The wing men were front and centre at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday afternoon. DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay scored early and often, contributing 62 of the Toronto Raptors’ points. Despite minimal support from the rest of the team, and surrendering most of a 21-point first half lead, Toronto nosed out the Brooklyn Nets. The final five minutes of play required so many TV replays by the refs, we began to wonder if they were trying to sneak peeks at the Masters. The Nets hit some unlikely deep shots, and the Raps struggled at the foul line, so the result remained in doubt. Finally, Joe Johnson missed from well outside with :16 to play, and DeMar grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and made both to close with 36 points. A few more Dreamland shots were launched, but the victory was secure.
DeMar was feelin’ it early, as he poured in 11 first quarter points. The Raps zoomed out to a 14-2 lead, but are prone to make matters difficult on themselves. It took a 40 foot shot off glass at the buzzer by Rudy to maintain a 4-point advantage. If you watched only the second quarter, you would have thought it was the Raps with the healthy regular season record, as the Nets had shot after shot pop out, and only managed 12 points.
The second half belonged to the Nets, but not by enough to allow them to ever catch up. The game was an extreme oddity; despite the margin being just 6, the game was never tied, nor did the Nets ever have the lead. More weird data: Reggie Evans grabbed 16 rebounds, yet never took a shot. I’m on a roll – the only 3-balls made by the Raps were 3 each by DeRozan and Gay. Kyle Lowry grabbed 9 defensive rebounds, but continued his cold shooting, making only 3 of 8 from the charity stripe, and missing all 3 attempts from distance.
Both teams were playing this one to win. The Raps hardly used their bench, so Terrence Ross, Landry Fields and others never took off their sweatsuits. In the end, the Raps extended their win streak to a modest 3-gamer.
The Eastern Conference race for 9th place is on, and can’t you just feel the excitement! The Raps are one game behind Philly, and each team has 2 to play. Toronto visits Atlanta on Tuesday, and closes the season at home against the Boston Celtics.
Brian Boake is a co-editor 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.