At the end of 1 quarter, the Toronto Raptors were experiencing some deja vu, a poor start that was reminiscent of the start they had in Charlotte, shooting under 30% in the first quarter and falling behind by 34-15 to the Dirk Nowitki-less, Dallas Mavericks. However, this time, the Raptors did not wait until the 4th quarter to begin their comeback, starting much earlier tonight, generating a run to start the 2nd, leading to a complete turn around 31-17 2nd quarter. By halftime the Mavs’ lead was cut down to 5.
It took the Raptors until midway in the 4th quarter to finally grab the lead from the Mavericks, but they did not look back from there, closing out the game with a 25-12 4th Q, en route to a 93-85 victory. Demar Derozan led the way playing some terrific basketball, knocking down timely shots all game, scoring a career high 40 points on 15/22 FG to complete the Raptors comeback of the Mavericks in the 4th. A huge turn around from #10, who shot a poor 39% combined in his past 3 games, compared to 68% tonight.
A humble Demar Derozan talked about picking up the slack for his teammate Lowry saying, “Once I seen Kyle go back, and then come back, he had his head down, holding his stomach. This one would’ve hurt, we didn’t want to lose three in a row. I just told myself try to do as much as I can to win, try to pull this one off and keep my team in it, so that’s what we did.”
Praising the growth of Derozan, coach Dwane Casey had this to say, “He got into the flow of the game, 1st quarter we weren’t getting those flow shots. After that we starting getting them out of our offensive. He was running the pick & roll, they started blitzing him, he did a good job of finding it, then the ball found him back. It was a growth on his part, from being double teamed but being patient enough to get the ball back and being able to score.”
After a slow start to his Raptors career, Greivis Vasquez has begun to emerge as a spark plug off the bench for coach Casey, this time picking up the slack for an ill Kyle Lowry—suffering from a stomach virus the entire game, at one point having to go back to the locker room in the 2nd quarter. Where Lowry struggled—going 0 for 10 from the field, Vasquez shined, chipping in with 17 points and 7 assists, catching fire in the 3rd quarter, making back to back 3s.
Coach Casey was honest after the game, echoed the thoughts that many fans may have had after the 1st quarter, saying: “The 1st quarter I thought it was going to be a blow out. But the 2nd half, we kind of got things back under control and got defense in the game. If you get into a free-flowing game against a great offensive team like they are, you’re in trouble. We finally got that in control, our starts are concerning.” ——“For us to score only 15 points is alarming.”
The story coming into the meeting with the Mavs, was of the two former Raptors making their return to the Air Canada Centre. Long-time Raptors’ fan favourite Jose Calderon—greeted with cheers during introductions, and of course, the one considered, the most hated player to Raptors fans, Vincent Lamar Carter.
Carter didn’t have his usual showing against the Raptors—which by now is expected to be an all-out top notch performance—instead he was relatively quiet, only scoring 8 points and 4 assists. A 36 year old Vince Carter—greeted with a mixed reaction of cheers and boos, did turn back the clock on one play, 1-on-1 against Derozan on the left block, Vince drove right and blew past the Raptors SG, soared into the air and jammed it for basket and the foul, letting out a passionate yell to cap it off.
Derozan commented about the play saying, “Yeah, he got me. He said he didn’t know it was me. If he knew it was me he would’ve tried to lay it up. But he got me, I was kind of upset with that a little bit too, but he got me.”
Sportsnet aired a 30 minute piece post-game on the whole perspective of Vince Carter and his departure from the city of Toronto, titled “Vince Carter: The Reimagination of V.C.” done by Michael Grange. Well worth a watch if you haven’t already.