Game No. 37: Raptors 83, Warriors 75

A matchup between the Raptors and Warriors used to mean a high scoring, throw caution to the wind type of ball game. This matchup was anything but, as the two teams combined to shoot under 37 per cent (58-of-158 from the field) while still finding a way to give an impressive crowd of 18,056 an entertaining basketball game.

In the end, it was the Raptors’ defence which reigned supreme, handing Toronto its 12th win of the season and sixth at home.

Now here are some thoughts of the game.

1- How ’bout that Raptors’ defence? The Warriors came into this game averaging over 97 points per game while shooting over 45 per cent, both top-10 ranks in the NBA. After managing to put up 47 points in the first half en route to building a nine point halftime lead, Golden State was held to just 28 second half points and finished the game shooting 29-of-80 from the floor (36.3%), including an anemic 28 points in the paint. Toronto’s defence was absolutely smothering in the second half, and this performance was yet another notch on the belt for the defensive development of Dwane Casey’s group.

2- Johnson and Johnson. James Johnson came out aggressive on both ends of the floor from the opening tip, and his high motor kept the Raptors in the game early on. Amir Johnson didn’t get off to the greatest start, but came on like gangbusters down the stretch to really help spark the Raptors’ second half surge. By the time the game was over, both Johnsons had put together impressive double-doubles, with the pair combining for 23 points, 25 rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks in 30 and 32 minutes, respectively.

3- While his final numbers may not have been as impressive (two points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block in 22 minutes), Ed Davis’ hustle, especially in the second half, should not go unmentioned. Davis seemed to be doing all the little things right defensively, was very vocal on his own end of the court and made three consecutive all out hustle plays to save possessions for the Raptors near the end of the third quarter. Ed’s high motor on Sunday night and his defensive presence were major contributing factors to Toronto’s 12th win of the season. It was also nice to see him energetic on the bench, standing up and cheering his teammates on even when he wasn’t on the floor.

4- Of course, if we’re going to talk about individual performances in this game, we have to mention DeMar DeRozan, who scored a game-high 25 points on an efficient nine-of-17 shooting. I liked that DeRozan started the game with three straight aggressive drives to the basket and continued to attack the basket for much of the night, despite only getting to the free throw line six times. DeMar threw in an honest effort on the defensive end and even got his teammates involved with some nice finds on the offensive end. It was one of his more complete efforts of the season. Here’s to more of that as we continue the second half in this season of development.

5- Some thoughts on the Warriors. Golden State is one of the most confusing teams in the league to me. It’s hard to get a grasp on whether they are a team on the rise or a team stuck in a forever rebuild. On one hand, they have an incredibly talented, potent and young back court with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. They have a consistent big man in David Lee, a young coach in Mark Jackson who is doing a fine job with the team right now and a decent amount of cap space over the next few years. But you could just as easily look at the same situation and say half that back court is injury prone and the other half is inefficient and unpredictable. Their consistent big man is a defensive liability who has never contributed to a winning team in the NBA. Their young coach is also an unproven coach, and their cap space has rarely seen them land a marquee free agent. If you ask me, they’re just as close to the forever rebuild, if not closer, than they are to legitimate, sustained playoff contention.

6- Don’t fret, Tank Nation. While some may see a victory over a fellow lottery team as an actual loss, it’s important to keep in mind that the Nets, who will likely be fighting for one of the same draft spots as the Raptors, also picked up a W on Sunday. More importantly, it’s tough to find negatives when a victory comes as a result of the contributions of young players like DeRozan, Davis and the two Johnsons.

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The Raptors will be back at it on Monday night when they host Dwight Howard and the Magic to conclude just the 10th set of two home games in two nights in franchise history.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 46 Min, 25 Pts, 9-17 FG, 1-1 3PT, 6-6 FT, 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 TO

Warriors Player of the Game: David Lee – 39 Min, 22 Pts, 9-13 FG, 4-5 FT, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO

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