DeMar DeRozan emerged from recent late-game obscurity to lead the Toronto Raptors to a victory in Orlando.
His last basket of seven in the fourth quarter was a lengthy fadeaway jumper with defenders in his face. As the buzzer sounded, the ball splashed through, and the Raps roared off the bench in glee. Finally, the other guys feel some crushing disappointment.
Only a curmudgeon would point out that the Raps had blown another hefty lead; this time an 11-point margin after DeRozan scored Q4’s first basket.
The Raps actually fell behind, but had pulled ahead by four when, with a minute left, Terrence Ross “lost” J.J. Redick. The Magic’s veteran long range shooter received a pass, quickly buried a 3, and was fouled when Terrence compounded his error by knocking Redick down in a vain attempt to block the shot (the 4-point play didn’t result in Ross’ benching – a gutsy decision by coach Casey). DeRozan made an elbow jumper, which was matched on a Magic putback. With 4 seconds to play, the Raps inbounded, Jose Calderon found DeRozan…ballgame.
The Raps had to dig deep to grind out a win, even against a team whose season has collapsed following a strong start. Calderon took only 7 shots to score 10 points, and dished 6 assists. However, Kyle Lowry had a game to forget, with more turnovers (4) than points (3). The team left its 3-point shooting in Miami, hitting 4/16 on this night. Alan Anderson whiffed all 4 of his tries from distance, but did show excellent judgement in attacking the basket, finishing with 13.
Amir Johnson scored 21 points in his usual diverse fashion, including putbacks, spin moves leading to hook shots, and even his passable 15-foot set shot (it’s supposed to be a jumper, but it isn’t; as long as it goes in, who cares?). Ed Davis chipped in 12 and 8 boards. Both bigs blocked 3 shots. DeMar, whose jump shot gave the Magic fits, led all scorers with 22. Ross added 10, including 2/4 from distance. His jump shot looks better all the time.
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando’s impressive young centre, led the Magic with 19 points and 14 rebounds. It wasn’t enough to prevent the Raps from sweeping the season series from Orlando 4-0.
The Raptors fly home to face the Cleveland Cavaliers on a rare Saturday night game.
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.