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NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Named 4-Time Player Of The Week

Press Release:

The National Basketball Association announced Monday that DeMar DeRozan has been selected as Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played March 20-26. He earns the honor for a franchise record-setting fourth time this season – November 7-13, December 12-18, January 9-15 and March 20-26. Prior to this season, DeRozan had won the award once during his eight-year NBA career (December 7-13, 2015).

DeRozan topped all Eastern Conference players averaging 33.3 points, while leading the Raptors to a perfect 3-0 record. He shot .488 (39-for-80) from the field, .769 (20-for-26) at the free throw line and averaged 5.7 assists.

DeRozan began the week by scoring 42 points during the Raptors’ 122-120 overtime victory March 21 versus Chicago. He scored 27 points in the second half and overtime, helping the Raptors rally from a 16-point deficit. DeRozan then scored 40 points March 23 at Miami as part of Toronto’s NBA-leading and franchise-record 19th double-digit comeback win, 101-84. He finished the week with an 18-point performance March 25 at Dallas, helping Toronto secure a playoff berth in four straight seasons for the first time in franchise history.

DeRozan, a native of Compton, California, currently ranks fifth in the NBA averaging a career-high 27.1 points through 66 games this season. The three-time NBA All-Star was selected ninth overall by Toronto in the 2009 NBA Draft and became the franchise’s all-time leader in career points (11,223), field goals made (3,991), free throws made (3,009) and games played (587) earlier this season.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Serge Ibaka

Whiteside And Ibaka To Miss Raptors At Heat On Thursday

Both the Raptors and Heat managed to win their respective games on Tuesday night, but both teams are expecting key players won’t be available when they clash in Miami on Thursday says Barrie Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Whiteside’s availability this week very much in jeopardy after 13 stitches were required to close a gash between the middle and ring fingers of his right hand, an injury that happened when he sliced his hand against the backboard as he attempted to block a shot by Suns power forward Marquese Chriss with 2:08 left in Miami’s 112-97 win.

The last time Whiteside had a laceration on his right hand, almost exactly two years ago, he missed three games

Toronto figures to be without Serge Ibaka, who was ejected Tuesday after exchanging punches with Chicago’s Robin Lopez.

Serge Ibaka’s one game suspension has been confirmed.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors P.J. Tucker

P.J. Tucker Adds Defensive Toughness To The Raptors

With some unexpected last minute flair, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri added defensive toughness and filled the gap on the wing by trading Jared Sullinger and two second round draft picks for the Suns small forward P.J. Tucker.

Ujiri had made a massive upgrade at power forward by acquiring Serge Ibaka from the Magic just days earlier, but to get the deal done, he traded Terrence Ross, the team’s backup small forward. The soon-to-be 32-year-old Tucker is a tougher, more experienced and more consistent defender than Ross albeit not quite as an effective three-point threat.

Suns teammate Jared Dudley has been singing the praises of Tucker’s defense this season as has Suns coach Earl Watson.

Watson, “It’s all on intensity, passion, toughness and a lot of heart. He (Tucker) plays with that every time he touches the court. He’s one of our best players. To me, he’s the most underrated defender in our league, especially on isolations. I think our isolation defense kind of speaks for itself because of him.”

While Tucker averages 7 points, 6 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 28.5 minutes and shoots 33.8 percent from three for the Suns this year, against the Raptors he’s scoring 12.5 points and grabbing 7 boards in two unexpected wins as the Suns held the high scoring Raptors to an average of 97 points.

Being good at isolation defense has been key to stopping the Raptors and it becomes even more important in the postseason.

Tucker was originally drafted from the University of Texas at Austin 35th overall in 2006 by the Raptors and played in 17 games for Toronto before being waived in March 2007. After playing five seasons overseas, he was signed as a free agent in 2012 by the Suns. He is in the final year of a three-year $16.5 million contract that pays him $5.3 million this season. He had been primarily used as a starter, but has come off the bench since December 31st.

