Valanciunas does more with less again

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 13: Jonas Valanciunas
PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 13: Jonas Valanciunas /

Jonas Valanciunas leads the way in the third quarter, to help the Toronto Raptors dominate the Milwaukee Bucks on the road.

As the Toronto Raptors prepared to start the second half, they were hanging onto a tenuous two-point lead over the Milwaukee Bucks. However, there was little to worry about, as Jonas Valanciunas stepped up to lead the way and help his team pull away for a convincing 129-110 win.

Valanciunas scored all 20 of his points in a dominating third quarter for the Raptors. To put this into context, the Bucks managed just 19 points as a team over the same 12-minute period.

The 25-year-old also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds and was the only player on either side to record a double-double. What made his performance even more impressive, was that he once again did it in limited minutes.

In fairness to Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey, this time it was on the player himself. There were two reasons the Lithuanian was limited to 17 minutes on the night; one negative and one positive.

The negative came early on, as Valanciunas was sent to the bench just 86 seconds into the game due to two fouls, resulting in him only playing five minutes during the first half. The positive came in the fourth quarter, with him sitting out due to the game being decided well before the end.

Regardless, this was a night when the 2011 fifth overall draft pick stepped up and impressed people on both sides. As reported by the Associated Press via Sportsnet, Bucks’ centre John Henson said: “He was a beast down there, man.”

Valanciunas’ coach also made a point of praising him. Again reported by the Associated Press via Sportsnet, Casey said:

"“He didn’t get off to a good start, but starting the second half he was masterful how he was getting position, using his size and strength in the paint and just doing a good job of rebounding the ball.”"

As another indication of how impressive Valanciunas’ performance was, the franchise record for points in a quarter by a player is 22. Casey may never entirely work out how to use him effectively and he might never be truly consistent, but he’s a important part of a team which is having an increasingly special season.

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In that respect, the centre wasn’t the only one earning his pay check for the Toronto Raptors. Serge Ibaka had a team-high 21 points and Kyle Lowry led them with six assists, while DeMar DeRozan — often dealing with double teams — scored 20 and added five dimes of his own.

However, there’s no denying Valanciunas was the main man on Friday night in Milwaukee. Interestingly, he is on course for the second-lowest average points and rebounds of his career, thanks in part due to a career low 20.9 minutes per contest.

On the positive side though, the sixth-year player is also on course for his most points and second-most boards of his career, per 36 minutes. This once again points to a player doing more with less.

From his perspective, Valanciunas will just continue to do what he’s told and work hard, all for the good of the team. As per the Associated Press, he said:

"“I don’t look for special motivation, I’m always motivated to play hard. That’s what I did in the third quarter…You’ve got to stay ready for 48 minutes. When you’re a pro, you can’t relax and you can’t look at what had happened. You have to look at where you can get an advantage and where you can do some damage.”"

Next: Valanciunas - Underrated and underappreciated

What was your main takeaway from Friday night’s win in Milwaukee? Who impressed you most for the Toronto Raptors and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.