The Toronto Raptors were suffering through one of the worst scoring droughts this writer has ever seen from them (and I’ve seen more than I care to remember). The Brooklyn Nets had turned a 47-42 halftime deficit into a 60-50 lead with less than half of Q3 left to play. Wait, it’s worse than that. If you add in how the Nets ended the second half, they had outscored the Raps 27-6, and a comfortable Toronto lead had evaporated in a welter of turnovers (and, to be fair, some excellent Nets D. They blocked 10 Raps shots this night, with Jonas Valanciunas the victim 4 times.)
The cliche has it that basketball is a game of runs, and it was certainly true on Drake Night. The Raps, led by a determined, even angry, DeMar DeRozan, quashed the Nets’ offense and made a run of their own. By the end of Q3, which was punctuated by a deep DD 3-ball with 2 seconds to play, Toronto had regained the lead. The dry data on the scoresheet shows the Nets “won” the quarter by a point, but that barely begins to touch upon the dramatic fashion by which Toronto stormed back.
The Raps were not to be denied in the final quarter. The gassed Nets (who had grabbed a big victory over Miami on Friday night, but needed double overtime to do so) couldn’t contain the Raps. The second unit came to play for Toronto on this night, and coach Dwane Casey was happy to give them the burn. Why not? John Salmons didn’t miss any of his 5 shots, including 3 long balls. Patrick Patterson shot poorly in the first half, but turned things around to end with 14 points. Jonas Valanciunas was hardly seen in the second half, but wasn’t needed so much. After all, Patrick pulled down 12 rebounds (3 more than JV) and was an eye-popping, is-this-a-typo plus-40 for the game. Amir Johnson needs to return to form. One basket, and minus-8, in almost 32 minutes of play won’t do. Even the forgotten man, Chuck Hayes, was plus-22 in 13+ minutes.
Kyle Lowry has had better nights, but we’re getting spoiled. His 12 points included 3 long balls. DD, despite being hacked continually and getting called for imaginary fouls himself, would not let the Raps lose this game. His 26 points was a game high, and his 5 assists led the team. Terrence Ross contributed 14 points and solid defense, but hurt his cause by an annoying tendency to pick up reach-in fouls away from the play. Let’s hope learning to avoid such silliness is all part of the process of TRoss becoming a dominating player.
The Raptors face the struggling Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
Putbacks: Yes, Rapture Nation, that was indeed Christina and I on the big screen KissCam last night. I was wearing my JV sweater and Raps-logo cap, eschewing the black and gold Drake shirts given out at the door. We enjoyed a nice smooch, thanks. Speaking of Drake, the Raptors “Global Ambassador” announced the starting lineups and provided the halftime entertainment(?).
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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