TORONTO — The short-handed Toronto Raptors are going nowhere this year, but for at least one night they looked like contenders as they outplayed, outrebounded and outhustled the playoff-bound Orlando Magic.
DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, Jerryd Bayless had 23 and the Raptors beat the Magic 102-98 on Sunday night to snap a six-game losing streak.
"Everybody is playing well right now," Bayless said. "We're playing well, moving the ball and everybody is touching it. It's a fun way to play."
The Raptors combined for 24 assists and looked like the fresher team despite coming off a tough 113-106 at conference-leading Chicago on Saturday.
"Playing back-to-back games with that type of energy was definitely big for us," Derozan said.
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy was unimpressed with the Magic's poor performance against a struggling Raptors team missing starters Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon. The defeat was Orlando's third in four games.
"They wanted to win, we didn't care, so they won," Van Gundy said.
Centre Bargnani sat for the third time in four games with a sore right ankle while guard Calderon missed his second straight game with an injured left hamstring.
DeRozan, Bayless and the rest of the Raptors picked up the slack. Toronto outscored Orlando 29-19 in the fourth quarter and outrebounded the Magic 48-30 overall.
"You don't see teams get outrebounded by 18," Van Gundy said. "That's absurd."
After Friday's win over Charlotte, Van Gundy said his team needed to start playing at a "higher level" before the post-season, adding that the Magic won't be able to just flip the switch come playoff time. Sunday's loss only reinforced that sentiment.
"We certainly didn't even try to turn it on tonight," he said. "Our guys want to try to pick their spots. I'm not at all confident. I'm confident in what we're able to do when we want to play, but I'm not confident that our guys will come with an approach to really come out and play hard and play with great energy. I'm not confident in that at all."
Leandro Barbosa added 14 points for the Raptors, James Johnson and Sonny Weems each had 11, and Reggie Evans finished with 17 rebounds.
"I think we've played probably 96 minutes of very good basketball the last two nights," said Raptors coach Jay Triano. "I think our guys are playing hard and playing aggressive and they're sharing the basketball. I mean to have 24 assists tonight was pretty good for us."
Dwight Howard had 31 points and nine rebounds and Jameer Nelson scored 21 points for the Magic. Brandon Bass and Jason Richardson each scored 13 points and Hedo Turkoglu had 11.
Howard wasn't bothered by Van Gundy's blunt assessment.
"I don't want to say I don't care what Stan says but sometimes he is very passionate and he says things that we might not like," Howard said. "I just have to do whatever I can to motivate my team and get ready for the playoffs."
Trailing 81-73 after Turkoglu scored the opening basket of the fourth, Toronto answered with a 12-3 run to take an 85-84 lead with 8:56 remaining.
It didn't help Van Gundy's mood that the run happened with Howard catching a breather on the bench.
"It's a little ridiculous that we can't even let Dwight get a drink of water, but that's the way it is," he said. "When he leaves we have no defence and today we had very little offence. It's crazy, but we should be able to take him out to get a drink of water."
Nelson tied it at 90 on a running jumper with 5:22 left but DeRozan replied with a three-point play.
Howard made just one of four from the line after being fouled on consecutive possessions, allowing Toronto to maintain a 95-93 lead with 3:41 left.
Orlando trailed 97-95 with 1:10 to go when Raptors rookie Ed Davis stepped in front of Howard to steal a pass from Nelson. Barbosa missed a jumper with the shot clock winding down but Bayless came up with a key rebound and was fouled as he drove to the basket. Bayless made both, giving the Raptors a 99-95 lead with 24 seconds to play.
Nelson missed a three at the other end and Howard got the rebound, but DeRozan stole it. Bayless came up with the ball and was fouled, making one of two to put the Raptors up 100-95 with 13.3 seconds left.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Magic were limited to just nine healthy players. Guard Gilbert Arenas (illness) did not travel to Toronto, while sixth-man J.J. Redick, out since March 11 with an abdominal strain, rejoined the team after spending the past several days in Vancouver, British Columbia, undergoing treatment on his lingering injury. Guard Chris Duhon missed his third straight game with a sore right thumb.
NOTES: Toronto had just 22 hours turnaround time between its Saturday night loss at Chicago and Sunday's game against Orlando. ... Eight members of the Blue Jays attended the game but, due to a ticketing mix up, pitchers Ricky Romero and Casey Janssen were seated on press row. ... Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer sat courtside.