With the Atlantic Division race tightening, the Toronto Raptors needed a win tonight, and got it. Against the also-ran Sacramento Kings, the home team returned from a 4-day layoff to grab an early lead, and never let it go. The Kings managed a late flurry to make the score respectable. Toronto’s defense was stifling all game.
“Living well is the best revenge” – George Herbert (1593-1633), English actor & orator
“Beating your former team is in second place” – almost certainly what John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes and Greivis Vasquez were thinking after the game.
The Raps’ ex-Kings enjoyed excellent outings, while top scorer & ex-Rap Rudy Gay was not a factor, finishing with 15 points. Quincy Acy was scoreless, and Aaron Gray sat. By contrast, Salmons had 8 points while providing excellent defense, Patterson missed only 1 of 4 attempts from beyond the arc, and hit several nice buckets inside, to score 15, Hayes frustrated Kings monster centre DeMarcus Cousins, and Vasquez was plus-9.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry both suffered through woeful shooting nights, combining to make just 6 of 24 shots between them. Thankfully, their teammates picked up the slack. Terrence Ross is starting to have plays run for him, and it’s easy to see why. Our superstar-in-the-making hit 6 of 8 from beyond the arc to lead the team. Jonas Valanciunas snapped out of his personal funk to score 14 points on just 9 shots.
Speaking of woeful shooting, Reggie Evans could only manage to make 2 of 10 free throw attempts. Cousins, who was as expected a load all night, hit 8 of 10 from charity, and ended with a game-high 24 points. Also on cue, he was in foul trouble early, and only played 27 minutes. He is a chronic complainer; after shoving Tyler Hansbrough almost into the stanchion, he whined relentlessly about getting whistled. C’mon dude, what you did wasn’t even subtle.
The Raps received help from an unlikely source. The bottom-feeding Celtics held off the Brooklyn Nets, which keeps Toronto 4 full games in front in the Atlantic race. Memphis’ defeat of Chicago also helps; we really don’t want to slip below the #4 seed, as that would mean the loss of home-court advantage. The Raps visit the playoff-hungry Minnesota T’Wolves on Sunday, then face the Nets in Brooklyn the following night. Fasten your seat belts.