The Raptors had a four point lead heading into the fourth quarter of tonight's game against the Utah Jazz. To that point, the game had largely been a seesaw affair until a fourth quarter run by Toronto put the Jazz away for good. It was just the latest instance of the Raptors pulling their new "We the Fourth" routine. They outscored the Jazz 35-21 in the final frame and secured the easy 111-93.
But this was a weird game.
First: Amir Johnson hit zero field goals. Second: Terrence Ross was mostly invisible. Third: Ross became visible only after Kyle Lowry tossed him his first assist of the game... in the third quarter.
This was the play:
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Fourth: Jonas Valanciunas played 34 minutes - his first time logging over 30 this season - put up a nice 17 point-14 rebound double-double, and logged heavy fourth quarter time. This shouldn't be too surprising though, given Utah's troika of big men (Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors).
Fifth: DeMar DeRozan put up a 59 percent shooting night, but didn't manage to go to the free throw line until late in the second quarter. He had an efficient 27 points.
And sure, what the hell, sixth: Patrick Patterson looked like himself (7-for-11 shooting, 2-for-5 from three for 16 points) and Greivis Vasquez hit some three pointers, which, I mean, he had been shooting 20 percent for the season from 3. Those had to feel good.
The Jazz put up a good three quarter fight, with Favors and Kanter leading the way, dropping 18 points apiece. But without steady help from Gordon Hayward, who James Johnson erased into a 12 point-five assist-30 percent shooting game, Utah could not keep it up for the entire 48 minutes.
Not to end on a down note but Johnson did leave the game in the second half after rolling his ankle on a cameraman. He tried to return to the game but as the Raptors rose to victory it made sense to take Bloodsport out. No word yet on the ultimate severity of the injury, though it does not feel weird to suggest that Johnson will probably be fine.
Meanwhile, Indiana beat Chicago tonight so the Raptors, at 8-2, are back on top of the Eastern Conference.
Let's celebrate again in the comments. Nothing weird about that these days.