Wednesday night marked the seventh time DeMar DeRozan scored 30-plus points this season. The Raptors are 5-2 in those games. DeRozan was efficient and got his points in rhythm on 13-for-25 FGs with 8-for-9 free throws, plus six assists in 38 minutes. It was a mature offensive performance considering DeRozan was guarded solely by Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, who are both elite perimeter defenders.
Good Look Lowry
Kyle Lowry has played his best basketball of late, registering 23.5 points and 6.8 assists in the last four games. On Wednesday he was a facilitator, as Lowry had eight assists and some other great looks when double-teamed that didn’t end in assists because his teammates shots didn’t fall. Lowry also made a point to force the ball inside to Valanciunas inside. Lowry reached a milestone against the Celtics, passing Damon Stoudemire for third on the team’s all-time assist list.
Perfect Post Play
Jonas Valanciunas dropped 19 points, on a crazy 9-for-9 from the field, with 12 rebounds in 29 minutes. That marks his eighth double double of the season. Most impressive is that J.V. starts the home stand with back-to-back games with double-figure rebounds. Valanciunas punished Boston when it went small in the second half. A good sign, as Dwane Casey looks for multiple ways to win.
We The Third
It wasn’t a fourth-quarter comeback Wednesday night; it was a dominant third that put Toronto ahead for good. The Raptors had 40 points in the third quarter and shot 72.7 per cent from the field. Casey played his best offensive lineup for long stretches in the third. Along with DeRozan’s 34, and 19 from Valanciunas, Scola had 18, plus Lowry and Ross both scored 14 in the game.
Twenty of those points in the third came in the paint. The Raptors had 54 points in the paint on the night, taking advantage of a rare size advantage against the Celtics. Wednesday night’s output was the Raptors’ fourth-highest total in the paint this year.
He scored just two points in 24 minutes, but Amir Johnson’s presence was felt in his return to Toronto. Based on the amount of love he got you would have thought Ray Bourque was returning to Boston. In his pre-game media availability, Johnson had a 40-person scrum that was bigger than Celtics head coach Brad Stevens’ availability. During the first quarter, the Raptors did right by one of the franchise’s favourite sons by honouring him with a tribute video.
The ACC crowd saluted Johnson with a raucous ovation. His reception was the diametrical opposite to the returns of Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and Chris Bosh, who were jeered when introduced and every time they touched the ball. The ever-media friendly Johnson has a bright future in media in this city if he so chooses whenever his career is done.
Toronto starts the second half of the season with a win. This is Toronto’s sixth straight victory, which marks the longest winning streak this season.