On another note, the Boston Celtics have stood pat as the Raptors added talent at the trade deadline.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry Will Play For The Raptors Again Next Season

It’s been widely assumed that the bromance between DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry all but assured the Raptors All-Star point guard would re-sign with the team next season. Well, the word out of All-Star weekend confirmed the team is feeling the same way according to Basketball Insiders editor Steve Kyler.

Over the NBA All-Star break, it was said pretty dramatically that Lowry is all in with the Raptors 

Sources close to the Raptors said this weekend there was almost no scenario in which the Raptors wouldn’t pony up the money

Lowry is playing even better than his “career year” of 2015-16 and is on pace for the most minutes (37.7), points (22.8), rebounds (4.8), and three-pointers made and attempted (3.3/7.9) at the best percentage (41.7) of his career. He is averaging half an assist per game better than last year as well.

He is the engine that drives the Raptors and without him, they would be a mere shadow of the team that has won three consecutive Atlantic Division crowns.

 

 

  Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jared Sullinger

Raptors Jared Sullinger Finds His Shooting Touch With The 905

It was a big night in the 905 for the Toronto Raptors Jared Sullinger. The big man found his shooting touch, going 6-11 from the field and 2-2 from three-point range to score 16 points to go with 10 boards and 5 assists.

 

Sullinger has yet to make much of an impact in Toronto since returning from foot surgery as his team is struggling to get out of a slump and head coach Dwane Casey hasn’t had the luxury of letting him play himself back into shape. So, for the second time since his return, Sullinger volunteered to go to Mississauga to shake off the rust and work on his conditioning.

Raptors 905 won the game 118-88 over the Canton Charge. Fred VanVleet contributing 8 points and 11 assists. Brady Heslip leading the 905 in scoring with 18 points by shooting 5-8 from three. Center Edy Tavares also had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Kyle Lowry Joins DeMar DeRozan As 3-Time All-Star

NBA coaches have affirmed what everyone was expecting, the Raptors starting point guard Kyle Lowry will be joining his backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan as a three-time All-Star in New Orleans.

This will be Lowry’s third appearance in a row at the NBA All-Star Game. This year he is averaging career highs in points (22.4), field goal percentage (46.9%), three-point makes, attempts and shooting percentage (3.2/7.5, 42.2%).

Lowry, voted in as a reserve, joins All-Star starter DeRozan who will also be appearing in an NBA All-Star Game for the third time. The Raptors starting shooting guard is averaging a career high 27.9 points on 47.3 percent shooting.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Cory Joseph

Raptors Cory Joseph Scores A Career High 33 Points

The Toronto Raptors gave starting point guard Kyle Lowry the night off in Brooklyn to rest and Canadian guard Cory Joseph stepped in and stepped up to score a career-high 33 points on career highs in field goal makes and attempts (15-22) in the 119-109 road win.

“Kyle provides a lot of scoring for us, I knew that slot would be missing today, so I took it upon myself to try to be more aggressive,” Joseph said after the game. “Try to be aggressive and take what the defense gave me. They were giving up a lot of layups and short floaters, so that’s what I was taking.”

It was Joseph’s first start since last April and he played a season-high 37 minutes. However, DeMar DeRozan stole most of the limelight with a 36 point 11 rebound double-double.

The win marked the first time Toronto has reached the halfway point in the season with 28 victories, 2 wins ahead of last year at the same point (26-15) when the team set a franchise record 56 wins on the season and one win ahead of their previous best in 2014-15 (27-14) which finished with 49 victories.

Overshadowing a great performance from Joseph and the new midseason record was concern over Lucas Nogueira who left the game with blurred vision in his left eye and a possible concussion.

The Raptors play the second game of this back-to-back set on the road in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Named NBA East Player Of The Week

On the last day for NBA All-Star fan voting, the NBA has announced that the Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan is the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played January 9-15. DeRozan finished the week averaging 30.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 51.5 percent from the field and 87.5 percent at the free throw line.

The Raptors defeated three division rivals during the week. DeRozan scored a season-high 41 points during Toronto’s 114-106 victory over Boston. He led the team with 28 points as the Raptors set a franchise-record 132 points in a non-overtime game against the Nets. Then he finished the week with 23 points versus New York in a 116-101 win.

