1. Ball Movement Plus Ball Security
The Raptors had 14 assists at the half and finished the game with 19. Toronto had just 11 Friday night against Washington. A big reason why is they took much better care of the ball. Toronto had just 13 turnovers after committing a season high 23 versus the Wizards. The ball didn’t stick offensively, which is why Toronto had great success in their half-court offence. Just 10 of Toronto’s 108 points were via the fast break.
2. Return of Ross
After leaving Friday night’s game due to a back injury, Terrence Ross was able to play through the pain effectively just 24 hours later. Ross came off the bench to score 16 points on 6/10 shooting in 24 minutes. Ross and the second unit carried the offence in the first half when the Raptors struggled to find quality shots.
3. DeRozan Dunkfest
When the career “Court Cuts” highlight reel of all of DeMar DeRozan’s in game dunks is compiled, two of them will be from this game. DeRozan finished a difficult twisting reverse alley-oop only to follow it up by cranking a tomahawk over Jahlil Okafor. Even on the second night of a back-to-back at the end of a road trip, DeRozan was in attack mode. He finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes. It was around the same stage of his career that Raptors fans became frustrated with Vince Carter relenting to go to the hole and settling for jump shots. They don’t have to worry about a similar occurrence with their current shooting guard.
4. Starting Combos
Continuity is the difference between the team at the top of the Atlantic Division and the team on the bottom. The Sixers have used 20 different starting lineups this year. The Raptors have used just five different starting lineups. The discrepancy is even more jarring when you consider the Raptors have had two opening-night starters out for extended periods with injury, only playing 14 games with all five of their projected starting lineup intact.
5. London’s Calling
After playing four games in six days and winning three of them, the Raptors have a lot of travel ahead of them but some time for rest. The team has just one game in the next eight days because of their trip to London to play the Orlando Magic. That will give the under-manned team, who leads the league in road games with 23, a chance to rest and recover once they touch down in England. The Raptors will fly from Philadelphia back to Toronto and fly out to England Sunday touching down in England Monday. They don’t play Orlando until Thursday. Raptors assistant coach Nick Nurse both played and coached in the U.K. so it will be a homecoming of sorts for him. Kyle Lowry is hoping to get in an excursion to Paris if time permits. When the Raptors return to North America, their next seven games are at home to close out the month of January.
The Raptors are now nine games over .500 for the first time this season.