Raptors Report: Week 3
The Raptors started their week at home against the Utah Jazz. This was easily the craziest game of the season so far, so we will fast forward to the fourth quarter in this one. The Raptors held a three-point lead with 16 seconds left on the clock. After Utah misfired on their first attempt, they corralled the offenseive rebound and kicked it out to Al Jefferson beyond the three-point line. The Jazz big man stepped up and rattled in a game tying jump shot to force overtime.
Prior to that shot, Jefferson had only made one three point shot in his entire NBA career. In the extra period, DeMar DeRozan slammed home a dunk to put his team ahead by 2 with 20 seconds remaining. Al Jefferson promptly scored a game tying hook shot to force a second overtime. Down by 3 with 7 seconds on the game clock, Raptor point guard John Lucas III drilled a three to send the game to the third overtime period. It was in this period that the Jazz finally managed to build up a sizeable lead and they dispatched the Raptors 140-133. Playing 60 minutes, DeRozan led all scorers with 37 points, tying a career high.
After the grueling triple overtime loss less than 24 hours before, the Raptors were back at it on Tuesday night for a rematch with the Indiana Pacers — the team they lost to on opening day. The two teams exchanged scoring runs in the early parts of the first quarter forcing each coach to burn a timeout and regroup. The Raps kept pouring it on and by the end of the first they held a 28-21 lead. It would have been significantly larger had it not been for the turnovers committed in the first few minutes of the game leading to easy baskets for the Pacers. Showing no signs of fatigue, the Raptors pushed the lead to 10 by halftime.
Just as in the first quarter, the Pacers started to get on a hot streak in the third quarter. Once again, coach coach Dwane Casey called a timeout to settle things down, and the Raps were able to maintain a double-digit lead entering the fourth (and hopefully final) period. It was the same old story for DeMar DeRozan and company once the fourth quarter commenced. The scoring was non-existent, and if not for the strong defensive play, the Pacers would have taken total control of the game. Despite only scoring 5 points in the frame, Toronto led 74-72 with 38 seconds on the clock. Indiana got several looks at the basket as the Raps could not corral the rebound to ice the game. Time expired and the Raps finally won a close game. Jose Calderon led the way recording a triple-double of 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Raptors got a much needed break following the punishing win in Indiana. The next game was Saturday afternoon in Boston against the ageless Celtics. Despite losing hall of famer Ray Allen to free agency, Boston acquired sharp shooters Leandro Barbosa and Jason Terry to fill the void. Early on in this game, the visiting team simply looked overwhelmed by the mighty Celtics. Boston was able to shoot over 70 per cent in the first quarter while the Raptors failed to hit the 35 per cent mark. As a result, Boston had run out to a big lead after one quarter and the Raps would have to scratch and claw their way back into it. The Celtics kept their foot on the gas pedal to start the second period, but towards the end of the frame, the Raptors started to swing the momentum in their favour. By halftime Toronto trailed by just 5 points after being down by as many as 16.
Toronto managed to trim the Boston lead to 2 points, but their level of play dropped off as the third quarter went on. The Celtics went on a huge run and entered the fourth with a 15-point advantage. With no Raptor run to begin the final quarter, the Celtics cruised to a 107-89 victory. Jason Terry led all scorers with 20 points, while dynamic point guard Rajon Rondo dished out 20 assists. Terrence Ross made the most of his limited minutes to contribute 10 points, mostly in garbage time.
The Toronto Raptors aimed to close out the week on a high note and get back in the win column on Lithuania night at the ACC. Young Jonas Valanciunas was honoured with his first ever bobblehead on Sunday afternoon. The Raptors came out firing even though they were on the tail end of a back to back. Bargnani and DeRozan got the Raps started on the right foot as they built up a 10-point edge after 12 minutes of play. The second quarter had a much slower pace to it and the Magic cut into the lead but still trailed by 8 at recess. Orlando absolutely dominated the third quarter to the frustration of Raptors coach Dwane Casey. Even though his team gave up the lead entering the fourth, they managed to get back on track late in the final frame outscoring their visitors 30-17. The final result was a score of 97-86 in favour of the Raptors. DeMar Derozan paced his team with 20 points and 9 rebounds while Lithuanian Linas Kleiza contributed 12 points off the bench. Jose Calderon dished out 18 assists in the win.
Next week the Raptors visit the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Bobcats on back to back nights before travelling to Detroit for a date with the Pistons. Canada’s team closes out the week against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday at the ACC. Overall, the Raptors could easily take three out of the four games on the schedule this week.