Unlike the previous games during this now-5 game winning streak, the fourth quarter didn’t belong to the Raps. Despite being outscored in that frame by a Magic squad that wouldn’t quit, the home team prevailed.
It was a night of extremes for the Raptors’ rookies, Jonas Valanciunas & Terrence Ross. JV broke his right-hand ring finger in a ball scramble early in the game, & will be lost for probably a month. Terrence, on the other hand, buried 3 3-balls & pounded in 2 highlight reel dunks for 13 exciting points. Six Raps scored in double figures, despite missing a number of easy buckets. DeMar DeRozan was having a dreadful time early, but persevered, & managed 17 points. Jose Calderon enjoyed another fine game, with 13 points & “only” 9 assists. The assist number should have been much higher, but Ed Davis & others chopped up good chances time & again. Ed did chip in 10 points & 6 boards.
The Raps were pushovers on the boards again tonight, this time losing the battle 37-25. Despite that disparity, Coach Casey refused to let Aaron Gray have a chance, although I don’t think he can be kept on the bench much longer now that JV is out. Orlando’s biggest men, Vecuvic & Ayon, split 25 rebounds by themselves.
Alan Anderson didn’t enjoy another memorable night, making only 1 3-ball, but he hit his free throws & managed to count 10. Amir Johnson, possessor of the world’s first Raptor logo hairdo, played another warrior-grade game. His 2 free throws iced the game, & it’s no surprise he was plus11, the highest number for any player on either team. The man is a quiet beast, & a coach’s dream.
The Magic got a fine game from Aaron Afflalo, who was perfect from distance & from the foul line on his way to 26 points. Fortunately for the Raps, J.J. Redick flubbed all 5 of his 3-ball attempts.
While this winning streak is a wonderful Christmas treat, the loss of JV is a serious blow. The Raps’ roster is being decimated, with 4/5 of the starters in street clothes. [20-second timeout: I'm taking some license with that statement. Landry Fields is dressed, but hasn't seen a second of action. I don't think he's truly fit to play, & is dressing to meet the 9 player minimum.] Only DeMar has avoided the injury blight. Don’t be surprised to hear the names of a lot of has-been/never-was Centres suddenly being bandied about as candidates for 10-day contracts.
The Raptors, not being a glamour team as far as U.S. networks are concerned, don’t have to suit up Christmas Day. Their next game is the first of 3 on the road, against San Antonio on Boxing Day (that’s the 26th for our non-Canadian readers).
Please drop in during this hiatus – I’ve got several articles pending I think you’ll enjoy.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.