DeRozan is the first player in team history to win the honor three times in the same season. He also won the award for games played November 7-13 and December 12-18. Previously Vince Carter, Chris Bosh and Kyle Lowry had been named player of the week twice in the same season for Toronto.

Currently leading the East with 1,122 points scored, DeRozan tied a career high with 12 consecutive games with 20-or-more points in Sunday’s game against the Knicks.

 

 

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Raptors Lowry And DeRozan Need More Fans In All-Star Voting

The initial fan All-Star voting returns are in and just like last year, Eastern Conference guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are out of the top two in the preliminary returns. (Results as of January 5th below).

All-Star voting

 

Last year Kyle Lowry became just the third player in Toronto Raptors team history to be voted an NBA All-Star starter when he finished second among Eastern Conference guards in fan balloting with 646,441 votes. But, it took a late rally by the Raptors fans to overcome a deficit of more than 30,000 votes to help Lowry get in. (see NBA All-Star fan voting in 2016 below)

To-date the Raptors have spent the entire voting period on a western conference road trip while the Air Canada Centre was taken over for the 2017 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, so basketball hasn’t been uppermost on Canadian’s minds. However, that is all about to change with the Raptors at home for 5 of the next 6 games.

It is going to take another big push by the local fanbase to get one of the Raptors guards into the top two of fan voting for Eastern Conference guards. However, winning the fan vote isn’t the only deciding factor this year. The fan vote counts for 50% with the other half split between a media panel and NBA players, but it’s unlikely a player outside of the top five in the fan vote has a chance.

The next fan voting update is Thursday, January 12th and voting ends on Monday, January 16th at 11:59 p.m. E.T.

Voting is easy. NBA fans may submit one full ballot each day through Twitter and Facebook using the player’s first and last name with #NBAVOTE, NBA.com, the NBA App and Google Search, as well as via Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblogs in China.

The 2017 All-Star Starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, January 19th during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. E.T.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors rookie Pascal Siakam

Raptors Pascal Siakam Climbs The Rookie Ladder To 4th

Toronto rookie forward Pascal Siakam has probably maxed out his potential climb up the NBA Rookie Ladder at fourth from the top, but for a player that wasn’t even supposed to be in the Raptors rotation, that’s pretty impressive.

4. Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

Last week: No. 5

The No. 6 rookie on Dec. 14 hasn’t surged up two places so much as remain upright while others wilted amid the intense Ladder spotlight. Siakam did put himself in position to climb, though, while second in field goal percentage, second in blocks, sixth in rebounding and 12th in Defensive Rating. This is probably his ceiling, barring either a big jump in production or a big fall or serious injury from Embiid, Brogdon and Saric in the top three.

Siakam has started every game at power forward for the Raptors so far this season pending the return of Jared Sullinger from injury and he’s averaged 4.9 points on 51 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds, half a steal and 0.9 blocks in 18.5 minutes. While his play is full of rookie mistakes, he puts pressure on defenses in transition with his speed and plays with high energy on defense.

However, it was only by chance that Siakam could still catch the eye of Scott Howard-Cooper for the current rookie rankings. Six games ago Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was pulling Siakam early and starting Patrick Patterson in the second half and for three games in a row Siakam was averaging 0 points and 1 rebound in 5.3 minutes. Then Patterson sprained his knee and Siakam got 27.8 minutes in his last three games and bumped those averages to 3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 1.7 blocks.

While Siakam isn’t the player the Raptors were hoping would be starting every game in the first half of the season and the team is rumored to be looking for a more veteran power forward to start in his place, the rookie is belying his selection at the back end of the first round in the draft and outperforming nearly everyone chosen ahead of him.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Coach of the Month for December 2016 Dwane Casey

Raptors Dwane Casey NBA East Coach Of The Month For December

Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has been selected as Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for December. This is the fourth time in four seasons Casey has won the award, being honored previously for December 2013, November 2014 and January 2016.

