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: RAPTORS 90, 76ers 72 SEASON RECORD: 13W-22L
POUND THE ROCK STAR #1: AMIR JOHNSON
LINE: 19 pts (6-11), 7-8 FT, 12 reb, 5 ast
In his last 4 games including the win against Philadelphia Wednesday night, Amir Johnson is averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds above his usual 8 points and 5 rebounds making the most of his starting role. Crashing the boards and making wise decisions on offense when it came to shooting or passing turned Amir into the leader on the court. Even with DeMar often being labelled the leader by default due to his scoring ability, this Raptors roster leaves room wide open for players like Amir to carry the team on any given night when the matchup allows it.
POUND THE ROCK STAR #2: JOSE CALDERON
LINE: 14 pts (7-12), 11 ast
Anchorman Ron Burgandy would be proud of Jose Calderon ‘keeping it classy’ as he apologized about tossing an alley-oop to Landry Fields with seconds left in the game up 16 points all while ignoring his coaches wishes to dribble out the clock. In what I’m sure even Jose thought would be a tough guard matchup the Raptors defense was outstanding forcing a total 13 turnovers leading to a number of fast break buckets or free throw attempts. It was also fun to watch at least 4 players touch the ball during offensive possessions at certain points and should remain one of their keys to success for the rest of the season. With one day off between each of their next 2 games the Raptors can make a push to be the unanimous 10th seed in the East which is currently shared with Orlando and Detroit at the moment, and hope that Boston and Philadelphia start to struggle.
POUND THE ROCK STAR #3: DEMAR DEROZAN
LINE: 19 pts (8-15), 3-3 FT, 5 reb
As long as DeMar continues putting up these types of numbers and role players do their share the Raptors could finish the month with an 8-8 record. It would still leave them 9 games below .500 and I honestly hope I’m wrong and would like to see them do better. The Raptors should also hope I’m wrong because February has some tough games on the schedule with only 2 games against the Wizards and 1 against the Cavaliers with the rest against the likes of the Clippers, Heat, Knicks and Grizzlies to name a few. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but this is how the Raptors will need to approach the rest of the season. Win the winnable games, win the close ones and get lucky when they can. With DeMar playing well all 3 scenarios are possible.
SHOUTOUTS TO THE 76ers:
LINE: 16 pts (6-12), 4-6 FT, 7 reb, 3 ast
Thaddeus Young is one of those Forwards in the NBA that are constantly improving their game while consistently remaining under the radar. Improving in every statistical category since being drafted in 2007 the 76ers are lucky to have been able to hang on to him for so long. Had Andrew Bynum been healthy and part of the mix this might be a completely different team. Until then the 76ers will have to remain balanced in their scoring and grind out every game for the rest of the season. As long as Thaddeus keeps improving the way he has so will the team.
Next up for the Raps: vs Charlotte (Friday)
Photo via National Post
Anthony Mason ‘MASE’ Illustration
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