Raptors tighten up on defense down the stretch to snag victory against a formidable foe.

I’m not going to lie; I thought this was a sure win for the Warriors.

In my opinion, Golden State is a decidedly better team with legitimate championship aspirations, and I thought they matched up perfectly against the Raptors. Igoudala would shut down Derozan on the perimeter, Lowry and Curry would play to a standstill, and the rest of the Warriors would trump Toronto’s second unit. I even went as far as to predict a 20 point blowout loss in last week’s episode of the Raptors Weekly podcast.

Turns out, I was wrong.

The news at the start of the game was grim. It was announced at game-time that Terrence Ross would be unavailable, and I was worried that a hobbled Lowry (ankle injury) would struggle with chasing Curry around screens for an entire game.

However in his stead, Landry Fields stepped into his spot in the starting lineup and performed admirably. Fields stayed within his game and did his best Shane Battier impersonation on the court. He moved the ball well, flinging 30 passes in 24 minutes of play (in comparison, David Lee made 31 passes in 43 minutes, Iggy threw 24 in 30 minutes), getting the ball to the right players at the right time. He also made some timely backdoor cuts and even sprinkled in a pair of hook-floaters in the lane. It should be noted that the Warriors hid Curry — a poor defender — on him to avoid the Curry/Lowry match-up, but despite his lack of shooting ability, Fields was able to not hamper the offense by making good decisions.

As is his wont, Dwane Casey elected to feature Jonas in the post early against Bogut. On paper, the match-up seemex ill-advised given Bogut’s stature as one of the best defensive players in the Western Conference, but Jonas was up to the challenge. He worked hard to get position in the post, held his ground and presented an easy target for his teammates to hit. Once he got the ball, he strung together an impressive string of shots against Bogut — a turnaround lefty hook, a sweeping right hook, a fall-away short jumper, an open dunk.

Despite Landry and Jonas stepping up, the Warriors carried a 3 point lead going into the second quarter thanks to the combined efforts of David Lee and Stephen Curry. Both players scored 10 points apiece by repeatedly attacking via the pick-and-roll. Lowry compensated for his injury by playing with more aggression (if you can believe that) which led to early foul trouble. Needless to say, Greivis Molassquez didn’t exactly turn off the tap.

The second quarter was another story altogether. As usual, Casey trotted out the lineup of Vasquez, Derozan, Salmons, Hansbrough and Patterson to start the quarter, but instead of Derozan captaining the ship, it was Vasquez who managed to steal the spotlight. Vasquez managed to keep the Raptors close despite some lackluster performances for the bench. Patrick Patterson’s shot was off early on, and John Salmons was slower than the 510 Spadina during rush hour. He reeled off 10 points in a row, dropping a pair of threes and embarrassing Marreesse Speights with this wicked inside-out dribble:

In addition to Vasquez, Demar Derozan also chipped in with 10 points of his own in the second. Demar was mostly kept to the outside, but he hit 2-of-3 jumpers from the midrange, and he earned 6 free-throws. It should be noted that Derozan was the beneficiary of some “superstar” calls, which isn’t a slight on Demar, but rather it’s a sign of how far he’s come, and of course, it’s a welcomed sign for us fans. The Raptors shot 52.5% from the field in the first half and they carried a five-point lead going into the break.

The Warriors asserted themselves in the third quarter. Stephen Curry capitalized on Lowry’s bum ankles as he exploded for 14 points in the third by draining three’s and getting to the basket. The Warriors also made a concerted effort to crash the offensive boards, and Jonas looked overwhelmed in lieu of Golden State’s aggression. Their perimeter defense was also quite solid, and aside from David Lee’s incompetence, the Warriors did a great job contesting baskets, which led to the Raptors shooting just 28% in the third.

The Raptors managed to keep it tied going into the fourth by repeatedly trotting the stripe. Toronto shot nine free-throws in the quarter and sunk all of their attempts. Casey decided to trot out some peculiar line-ups, freeing the likes of Nando de Colo and Landry Fields in an effort to buy minutes for his starters, and luckily he wasn’t burned.

However, Casey compounded his mistake by leaving the bench out to start the fourth. A lineup of Vasquez, Derozan, Salmons, Hansbrough and 2Pat struggled to generate offense. In particular, Vasquez insisted on running the pick-and-roll with Hansbrough, as opposed to Patterson. Golden State responded by helping off Tyler, electing to double Vasquez instead. This shaved valuable seconds off the shot clock and prevented Vasquez from penetrating into the paint.