Toronto finished December with a 10-4 record (second in the East) and averaged a conference-best 112.1 points with a +11.1 point differential. The Raptors scored 100+ points in 11 consecutive games during the month (December 2-23) and became the first team in NBA history to make at least 12 three-pointers while shooting .400 percent or better from behind the arc in eight consecutive games (November 23-December 8). Toronto also finished the month ranked second defensively holding opponents to 101.1 points per game.

The Raptors set a franchise-record by winning seven straight road games (November 23-December 26), including five games during the month of December. The Raptors rallied from a 14-point deficit December 9 at Boston for their largest comeback win of the season (101-94). The team then held Orlando to an opponent season-low for points during a 109-79 victory December 18. The Raptors earned their sixth straight road win 104-98 on December 23 at Utah and set the franchise-record with their seventh victory December 26 at Portland with a 95-91 decision.

Casey is the longest serving coach in franchise history, leading the team through 427 games during six seasons with Toronto. He is also the winningest coach in team history with 233 victories and has improved the team’s win total in five consecutive seasons, including a franchise-best 56 wins in 2015-16.

Last season Casey was the recipient of the Professional Basketball Writers Association Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors a coach for his cooperation with the media and fans, as well as his excellence on the court.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan is the Eastern Conference Player of the Week

The National Basketball Association announced Monday that DeMar DeRozan has been selected as Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played December 12-18. This is the second time DeRozan has earned the honor this season (Nov. 7-13) and the third time overall in his eight-year career.

DeRozan led the NBA last week averaging 31.5 points and shot .605 (46-for-76) from the field in four games. He also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. DeRozan led the Raptors in all four games scoring at least 30 points and shooting .500 or better from the field as the team posted a 3-1 record.

DeRozan began the week with a game-high 30 points in a 122-100 win December 12 versus Milwaukee. He shot a perfect 15-for-15 at the free throw line, marking the second time this season he has a perfect free throw shooting game with 10 or more attempts. DeRozan recorded 31 points during the Raptors’123-114 win December 14 at Philadelphia, playing only the first three quarters. He followed up with 34 points in a 125-121 loss December 16 versus Atlanta. DeRozan finished the week posting a game-high 31 points December 18 at Orlando, helping the Raptors tie the franchise record with a fifth consecutive road victory.

DeRozan leads the Eastern Conference in scoring at 28.4 points per game and in field goals made with 274. He is the team’s all-time leader in games played and needs 74 points to become the team’s all-time leading scorer.

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan joins the NBA MVP race

It isn’t easy getting noticed North of the Border, but an 18-7 record and an historically great offensive rating is making the Toronto Raptors hard to ignore. After years of an improving offensive game, DeMar DeRozan has joined the elite scorers in the the NBA piling in a league fourth best 28 points per game and it’s finally gained him some love on the NBA’s Sekou Smith MVP Ladder.

7. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors

(Last week: NR)

DeRozan and the Raptors aren’t getting the love they deserve this season, but that ends now, at least around here. DeRozan has fueled the Raptors’ attack, scoring 30 or more points three times in his past five games. His ability to score in bunches without much production from beyond the 3-point line makes him stick out among his perimeter All-Star brethren around the league (28.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists in his last five games).

And that’s not the only place DeRozan is feeling some love from the usually oblivious media south of the border. Basketball Insiders Oliver Maroney has DeRozan a notch higher and he’s had the Raptors top scorer on his list for a while.

6. DeMar DeRozan (Last Week: 6)

DeRozan has been superb for the Raptors. What’s impressive is that his offensive game has been deemed inefficient by many, and yet he still continues to prove others wrong. The Raptors are playing some historically great offensive basketball and DeRozan is a significant reason why. Currently averaging just under 28 points per game, DeRozan is the most efficient guard within the top nine for league scoring. He’s also providing more assists than ever before, averaging almost two assists more than his career average. While DeRozan still hasn’t found his form from behind-the-arc, he’s still providing efficient offense on the second best team in the East.

