Having spent the past 2-3 weeks on vacation, the only Raptors updates I had on a day to day basis was through box-scores and occasionally browsing Twitter. I gathered that the team had turned a corner, but after watching the past 2 games, I'm astounded at how different the Raptors look.
Tonight, however, didn't go according to script for the majority of the game. Brooklyn was coming off a 2-OT win against Miami last night, and only got into town at 4 AM this morning. As a result, they decided to rest Kevin Garnett for tonight's game. The Raptors failed to impose their will early on, but were fortunate that the Nets were sluggish themselves. Both teams shot under 40% in the opening frame, and the Raptors led 24-18. In what was a recurring theme all night, the 2nd quarter saw the Raptors' bench extend the lead to double digits, but back to back 3s by Mirza Teletovic cut the lead to 5 going into the break.
Then came the hideous 3rd quarter. The Raptors, seemingly frustrated by a bad whistle all game, were being outscored 18-3 in the quarter. And that's when the DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson Show began. Demar willed the team back into the lead and closed the quarter with the a 3 pointer at the buzzer. The 4th Quarter saw the bench come in and further secure the lead, as the Raptors rewarded the raucous ACC crowd with a 96-80 win.
Oh, and it was Drake Night. It was odd, but the crowd seemed to be really into it, so kudos to Drake for showing up and making the night a blast.
- DeMar DeRozan: Simply put, Demar was a beast. When the Raptors were seriously struggling and got into a 10-point deficit in the 3rd quarter, DD put the team on his back. He hit multiple tough jumpers, drew fouls, hit his free throws, and scored outside and in. On a night where the ball seemed to stick more than it has during the Raptors resurgence, DeRozan was among the few Raptors still passing masterfully. 26 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists. 50% shooting.
- Patrick Patterson: PPat's been a pleasant surprise since he came over from Sacramento. He's a good defensive player, a solid rebounder and can stretch the floor well. He's the perfect 3rd big on a good team. Even though he didn't have his offence going initially, Patterson was a spark-plug on the defensive end and on the boards. He got his offence going as the game went on and earned himself a very well-deserved double double. 14 points, 12 boards. +40 (!!!) on the night.
- Jonas Valanciunas: Not a good night for JV. The immortal Mason Plumlee shut him down defensively for most of the night, holding him to 2-9 shooting from the floor. JV was also on the court the majority of the time when the Raptors' offence was floundering. He wasn't the only culprit, but he certainly didn't help the situation.
- Chuck Hayes' Free Throws