Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan making big strides as playmaker | National Post

DeRozan’s four assists on Sunday against the Magic give him 205 for the season, one more than his previous career-high, set last year. There are 26 games remaining for DeRozan to add to the total. And, wouldn’t you know it, DeRozan is starting to sound a lot like his coach, Dwane Casey, in explaining it. Experience is the key. “There’s not really too much new that you’ll see,” DeRozan said. “It’s all about the defender, how physical he’ll be with you, or if he likes to deny you the ball — little things like that, [player]-wise. But team-wise, there are not too many differences. You can’t do different stuff like [teams can] in college.”

Raptors’ DeRozan passing the test | Toronto Sun

Teammate Greivis Vasquez, who knows a thing or two about passing, having finished second in the NBA in assists per game last season, said DeRozan’s unselfishness has surprised him. When you’re the best player (on a team) and you’re getting your teammates better (opportunities), he’s giving everybody confidence,” Vasquez said. “That’s huge. No scoring guard in this league is really a great passer like that.” Toronto is 18-8 this season when DeRozan notches four or more assists. He managed five or more helpers only five times over his first three seasons. He’s done it 15 times so far during this campaign and already has set his single-season assist mark. Seven of those 15 five-plus assist games have been managed without committing a single turnover. His turnover percentage is just 9.4%, a career low.

Lewenberg: DeRozan sets new career mark in assists | TSN

“I want to make my teammates better,” said the Raptors’ guard, who continues to evolve as a distributer, averaging a career-best 3.8 dimes this season. “It just comes with experience and understanding. It’s something that I really enjoy doing, getting my teammates involved, looking for them.” The 24-year-old’s assist numbers have increased in each of his five seasons and his assist percentage this year (18.6) is more than three-times higher than it was in his rookie campaign (4.9). “He’s one of the best wings right now in the league as far as passing the ball out [of the double team] and he’s doing a great job of it,” Casey continued. “So that’s a big step in his growth process. It’s good to see and the more attention he gets the more he’s going to have to rely on that part of his game.”

Merilatt: Ex-Nuggets GM Ujiri left the team in terrible shape | The Coloradoan

No one, absolutely no one, lays any blame at Ujiri’s feet. The general manager who essentially laid the foundation for the Nuggets current roster, who put them in the position that they are today, waltzed out of town with his reputation intact and continues to be praised for the work he did in Denver. And it’s absolute nonsense. The reality is that Ujiri escaped to Toronto just in time, before his string of boneheaded decisions finally caught up with him.

Johnson misses Raptors practice after aggravating hurt ankle | TSN

Though the 26-year-old said he was able to participate, coach Dwane Casey kept Johnson out as a precaution. Johnson re-sprained his ankle in Sunday night’s 105-90 win over the Orlando Magic. He initially hurt the same ankle in a January 25 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Toronto Raptors Visit Cleveland For A Cavaliers Rematch | Pro Bball Report

There should have been some suspicions that the Cavaliers may not have been full value for their recent success. The last 4 contests were against the Kings, Pistons, 76ers and Magic. The Raptors simply overpowered the Cavaliers in the second half on Friday, holding them to just 34 percent shooting from the field, while the Raptors got hot, hitting on 54.5 percent of their attempts for the 59-47 advantage. Raptors sophomore wing Terrence Ross giving Kyrie Irving fits all game as he held the All-Star to just 3-16 shooting from the field. The Cavaliers losing streak continued on Sunday with a loss at home to the fifth place Wizards 96-83. However, one trend has continued in the Cavaliers favor, they have now held their opponents under 100 points for 7 games in a row and that is a streak more in keeping with a Mike Brown coached team. The Cavaliers problems in their 2 losses have come at the other end of the court. Over the past 2 games, new center Spencer Hawes has averaged 12.5 points and 11 rebounds, Luol Deng 19 points and 9 boards and Kyrie Irving 16 points and 7 assists, but combined, they have shot 27-81 or 33.3 percent from the field. Cleveland isn’t winning many games with offense like that.

