Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pound the Rock Stars of the Night - Toronto Raptors 102, Portland Trail Blazers 79 - The 'Grateful Colangelo' Edition

posted by Mike Masaya
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:   RAPTOR 102, TRAIL BLAZERS 79    SEASON RECORD: 12W-20L

POUND THE ROCK STAR #1: TERRENCE ROSS
LINE: 26 pts (8-14), 6-9 3PT, 4-6 FT, 5 reb
How many Raptors draft picks over the last several years have been met with optimism? I’ll wait. The answer is not many. With Bryan Colangelo’s job perhaps hanging on by a thread, the Raptors have gone on a of 8 of 9 win streak capped off last night with a career high 26 points by their 8th overall 2012 draft pick Terrence Ross. With the 9th place Celtics on a 4 game losing streak and the 8th place 76ers winning only 2 of their last 5 games, the 10th place Raptors are thankfully moving in the opposite direction. Now only 2.5 games out of the 8th spot hope is returning to Raptors Nation and Terrence Ross has a lot to do with that.

POUND THE ROCK STAR #2: DEMAR DEROZAN
LINE: 24 pts (11-17), 3 stl
There can no longer be any doubt that DeMar DeRozan is having an All-Star caliber season. For years leading scorers for the Raptors have often accused of having inflated and impressive stats due to a weak supporting cast. DeMar DeRozan does not fit that description at all and would clearly perform at a high level regardless of what team he was playing for. A signature win against the a tough Trail Blazers team that many likely circled as a loss on the Raptors calendar, should have fans rejoicing that DeMar DeRozan is openly committed to making things work in Toronto and his actions are speaking louder than words. Building around DeMar DeRozan instead of Andrea Bargnani seems like the obvious course of action at this point and will likely be the case going forward.

POUND THE ROCK STAR #3: AMIR JOHNSON
LINE:  17 pts (7-12), 3-3 FT 7 reb, 4 ast
The 5 year $34 million contract Amir Johnson signed on the first day of free agency in 2010 became another unpopular decision by Bryan Colangelo but now seems to be paying off. With a track record that would have had most General Managers fired after several seasons of bad acquisitions and losing records, the emergence of Ed Davis (19 points from 9-12 shooting) and Jonas Valanciunas gaining momentum prior to an injury, shows that Bryan Colangelo may have known what he was doing all along. That or he got very lucky. Either way you look at it he is just as responsible for all the Raptors’ failures as he is their success.

SHOUTOUTS TO THE TRAIL BLAZERS:
DAMIAN LILLARD
LINE: 18 pts (6-13), 5-6 FT, 5 reb, 7 ast
Averaging 18 points with 6 assists and a legit candidate for Rookie of the Year, the 2012 6th overall pick still managed to impress even in a 23 point loss. As a Top 20 NBA scorer and and 6th overall among Point Guards ahead of both Chris Paul and Deron Williams, Damian Lillard is definitely one to watch. With a solid Portland roster including the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, Damian Lillard has chance to be a part of something special and carve himself out a great NBA career.

Next up for the Raps: vs Sacramento (Friday)

Photo via Yahoo! Sports

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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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