The fun side of this welcome recognition for DeRozan will come from the nearly certain ribbing he’ll get from his good friend and backcourt partner Kyle Lowry. There is a strong case to be made that Lowry is the Raptors MVP this season, DeRozan’s scoring notwithstanding and these two players should both be getting some recognition outside of Toronto for potential MVP consideration. However, that’s just never going to happen from the stateside media who are more likely to watch anyone else play besides Toronto.

As Matt Moore of CBS Sports points out while relegating both Raptors to his MVP fifth tier list of “others”,

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: DeRozan’s scoring is slowly coming back to Earth, he’s now fifth in scoring after leading the league in points per game after the first month. Lowry has stepped up with a 21-5-7 line and the Raptors are clearly the second-best team in the East. Neither one of these guys is Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry, but they are equally essential to the Raptors’ team success, and so they wind up hurting each other’s chances.

Even sitting a half game out of first place in the East can’t always get “We The North” the love they deserve down south.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Three Is The Key For Raptors And Cavs

The game of the week in the NBA should be the rematch at the Air Canada Center between the 13-5 Cleveland Cavaliers and the 14-6 Toronto Raptors with first place in the Eastern Conference on the line. The style of play between these two teams couldn’t be more different, but the three is the key for both of them and it’s why Cleveland has beaten the Raptors twice this season already.

The Raptors are on a six game winning streak and the Cavs have dropped three in a row, but throw all that out as Cleveland is taking their opponents in last season’s Conference Finals seriously and LeBron James isn’t about to let his teammates put out another subpar effort.

The two teams have met on each others court already this season with the Cavs winning close games each time. A  107.5 – 104 margin of victory that can be attributed to Cleveland hitting on 12.5 of 32.5 three-point attempts while the Raptors were focused on the midrange and put down just 8.5 of 22.5 three-balls.

However, those contests came during the first 10 games of the season and things have changed dramatically since then for Toronto.

The Raptors started out this season looking like a team that had forgotten how to shoot the long ball, hitting on just 31 percent of 22.9 three-point attempts per game. DeMar DeRozan carried the team in scoring, but that just wasn’t enough against the Cavs.

Queue the next 10 games for Toronto after losing their second game to Cleveland 121-117 in mid-November and the Raptors got hot from outside and were about to get hotter. In the current six game winning streak Toronto is outscoring opponents 117.2 – 94.2 and they are hitting 50.6 percent of their 26.3 three-point attempts. While that’s still not at the same volume as the Cavaliers, the 13.3 makes matches the Cavs season average.

Cleveland is top five in three-point attempts (34.3), makes (13.3) and percentage (38.9), however, in their last two games they failed to attempt over 30 for only the second and third time this season. However, don’t anticipate they’ll shoot under 30 three-point attempts again in Toronto. The Cavs are deep in three-point threats with five players attempting more than four long balls per game.

The Raptors rarely get the respect they deserve from the US media who seem to forget the NBA Champion Cavs only won one more game than the Raptors last season. This third meeting between them is too close to call, but the three will be the key and neither team can have an off night from deep and be favored to win.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini

 

 

 



 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Raptors Go For First Place In The East Vs The Hawks

The surging (5-0) Toronto Raptors can claim a share of the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a win over the slumping (0-5) Atlanta Hawks at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

The Raptors improved to 13-6 on the season with an easy wire-to-wire 113-80 win over the Lakers at home on Friday night to move to within a half game of the Cavaliers who lost their third game in a row as they fell 111-105 to the Bulls in Chicago. Toronto now plays the rare at home back-to-back tonight and the biggest concern may be to not look past the Hawks to the rematch against Cleveland on Monday.

Atlanta started out the season at 10-5, but a left hip injury to All-Star Paul Millsap in Utah has sent a team that was already starting to slide into a tailspin. Millsap played through the pain in losses to the Jazz, Lakers and Warriors, but he was finally sat down in the Hawks last two games and he isn’t expected to play against Toronto.

On Friday night the Hawks were crushed 121-85 by the Pistons and have now lost eight of their last nine games. They have been outscored by their opponents 104.4 – 92.7 over this stretch, however, the Raptors need to be cautious as this team started the season at 9-2 and dominated their opposition 107.8 – 98.2 including big wins in Cleveland (110-106) and against the Bulls (115-107).

