A night after letting a win slip through their fingers, the Raptors showed up in a big way during the fourth quarter and stole a victory from the Hornets in New Orleans. Linas Kleiza led the way with a beautiful shooting performance and Demar Derozan, one night removed from stirring up controversy, brought his A-game to the table with a solid 21 points.
Demar was the talk of the town all day long following a twitter controversy after the Houston Rockets game. Whether he was referring to coach Casey’s benching of him in the 4th quarter of Tuesday’s game or his own performance against the Rockets when he tweeted “straight bullsh#!+”, he certainly vindicated himself with a strong night at the office.
What was most inspiring about Wednesday nights victory was not just the W, against a team they certainly should be able to beat, but the way they came back in the 4th quarter.
This is a team that hasn’t been able to do that very often.
Tonight they dug deep and found a way to win.
When you have a group of young players trying to grow, comeback victories certainly help build that confidence.
Onward and Upward.
Zan for Three
So Demar Derozan really caused a controversy didn’t he? And he didn’t even write a complete sentence. Last night, after being benched for the entire 4th quarter, he tweeted “Straight Bulls#!+”. This led Raptor fans to lose their minds and begin inferring that this tweet was a result of anger toward Dwane Casey.
The things we can tell in 140 characters and less huh?
Whether Demar was mad at himself or his coach, Wednesday night he came out ready to make amends and prove a point.
Derozan is a player that comes with high expectations. Whether those expectations are fair or not is a completely different story, they are there regardless. He has not played up to those expectations and fans are wanting more of him.
20 points plus every night out is what is being asked of him. Tonight he delivered just that. What makes his performance even more enjoyable for Raptor faithful is that he did it by aggressively attacking the rim.
What’s more is that this whole “twittergate” has shown that Demar is growing up a bit. Yes, he lashed out publicly (which is not cool), but he is getting angry when he doesn’t play well. He is not accepting mediocrity, or accepting defeat, he is fighting to do his best night in and night out.
A player that wants to do well and is his own worst critic is a player you want to have on your team. This is a good trait in a young player because it ensures that the player is going to work hard to improve moving forward.
Demar showed toughness and aggression on Wednesday night.
Hopefully we see more.
When Linas Kleiza shoots the ball well, there are few things as beautiful. I haven’t seen him shoot the ball consistently since he was wearing a Lithuania jersey in the World Championships, but tonight it was nice to see him shooting with confidence.
This is a player that has never really achieved the results that were expected when he was signed to his large contract. He is, however a very good ball player and when he finds his rhythm he is certainly a marvel to behold.
I like Kleiza. I have since we signed him and I hope he can turn it around. His contract makes him, virtually, untradeable at this point, so hopefully we continue to see good things from Kleiza because he’s here for, at least, another year.
Good teams are judged based on their performance in late game situations. Let’s be honest, 75% of basketball games are decided in the final frame. Teams either step up or fall flat in the last quarter of a game. The Raptors have been a team that usually cannot keep up with their opponents and let leads slip way or simply languish too far behind.
Tonight, albeit against a lesser opponent, they hung in and fought their way to victory. In the 4th quarter, on the second night of a back to back, they outscored their opponents 33-15 in the final frame. That is what good teams are able to do. It’s what separates the top from the bottom, the good from the bad, the stars from the pretenders, the wheat from the sheaf (yeah, I said it!). Tonight the Raptors looked like the real deal. Albeit against the Hornets.
Zan of the Night
Not the player that jumps out at you on a stat sheet. Kleiza and Derozan would be the top scorers, but Amir was the best all round player tonight. He battled defensively, was active on both ends of the floor and just provided his team with the energy it needed to come back.
There is a marked difference in his performance when he is able to stay out of foul trouble. On Wednesday he was able to stay on the floor and that’s a good thing for the Raptors.
Not Zan of the Night
The Jekyll and Hyde impression continues with Davis. One night after looking great in extended minutes, he crashed back down to Earth with a terrible performance. He was not a factor in this game at all and Dwane Casey gave him every opportunity to show that Tuesday night wasn’t a fluke. Davis needs to start showing up consistently or he will be wearing a different jersey next year, end of story.
And I hate saying that because he’s one of my favourites, but he plays a position that many others do as well. He needs to start separating himself from his competition.
The Zan Tabak Herald