It was just 23 days ago that the Raptors experienced what some considered to be the lowest point of their season after a blowout loss in Portland. In the rematch between the two teams on Wednesday night in Toronto there was another blowout, but this time it was Toronto walking away with a 102-79 victory.
While the Raptors have looked like an entirely different team since that loss — closing out 2012 by winning seven of eight games — this was a victory they desperately wanted. With the bitter aftertaste of that Portland defeat still lingering, Toronto jumped all over the Blazers to start the game, and unlike many other nights this season, didn’t let up for a second.
After Portland held on to defeat the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, they didn’t get to Toronto until nearly 2 a.m. ET. The Raptors took full advantage. Turning a seven-point lead after the first quarter into a 16-point lead at half, Toronto blew open the game in the second half. Rookie Terrence Ross was one of the main reasons why.
Ross was sensational against the Blazers, finishing with a career-high 26 points. DeMar DeRozan was right behind him with 24 points while Ed Davis scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Perhaps most importantly, the point guard duo of Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon continued to work together and rise above concerns and questions about minutes and starting lineups. With just three attempted shots between the two and zero points scored, they combined for 22 assists with just two turnovers.
While no one wants to get too excited and there’s still plenty of work to be done if the team wants to dig itself out of the hole they made to start the season, this was a solid win that had the locker room feeling light. More importantly than any player’s individual statistics, once again the Raptors played the right kind of basketball and once again they were rewarded with a “W” in the win column.
1) The emergence of Terrence Ross
After a slow start to the season, the rookie’s confidence is at an all-time high and it’s paying dividends for the Raptors. Against his hometown Blazers, Ross was on fire from beyond the arc. He finished with a career-high and game-high 26 points in just under 25 minutes of play. He shot 8-for-14 from the floor and 6-for-9 from beyond the arc. He also added five rebounds, two assists and two steals without a turnover. When Ross and DeRozan combine to score 50 points on 19-of-31 shooting, it’s hard to complain.
2) Sharing the basketball
Once again the Raptors racked up the assists, finishing with a season-high 34 on 41 made field goals. Calderon’s 13 assists without a point ties him for sixth on the NBA’s list of most assists without a point scored.
3) Recognizing where the hot hand(s) is and sticking with it
While Ross, DeRozan, Davis and Amir Johnson (17 points) all reached double figures, three of the Raptors’ starting five were held scoreless against the Blazers. Since starts were first recorded in the 1970-70 season, this is only the second time in NBA history that a team has won when three starters did not score. Not only did the Raptors win, they recorded a 23-point victory. With Dwane Casey preaching team basketball and his point guards practicing it on the floor, playing the right way has become contagious.
4) Landry Fields doing the little things
After a disastrous start to the season and a surprise surgery then rehab and trying to work his way back into game shape, Landry Fields has provided a nice boost for the Raptors in two games since returning to the lineup. While he hasn’t been flashy, he’s gotten the little things done. Against the Orlando Magic, Fields had six points and grabbed nine rebounds. On Wednesday night, he went to work on the boards once again, grabbing seven rebounds to go with seven points in 20 minutes of action off the bench.
5) Quincy Acy’s boundless energy
Whenever Acy gets into the game, it’s a given that he’s going to give everything he has and go all out for the duration of his time on the floor. On Wednesday night, Acy played almost five minutes. While he was scoreless from the floor, he managed to pick up a technical foul for pushing a Blazers player after a whistle while fighting for a rebound.
After the game, Casey joked that his rookie is going to be giving a chunk of his paycheck to the league, after picking up his third technical foul on the season in 34 minutes of action.
“The game is getting expensive for Quincy Acy,” Casey said. “He has to slow down. He is going to be using his paycheck to pay for technical fouls, but I love his energy and I love his fight.”
While Acy doesn’t see the floor often, he’s helping his teammates during practice by giving the same effort he does while in a game. There’s only one level of playing for Acy and that’s intense.
- Dwane Casey on the rebounding boost the team has received from Fields in recent games: “It’s huge. He is playing a little out of position. He is a lot longer than you think. The game is becoming small for us, but he is running the floor. He is giving us a lot more than points.”
- Jose Calderon had high praise for rookie Terrence Ross and wanted everyone to know he’s more than just a dunker: “Sometimes people think he is just athletic, but he can do a lot of things and he is getting a lot more confidence out there so he’s doing more things every day. It’s nice. We watch that in practice and he needed some time to get used to the speed of the NBA, but he’s doing great.”
- Nic Batum talked about how different this Raptors team looks than the one the Blazers dominated in December: “This is a different team. This is not the same team that I saw two weeks ago. It’s crazy when I watched the video this morning and then watched the game tonight, this is a new team. This is not the same team. They played good. Give credit to their coaching staff and them.”