The Raptors finally came out on the right side of a close game, sweeping the season series with the Magic on a buzzer-beater from DeMar DeRozan.

Here are some thoughts on the game…

Raptors 97, Magic 95

- First, on DeMar DeRozan. You can find more on his fourth quarter antics and my thoughts here, but the gist of it is this – DeRozan has been missing in action for the Raptors for the majority of the month, but with the team looking very capable of letting another winnable game slip through the cracks, the 23-year-old put his team on his back and stepped up down the stretch. DeMar missed a box out on the offensive rebound that resulted in Orlando tying the game with 20 seconds left, but other than that, he was superb in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 of his 22 points in the final frame on an impressive 7-of-8 shooting.

It was just the kind of clutch performance this team has been lacking for years, and seeing one of the young core players (shout out to commenter PBI, who will surely cringe at that “core” reference) put it together was certainly encouraging, no matter the oppnent.

DeRozan also added seven assists for the second straight game, so I’m cautiously optimistic that he’s finding his way out of his recent slump, though I’d still like to see him earn more free throw attempts.

- Amir Johnson may not have hit a highlight reel game-winner, but he played as big a part in this victory as anyone not named DeRozan. Amir posted a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds and added three blocks for good measure in 37 minutes of action. Nikola Vucevic gave him some trouble inside, but Vucevic also couldn’t guard Amir in the post, and that battle of the big men actually turned out to be the most entertaining matchup to watch.

And staying with the big men theme, the interior big-to-big passing between Amir and Ed Davis continues to impress me. It’s just pretty to watch if you’re a basketball fan.

- Kyle Lowry struggled again in the fourth quarter as he continues his hot and cold season. Three of Lowry’s four turnovers on the night came in the fourth quarter and played a big part in why the Raptors saw their 11-point fourth quarter lead eventually turn into a one-point deficit. The biggest problem tonight was that Lowry seemed to revert back to the player who wasn’t looking for his own shot enough, taking just three in 21 minutes, and making only one. As much as some fans lament the Lowry that forces his own offence, the Lowry that doesn’t attack the rim and doesn’t force the issue at all can be just as damaging to Toronto’s offence, as he ends up passing up good looks and leaves a teammate with the ball and little time left on the shot clock.

I know I sound like a broken record, but Lowry has to find a balance between the two Kyles. He’s one of the most dynamic point guards in the league when he plays with that balance, but the Raptors aren’t getting that balance from him right now.

- Jose Calderon didn’t put up gaudy numbers tonight (10 points and six assists in 27 minutes), but he was steady in running the Raptors’ offence and really stabilized things in the second half of the fourth quarter after Lowry had kind of lost his way. The Raptors went on a 10-3 run immediately after Calderon replaced Lowry to swing the score from 83-84 to 93-87, and even though the Magic made another run after that, Jose was clearly the right choice to close the game at the point for Toronto tonight.

- Terrence Ross gave the Raptors another good 23 minutes in this one, hitting some big shots en route to a 10-point performance on 4-of-8 shooting. More impressive than his offensive game, though, was the way Ross chased J.J. Redick around the floor and fought through screens to make life on the perimeter difficult for Redick. Ross has defended Redick well in other matchups with the Magic this season, as his defence continues to look more than NBA-ready.

- Alan Anderson didn’t have a huge game or shoot the ball that well tonight, but the difference from his overtime meltdown against the Heat to his performance in Orlando was that he actually put the ball on the floor and attacked the basket late in this game. Now some of that has to do with the Heat’s defence, but a lot of it has to do with Anderson’s decision making, and he simply made better decisions when his number was called down the stretch of this game than he made in Miami last night.

- With the win, the Raptors sweep the season series with the Magic for the first time since 2006-07 and complete a four-game sweep in general for the first time since 2009-10. It was also the third time this season that the Raptors have won after playing an overtime game the night before, and two of those three wins have also come against the Magic. One way to look at it is that through 43 games of the season, a quarter of Toronto’s 16 wins have come against one team.

- On that note, the Raptors have improved to 13-9 against teams that currently boast losing records, but only four of their next 13 games come against sub-500 teams, and one of those is still the Celtics, so unless this team can start pulling out actual victories over winning teams as opposed to moral ones, I still can’t see them getting back into the Eastern Conference playoff race.

For now, though, let’s just enjoy the fact that the Raptors actually won a close game that ended on a buzzer-beater, because too many of these have gone the other way in the past.

Raptors Player Of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 22 Pts, 10/17 FG, 2/2 FT, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO in 43:27

Magic Player Of the Game: Nikola Vucevic – 19 Pts, 8/14 FG, 3/4 FT, 14 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Blk in 29:38

Comments (35)

  1. Hopefully all the Derozan haters who have been ripping the guy for going through a slump will chill out for a moment and realize this is still a hard-working 23 year old kid who is gonna get better.

