NBA: Raptors sticking to gameplan for Game 4 vs. Magic

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Apr 21 2019 09:16 PM

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) is pressured by Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) and center Khem Birch (24) during the second quarter of game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Amway Center. Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The visiting Toronto Raptors will be trying to impose their will on Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic as they feel they did Friday night.

The Raptors scored the first 10 points of Game 3, responded emphatically after the Magic took a two-point lead midway through the third quarter, then held off another rally to win 98-93 and take a 2-1 series lead.

"I just liked the way we came out originally -- like, we've got to impose our will in this game," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "And then I liked us, how we answered. We went down a couple of times and we answered right back immediately, I think, both times. And then we put a string of stops together and showed some great toughness there, as well."

Pascal Siakam scored a career playoff-best 30 points and added 11 rebounds in 42 minutes for the Raptors. Kawhi Leonard, who scored 37 points in an 111-82 romp in Game 2, was limited to 16 points and 10 rebounds.

"(Leonard) didn't practice the last couple days," Nurse said. "He hadn't been feeling that well, and for him to go out there and fight through that and still play 37 minutes. ... I'm most proud of his 10 rebounds. He was just battling. It wasn't easy for him out there tonight."

The Magic can take solace from Nikola Vucevic's return to scoring form in Game 3, particularly in the second half.

He had averaged 20.8 points and 12 rebounds per game on 51.8 percent shooting from the field during the season, but had averaged 8.5 points and seven rebounds in the first two games of the series.

He scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in nearly 40 minutes on Friday.

When Toronto center Marc Gasol left the game after picking up his fourth personal foul early in the third quarter, Vucevic scored 12 straight points, including two consecutive 3-pointers.

"When (Gasol) went out of the game, I thought we did a good job," Magic coach Steve Clifford said.

"(Vucevic) did it without the aid of play calls, which is why he's been such a good, efficient scorer all year. There was more offensive energy, us moving the ball. That's when he's at his best. He got going with a couple of jumpers and obviously he played very well."

"I think I got back to the free-throw line and that helped, and I hit those 3s and that opened up stuff for me," Vucevic said.

"I just tried to stay aggressive and stick with it. I knew eventually my shot was going to fall, and it did tonight. They're obviously going to try to do a lot of stuff to take me away. ... Also, when we didn't turn the ball over, our screening was better, my movement was better, which opened up stuff for everybody, including myself."

Gasol said he will not alter his plan to neutralize Vucevic in Game 4.

"It's the same approach I took in Game 1, Game 2, Game 3 and I will take in Game 4 and you try to make things as hard as possible for him and his teammates to execute it," Gasol said. "He made a couple of shots and things are going to get obviously more open for him. In the third quarter, he got going. He is a very dangerous player."

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