Same team, same trouble, same result.
It may be a new season, but it looked like a replay of last season for the Orlando Magic in a stunning 92-90 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.
The Magic tended to play down to the level of competition last season, dropping 16 games to teams with losing records and beating some elite clubs.
Monday night, the Magic didn't just play down to the competition; they burrowed to the center of the Earth to find it.
After losing in overtime against the potent Mavericks in Dallas in their last outing, they couldn't shake their old habit against the Raptors, who merely came in with the worst record in the league at 4-20.
Not exactly the way the Magic needed to begin a key six-game homestand at TD Waterhouse center.
Struggling after failing to build on an early 13-point lead, Orlando crept to within 89-88 on Tony Battie's jumper with 33 seconds remaining.
Then Dwight Howard blocked Raptors forward Chris Bosh's layup attempt with 2 seconds left on the shot clock and 10.3 seconds remaining.
All the Magic had to do was hold on. Hold on defensively, that is.
But Morris Peterson shook free from Steve Francis behind the 3-point line, and Jalen Rose hit him with a pass deep in the corner in front of the Magic's bench.
By the time Francis arrived to contest it, Peterson got off the shot and drained it for a four-point lead at 92-88 with 8.2 seconds left.
Insurmountable, as it turned out.
"He (Peterson) was just there. . . . Steve lost sight of him and gave him an open 3," Magic Coach Brian Hill said.
Francis had a different take. "That was a tough shot. I was right there in his face," he said.
Added Hill, "We just lost defensive discipline on the last play of the game and gave up a 3-point shot."
Typically, the Magic (9-13) weren't on the same page.
Hill called it "a bad loss," and said it should have never come down to his club getting beat on a clock-beating 3-pointer by the league's worst team.
"It shouldn't have come to that, we shouldn't have been in that position," he said.
But they were, and it resembled last season, when they lost 16 games to teams with losing records. The Magic fell to the Charlotte Bobcats-an expansion team-three times and stumbled against the Atlanta Hawks and these Raptors.
Probably the worst thing that happened to Orlando was jumping to a 34-21 lead in the second quarter and thinking they could hit cruise control.
The Raptors simply outplayed them, outhustled them and outworked them after that.
The Magic's offense ground to a halt. They became jump-shot happy and passive. They didn't shoot a free throw in the final quarter.
Grant Hill, coming off a 28-point game in Dallas, didn't register a point, an assist or a rebound in the fourth.
"I didn't like our ball movement at all," Brian Hill said. "At halftime, we weren't attacking the basket, and we just got into a jump-shot mode. When I saw us play the way we did in the second quarter and allow them back in the game, I sensed from that point on that it was going to go right down to the wire because I did not like the way we were playing."
Francis led the Magic with 20 points and five assists. Tony Battie added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Jameer Nelson had 14 off the bench.
Hill finished with 11 points and six boards. Peterson and Chris Bosh paced the Raptors with 19 points apiece. Rose had 15 points off the bench.
"We got to get out of this habit of taking two steps forward and one step back before we can start moving forward again," Brian Hill said.
In other NBA action: Boston 109, Golden State 98; Charlotte 106, Sacramento 103 (OT); Detroit 106, Memphis 104 (OT); Seattle 111, Washington 101.