    • Cmon bro after one game you are already back on the derozan bandwagon. This is what pisses me off with raptor fans. Just sooo fickle. A blind squirrel will find a nut every now and then. Derozan has failed miserably in clutch situtations in the past as recent as last game vs the heat. In the big picture, he really is not that good of a player and has struggled big time for the last month. Is he better than last year? Yes, a little bit. Does he have a higher ceiling? No, not really, He is what he is. A good bench scorer on a good team that struggles with ball handling and creating his own shot. Not to mention, lacking in areas such as rebounding and passing. Comparatively Jrue holiday who was in the same draft class and same age is a MUCH better player than derozan and he is already an all star which sorry to say, demar will never be. If demar was all star good, believe me this team would not be so shitty.

      • I’ve never ‘jumped on a derozan bandwagon’, I’ve been one of his supporters on here for a while. No one ever called him a star, but he’s been ripped on by a few on here with some ridiculous comments. If you look at his overall numbers, he’s improved noticeably this year.

        • While I also think DeRozan has improved this year, it’s pretty tough to see if you “look at his overall numbers”.
          - points/36 min – 16.8 (down from last two years)
          - PER – 13.9 (up from last year, down from two years ago … and crappy)
          - TS% – same as PER
          - eFG% – same as PER
          - rebound rate – up a bit
          - assist rate – down a bit
          - ORat-DRat differential – negative 8 points (the exact same as the last two years)

          • That’s why I cringe every time Joseph refers to him as part of the core. It seems like the organization and its fan base didn’t even wait to see what he could do before they labelled him as a building block and now we’re constantly trying to explain away the glaring weaknesses he does have because of how much time and money we’ve committed to him. It’s all ass backwards.

            You evaluate young players then decide if they’re worth keeping for the long-term but it seems like the organization decided in 2009 that he was a building block and that they would overlook any evidence that stated otherwise.

            As for tonight, I couldn’t take another OT game or another stomach punch loss so give him a lot of credit for making all the shots he made down the stretch and of course for making THE shot.

          • Just for the record, I was heavily against the timing and size of DeRozan’s extension and still feel he needs to show more consistency to earn that paycheck. But I’ll also admit that he’s a lot closer to earning it than I thought he would be at this point when I first ripped the contract.

          • ad – noah – PBI

            you guys are right on. Demar’s situation with this team is just a Bargnani redux. He simply isn’t more than an ok player, has so many holes in his game, and is incredibly inconsistent.

            It was just assumed he should be a core player because of his potential, payed prematurely, and was given a role well above his ability.

            He has one good quarter, and hits a great shot, and some fans can’t help going nuts.

            He needs to be traded as soon as possible. Colangelo killed any value Demar could have on this team (bench scorer) by giving him what will be an albatross contract.

          • THIS is what pisses me off about raptor fans. Talk about waiting to see if a guy is worth keeping: before his slump NONE of you were on here bashing the kid cause he was the most consistent player on the team & playing 40 mins a night…then he has 7-8 below average games and the ridiculous comments come out (can’t hit a shot to save his life, slower lateral speed than Aaron gray, most boring 20 pt scorer). I think youre all jaded because of guys like Bargnani and are writing Demar off way too early.

            Anyone who has watched him since his rookie year (when he was basically just a dunker) can see he’s improved his overall game. The rest of you are just angry & bitter cause of his extension, but haven’t really been watching him evolve his game.

          • @ Duke:

            I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m saying the same thing now that I’ve been saying since about 10 games into the season, which is pretty much the same thing I’ve been saying for a couple of years now. DD is showing precious little statistical evidence of his improvement or becoming a better-than-average player.

          • @ Noah:

            Wasn’t singling out you specifically, but some fans have passed judgement on him too quickly. The fact is that is he one of the better SG’in the league (I’d like to see him play at the SF spot as well) and he’s still very young. I don’t think he’s hit his ceiling yet and I think he’s still a good piece for this team going forward.

          • @Duke

            there have been plenty of people saying for years that Demar isn’t good enough, doesn’t do enough and is being over utilized.

            His game has improved since his rookie year, but not that much and not enough to give much hope he’ll ever be more than a one dimensional scorer, and an inefficient one at that.

            This is his 4th year in the league, he isn’t some rookie learning to play in the NBA. What you see is what you’ll get, and its not even close to being worth 10 mil a year.

      • I dont think you understand the meaning of fickle.

        • How so? One game derozan is a scrub and the next game he is a budding all star according to a lot of raptor fans. Sounds fickle to me.

        • @ raps fan.

