I’m not sure that it was necessarily the Raptors defense or the fact the Golden State Warriors just didn’t shoot the ball well. Whatever it was, the Raptors were able to hold Golden State to a lowly 36% despite a pretty crummy shooting night themselves (37%).
To say it was a great game to behold would be a bold-faced lie. It was ugly, sometimes it was downright ooglie. By the fourth quarter the Raptors and Warriors looked like they had shaken of the rust (or hangovers as the case may be) of the night previous. The game picked up intensity and energy in fourth quarter..well the Raptors did. The Warriors couldn’t muster much effort and in the end they didn’t deserve to win.
Some will say this victory puts us further away from a high pick, but to them I say, that the development of our young talent currently on the roster is also important. Tonight Derozan looked good. If we win games because he makes it happen, then I will get over moving further away from a top pick. He is as much a part of our future going forward as whoever the eventual first round pick will be.
When Derozan takes a step forward in his development, so do the Raptors. It’s that simple. Tonight we looked like a team with a brighter future.
Zan For Three
Demar Derozan seems to be the focus of a lot of writers, fans and bloggers this year. If he has a bad game, everyone freaks out and questions whether he belongs on this team going forward. If he performs well then everyone praises his abilities and dreams of what is yet to come.
Today was a good day so there will be plenty to read and listen about Demar in the morning when you turn on your radio and read your paper (that is if people have gotten over the Leafs winning a game).
What fans should take note of isn’t that he scored a lot of points. Yes, he was able to fill the stat sheet a bit tonight but it was more about how he did it. His teammates were looking for him. He was the first option in their minds and Derozan was able to take that confidence and turn it into productivity. This is something he hasn’t been able to do.
He also looked confident on the defensive end. Being a number one option means you often have to defend the other teams best player. Monta Ellis is no slouch. He is a great, great player and one that can score in a variety of ways. Derozan was the “lucky one” that had to try to contain him. Tonight he did. He contested shots, stayed with a pretty fast player and made life difficult for the Warriors Star. Monta didn’t help himself by taking the awful shots and allowing Nate Robinson to touch the ball, but Derozan was right there making things difficult for Ellis all night long.
The energy and confidence we saw in Demar has been lacking this year (as we’ve all heard a million times) but tonight he looked better. He had the support and guidance of his teammates out there and it really seemed to make a difference.
Whether you think he’ll ever be a number one or two option in the NBA, it is hard to argue that there isn’t a really good basketball player inside Demar. He is a giften athlete, can penetrate the lane at will and has a pretty solid shot.
This is a player we are allowed to be excited about.
Let this positivity continue.
So this is apparently a hockey town. You may have a heard a little bit about the local team this weekend. Something about a coach or something like that. Hockey is king in Toronto. Whether Raptors fans love it or hate it, it’s the reality in this city.
People love hockey.
What I’ve also noticed is that fans in this city love when basketball players play like hockey players. Fans gravitate to “energy guys”. Players that fight for the ball, hustle, grab loose balls and basically leave it all on the floor despite or in place of great skill. For years fans have cheered the efforts of Matt Bonner, JYD, Charles Oakley and Reggie Evans.
These players often receieved louser ovations than the stars like Damon Stoudamire, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady or Chris Bosh. They were also all given a pass when they left town.
Why? Because we loved what they did here in the short amount of time they played here.
These players endeared themselves to the fans without a great deal of scoring ability or superstar status. We loved them because they played hard. They worked hard and even when they didn’t put a single shot in the basket, their performances stayed with us.
Tonight Raptor fans were treated to a game that showed off some of our current crop of “hockey boys”.
Amir Johnson injured his knee late in the game and went down like a tonne of bricks. In years past we would have seen a player leave the game and not return after a knee on knee hit. They might even miss a few weeks (cough…Carter…cough). But Amir went to the bench and was back a few minutes later. He was like a Boston Bruin out there. You don’t see NBA players shrug off injury that often. It’s nice to see we have a guy that will fight through the pain to play the game he loves for our team.
Add to that the hustle and grind performances from James Johnson and Ed Davis and you had a team that a hockey town could get behind. Defense. Rebounds. Loose balls. Unselfish play. The list of behaviour this hockey town loves in a player was on display in abundance on Sunday night.
These players are giving a hockey town reason to stand up and cheer, despite the losing season.
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Watching a Raptor game on a Sunday afternoon used to be one of my favourite things to do. I’d wake up on Sunday and get excited for an afternoon tilt between the Raptors and some other team. I’d head down to the Richmond Rogue and watch the game with some buddies and dissect the Raptors performance.
I loved it. So did the Raptors and the city of Toronto.
Sunday basketball, for me, was like Saturday Night Hockey. It just was the way it was. It was something to look forward to and to depend on.
For whatever reason this year, the Raptors have been moved to Sunday night games or taken right off the schedule for Sunday entirely. Let’s hope this is a result of the lockout shortened season because I want my Sunday afternoon basketball back.
Sunday night feels weird. Especially 6pm games. Just weird.
The Raps and Warriors didn’t seem to like it either as they started the game on a terrible run and by the fourth quarter the score looked like it was half time.
No more 6pm starts Please. We want our Sunday afternoons back!
Zan of the Night
There were lots of gritty efforts from the Johnson’s and Ed Davis, but Demar was the glue that held them all together. He shot the ball well, defended well and looked for his teammates when it made sense too. He was just “on” tonight. The Raptors want and need to see more of this. There is a great looking ball player in there somewhere, he just needs the confidence to keep it going.
Dwane Casey is going to need to work hard on Demar so that he can string these kinds of games together into a consistent run. Tonight he looked like our go-to guy.
Not Zan of the Night
A tough night at the office for Jose. He was not good offensively in the first half and just could not hang with the quick Golden State Back court. He was replaced by Jarryd Bayless who did a decent job of running the floor. Calderon did come back in late in the game for the crucial final two minutes and played well, but his effort was not consistent tonight.
Though he didn’t play well, I am still not an advocate of trading Jose. He is a solid, stay at home point guard who distributes the ball well, keeps it away from the opposing team and loves the shit out of the city.
Bad night notwithstanding, he is our team leader. We need Jose. Let’s hope we keep Jose.
The Zan Tabak Herald