The Rudy Gay era is off to a flying start, as the Toronto Raptors crushed a team wearing Los Angeles Clippers uniforms by 25 points. Raps fans were happy to welcome not just Rudy and his 20 points, but the return of Jonas Valanciunas as well. A see-saw game tilted emphatically in the home team’s favour late in the second quarter, and the Clippers never mounted even the semblance of a comeback following the break.
The fine effort of our new man should not detract from the excellent games turned in by two of our veterans, Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan. Amir, not at all deterred by facing the powerful Blake Griffin all night, poured in 19 points and grabbed 16 boards. He also slapped several rebounds out of Clipper hands and back to our guards for new shot clocks. The man is a marvel. DeMar is becoming a complete player before our eyes. His 19 points included 2/3 from distance (yay!), he blocked a perimeter jumper, and he dished 7 assists, several of which were alley-oops to Rudy on fast breaks. DeMar has been the subject of much criticism, to the effect that his contract extension is too rich for his production. If tonight’s game is a precursor, he’ll turn his critics into fans in short order.
Rudy entered the game with 5 minutes to play in Q1, to loud applause from a lively crowd. His first point as a Rap was a free throw, and his first bucket was a jam. Rudy ended the third quarter with a long 3, which pushed the Raps to a 27 point lead. He displayed exactly what this reporter was expecting: he can create his own shot, he’s both fast and quick, and he will mix it up on the boards.
Two more hat tips are due, one to John Lucas III, who buried 5 3-balls on 7 tries, and Aaron Gray, who’s having a wonderful week. Tonight he pitched in 7 points and grabbed 12 boards. After being all but forgotten, he’s earned himself a lot more minutes.
On the frosty side of the ledger, there was Alan Anderson, who was donut for 4 shots, and Terrence Ross. Our talented rookie’s shooting struggles continued, as he could muster only 2 baskets on 8 shots. Speaking of rookies, Jonas V had no impact on the scoresheet, but it was a relief to see him out there anyway. There were wild rumours of an Andrea Bargnani return, but he was in street clothes again. Landry Fields nailed his first 3-ball of the season, and wasn’t a liability.
As for the Clippers, they gave a woeful performance. They shot 3 of 19 from distance, on their way to 34.7% shooting for the game. The Raps’ defense was relentless, so many Clipper shots were late in the clock. With the Raps winning the boards battle 45-37, second chance opportunities were limited.
The Raps have a chance for revenge against the Miami Heat, who visit on Sunday afternoon.
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.