The Raptors, in contrast, have been red hot over their past five games, dominating their opponents 115 – 96.2 as their offense has been firing on all cylinders led by All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry who is averaging 22.6 points and shooting 62.9 percent from three-point range over that span.

DeMar DeRozan who was leading the NBA in scoring until recently has retouched reality during the winning streak averaging just 20.8 points over the past five games, however, even he is hitting on 44.4 percent of his three-point attempts and contributing 6 boards and 6 dimes per game as defenses have decided to get the ball out of his hands at any cost. That cost has been letting Lowry and the rest of the Raptors three-point threats see a lot of open looks and they’ve been sinking them at a 50 percent clip, so eventually opponents may decide it’s better to let DeRozan shoot again.

Head coach Dwane Casey continues to preach defense, but after giving up an average of 105.5 points per game prior to the winning streak, his charges have kept their opponents below that in each of the past five games. The result may still not be up to Casey’s standards (it never is), but at least the trend is finally in the right direction.

The Raptors have lost both ends of their two previous back-to-back sets this season, so they shouldn’t be overconfident.

If Toronto can claim this winnable game against the Hawks, they’ll improve to 14-6 and sit in a virtual tie with the idle 13-5 Cavaliers. Cleveland has already defeated Toronto at the Q and at the ACC this season, so expect the Raptors to be motivated on Monday.

Note: The Toronto Raptors are in the midst of a six game homestand and the ACC has been sold out for 101 consecutive games including the regular season and the playoffs.  The streak began Nov. 11, 2014 vs Orlando and is the longest in franchise history.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Scoring Not Seen Since Michael Jordan

It’s been 30 years since an NBA player scored 30+ plus in each of the first five games of the regular season like Micheal Jordan did back in November of 1986 when the legend did it in his first six of the season. But on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan seemed to score 34 points on the HEAT with relative ease for his fifth straight 30+ point scoring night in five games and only the Sacramento Kings on Sunday stand in his way of making it six in a row.

So far this season no one has found a way to stop DeRozan from scoring and the HEAT were no different as reported by ESPN.

“We tried to give him different looks,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We really wanted to try and take it out of his hands a couple of times but we weren’t able to do it. He’s a heck of a player.”

In fairness, the HEAT weren’t able to do it last year either when DeRozan averaged 29.3 points over their four regular season meetings and he’s playing at a much higher level right now.

Back in 1986 Jordan was just 23-years-old, starting his third NBA season and was about to average over 30 points per game for the first time in his career. In those first five games in 1986, Jordan averaged 39.4 points on 50 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Jordan was 0-2 from three-point range and averaged 29.2 field goal attempts.

Like Jordan, DeRozan isn’t relying on the long ball and has gone 1-8 from three-point range. The Raptors wing is averaging 35.8 points on 55.1 percent shooting to go with 5 rebounds and 2.6 assists. The higher shooting percentage helping to offset his fewer shot attempts (25.4).

DeRozan must be feeling a bit guilty about dominating the scoring as he passed up a few shots early on against the HEAT, but head coach Dwane Casey set him straight. The 4-1 Raptors are winning because of his scoring.

“A couple shots I passed up,” DeRozan said. “(Casey) just said to me to go out and shoot it.”

In 1986 Jordan’s Bulls also started the season 4-1, improved to 5-1 when he scored 34 points in Game six before dropping the next two.

The Raptors play the Kings (2-4) in Toronto on Sunday before a couple of tough road games starting in Oklahoma City (4-1) on Wednesday and Charlotte (4-1) on Friday.

Can DeRozan match or beat Jordan’s record of six games scoring +30 points to start a season? Suddenly an early visit by Sacramento has become a must see game. The opportunity to watch someone walking in the shadow of a legend doesn’t happen every day.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors DeMar DeRozan Leads The NBA In Scoring

The Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan is hot, red hot to start the 2016-17 NBA season and heading into Friday night’s tilt against the Miami HEAT he leads the NBA in scoring at 36.3 points per game.

