For almost three quarters Sunday, the Orlando Magic looked awful against the Toronto Raptors.
Orlando's offense seemed out of sync. Toronto's Andrea Bargnani scored at will. And the Raptors just played with more energy.
Trailing by as many as 13 points early in the fourth quarter, the Magic recovered from their basketball hangover and celebrated New Year's Day with an emotional 102-96 win.
"We never panicked," center Dwight Howard said.
"It kind of reminded me of the team that went to the Finals. When we were down, instead of us pointing the finger or getting mad at each other, we just kept coming into huddles saying, 'Let's stick to the gameplan. We know what we've got to do and just do it.' "
A 3-pointer by Hedo Turkoglu with 3:35 left in regulation gave Orlando an 91-89 lead, and Ryan Anderson followed on the ensuing Magic possession with a trey from in front of the Raptors' bench.
The two baskets completed a 20-2 Magic run, and they brought the announced sellout crowd of 18,846 to its feet.
"It's really big for us," said Anderson, who scored a team-high 24 points.
"This is definitely the first win of this year where we had to really fight our way back from where we could have just sort of given up."
Bargnani scored a game-high 28 points, victimizing Anderson for most of the night. But Bargnani struggled in the final period, missing four of his five shot attempts from the field.
"Today, we played really well for three quarters," Bargnani said. "We played great offense and great defense. In the fourth quarter, we played really bad. We gave up a little on the defensive end, and they made some real tough shots."
J.J. Redick had 21 points off the Magic bench.
But perhaps Redick's biggest basket came courtesy of Howard — not Howard's brawn, but Howard's brain.
With Orlando trailing 89-83 during a timeout midway through the final quarter, Howard said coach Stan Van Gundy initially called for a pick-and-roll between Howard and Turkoglu to try and create an open shot for Anderson.
But Howard figured Redick would have a better look, and Howard recalled saying that to Van Gundy. The coach, apparently, changed the play.
"Get ready to shoot, because it's coming to you," Howard remembered telling Redick.
Seconds later, Redick sank a 3 from the top of the arc, cutting the Toronto lead to 89-86 and prompting Howard to point to his coach on the sideline.
"It was just trusting each other," Howard explained afterward. "Coach put some trust in my coaching skills."
The thought — and the joke about his coaching skills — made Howard smile.
And the win gives the Magic (4-1) some momentum heading into their game tonight against the Detroit Pistons (1-3) in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The mood would have been downcast on the flight north if not for the drastic turn of events against the Raptors (1-3).
"I thought we played a great fourth quarter," Van Gundy said.
"Our intensity level went way, way, way up. I didn't think we put much into the game on the defensive end of the floor until then, either in terms of intensity or in terms of discipline to what we were supposed to be doing. I'll take some of the blame for that."
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Orlando Magic rally from 13 down in 4th quarter to beat Toronto Raptors
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