          Yep, but BC is an idiot and made demar virtually untradeable for no reason. Demar is an ok player just not anywhere close to being a core piece.

    • just in the Atlantic Division there are many guards better then DD
      joe johnson, JR smith, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Jrue Holiday, etc…
      A very good comparison for DD is Paul George of the Pacers, an allstar this year who is significantly better at most statistical categories except scoring, his twice the player DD is in my opinion. My point basically is derozan is shit, give me Mo pete on vet. minimum any day of the week baby

  2. DD is pulling down the same bucks as Jose because of his upside and BC was afraid to lose him because he would be hard to replace. Overpaid? Maybe but not by much. DD will continue to improve. Don’t forget he put up earlier numbers in a different system which was geared much more to offence.

    As to Lowry I like his energy but it needs to be harnessed with his brain. A year or two playing with Jose wouldn’t hurt him a bit. Because if Jose had not been here just look at the number of team meltdowns that Lowery was piloting and Casey was able to go to the bench. I have no doubt Casey would leave Lowry in if he was under control but right now he has the luxury to go to the bench. Maybe that changes next year.

  3. Tonights game makes my point – the two PG’s here need too go – the argument of wh si better is irrelevant when both stink!. Since Lowry’s injury against Portland he has lost his dominece and swaggar and you can thank the coaching staff and the whinyy cry baby Jose fans who cried so loud (play like JC does ) . Yes, Lowry wasn’t his best in the 4th quarter, it happens to all players (note: Lebron’s two t/o’s against Tor the night before in the end of the 4th quarter and his missed buzzer beater shot) every payer has those games. Tonight it was Lowry, other night its Jose – just to remind the fans, it was in the 1st quarter that the team was down 8 points when Calderon was pulled and within 3 minutes (before the 2nd quarter) Lowry’s run offenses gained those 8 pts plus more back to take the lead…..Calderon wasn’t at his best to start the game and the Luxury (at that time) was to go to Lowry to stop the bleeding and he did. So yes it’s a luxury to go the bench – but for me, I would still like to see the Raptors go after Jennings this summer and trade for their SF using Calderon and or Bargs and Lowry as trade chips….I would also add DeRozan but I would like to see him play with his pal Jennings first!

    • we have had lowry for less then a season, and it seems you are already wanting to get rid of him.

      he got hurt, its a brand new team with a brand new system, and im not sure if you noticed, NO ONE! was playing good at the start of the season until the players only meeting and since then its been a bit better.

      the only person we should trade is bargs, i think he has hit his ceiling here in toronto and i dont know to many raps fans he can win back after all these years. when they trade bargs, i hope they get back a young pg who they can develop and either keep if lowry and calderon dont work out, or keep until a better situation opens

      • @ Brado

        “he got hurt, its a brand new team with a brand new system, and im not sure if you noticed, NO ONE! was playing good at the start of the season until the players only meeting and since then its been a bit better.”

        Noticed!?!!…you a week late!..You obviously missed my two page essay I left on here about the PG controversy as my topic, having used the “new system” and “the meeting” as two key points….go back about a week in the archives – you’ll find it…it’s a good piece!

  4. To be fair, you should have also mentioned that Lowry got them a lead after Jose put them in an 8 point hole after his first quarter stint. Neither was perfect last night. They were both merely adequate.

    Still love watching the Amir / Ed combo. Very good, very entertaining.

    Nice to see a game and not be thinking at the end that the refs robbed us. I wasn’t expecting this with the USA USA chant that was going on to start the game :)

    • The U-S-A chants always boggle my mind. One of the dumbest things the opposing fans can do IMO, just makes them look like uninformed rednecks.

      • That’s one of the best reasons (if petty) reasons to draft Wiggins in 2014. Having a great Canadian player on the Raptors would turn us into the Hart Foundation of the NBA — entertaining!

  5. PBI, Derozan’s contract will be a bargain as he continues to improve his game. You’re hilarious.

    • That’s karma for you. I love the fact that he made that shot on the same day that you made those ridiculous comments about him. Good on you.

      • I posted that comment hours after he made the shot by the way. I’m not a sheep like you and won’t change my opinion about a player based on one horrendous shot that happened to go in and overlook 4 years of evidence that says he’s an over-utilized bench player.

    • My favourite troll tag team, in the house!

