It wasn't pretty, but a win's a win.
Despite being down by 17 points early on, the Raptors found a way to scratch and claw their way back into this game, winning for just the second time this month.
Let's state the obvious right off the bat: Cavaliers all-star point guard Kyrie Irving injuring his shoulder certainly helped. Cleveland had a three-point lead at the time of the foul. Momentum clearly shifted in favor of Toronto from that point on, despite the game coming down to the final few possessions.
''I wouldn't call it a cheap shot or anything like that, but I've done that play a lot of times and I've never come out feeling like this,'' Kyrie said. (Yahoo Sports)
It was bad luck, Mr. Irving. There was no dirty play on the part of Jonas Valanciunas. It was merely a slight hip check by a man who was twice your size. It's unfortunate what happened, but don't imply that it was anything more than what it was.
With Rudy Gay out of action with back stiffness, rookie Terrence Ross was able to get the start at small forward.
Wait, what? Terrence Ross?
He's still alive, ladies and gentlemen, and for the most part, he had himself a decent outing. In 28 minutes, Ross went 4 for 11 from the field, including 3 for 7 from behind the arc, on route to 14 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Progress is a slow process. Terrence needs to build off of this game if he hopes to see any more minutes when Rudy Gay returns. Coach Casey clearly has some sort of issue with giving first-year players heavy minutes, unless they are earned outright. Throwing Ross out into the line of fire for the remainder of the season should be a top priority for this team. Starting him against the Cavaliers was a good start.
Let's hope this continues.
Amir Johnson. I salute you.
In almost 40 minutes, Johnson would score 17 points and tie a career-high with 16 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. From his low-post game to his jump shot, Amir has taken his game to a whole new level this season. MVP of the team? It's hard to argue with that notion.
Kyle Lowry. Nice shot.
With Toronto up by one and the shot and game clock winding down, Lowry managed to pull off a double-spin on Cavs forward Alonzo Gee, shaking him loose long enough to pull off an awkward fade away jumper to give the Raptors a 98-95 lead with 14.2 seconds left. He finished the night with 15 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
It was a bad looking shot, and it probably wasn't close to what Casey had drawn up in the huddle (or maybe it was, I don't know), but the ball went in.
Alan Anderson. You're growing on me.
Double A. was huge in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 18 total points. I've ragged on Anderson in the past for his trigger-happy tendencies, sometimes forcing the issue on offense and putting too much of the scoring load on himself, rather than moving the ball and creating opportunities for others.
Rudy Gay wasn't around to help in that respect, so seeing Alan step up yet again when his team needed him most (and hitting shots, mind you) was a breath of fresh air. Whether it's warranted or not, there is a certain swagger and/or cockiness to his game, which I can respect. I love him when his shots are falling, but when they're not, well.....I don't.
Landry Fields. Way to hit the ball boy!
I've been on the receiving end of similar shots to the head back in the day. While working for the Toronto Raptors Game Operations department, there were times when I would shoot-around with "The Raptor" in the afternoons as he practiced his half-court shots. I would stand under the net and catch the misses, and it would be just a neverending cycle of long-range heaves until he would manage to get one in.
Unlike the ball-boy, I knew the balls were coming, yet they would find a way to get me square in the face anyways. Kudos to him though for smiling, shrugging it off and continuing to clean the hardwood as if it never happened.
To play off a point the boss man Adam Francis made in the preview for this game, I for one am OPPOSED to tanking games from here on out. I am not one of those fans who disapprove of winning games, when losing could help us keep our draft pick this summer.
Look, knowing our luck, we could drop every game from now until the end of April, and STILL find a way to drop out of the top-3, thus handing our pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Why not try to win then? Well, the Raptors did such a thing last night, and I'm happier because of it.
Play the rookies. Try different rotations/player combinations. Experiment.
Just put forth the effort on the court when it matters most. That's all I ask.
Toronto is now 25-39 on the year. This may sound crazy, but 25-39 looks a heck of a lot better than 24-40, don't you agree?