POUND THE ROCK STARS - On a nightly basis, no matter how good or bad the Raps play, no matter if they blow out a team or if they get blown out and no matter if they win or lose, these are the Raptors with the best 'Pound the Rock' status for the night.
FINAL SCORE: RAPTORS 133, JAZZ 140 SEASON RECORD: 1W-6L
POUND THE ROCK STAR #1: DEMAR DEROZAN
LINE: 37 pts (16-33), 4-7 FT, 6 ast, 8 reb, 2 stl
With last night’s box scores DeMar DeRozan showcased to the entire NBA that he is now fully capable of leading the Raptors and has matured as an all around player. Tying his career high in scoring with the majority of his points coming from inside the paint and from the free throw line, there is no way the Raptors would have made it to a 3rd OT without him. Whether breaking down defenders 1 on 1 or making the right pass, DeRozan was a one man show. He no doubt has to keep this killer mentality and let loose all the frustration from last night's loss onto the Raptors next opponent, the Indiana Pacers.
LINE: 20 pts (8-16), 2-2 FT, 17 ast, 3 stl
When Kyle Lowry went down with a rolled ankle in what turned out to be a blowout at the hands of the Thunder, the Raptors Nation held their collective breath. Fans had reason to be concerned but should have also been relieved that hopping off the bench was essentially another starting Point Guard in Jose Calderon. Jose was able to slow the pace dramatically compared to Lowry perhaps playing a part in the team’s near 50% shooting. With the slower pace he was also able to make smarter decisions resulting in his 17 assists. Top off the performance with 20 points and you’re left scratching your head as to how the Raptors lost such a close game. Although tired Raptors legs will litter the court tomorrow in Indiana, Jose has to tell himself tonight was not simply a one-off. This is who he is and how he can play if he pushes himself on a consistent basis.
POUND THE ROCK STAR #3: LINAS KLEIZA
LINE: 20 pts (7-16), 3-3 FT, 7 reb
Linas Kleiza lead the charge off the bench in the 1st half with 17 points in 12 minutes showing management, the coaching staff and the home crowd he still has a lot left to offer this team. With the Raptors short handed missing Lowry, Anderson and Fields, Kleiza stepped up to the challenge instead of taking it easy since not much has been expected from him of late. True he was only able to score 3 points in the second half, but his first half outburst is a key reason the Raptors never trailed at the end of any quarter to start the game. Whether or not he can repeat this performance against Indiana in less than 24 hours after a triple overtime game remains to be seen. The truth is the Raptors will need him to if they have any hopes of winning against a team that has had 2 days off and is playing at home.
SHOUTOUTS TO THE JAZZ:
LINE: 34 pts (11-16), 9-10 FT, 9 reb
Paul Millsap did what he always does, unfortunately tonight he did it to the Raptors. Shooting 68% from the field Millsap pounded the Raptors inside the paint and missed all but one of his free throws. Appearing as calm as any franchise player I have ever seen over his career, he picked apart the Raptors bigs quietly building his season high 34 points. With only 3 personal fouls in a triple overtime game it sheds light on his basketball IQ and body control. All this allowing his coach to leave him on the floor to continue punishing opponents.
Next up for the Raps: @ Indiana (Tuesday)
Photo from NBA.COM