Criticized as a volume shooter, something that’s become less true the longer he’s played in the league, this season he’s taken his polished mid-range game to new heights and connecting on an NBA best among guards of 55.4 percent. That’s finishing more like a paint bound big man than a perimeter player and in part he’s doing it by limiting his three-point attempts to just 1.5 per game. On Wednesday in Washington, DeRozan made his first three-point shot of the young season. The result of this shot discipline has been 145 points on just 101 field goal attempts in his first four games.

DeRozan isn’t alone in having a hot start to the season.

OKC star guard Russell Westbrook was ahead of him in points per game until running into Golden State on a back-to-back last night. Russell only managed 20 points facing the Western Conference Champs and his old teammate Kevin Durant to drop his scoring average to “just” 34.2 points per game.

Pelicans star Anthony Davis kicked off the season with a 50 point night and was just slightly ahead of DeRozan in points scored after four games, but he came crashing back down to earth in his first back-to-back set a couple of days ago with a 10 point effort in Memphis as the Pelicans lost their fifth game of the season (0-5).

Other scoring leaders like DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard, James Harden and Kevin Durant have been just off the pace so far, but not that far off.

DeRozan is yet to have anything remotely like an off night and this early in the season, he can’t have one and stay on top in the NBA scoring race. Last year he averaged 29.3 points against Miami during the regular season, but in Toronto he upped that to 35.5 points. This version of the HEAT is missing Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, although DeRozan may have to deal with his old teammate James Johnson.

Another big night for DeRozan seems likely on Friday.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini

 

 

 


 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Raptors Guards Show Mid-Season Form In Detroit

The preseason tilt between the Raptors and the Pistons in Detroit on Wednesday night gave a good indication about which team was ready to start the regular season and who still has a lot of work to do. The Detroit News James Hawkins reported on Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy’s displeasure with the effort he saw in his team’s final tune-up, a 103-92 loss that was worse than the score indicated.

“I have been happy with our team’s work ethic and how hard we have played throughout the preseason, but I wasn’t tonight,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I was really disappointed. I did not think that we competed hard enough tonight.

“They pounded us on the glass. I did not think we were very aggressive defensively. I do not think we did a great job contesting shots. I just do not think we battled hard.”

Toronto outrebounded Detroit 47-37 and won the turnover battle with 21 points off 14 Pistons turnovers to just 5 points on 12 opportunities provided by the Raptors.

The game was close through the first eight minutes with the lead changing hands three times, but when Van Gundy pulled his starters 8.7 minutes in and three points down, things quickly fell apart.

As Drummond exited for the 19-year-old rookie Henry Ellenson, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey replaced Jonas Valanciunas with third year center Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira and it all went downhill for Detroit. Patrick Patterson, who had subbed in for rookie Pascal Siakam a minute earlier, found Nogueira for a dunk and a minute later Nogueira grabbed Drew Crawford’s miss on a long three-point attempt for a layup. DeMar DeRozan scored his 10 point of the quarter with less than a second left after Nogueria rebounded a Marcus Morris missed three-point attempt with 18 seconds left in the quarter and nearly 12 seconds left on the shot clock.

Nogueira may have been beating up on a rookie, but that’s what he’s supposed to do at this point in his career and what Casey will need from him on most nights during the regular season. Bebe finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 18 effective minutes.

However, it was business as usual for Toronto’s All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan as they combined for 53 points on 18-35 shooting from the field and outrebounded the Pistons starting backcourt 10-0. Backup point guard Cory Joseph piling on with 10 points, 6 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists. The Raptors guards imposed their will on Detroit.

“They ran their stuff with a lot of tempo, a lot of speed and we weren’t able to match that,” (Tobias) Harris said. “The physicality got to us early on and that’s something we have to adjust to and really adapt to when we’re playing against teams that can impose their will. We have to learn and grow from it.”

