The Toronto Raptors had to dig themselves out of a deep first half hole in order to come back to defeat the Pistons in Detroit in an overtime thriller on Wednesday night and it was DeMar DeRozan looking like an MVP who came thru in the clutch at the end of regulation and overtime.
“It was a big play,” teammate Kyle Lowry said postgame about DeRozan’s coast-to-coast drive for a dunk and-one with 4.6 seconds left in regulation. “For him to do that in that situation is just MVPish.”
From the ESPN broadcast: “What a finish. That’s what an All-Star looks like folks.”
It was all DeRozan in the OT boxscore as well as he assisted on on a Pascal Siakam layup and made an 18′ jumpshot and-one as Reggie Bullock fouled him. Then in the dying seconds of a tied game DeRozan drives the length of the court again and with four Pistons collapsing on him at the rim he passes to a wide-open Fred VanVleet who hits the long corner two for the win.
DeRozan scored 42 points on the night for his fourth 40+ point game of the season.
With the win the 47-17 Raptors become the first team in the NBA to clinch a playoff berth this season and return home to face the Western Conference’s first place Houston Rockets on Friday night who are on a 17-game winning streak. Both teams are a conference best 31-8 versus teams in their own conference.
In November Toronto defeated the Rockets in Houston 129-113. DeRozan leading the the Raptors with 27 points while shooting 7-15 from the field and going 13-16 from the charity stripe. James Harden led all-scorers with 38 points on a rough shooting night (8-25) that he made up for by going 19-19 from the free throw line.
DeRozan, leading Toronto to first place in the East, has looked like an MVP in Toronto this season. Harden, however, has led his team to first in the West (51-13), leads the NBA in scoring at 30.9 points per game and has an NBA best four 50+ point games including an NBA season high 60 point night.
Rockets at Raptors on Friday night could be an NBA Finals preview.
Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson