The Raptors Terrence Ross knows why he has been playing better lately and the formula is simple. A little experience plus a lot of opportunity has meant big things for the sophomore this season.
“Just the opportunity, getting more time to play and understanding what I can do,” Ross said. “It is hard to be consistent coming off the bench. Some guys like it and some guys don’t. It is something you have to learn. You are always going to get your opportunity and when you get it, you have to make the most of it.”
The opportunity was magnified on Saturday playing against the Clippers when DeMar DeRozan turned an ankle. Ross started the game out shooting hot – which really isn’t all that unusual – and the Raptors had nowhere else to turn for points in a shootout. By the time it ended, Ross had tied the franchise high for points with 51 and set personal bests in every shooting category on the stats sheet.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau special to ESPN, Ross is the fourth player in NBA history to score 50 or more points in a game despite entering the contest with a career scoring average of less than 10 points per game. Ross is the youngest player to score 50 or more points in an NBA game since Brandon Jennings on November 14, 2009.
Ross credits much of his success to having gone through the league once already and learning the tendencies of the players he has been going up against.
“I have played enough that I understand what certain guys will let you get away with, what you can do and what you can’t do,” Ross said. “Once you play (them) a few times, you understand what they do and you don’t fall for some of the things (veterans) do now. I have played enough against these guys now to understand what they do and what I can get away with and what they try to get away with.”
It has been easier for Ross in a starting role. He feels less stress and has been showing an unusual amount of patience with game lately. Ross knows he isn’t going to be pulled for making a mistake, so he doesn’t rush as much and makes fewer mistakes as a result.
“It is a lot less stressful,” Ross said. “It is harder, but in some ways you can play a little more freely. Just knowing that I am going to get the chance to keep playing, I am always going to get the opportunity, you don’t have to rush it and try to prove yourself as much, so now you just play your game and they keep me on the court. Now I just have to sharpen it up and make sure I don’t make many mistakes.”
The 51 point game is an outlier, Ross’ previous high this season was 24 points and he only had three 20+ point games this season prior to Saturday. However, Ross’ ability to shoot the ball has never been questioned by Head Coach Dwane Casey and after winning the NBA Slam Dunk contest last year, his athletic ability around the rim was a known quantity as well.
“[Ross] is not that far behind because the one thing he can do that makes up for a multitude of sins is he can shoot the ball,” Casey said in November last season.
Since Ross has been starting, he has proven Casey right. As a starter, Ross is averaging 6.2 three-point attempts per game and hitting on 43 percent of them. The floor spreading wing player the Raptors have needed was sitting on their own bench this whole time – he just needed a little seasoning.
Check out the Game Story from Ross’ 51 point break out:
Raptors Terrence Ross Breaks Out To Score 51 In Loss
Toronto Raptors sophomore wing Terrence Ross broke out the NBA ready skill that Head Coach Dwane Casey has said was there since the team drafted him and exploded for a franchise tying 51 points in a shootout loss to the Clippers 126-118 at the Air Canada Centre.