"It feels like I’m learning a lot more every game, how to understand the defence, how to read the offence," he said. "My confidence is getting higher and higher every game and I want to try to keep that going."
The fact that Raptors held on for the win, despite shooting 39% from the floor, was a testament to their defence and the fact that they attacked the rim, getting to the free-throw line 40 times to Washington’s 21.
"I’m proud of the team, because we played four games in six nights. That’s tough in the regular season," Triano said. "This is an early test for us. They’re not in mid-season form yet and our guys competed through it."
Toronto’s bench outscored Washington’s 48-44, with three players scoring in double digits, picking up the starters who, other than DeRozan, did not play particularly well. The Raptors didn’t share the ball well either, managing a pre-season low 14 assists.
Hedo Turkoglu missed his fourth straight game because of "fatigue", but coach Jay Triano believes that the Turkish national team star will begin full practices later this week and will get into some pre-season games. Antoine Wright, who has a sore right knee, also missed the game but is expected to play later in the week.
A handful of times in Toronto’s 100-93 win over the Washington Wizards at the Air Canada Centre Sunday afternoon, the 20-year-old prodigy found himself walking to the bench for a quick tutorial from the coaching staff.
Never mind that he scored a team-high 19 points and had a couple of highlight reel-worthy forays to the rim, the game was more about teaching lessons than piling up numbers.
"I had to take him out three or four times just to talk to him and it wasn’t about getting a breath," coach Jay Triano said after Toronto ran its pre-season record to 2-2 before a sparse crowd of 11,936. "He’s still making mistakes. … If Hedo (Turkoglu) and Antoine Wright and Sonny Weems (all injured and unavailable) are here, maybe I take DeMar out and I’d punish him by sitting him down.
"The way we did it today, I took him out and we corrected it. The good thing about him is he’s a great learner."
The Raptors have made their share of off-season moves to shake off their 33-win season with designs on a top-five playoff seed, but the improvement of a team like the Wizards could make it all moot.
Toronto looked sharp at times in front of 11,936 at the ACC, hanging on to win 100-96 and even their preseason record at 2-2. They shot just 38.8 per cent but got their best showing yet from rookie DeMar DeRozan, who scored 19 points in 36 minutes, earning his way to the free throw line 10 times and converting nine. Amir Johnson was also impressive off the bench as he sparked the Raptors with seven points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
“I really wanted to get to the line,” said DeRozan, who brought the ACC fans to their feet with two fourth-quarter dunks. “The first two games I really wasn’t aggressive, so I wanted to be more aggressive.”
"It’s not the best and it’s not expected right now," Bosh said of his on-court fatigue level. "But I’m happy where I’m at. I’ve been in situations in the past before that I didn’t know what I was going to do, pretty much. It took a little bit more time. Now I feel 100 per cent finally. So I can just go out there and let it hang out and get up and down the court."
"I told him when he was out on the floor, ‘Play as hard as you can for as long as you can. We’re not really concerned with how well you play,’" Triano said. "We know that’s going to come."
But what did I learn about the Wizards? Well, I can’t wait until Gilbert Arenas gets 100% comfortable with his offensive balance and ability to distribute … and is able to display it for a full game. He looked great in the third quarter. Made my day.
The turnovers, however, are a slight concern. So far this preseason, Arenas is averaging 6.3 turnovers per 36 minutes, which shatters his 3.2 TO/36 in 05-06 when he led the NBA in total turnovers with 297.
Yes, yes … again, “it’s the preseason” … and with increased passing (Arenas is averaging 13.6 assists per 36 this preseason BTW), and trying to gain familiarity with a new offense, an increased amount of turnovers is to be expected. But one thing I did notice against Memphis and Dallas was the nature of Gil’s turnovers … some seemed to be a bit careless/unintelligent (wasn’t able to gather much from Arenas’ four turnovers against Toronto).
Well, word is coming now that Bosh could be traded soon enough to the Golden State Warriors to play out this season before free agency. The Toronto Sun is reporting that four-time All-Star Bosh could be moving to California in exchange for Andris Biedrins and others.
Of course that doesn’t mean Bosh won’t be looking elsewhere once next summer rolls around.
Sonny Weems however has everything down pat. The kid flew out of the gate again going 2 of 3 for 4 points to go with 6 boards and an assist in just over 9 minutes before jamming his big left toe. Post game reports said x-rays were negative but there wasn’t much news about when Sonny might be back.
And Raptors fans will want to know that Sonny is good to go soon. Between DeRozan, Belinelli, and Weems, the Raptors haven’t had this kind of play at the wing for some time. (Can the Moon – Weems comparisons please get put to bed already! Weems isn’t 29 years old.)
16. Toronto Raptors: They spent a lot of money this off-season acquiring Hedo Turkoglu, Jarrett jack, and resigning Andrea Bargnani. The Raptors are looking to space the floor with great shooters opening up the middle for Chris Bosh. They did draft DeMar DeRozan, a strong scorer at USC and can dunk like Vincanity back in the day, but will this team have enough offensive weapons and take pride in playing defense? If the Nuggets did it, they can.
Aside from Marcus Banks’ three fouls in less than two minutes of play, the biggest story was the breakout of DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan, starting his fourth consecutive game, scored a preseason-high 19 points in 36 minutes, including a pair of dunks to help swing the momentum in the Raptors’ favour in the fourth quarter. DeRozan was just 5-of-12 from the field but managed to get to the line 10 times, making nine.
This is quite possibly the creepiest, scariest basketball commercial I will ever see in my life. It features the Toronto Raptors new off season acquisition, Reggie Evans (whose full name is Reginald Jamaal Evans).
Vicious D takes a look at a game that really shows the contrasting styles of the Raptors, and what it may mean for the upcoming season.