Mar 7, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross (31) goes to shoot a basket as Sacramento Kings forward Derrick Williams (13) defends during the second half at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Sacramento 99-87. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Raptors 99 – Sacramento Kings 87: 3-balls are BIG


Mar 7, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (54) and guard-forward John Salmons (25) defend against Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (8) during the first half at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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.

 

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  • Rudra Rishy-Maharaj

    Hi Brian,
    A fantastic game all around last night. I was particularly pleased to see the “Sacramento” vs Sacramento in the 3rd and 4th quarters where the 4 former Kings were on the floor against the current Kings. I suspect they had some additional motivation to do well. Only comment I have is why do Toronto sports fans feel it necessary to boo former players? Rudy Gay was traded by the Raptors, the team is much better now than when he was here, and he was only here for barely a year. It’s not only with the Raptors that this happens with, Brian McCabe was booed out of town from the Leafs and then booed when he came back with Florida. Alex Rios, again booed out of town with the Blue Jays and booed again when he returned. Lyle Overbay had nothing but good things to say about the city and the Blue Jays and wanted to stay here. He was booed when he came back with Pittsburgh and then the Yankees. I don’t see this phenomenon with any other city. There are some players who it would be difficult to say they left under poor circumstances and may deserve a poor reaction when they return, but wouldn’t it be worse to just ignore them and not react. They didn’t want to stay, we’ve moved on and are better off without them.
    Rudra

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Rudra:
      I’m of 2 minds about the booing. Fans in Toronto have been accused over the years of lacking passion; at least booing is a sign our crowds have a pulse and a good memory. However, I do think we’ve carried it too far. Rudy wasn’t/isn’t a bum, he simply didn’t fit as a Rap, and both Toronto and Sac-to are better for the trade.
      I’d like to think that, once our local teams have a championship or two under their belts, the fans will be more forgiving of former players. Booing is ultimately a sign of frustration at dreams having been dashed.
      Go Raps!
      Hopefully I’ll see you soon.
      Best, Brian