The Raptors are not usually a team to buck tradition. Fans have seen this type of game from the squad before, not just this season but through the years; the slow start, the almost comeback, the near win. But after a furious fourth quarter run and a 104-100 win over the Orlando Magic, what does it say about these Raptors?
"Our resiliency, never back down, never surrender, no matter what the deficit is," said Patrick Patterson, whose 12 points (on 4-for-5 shooting, including 3-for-3 from three), were crucial for the Raptors comeback. "We're always going to fight hard, we're always going to battle."
Patterson wasn't the sole architect of the Raptors fourth quarter surge. Lou Williams exploded in the second half with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting, all in 15 minutes. He carried the team until Kyle Lowry could come in and deliver his usual heady, angry play. In 36 minutes, Lowry put in 19 points (while shooting 50 percent from the field, and humiliating Luke Ridnour a few times) to go with six rebounds and seven assists.
But the key, as Patterson confirmed, was getting stops. And for that, the hero for the Raptors was none other than James Johnson.
"He was huge, he was really huge," said Coach Dwane Casey. "I thought he came in and gave us a disposition, a presence defensively." Johnson was tasked with hassling the Magic's Tobias Harris, who managed an 8-for-16, 23 point, 13 rebound night, before fouling out. He held his own though, potting six points of his own to go with ten rebounds. Greivis Vasquez called Johnson "spicy" and compared him to Tony Allen.
"I'll take that all day. I love Tony Allen. I got a chance to play with him last year and I learned a lot from him." So there was Johnson, the Raptor everyone acknowledges as a bit "crazy", with the game on the line. He was draped over Harris, ready to kill old traditions.
"We're going to win this game," said Johnson. "If there's any other doubt in my mind then I shouldn't be the one to guard him." Harris' shot missed.
Call him crazy but before the cameras went on, Johnson turned to the media scrum, "Do I got any boogers in my nose?"
The Raptors are now 7-1. He knew it was his time to shine.
What did you guys think of the game?