If Malcolm Miller is getting late minutes, one would deduce that things have either gone very bad or very, very good. Fortunately for Raptors fans, the latter was the case tonight.
The Toronto Raptors cruised to a 129-111 victory in their Wednesday night matinee. Kemba and company were inferior on both ends of the floor, from start to finish. In a building that is seldom is kind to the Raptors, ‘the North’ turned in one of their best road performances of the season. A 41-point second quarter turned a narrow deficit into a large lead. A 36-point third blew the game right open for the visitors, allowing Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to practice their cheerleading from the bench for the duration of the fourth.
DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Raps with 28 points, 18 of which came in a red-hot third quarter. Deebo showed his full scoring arsenal on the night, attacking the basket, converting from the free-throw stripe, controlling the mid-range, and sprinkling in a few 3-pointers. Perhaps the most significant takeaway from tonight’s performance was DeMar’s ability to find his teammates. Finishing with eight assists. The All-Star guard would have likely recorded a double-double if not for the lopsided scoreline and an impending matchup with the 76ers, prompting his early departure.
On the first day of a back-to-back Serge Ibaka gave to me:
24 points, five rebounds, three ridiculous dunks, two assists, two blocks, and one of his best games as a Toronto Raptor. Serge finished the game 11-16 from the field, good for 68.8%. When Toronto’s third-best player is playing the way he has throughout the month of December, the Raptors become as difficult to beat as ever.
OG Anunoby continues to be a hot topic of discussion for Raptors fans across the country. The rookie out of Indiana shot 6-7 (85.7%) from behind the arc on the night, setting a new career-high in points with 20. His efficiency along with his unwavering defensive intensity allowed him to finish the game with a whopping +28 net rating; far and away the best among active players tonight. If that’s not enough to impress even the toughest of critics, this takedown of Dwight Howard surely must.
Yep. That’s a rookie.
Despite looking strong early, Jonas Valanciunas was limited to just 16 minutes on the night. His stat line might not jump out at anyone but ‘Big Science’ was extremely effective for Toronto early on, especially in his defence of Dwight Howard. His four points were second-fewest on the team - ahead of only the aforementioned Malcolm Miller - yet his role in helping the Raptors settle into this game should not be overlooked.
Lost in the rout, a 32-point outburst off of the bench for one Jeremy Lamb. Lamb was a perfect two of two from behind the arc, contributing make after make on difficult shots for a Hornets side that was desperately searching for a hot-hand.
Part-time Raptor-killer Kemba Walker was held relatively quiet on the night scoring 15 points and adding just two assists.
The Charlotte Hornets travel to BMO Harris Bradley Center for the first game of a home-and-home with the Bucks, while the 76ers await the arrival of Toronto ahead of their game in Philadelphia tomorrow night.