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DeMar DeRozan by Paul Saini 2 (Fylmm.com)

Lucky Loonie Or Are The Raptors Just Getting Better?

You can never have too much luck on your side and a couple of months ago, Toronto Raptors fan Vernon Chang, also known as MoVernie, hid a Lucky Loonie inside of the Barclays Center just in case his beloved Raptors had to face the Nets in the playoffs.

“My intuition told me that maybe it would be a good idea to sneak in a Loonie somewhere in the Barclays Centre,” Chang said. “Just in case the Raptors played against the Nets in the playoffs.”

The other possible explanation is the young rapidly developing team that unexpectedly won 48 games this season is just getting better and playing in the postseason is dramatically speeding up the process.

“We understand the situation that we are in,” Kyle Lowry said. “It is a stepping stone for us – getting our feet wet. This man (DeMar DeRozan) is becoming a superstar in front of everyone’s eyes. He is doing it on the defensive end and the offensive end. In the last 48 hours, we got better. We learned from the game on Friday, went to practice, got our little walk through on Saturday, came in tonight and won the game.”

The Raptors beat the Nets 87-79 and didn’t allow Brooklyn to score a single field goal over the final 6 minutes of the game.

“The last four minutes is normally where we feel very comfortable,” Head Coach Jason Kidd said. “We just got out of character there and we didn’t score and that’s something that we have always thought that in the last four minutes of the game that’s where we can execute both defensively and offensively.

“We were trying to do it individually instead of making a play for a teammate and they picked up a couple of charges there. We missed a couple of shots that we have made in the past. We played a little better in the second and third quarter and then in the fourth quarter we just couldn’t execute or make a shot when we were wide open.”

The game was tied at 67 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Raptors outscored the Nets 20-12 over the final 12 minutes, holding the Nets to just 3-17 shooting from the field.

“For sure it was a team effort,” Greivis Vasquez said. “It was a great effort all around.

“Matching up their physicality was a huge key for us. We got the win by playing their way – physical and we weren’t afraid. We gained a lot of experience and a lot of confidence tonight.”

The Raptors were led by DeRozan with 24 points. Both Lowry and Amir Johnson were hobbled but unyielding as they contributed 22 points and 17 points respectively. Vasquez had 9 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists.

The Nets were led by 22 points from Paul Pierce, but Deron Williams was held to just 10 points and Joe Johnson could only manage 7 points as the Raptors smothered him on defense. Kevin Garnett turned down several very good looks from the outside and finished with 10 points on 3-6 shooting. Mirza Teletovic chipped in with 12 points.

The first round playoff series is now tied at 2 games apiece heading back to Toronto for Game Five on Wednesday.

“We are playing for our lives,” Vasquez said. “We still are. We are not happy. We are not satisfied. We want more.”

 

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.

 

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Raptors Fan Hides A Lucky Loonie In Barclays Center
“To my surprise, the Raptors are playing against the Nets,” Chang said. “I am not going to reveal where the Loonie is located as I don’t want the Nets staff find it. Funny thing is I really didn’t expect the Raptors would play Brooklyn, but now the Lucky Loonie becomes relevant. I wish the Raptors best of luck in the playoffs vs. the Nets!”

Brooklyn Nets Will Go As Far As Their Big Three Take Them
“These two teams are very similar,” Kidd said. “They shoot the three extremely well. Both teams like to shoot the three. You have guard play that is at an extremely high level, so you have very similar teams and both teams play extremely hard.”

DeMar DeRozan Photo credit: Paul Saini