Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pound the Rock Stars of the Night - Toronto Raptors 101, Phoenix Suns 97 - The 'Back on Track' Edition

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 101, PHOENIX 97    SEASON RECORD: 4W-13L

POUND THE ROCK STAR #1: DEMAR DEROZAN
LINE:  23 pts (8-18), 7-9 FT, 7 reb, 8 reb, 4 ast
The Raptors and their fans were finally awarded with a huge sigh of relief ending a 6 game losing streak against the Phoenix Suns last night. DeMar DeRozan once again came out guns blazing taking advantage of switches and driving hard and fast to the basket. Pound the Rock honors for DeMar are not only for his stat line though. DeRozan was also cleaning up his mistakes which normally would have resulted in turnovers, showing improved awareness in tough spots after being criticized about it a few weeks ago. Turning his only steal into two points was fun to watch as he out ran the entire Suns roster like a track star to the delight of the home crowd.

POUND THE ROCK STAR #2: AMIR JOHNSON
LINE:  16 pts (7-12), 2-3 FT, 6 reb, 3 ast
I knew it would only be a matter of time until Amir Johnson had the type of game I knew he could. The moment Amir checked into the game it was clear the enjoyment Marcin Gortat was having inside the paint bullying Jonas Valanciunas was over. Amir was able to influence the Phoenix offense to shy away from Gortat helping the Raptors get back into the game. Hustling on defense is nothing new for Amir and neither is his ability to hit open jumpers the defense seem willing to give up.

POUND THE ROCK STAR #3: KYLE LOWRY
LINE:  15 pts (5-9), 4-6 FT, 7 reb, 2 ast
Maintaining his average of 16.5 pts Kyle Lowry seems to switch up his style depending on who the Raptors are playing. Something I personally think is a great idea to start the game. Kyle Lowry is so versatile the scouting report can only prepare you for so much. Joining DeRozan in attacking the basket, getting to the free throw line and  sacrificing their bodies like crash test dummies has set an example. If the two primary scorers are willing to get bounced around each night, so should the rest of the team.

WHERE YOU AT, HOMIE?: ANDREA BARGNANI
LINE: 4 pts (1-4), 2-2 FT, 2 reb
Andrea Bargnani’s stat line the last time he appeared under the ‘Where you at, homie?’ was 4 pts (2-19), 8 reb. Bargnani is as used to trade rumors as the Lakers’ Pau Gasol. Whenever things go bad for the Lakers Gasol trade rumors start buzzing and the same goes for Bargnani and the Raptors. Maybe the rumors are finally getting to him or perhaps there is something going on behind closed doors causing Andrea to disappear during games. It was reported he was facing issues with his ankle so there may be no need to hang him out to dry. Either way, this is not an honor we like to bestow on any Raptor and hopefully soon we won’t need to.

SHOUTOUTS TO THE SUNS:
MARCIN GORTAT
LINE: 14 pts (6-10), 6 reb, 5 ast
If anyone was wondering why Jonas Valanciunas played less than 20 minutes and Amir Johnson clocked in at a little over 30 minutes, the answer is Marcin Gortat. Gortat is one of those Centers in the NBA that continues to pound away inside the paint and focuses on taking high percentage shots. His ability to push around Jonas early on forced Raptors coach Casey to bring in Amir to contain the 6’11 Polish player. Far from the showtime style of the Lakers Dwight Howard, Gortat is never the less as efficient as any team or coach can ask for.

Next up for the Raps: @ Denver (Monday)

(Photo via The Globe and Mail)

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Hip Hoop Junkies, a Toronto Raptors / NBA / Canada Basketball blog based out of Halifax. Home of the #RAPSTALK Podcast - "Hoops Talk out of Halifax"

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