DeRozan sets franchise record in dramatic overtime win

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: DeMar DeRozan
TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: DeMar DeRozan /

DeMar DeRozan becomes first player in NBA history to score 50+ points on New Year’s Day, as the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime.

If the first game of the New Year is anything to go by, this is going to be an extremely special 12 months for the Toronto Raptors. Monday night saw them beat the Milwaukee Bucks 131-127 in overtime, to tie a franchise record with 12 straight victories at the ACC.

In the process the Raptors improved their home record to 14-1, the best winning percentage in the NBA. And it was mostly thanks to DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan finished the night with both a personal and franchise-best of 52 points. He become just the third Raptors to hit 50 points in a contest — the others were Vince Carter and Terrence Ross — while also becoming the first player in NBA history to score 50+ points on New Year’s Day.

You got the feeling it was going to be a special evening for the three-time All-Star, when he scored 21 points in the first quarter. However, just to prove he wasn’t solely focused on having a Kobe Bryant-esque game, he also led the Toronto Raptors with eight assists.

DeRozan knew he was in a zone, but only to a certain extent, as he was too immersed in the game to know how many points he had. As reported by the Toronto Star‘s Doug Smith, he said:

"“Honestly, I just kept looking at the score trying to figure out how many possessions we had left, what we had to do, when we needed a stop, when we needed a bucket, when we needed something. That’s all I was caring about.”"

Of course, no matter how well DeRozan plays now, it will be about how he does come playoff time. Is he finally ready to take that next step towards superstardom and perform more consistently when the pressure is cranked up?

More from Tip of the Tower

Regardless, there is little denying the 2009 ninth overall draft pick has raised his efficiency. He is on course to have his best field goal percentage since his rookie season, along with setting a new career-high for three-point percentage.

As much as DeRozan impressed with his offence, it was his defence which allowed the Raptors to get to overtime in the first place. The Bucks had one last possession with 3.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but DeRozan was all over Malcolm Brogdon until the buzzer sounded.

January is going to be an extremely crucial month for the Toronto Raptors. They face games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, which will tell us a lot about this team.

However, if they can get the DeRozan we saw against the Bucks, they will at least have a chance. As Raptors coach Dwane Casey told Smith and the rest of the assembled media after the game on Monday night: “DeMar DeRozan played like a superstar.”

Next: Raptors have one of the highest paid lineups in the world

Is DeRozan finally ready to take that next step towards superstardom? More specifically, do you expect him to have a bigger impact for the Toronto Raptors, come playoff time? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.