  6. What is the job of a SG in the NBA, to shoot and score first and foremost? Who are the elite SG’s in the NBA? How does DeRozan compare to his peers among the leading SG’s in the NBA?
    1. Kobe 29.2 ppg
    2. Harden 25.8 ppg
    3. Dwade 20.5 ppg
    6. DeRozan 17.3 ppg

    DeRozan is 6th in FG attempts, 5th in FG’s made, 5th in total FG’s made, 5th in 2pt FG %,
    4th in FT attempts, 4th in FT’s made, 4th in total FT attempts. DeRozan has scored an avg
    18.4 ppg at home and 16.3 ppg on the road, and is within a point per game of all SG’s in the NBA, except for the top 3 Kobe, Harden and DWade,even after struggling with his game in Jan with 14.8 ppg.
    DeRozan is 23 years old, and with untold room to grow, and improve his game, and will be a good signing with his contract in the coming years.

    • This really does put things into perspective. Yes, there are flaws with DD’s game, but if you compare him to his competition (i.e. the other SG’s in the league), DeMar is top 6 in offensive stats. Even if we were to trade him (like some Raptor fans want), whatever we get in return is unlikely to be an upgrade at the 2. People complaining he doesn’t have that killer instinct in the 4th; yeah, well no one else on the team has that either, so stfu. He’s young, a hard worker, and he actually wants to be here and is happy to be here. That’s more than you can say about the other 29 starting SG’s in the league.

    • Agree with both of you. And it’s funny to see so many on here that think a 23-year old has hit his ceiling in the NBA. A little outrageous…but I guess I can’t blame raptor fans for being cynical given what we’ve been put through with this franchise.

  7. I agree with points from both sides of the argument – although I lean towards the fact he still has time to develop at only 23 and he is better then some think but maybe not as good as some think – yet!…..that being the key – there time still!
    The problem is DeRozan (fairly and unfairly) was pegged the “building block guy” from draft day and with Bosh leaving town he wore that label even harder – its extremely hard for anyone to carry that load as a 19 year old and he still continues too.
    Raptors fans are waiting for the next Vince Carter or Stoudimire to apear – a rookie that will dominate and be all-star material in their 1st year…and there is nothing wrong with that – I want that too, but it ain’t gonna be DeRozan – yet!. When the Raptors draft picks start off by “showing potential” and not constantly “show or prove potential” immediately – some fans will think that player is a bust, they grow tired of that player within months and irritable towards them for not being instant All-Stars. Truth is most NBA’ers need a window to show greatness – some longer then others…Go look at Jordan’s first 3 years in the league, nothing spectacular let alone to be mentioned in the same sentence as greatest ever! Look what he become – i am in no way saying DeRozan is Jordan I’m saying most BA draftee’s need a window to grow in – talent alone doesn’t always do it!
    In all fairness DeRozan has had 4 years to be an All-star and still, he’s not! That doesn’t mean he can’t or won’t be!; doesn’t mean he sucks!; doesn’t mean he isn’t a starter!; doesn’t mean he isn’t a producer or a winner – he is just not at an all-star level yet – he is close – but not quite there and at 10 million he is NOT paid at the level of an all-star – 10 million is good value in the NBA for guys with DeRozans talent level (refer to Johnn 19′s comments above) for proof ….That’s a movable contract if need be, for an above average player – IMO, I just don’t get whats to hate on!???

    • I don’t think he was pegged as ‘the building block guy’ when he was drafted. However, he’s always been pegged as a solid, and if young, hard working piece going forward for a young team. Too many fans think that a $10 million player is supposed to do everything and have placed unfair expectations on him. I say give the kid a chance. Many fans (not me) expected bosh to be the building block guy (which it was clear he wasn’t) so Derozan deserves a better chance to be part of this team’s young core.

      I’d say maybe even play Demar at the 3, Ross at the 2, Davis and Jonas at the 4 & 5…that’s a decent young core of guys (and if you have the chance to bring in an all-star caliber player, do it). Pg still being the question mark right now..

      • @ Duke – its been well reported that DeRozan and Bargnani were said to be the building blocks and future for this team – many times by many many sources from many mediums, its no secert. You seem like a hardcore fan….you should know this, maaaan!

        • I agree about the Bargnani part, he was pegged wrongly as the star of the team from the beginning. As far as Derozan, I think he had hype surrounding him cause of his athleticism & hard-working nature. In terms of leadership, desire to win and hard work…he’s definitely a guy you want to keep on your team…but as of right now, lacks the talent to be the go-to guy. I do, however, think he will be worth his $9.5 million/year contract. Can’t knock his hard work and love for the city and fans who have been robbed of winning for so long now…

        • I also agree with pretty much everything else in your analysis of Derozan. There are some fans that expect too much from him. A $9.5 million dollar player should NEVER be expected to do everything. And they like to pick n choose who they compare his contract to (Jrue Holiday, Parker, Rondo) but forget about much worse players making the same money (Stephen Jackson, Humphries, Mo Williams, etc.). IMO, $9.5 million is not a bad contract for someone as young as Derozan with his skill set. I still think he has improving to do as well!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *