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Toronto Raptors

Four takeaways from the Toronto Raptors loss to the Orlando Magic

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Norm Powell, Marc Gasol, Terrence Ross [NBA Getty Images]

The Toronto Raptors fell to the Orlando Magic 113-95, losing their second consecutive game against the Eastern Conference Playoff hopeful.

From the Raptors' struggles right out of the gate to a huge night from an ex-Raptor player, here are your takeaways from Monday's (AEDT) loss...

First quarter struggles

When the Raptors were blown out by the Magic back in December they had one of their worst quarters of the season scoring 15 points in the first quarter.

They allowed the Magic to score 35 points in the quarter and finished that game with a 29-point loss, the worst of the season, to go with a season-low 29.5 shooting percentage from the field.

Today's start was nearly identical - they scored 15 points shooting 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) from the field but this time only allowed 25 points, keeping them in the game past the first 12 minutes.

They made up for their terrible first quarter by scoring 35 points in the second quarter shooting 61.9 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from beyond the arc to cut the deficit to just three points at the half, but it felt like they were playing catch-up the whole game.

10 of the Raptors' 17 losses have come in games where they were trailing after the first quarter and tonight they failed to overcome that slow start.

Terrence Ross lights up his former team

Terrence Ross was not very kind to his former team in today's contest.

Ross, a Raptor for five seasons from 2012-2017, exploded on the court he used to call home - he had a game-high 28 points on 9-for-21 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds to lead his team to victory.

His production off the bench nearly outscored the Raptors' entire second unit, who finished the game with 36 points.

Ross had a solid game in the Magic's previous win over Toronto as well, scoring 14 points on an efficient shooting night to help give Orlando a 2-1 lead in the season series.

The Magic are fighting to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and wins like today are encouraging moving forward.

MORE: Analyzing Toronto's potential playoff opponents

They are now just 1.0 game behind the Charlotte Hornets for eighth place and have proved they have what it takes to compete with the Raptors should they meet in the first round.

New Raptor updates

Marc Gasol made his first start as a member of the Raptors in a jumbled lineup with Leonard sitting this one out.

Despite the final score, Gasol was solid in this contest and continues to impress every time he steps on the floor for the Raptors.

He filled up the box score with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field to go with five boards and five assists. While it wasn't his best game defensively with Nikola Vucevic scoring 23 points in a double-double with 12 rebounds, you can begin to see him get more and more comfortable within the offence each night.

Plays like this give-and-go with Kyle Lowry demonstrate the chemistry he is starting to develop with his teammates.

As for the other new Raptors - Jeremy Lin couldn't seem to find his touch in this one shooting 2-for-8 from the field, but he did have an encouraging five assists doing a solid job moving the ball on the offensive end.

Jodie Meeks made his first appearance as a Raptor and finished with a team best plus-seven plus/minus in 17 minutes off the bench. He came out strong scoring 10 points in the second quarter to spark the lifeless Raptors' offence but failed to convert another shot attempt the rest of the game.

With that being said, the spark in the second quarter is exactly why signing a player like Meeks to a 10-day contract can be beneficial to Toronto should they choose to bring him on for the rest of the season.

Another Kawhi-less night

Kawhi Leonard missed his 17th game this season with 'load management' as tonight's reason.

Head coach Nick Nurse spoke to TSN's Josh Lewenberg on the topic prior to the start of the game.

Leonard is in the midst of an MVP-calibre season but his frequent absence from the lineup has cost him being a part of those conversations.

The Raptors have found ways to win without Kawhi, going 13-4 in games that he sits out winning by a point differential of plus-160. But in games like tonight where they lacked energy and couldn't buy a bucket in the first quarter, having your best player on the floor can only help.

With this loss behind them, Leonard should be extremely well-rested for the big game against the Celtics on Wednesday.

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