Fortunately, the Warriors’ bench proved to be equally as ineffective, and the game stayed tight until the starters subbed back in for the final stretch.

With the Raptors leading 97-95 late in the fourth, they elected to run pick-and-roll with Salmons and Johnson on back-to-back possessions. On the first, Golden States’ defense momentarily broke down, and Salmons was able to find Amir wide open in the lane for a dunk. On the second, Salmons worked himself free from his defender after curling around Amir’s screen, and knocked down a line-drive 16 footer.

Meanwhile on the defensive end, the Raptors forced the Warriors into turning the ball over on three consecutive possessions. Patterson and Salmons trapped Curry, which led to him losing it out of bounds. On their next trip down the floor, Derozan broke up a post-entry pass and finally, Patterson intercepted an errant pass from Bogut. Thanks to the Raptors’ aggressive defense, the Warriors scored just 3 points over the final 3:35 of the game.

And just for good measure, Derozan tossed in this incredibly difficult shot to hammer the nail into the coffin.

With the win, the Raptors improved to 33-26 on the season, and are tied with Chicago for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. They now have a four day break before taking on Rudy Gay’s Sacramento Kings on Friday. Funtimes in Raptorland!

On a separate note, I would like to wish my father a happy birthday. Today marks his 49th year on Earth 1, which means less hair and more beer gut in the future. Love you, dad!

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  • What the

    “it turns out I was wrong” is this Tim W? I will past that on to the Allstar name Demar and well come back TIM W. it takes a man to admit he was wrong and all is forgiven,lets play ball !

  • jacobd4

    Happy birthday father lou!

  • afrocarter

    Excellent game form DeRozan, especially down the stretch hitting big shots. Can’t wait for the Kings to come north of the wall.

  • Ghotte

    Shout out to the Canadian Border Services for effective “boxing out” of Jermaine Oneal. They kept him off the boards the entire game which ultimately helped our bigs.

    • afrocarter

      Hopefully JV took some notes

    • plk

      Actually, you can thank US Homeland Security. Americans don’t need a passport to get into Canada; they need one to return to the good ol’ USofA.

  • database_666

    your father is 49? how fucking old are you? i always suspected this whole website’s writings is a product of the boredom of the incompetent parents’ basements dwellers, underprivileged youth, and TV journalism job seekers. Geez. And happy one to your father.

    • DDayLewis

      Born in 1992, just like Jonas.

      • Petrified Dino Shit

        Jesus Christ , I got banned by a kid that jerks off in his dads basement and has never touched a pussy. Go hunt some Kwan son , your worrying your father , he’s thinking your Gay with the preoccupation with men in shorts. 21 years of age I was on the hunt 24/7 . Do the dishes and wash some clothes for your mom. Bring a girl home on your fathers birthday , let him breath a little easier . I will put down your lack of basketball understanding as youth . Carry on

        • Guest

          If this is Raptorsland….

          What’s hilarious is that I actually assumed you were like maximum thirteen years old the whole time you were posting on here. Although I’m on your side of the fence in terms of the argument (though you always worded it very poorly) you should have been banned for being an adult who writes in the manner you do. That’s a life choices ban bro!

          When you came out and claimed you were married, then later said you had kids I was astonished. You’re reactionary, defensive and overly emotional. You act like a 12 year old on here, with your spine shuddering “lolol’s.” Gross dude.

          Plus you were so on the Raptors band wagon of being world beaters I assumed you’d only been watching them for 3 or 4 years… If I got banned from somewhere I wouldn’t grace them with my presence. Dipset guy.

        • RapsExpat

          Seriously? Compared to many other sports writing outlets, raptors republic is great – it’s detailed, and (like Lou’s piece here) filled with real enthusiasm, sharp observations, and all kinds of helpful knowledge. You don’t think the opinions of young people are valid? You think because someone has a different life path than yours there’s something wrong with them? You’re only showing how small-minded you are!

          I’m a Torontonian living overseas, and a smart, dedicated website like this one is a lifesaver. Keep it up William, happy birthday to your pa! Don’t mind these fools!

          • DDayLewis

            Thanks RapsExpat!

    • DC

      Why are the parents incompetent?

    • threo

      The writing here is horrible sometimes but there’s no need to bash his parents’ parenting skills.

  • or nah?

    Watching old Kobe Bryant playoff games and I can’t help but think of how much DeRozan reminds me of him; Jump shots and everything. Only thing is that DeMar needs to be just a bit more aggresive to the hoop.