Toronto led by 20 points late in the third quarter when Lowry and DeMarre Carroll were subbed out for Joseph and training camp hopeful Fred VanVleet and the Pistons went on an 8-1 run to close out the frame. VanVleet going 0-4 from the field for 0 points, 0 rebounds and 0 assists over the final 15 minutes. The now veteran Joseph providing nearly half of Toronto’s fourth quarter offense with 10 points on 4-4 shooting as his team’s leader on the court with Lowry watching from the bench. The Pistons starters Ish Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Andre Drummond salvaging what the could from this game against Toronto’s 2nd/3rd unit.

The Pistons will get a chance at redemption in the Raptors home opener on October 26th.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 


 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl 2016

Raptors 2016-17 Season Preview Highlights

The annual Toronto Raptors season preview for 2016-17 by Basketball Insiders is out. Here are some of the highlights:

The contributors to the preview are split 3/2 in favor of the Raptors holding off the Celtics for the Atlantic Division crown.

It’s probably fair to say that there’s a consensus that Toronto is the preseason No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference, mostly because they lost exactly zero players of import after back-to-back monster seasons that finally saw them make some headway in the 2016 playoffs. – Joel Brigham

Toronto fans won’t like it. I’m a big believer in the Boston Celtics. – Alex Kennedy

The big new additions to the Raptors this off season were Celtics free agent Jared Sullinger and ninth overall draft pick Jakob Poeltl.

The Austrian Jakob Poeltl is easily the best addition to the Raptors this season. – Moke Hamilton

While DeMar DeRozan is the top offensive player and Kyle Lowry is the team’s top playmaker, Basketball Insiders picked some surprising players to like.

I’ve been on the Valanciunas bandwagon for a long time. … the 24-year-old’s ceiling remains incredibly high.

Terrence Ross has slowly but surely carved out a place for himself in Toronto. … His growth epitomizes two of the things we like best in Toronto: growth and continuity. – Moke Hamilton

The team’s strengths are listed as chemistry and continuity and their weaknesses as depth and toughness.

chemistry and continuity are among the most important things an NBA team can have on its side, and the Raptors certainly do have that.

For the Raptors, true success will be judged by how they perform in the playoffs, and as it currently stands, the team appears to be built around too many “what if” performers. – Moke Hamilton

The Basketball Insiders preview largely sums up the range of opinions out there about the Raptors and their chances of holding off the Celtics in the Atlantic Division and overtaking the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.

 

 

 


 

Raptors Sign Guard Drew Crawford And Centre Yanick Moreira

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have signed free agent guard Drew Crawford, son of NBA referee Danny Crawford, and 6’11 centre Yanick Moreira, both of whom played for the 2016 Raptors NBA Summer League entry.

Crawford, 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 18.0 minutes in five games, with Toronto’s 2016 entry in NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. He shot .500 (14-for-28) from the field and .750 (9-for-12) at the free throw line.

Crawford spent last season in Israel with Bnei Hertzeliyya, averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 31.7 minutes in 34 games. In 2014-15, he appeared in 50 games (all starts) with the D-League’s Erie BayHawks. He averaged 16.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 33.7 minutes.

Crawford played four collegiate seasons at Northwestern. He averaged 15.6 points (ninth in the Big Ten), 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 36.5 minutes as a senior. He is the first Wildcat to earn Big Ten Freshman of the year honors (2009-10).

Moreira, 6-foot-11, 220 pounds, saw action in five games with Toronto in Las Vegas, averaging 2.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 13.8 minutes.

Moreira split last season between UCAM Murcia (Spain) and Rouen (France). He averaged 6.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 12.2 minutes in nine games with UCAM Murcia and 11.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 27.5 minutes in four games with Rouen.

Moreira played two seasons at SMU (2013-15), averaging 9.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 57 games. He spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at South Plains College. As a freshman, he helped South Plains College to a perfect 36-0 record and the 2012 NJCAA national title. He was named MVP of the NJCAA National Tournament.

Moreira represented Angola at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, averaging 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in five games. He recorded 38 points and 15 rebounds versus Australia.

Contracts details were not released by the team, but it believed both players have signed partially guaranteed deals and will be competing with undrafted Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff and Wichita State undrafted guard Fred VanVleet for the 15th roster spot on the Raptors. A spot on the Raptors 905 awaits the other three.