It appears that "Operation: Let's Lose Some More Games And See If We Can Get EXTREMELY Lucky And Land A Top-3 Draft Pick This Summer" has been put on hold for the time being.
Toronto had a tiny 46-45 lead at halftime, but wound up outscoring Detroit 23-5 in the first eight minutes of that all-important third quarter.
Rudy Gay, who was a ghost in the first half (two points, two rebounds, two assists), exploded in the third, scoring eight of the Raptors first ten points, and finishing with 19 (7 for 11) for the quarter.
I can go on and on about how amazing Gay was for those 12 minutes, but I'm going to instead shed a little light on another Raptor who was not only as important to Toronto's success on this night, but who (yet again) made me feel stupid for ever doubting him in the first place.
At one point during the broadcast, it was mentioned how when Toronto secured the #5 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, how many fans were extremely disappointed and skeptical when the team took Valanciunas over a guard such as current Piston Brandon Knight.
I was one of those people.
Jonas who? I wanted Brandon Knight. I wanted Kemba Walker.
It was completely wrong of me to do so, but when Valanciunas was announced as the Raptors pick, all I had running through my head was images of Andrea Bargnani, and how management took yet another chance on a raw European prospect.
Well, last night against the Pistons, Jonas showed just how valuable a commodity he is for this franchise moving forward.
In nearly 39 minutes of action, Valanciunas had a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds (career-high). He was efficient shooting the basketball (7 for 11), and he was dominant down low on defense, altering shots and blocking four in the process.
Call it a man crush if you will, but I am loving Jonas Valanciunas more and more everyday. He's the definition of what you want a big man to be, and I am extremely excited to see what he will accomplish in year two. In fact, with the playoffs out of the question, watching his continued growth over these final few weeks is one of the main reasons Raptors fans should stay motivated to watch these games, outside of being die-hard fans to begin with.
Now that my slurping is over (that sounded weird)....
Hey, it's Jose Calderon!
He's a Piston. Weird.
My mind still can't get over the fact that Calderon isn't a Raptor. In my mind, he will always be one of us.
Leo hit it right on the head. When the Pistons visit Toronto on Monday, Jose is, without a shadow of a doubt, going to receive the warmest of warm receptions from the ACC faithful. He's not Vince Carter. He's not Tracy McGrady. He's not Chris Bosh. He was nothing but a class act during his time with the team, and I'm sure fans from around the city who will be attending that game will let it be known just how much we respected him and miss him.
Will he one day return to the Raptors? Never say never, but I seriously doubt it. He's given a lot to this franchise, but that chapter is closed. I wouldn't hold my breath.
Our current point guard, Kyle Lowry, finished the night with just four points, but he did have 11 assists. I was curious to see what kind of game Lowry would end up having, especially going up against his former teammate in Jose, who himself had eight points and seven assists. Kyle got the ball to his teammates when he needed to and facilitated the offense at a high rate. He had his hiccups here and there, but overall, he performed well.
Amir Johnson? How does 9 for 11 shooting, 20 points (10 in the second quarter), eight rebounds and two blocked shots sound? It's almost to be expected now. He works his tail off night in and night out. This game was no different.
The bench wasn't much of a factor (19 total points), but "Mr. PlayStation Vita" Landry Fields had a nice outing with six points and six rebounds in a little over 19 minutes.
Not too shabby for what it's worth.
By the way, for the first time ever, I googled Elaine Alden (his girlfriend/fiancee) during the telecast. I knew of her, but I had never put a face to the name.
Landry, you lucky son of a gun. I salute you.
Unfortunately, we never saw a lineup of Sebastian Telfair, Mickael Pietrus, Linas Kleiza, Quincy Acy (not even activated) and Aaron Gray.
That would have made tanking way too obvious. Not on this night, my friend.
I still firmly believe that the NBA Draft Lottery is horribly manipulated in some way or form. Even if Toronto were to lose out and improve our odds of moving into the top-three, the odds, luck and the powers that be would bring us back to reality with a nice swift kick to the crotch.
The Thunder are getting our pick. The sooner we all accept that, the better.
Just for writing that, we'll probably move into the top-three now. Just covering all of my bases people.