The Toronto Raptors’ defeat of the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday evening was highlighted by double-figured scoring from all five starters. DeMar DeRozan had 19 points, a fraction below his seasonal average. Yet DD struggled mightily all game. He was 3 of 15 shooting, and all of those makes were layups. In other words, he missed all 12 attempts of his bread & butter jump shot. Short ones or long, contested or open, baseline or elbow - every shot went clank. I thought he played brilliantly.
Before I example that seemingly bizarre conclusion to the first paragraph, let me step away. Every professional athlete has off-days. Tiger Woods’ putts lip out or his drives find the rough, Rafael Nadal’s first serves keep hitting the net or his backhands fly long. No great player is immune from substandard play, whatever the sport. What distinguishes the top-rank athletes from their run-of-the-mill competitors is (among other things) the ability to compensate. While our man DeMar is by no means a great player (yet?), he showed me he knows how to adjust. The jump shot isn’t falling – OK, time to do something else. DD didn’t bang the floor with his hand in frustration, hang his head or whine to the referees. Instead, he started driving to the basket, often receiving a pass after he started his forward motion, to generate extra momentum. DD got fouled, a lot. He made 16 free throw attempts, and hit 13. Throw in 4 assists, 2 steals and 6 boards et voila; a significant contribution to an important victory.
On a night when fatigue had to be a factor (although I’m sure he’d deny it if asked) DeMar found an alternate route to success. It was a marvelous example to his youthful teammates of how to shift gears when your primary offensive weapon is misfiring. The fact his seasonal shooting percentage was damaged matters only to stats geeks. DD took a giant step forward as a professional this night, and I’m sure his team, and his coaches, were thrilled at his performance. So should we fans.
Brian Boake is Senior 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.
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