NBA Preview – Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers – Feb 25, 2014 | CBSSports

The Raptors go for their sixth win in seven games as they try to beat the short-handed Cavaliers for the second time in less than a week Tuesday night in Cleveland. Atlantic Division-leading Toronto (31-25) has tightened things up defensively, allowing 90.2 points per game – 6.3 below its season average – in its last five. That’s a big reason the Raptors could climb seven games above .500 for the first time since being 32-25 on Feb. 29, 2008. They held the visiting Cavaliers to 39.0 percent from the field in a 98-91 victory Friday, then limited Orlando to 41.4 in a 105-90 home win Sunday. Toronto shot 52.3 percent Sunday, including 9 for 17 from 3-point range, as Kyle Lowry led the way with 28 points.

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  • Marz

    I was hoping the Merilatt article would have some actual substance against Ujiri so I can get some sense of what he did wrong… but don’t waste your time. He heralds Camerlo’s “great play” in New York (certainly, great numbers. But if the playoffs started today, Melo wouldn’t be in it!) and then briefly mentions the fact that the Nuggets have the Knicks’ 2014 pick (which is looking great). You can’t blame Ujiri for Galinari’s ACL injury, either.

    Ah well.

    I think Ujiri is human. I think he makes mistakes just like every GM out there. In fact, I’m expecting him to sign Lowry to a $12M/yr deal this off season, a la Lawson/Nene. But aside from maybe the McGee contract, I can’t find a serious blunder yet.

    • Ds

      Yeah, I was expecting to read a strip-down piece, but all I got is that “he laid the foundation…”. No mention of Melo basically throwing the entire team under the bus, no mention that the 2014 first round pick is unprotected, no mention of the right to swap picks in 2016, which is looking great right now, and no mention of Ty Lawson’s injury (the guy that makes the whole team tick). What a crock!

      My guess is that someone inside the current administration co-wrote this piece.

    • Dr.Scooby

      Agreed, although the Nene resigning then flipping him for Javal McGee looked rudderless.

  • Jam

    Merilatt’s article looks like it was either written by someone who doesn’t follow basket ball, or for an audience who don’t watch basketball. It’s ridiculous. Did he forget the famed “melo-drama”? The wining and whimpering coming out of Melo’s camp that was so drawn out, it made everyone forget about Lebron’s decision. Merilatt makes it sound like the Nuggets had a chance to keep Anthony, when he made it plain and obvious that he was gone the minute he hit free agency and that he only wanted to head home to NYC. Ujiri managed to turn losing a perennial all-star for NOTHING into a team with real depth and an UNPROTECTED first round draft pick. Who in their right minds see’s that as the Knicks “winning” the trade? This idiot sounds like he just went on and looked up a few stats and said “hey, melo’s numbers are good”….while the 80Mil/year Knicks still have a worse record than the Nuggets….who play in a far superior conference.

    The article made zero mention of extending Ty Lawson, drafting the manimal, building team depth, and most importantly that game changing draft pick that might give them their next franchise player. Some might see McGee as a bad contract but when healthy in Denver he was a solid defensive big (outside of those wonderful Shaqtin’ a fool moments), and also today’s NBA is one where bigs always get inflated contracts (Kwame Browns last contract was unbelievable). Masai hasn’t hasn’t been in Toronto long, but has already gotten rid of Bargs (somehow stealing another 1st round pick while at it) and traded our Rudy for a real bench. Sure, the Rudy trade was initially seen as a possible tear down, but as we improved as a team he supported us by hanging onto Lowry beyond the deadline. The man knows what he’s doing, and for the first time even I’m actually confident about our front office. Even when Colangelo showed up and made everyone gush (while delivering a winning first year team), I was always worried because he was adamant about building a fast-break zero-defense team…which is exciting but can never sustain post-season success. Just as Steve Nash.

  • Zach

    The raptors we actsully 31-24 feb 23,2010 which is 7 games above 500. This is wrong

    • Lyall

      Oh my fluping gwad mahn yu cnnto tyke wrth sh!T

  • Quest

    colorado article is just full of butthurt

  • Bo4

    Merilatt’s article doesn’t mention whether he’d trade their new GM to the Raptors for a return of Ujiri to Denver. I’d bet that he’d jump at the chance …