LONDON — The Toronto Raptors are becoming accustomed to putting in extra effort on their trans-Atlantic trips.
Kyle Lowry scored 24 points, Cory Joseph had 19 and the Raptors won their fourth straight game Thursday, holding off the Orlando Magic 106-103 before a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Arena.
"We’ve been in situations like this before," Lowry said of the tense finish. "We’re not going to panic."
The last time the Raptors (25-15) visited London, back in March, 2011, they lost in triple overtime to the Nets, a see-saw game that saw DeMar DeRozan and former Raptors centre Andrea Bargnani both miss last-second shots.
This time, DeRozan had 13 points and 11 rebounds as the Raptors avenged a Nov. 6 loss in Orlando that spoiled Toronto’s franchise-best 5-0 start.
"That’s a well-coached team," Lowry said of the Magic. "They play so hard. We feel good to beat a team that’s that good, that talented and that well-coached."
Seven Raptors reached double figures, with Jonas Valanciunas scoring 13, and Bismack Biyombo, Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola each getting 11.
Asked whether he’d suffered from jet-lag and fatigue, Lowry looked at the stat sheet and noted that he and DeRozan had combined to shoot 9 for 39, then crumpled the page and tossed it in a nearby trash can.
"No excuses," he said with a chuckle.
Joseph had no such issues, connecting on nine of 11 attempts.
"Cory came off the bench with some juice," coach Dwane Casey said.
Joseph said he enjoyed playing in front of the loud London fans.
"It was definitely a little bit different," Joseph said. "The atmosphere was great. It felt like a playoff game."
Victor Oladipo scored 27 points and Evan Fournier had 21 as Orlando (20-19) lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Nikola Vucevic had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Magic, while Tobias Harris had 16 points and 11 boards.
Canadian Andrew Nicholson came off the bench for the Magic, scoring six points in three minutes.
Two free throws by Lowry put Toronto up 105-100 with 43 seconds left in overtime, but Oladipo answered with a three-pointer.
After a missed shot by Lowry, he redeemed himself by stealing the ball from Oladipo and drawing a foul from Harris. Lowry made one of two, making it a three-point game.
"I gave up (Oladipo’s) three so I had to do something to get it back," Lowry said.
"It was a big play by a big player," Joseph said of Lowry’s vital steal.
Vucevic saw his last-second shot from near the halfway line bounce off the rim, giving Toronto a hard-earned win.
The wild finish came after the Raptors gave up an 11-point lead in the final 7:34 of the fourth quarter, with Oladipo’s jumper tying it at 96-96 with 32 seconds to go.
After a missed shot by Lowry, Oladipo had a chance to win it for Orlando, but missed a 21-foot jumper with seven tenths of a second remaining.
After a replay review to determine possession, the Magic got the ball under Toronto’s basket. Harris inbounded the ball to Jason Smith, but his shot bounced off the rim, sending the game to overtime.
Following a trio of pre-game anthems, Lowry and Vucevic stood side by side at centre court and thanked the London crowd for coming out to the game.
One of four European-born players, Lithuania’s Valanciunas received the loudest cheer during introductions. The others were Fournier, from France, Vucevic, representing Montenegro, and Magic forward Mario Hezonja, from Croatia.
The game attracted a large number of celebrities, including retired heavyweight boxer Lennox Lewis, Montreal Impact striker Didier Drogba, actor Michael B. Jordan and chef Gordon Ramsey.