’re halfway to our goal, which is to get back to 2-2,” Ford said. “We have to take care of business again on Saturday.”
Keith Bogans scored 12 for the Magic, who trailed by as many as 23.
Orlando guard Jameer Nelson collapsed with back spasms as he was walking back the locker room after the game and was seen writhing on the floor in pain.
“He got hit in the back defending a pick-and-roll,” Van Gundy said. “He kept playing, but as he walked off the court, he got a back spasm and a bad one.”
Van Gundy said Nelson was up and walking again minutes after the incident. Hampered by foul trouble, Nelson went 2-for-8 and scored six points, all in the fourth quarter.
Toronto was unable to overcome double-digit deficits in the first quarter of Games 1 and 2, and was determined to start better up north.
With Moon back in the starting lineup in place of Rasho Nesterovic, the Raptors had the energy they needed. Down 6-2 early, Toronto responded with a 16-3 run over the next four minutes. Moon capped it with a breakaway dunk, forcing Orlando to call a timeout trailing 18-9.
“Just like I’ve been doing all season, I wanted to come out and be aggressive and try to bring energy to my teammates,” Moon said. “I wanted to come out and get on the glass and get my hands on any ball that I could and make it tough on the guy I was guarding.”
With his teammates struggling, Howard’s inside dominance kept Orlando close. He had 13 points and five rebounds in the opening frame, but Toronto led 28-20 after 12 minutes.
“They came out tonight and wanted it more than we did,” Howard said of Toronto’s strong start. “We expected it but we just didn’t weather the storm. They came out firing on all cylinders and we didn’t do a great job of coming back at them. We kind of let them set the tempo, we let them set the way the game was going to be played the whole night and we couldn’t stop it.”
Besides Howard, the Magic shot 3-for-15 in the opening quarter.
The Raptors pulled further away in the second, holding Howard to just two points and finishing the half with a flurry sparked by Ford.
“He’s a very, very good player and he played like it today,” Bosh said of Ford.
The diminutive guard was on the court for just 3 1/2 minutes in the second but made the most of them, scoring 11 points. Ford drained jumpers on three straight trips and Bargnani added a 3-pointer as the Raptors reeled off a 9-0 run, pushing their lead to 56-35.
Bosh didn’t make his first field goal until a breakaway dunk with 12 seconds left in the first half, putting Toronto up 61-38. Carlos Arroyo replied with a layup to make it 61-40 at the break.
“The game was pretty well decided at halftime,” Van Gundy said.
Lewis opened the third with back-to-back 3-pointers and had 12 points in the quarter as Orlando outscored Toronto 29-19, cutting the gap to 80-69 heading into the fourth.
Nelson picked up his fourth foul less than two minutes into the third and headed to the bench. Joining him there later was Howard, who was whistled for three fouls in the third, two of them offensive, and was replaced by Marcin Gortat with 1:39 remaining.
The Magic started 0-for-7 from beyond the 3-point line. Keith Bogans snapped the skid with a 3 with 2:45 left in the first quarter. … Howard, who was 14-for-20 from the free throw line in the first two games of the series, went 3-for-8 Thursday. … Toronto outrebounded Orlando 42-34. … Turkoglu’s 26 points were a career playoff high.