It was rather ugly at first, but the ATLANTIC DIVISION CHAMPION Toronto Raptors pulled together a concerted effort to defeat the fledgling Los Angeles Lakers 94-83. In Toronto’s final 20th Anniversary night of the season, the team (namely DeMar DeRozan) came off to a sluggish offensive start and surprisingly trailed 46-48 at halftime. The back half of the contest saw an encouraging boost from Terrence Ross and Lou Williams which sparked the pull-away effort. As you probably guessed, for the first time in franchise history, the Raps have clinched the division title in back-to-back seasons. Not too shabby. The team improves to 43-30 on the season and the quest for 50 wins remains a thing.
Oh, and Bruno Caboclo played.
Post-game report card:
The Lakers are atrocious. What’s that? You want to argue that statement?
When Toronto trailed LA 17-24 after the first quarter you could almost hear the collective “Come on man” uttered across the nation. However, big man Jonas Valanciunas stepped up in the second with nine points- all the result of solid inside looks. In tandem with JV was James Johnson, who finished the game with 17 points (11 in the second frame) and six rebounds. Combined with the aforementioned spark from Ross and Williams the Raps managed to overcome their disappointing start. Lou and Terrence poured in a collective 20 points on 8-14 shooting in the second half. DeRozan contributed just six points against his hometown squad on a dismal 10% shooting from the field. As a whole the Raptors orchestrated a faith-instilling performance by reversing their prior mistakes and getting the job done. As for Bruno, the big rook committed two turnovers and one personal foul in one minute of action. Damn nerves.
One-time Raptor killer Jeremy Lin recorded 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists on the night. Jordan “Look me up on Wikipedia” Clarkson managed an impressive 14 points of his own. The rest of the Lakers are surely making Kobe Bryant roll in his
grave luxurious LA mansion. To sum it up, Toronto did a solid job of locking down its opponents quickly and preventing another humiliating “no-name player borders on a career high” kind of night. Los Angeles shot just 34.5% from the field and 23.5% from deep. Conversely, the Raps shot 48% on the night and 38.9% from three-point range. This is a testament to the hard work put in on both ends of the field- definitely an encouraging sight after the team’s recent woes.
Believe it or not, Toronto was outrebounded 46-40 tonight. Tarik Black had a team-high 10 boards, but also became the latest victim of Tyler Hansbrough‘s madness (Psycho T hit Black with a fiesty flagarant in the game’s closing minutes). On the flip side DeRozan somehow led his squad with 10 rebounds of his own. His effort on the glass supplemented his horrific offensive outing.
Game Ball: James Johnson
JJ made a huge impact off the bench and was a real difference maker in this one. The energetic forward has consistently proven himself to be the definition of “hustle.” Here’s to you, James!