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Valanciunas Dominates but Raptors Drop Summer League Debut to Heat

Jonas Valanciunas was nearly unstoppable but his teammates couldn't get it going as the Raptors fall to the Heat in last night's Summer League action.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors kicked off their 2013 Summer League schedule with a game last night against the Miami Heat.

If you didn't know better, you might have thought Toronto's full NBA roster was playing.

The Raps jumped out to a 44 to 37 halftime lead, increased that early in the third quarter, and then promptly scored two points to the Heat's 23 in the remainder of the third quarter en route to an eventual 81 to 72 loss.

DJ Kennedy tied for the Heat lead in scoring with 16 points and seemed to be involved in every play during the Heat's pivotal run. The Dinos had no answer for the do-it-all guard from St. John's and he and his teammates eventually ran away with this one, looking much more like a team than the Raptors. This is likely due to the fact that the Heat had just finished another series of Summer League games, in Orlando.

Regardless of the loss though, the key to this game and ones that will follow in Vegas is the performance of current Raptor youngsters Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy, all of whom were on full display last night.

Jonas gets top billing in this one as he absolutely dominated the Heat in the first half. He finished the game 23 points and 7 rebounds and looked like a man among boys. He simply was quicker, stronger and more aggressive than the man guarding him for the bulk of the first-half, shot-blocking machine Jarvis Varnado. Valanciunas looks notably bigger and stronger even in this setting which bodes well for the upcoming season.

However his play wasn't without faults. In the second half the Heat switched University of Oregon product Michael Dunnigan onto Valanciunas and Dunnigan used his strength and experience (Dunnigan's played overseas since going undrafted in 2010) to reduce Valanciunas' effectiveness. Jonas struggled with double-teams on a few occasions too and ended up with five turnovers in the match. Add on the fact that the Raps stopped looking for him down low and unfortunately the bulk of Valanciunas' dominance was limited to the first half of this match.

Bottom line for Big Val though is that this was indeed a great start to Summer League, and if he continues to play in this fashion, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Raps shut him down early.

The opposite unfortunately could be said for Terrence Ross.

Ross finished with only nine points and two assists in this one, shooting 33 per cent, and was pretty invisible through the bulk of the match. He failed to collect a rebound, and frankly, didn't look like as good of an NBA wing prospect as teammate Chris Wright, who was all over the court in the second half during Toronto's futile final comeback attempt.

The word from many however was that Ross has been battling leg cramp issues since arriving in LV, and indeed, he played only 20 minutes last night so we'll keep an eye on this situation. But even with said potential issues, Ross didn't create for others or move well without the ball last night either, two areas the Raptors will need to see improvement from Ross going into the 2013-14 NBA season.

In between these two would be Quincy Acy who finished with a decent 9 point, 7 rebound, 2 assist line. Acy was his usual aggressive self, making hustle-plays in the paint and attempted to show off an increased range on his shot, with predictably mixed results. He still doesn't have much low-post offensive game, and his shot still isn't exactly Ray Allen-esque (he was 4 of 11 last night) but obviously the Toronto staff has given him the green light to let it fly and I'm guessing we'll see more three-point attempts from Ross in Vegas than we will all next season.

Outside of these three, there really wasn't much else to discuss.

As noted, Chris Wright stood out and I'd like to see him take on an Alan Anderson type roll for the team next year, roster space provided.

Coby Karl was solid in the backcourt but didn't really put much of his offensive game on display (he attempted only two shots in 25 minutes.)

And personal fave Trevor Mbakwe dominated the glass in the few minutes he played so I'm hoping we get to see more of him in Toronto's next game.

And that game is tonight in fact as the Raps take on Corey Joseph and the San Antonio Spurs Summer League entry.