The Raptors shot the lights out and shared the ball beautifully en route to a 23-point rout of the Trail Blazers and an eighth win in nine games.
- So about that shooting and passing? The Raptors shot over 53 per cent from the field and finished with 34 assists on 41 made field goals while committing only 11 turnovers. That’s about as good as offence gets in the NBA, and it was simply beautiful to watch.
- Continuing on the selfless ball-moving basketball theme and before I get to individual performances, I have to mention the point guard tandem tonight. Neither of them scored in this game, but Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry combined for 22 assists, only two turnovers (Calderon had 13 assists and zero turnovers) and just three field goal attempts. I don’t know if it’s possible to keep these guys happy while virtually splitting minutes, but if it is, the Raptors will have one of the best point guard duos in the league hands down, maybe second best to Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe.
- Last game I mentioned that the win in Orlando was really the first “cruise control” type victory of the season for the Raptors, but even that game was close for the first six minutes. Tonight against the Blazers, the Raptors jumped out to a 10-0 lead, held Portland to just four points through the game’s first six minutes, and other than a couple of stretches in the second quarter, seemed to be holding a double-digit lead all night. An encouraging sign in these two blowout victories is how the Raptors have been able to keep their intensity up in the fourth quarter despite leads of 20-plus points. A lot of times teams will just begin trading baskets at a certain point, but the Raps have actually been able to increase their already mammoth leads down the stretch in these last two games because they’ve kept to the game plan no matter the score.
- The Blazers looked to have it down to a 13-point deficit heading into halftime, but then Terrence Ross did this:
That circus buzzer-beater was one of six threes on the night from Ross, who finished with an incredible 26 points in only 25 minutes while playing his usual competent defence and chipping in with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. In other words, not a bad night for a rookie. Ross has been sensational during this Raptors run, and his unexpected contributions on both ends of the floor have been instrumental in the Raps getting hot.
- I could praise either of Ed Davis or Amir Johnson’s efforts tonight, or I could just tell you that they combined for 36 points and 14 rebounds on 16-of-24 shooting. Davis, especially, continues to show such encouraging development in his offensive game.
- Speaking of encouraging development, how about DeMar DeRozan? We’ve seen better rebounding, defence and play making from DeRozan in various games this season, but tonight, the story was his improved individual offence. DeMar was hitting his increasingly dependent mid-range jumper, was breaking guys down off the dribble and was scoring in the post. The final result? 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting.
- Considering how easy this game looked for the Raptors, it’s pretty crazy that three of their five starters were held scoreless and that up until late in the fourth quarter, only five Raptors had scored yet (DeRozan, Ross, Davis, Johnson and Fields). Quincy Acy, Alan Anderson and John Lucas III eventually all joined the scoring party in garbage time, as the Raps finished with eight players on the scoreboard. Four Raptors scored at least 17 points, though.
- We’ve all been hard on this team this season, especially during their 4-19 start, and rightfully so. They also remain a team that’s still eight games under .500, so I don’t think anyone suddenly believes they’re world beaters. But considering how bad things were, it’s just fun to watch them play together right now, especially these last two games where they’ve played near flawless basketball.
Raptors Player Of the Game: Terrence Ross – 26 Pts, 8/14 FG, 6/9 3PT, 4/6 FT, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl in 24:53
Trail Blazers Player Of the Game: LaMarcus Aldridge – 14 Pts, 7/12 FG, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 TO in 34:38
Oh, and the 76ers and Celtics both lost tonight, so the Raptors are suddenly just 2.5 games behind eighth in the East.