DeMar DeRozan, one of the more scrutinized and maligned players in RaptorsHQ history, continued to prove us and others wrong, dropping 32 points on the Warriors, out-dueling the Dubs' Steph Curry both in terms of getting the win, and in terms of shot-making. Curry may have had 34 points to DeRozan's 32, but it took Curry an uncharacteristic 27 shots to get those points.
DeMar took only 16, helping his efficiency by getting to the free-throw line 12 times making all but one.
This really was the DeMar DeRozan show as while there were indeed contributions from a multitude of Raptors yesterday afternoon, some concerning micro-trends such as Kyle Lowry's shooting woes (he was 3 of 13) and Jonas Valanciunas overall play (3 turnovers, stripped on a few sloppy offensive possessions) continued.
It was kind of strange in fact to watch DeRozan light up the Warriors in light of his former GM Bryan Colangelo's recent comments at this past weekend's SLOAN Analytics conference. Colangelo admitted to trying to tank but essentially blamed Casey for doing too good of a coaching job.
However DeMar DeRozan, the cost of failing to land in the top five of that year's draft and a shot at players like James Harden and the aforementioned Curry, suddenly doesn't look like such a mediocre lottery pick. Now surrounded by some truly complimentary talent, he's helping this team in the exact manner Colangelo likely envisioned when he selected the former USC product.
And for that Colangelo should simply smile and wave.
His most crucial errors during his time as GM were never of the first-round variety. (We won't talk about the second-round or his fondness for giving away picks.) It was always the decisions he made around said picks, whether it was the free-agents he attempted to pair his young talent with (Hedo, Jermaine O'Neal, Rudy Gay), or the coaches he chose to execute his on-court strategy. (Colangelo REALLY thought the likes of Sam Mitchell and Dwane Casey were going to be on board with tanking???)
I'd frankly like to forget the Colangelo era once and for all, and after experiencing a brief moment of rage after hearing BC's SLOAN "admission," yesterday's win was just what the doctor ordered in terms of helping me move on.
This was a game that was a joy to watch and featured a Raptors' collective that played with a zeal and an intensity that fans have longed for, for years. Not that this was the first such display this season, but it's indeed becoming a common occurrence with this squad, especially late in games. Yesterday Toronto used a 29 to 20 fourth quarter to net the victory, one that keeps them tied with the Chicago Bulls for third in the Eastern Conference. They also locked in on G-State's top guns when it mattered most, making Curry cough it up four times down the stretch, and preventing some of the easy looks the Warriors had earlier in the contest.
All this, AND LANDRY FIELDS PLAYED.
Yes, Fields got the start in place of the injured Terrence Ross and as Harsh noted in his Rapid Recap yesterday, didn't look too shabby. Fields might even see some minutes come playoff time as he's still one of the more versatile defensive options on this club, and John Salmons ain't shooting a heck of a lot better than Fields of late.
Fields, Salmons, Patterson, Hansbrough, De Colo...ok, maybe not De Colo but you get the idea here. This again was a team effort and while make no mistake, this was the DeMar DeRozan show, his supporting cast did their part, quite fitting on Oscar night.
The Raptors now get a much-deserved four day break before hosting Rudy Gay and the Sacramento Kings this Friday.
With any luck, Colangelo will tune in just in time to see one of his missed tank opportunities, DeRozan or Ross, nail a game-winner over Rudy Gay.
THEN I'll move on.