NBA returns to London as Raptors down Magic in overtime

The Toronto Raptors beat Orlando Magic 106-103 after overtime in front of a packed house at London’s O2 Arena on Thursday.

The victory, inspired by 24 points by Kyle Lowry, was Raptors’ fourth straight NBA win.

The Canadian team led by over ten points on three occasions, but Magic refused to lie down before eventually falling to their sixth defeat in their last seven games.

Raptors previously lost a double-header against the New Jersey Nets (now Brooklyn) in London in 2011, including one game which ended with triple overtime.

DeMar DeRozan, who added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors, had played in the 2011 games and Thursday’s game brought up a few bad memories.

“I thought, how ironic,” he said. “But it was a great game. The last time we played here it was a great game, both teams wanted to win, the crowd was into it, and it was the same tonight. We put on a great show. I’m glad we got a win out of it though.”

The game was the sixth NBA regular season match in the last six years to be held in London and attracted stars from across the world of sport and entertainment, including footballers Didier Drogba, Michael Ballack and Olivier Giroud.

Current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and former Commissioner David Stern were also amongst a sell-out 18,689 crowd.

Silver said the atmosphere felt like a ‘European All-Star Game’ and hinted it was something the NBA was considering for the future.

“We would love to figure out a way to do it,” he said. “Logistically it’s very difficult to travel to Europe and travel home from Europe.

“No question it’s something we would like to figure out a way to do at some point, I think it would be fantastic experience for everyone.”

The clash between Toronto and Orlando formed part of NBA’s Global Games – a series designed to globalize the sport of basketball.

Pre-season games in Italy, Spain, China and Brazil have been followed by regular season matches in Mexico and the UK, with top NBA outfits Boston Celtics, L.A. Clippers and Sacramento Kings amongst the teams who have taken part.

Interest in the NBA in the UK continues to grow, with BT Sport’s multi-year expansion of their television partnership with the league bringing the sport to a new audience.

The broadcaster is showing up to seven live games per week throughout the regular season, along with the first and second rounds of the play-offs, plus every game of the conference finals and NBA Finals in June.