If I told you the Raptors would never trail in this game and never looked close to losing the entire night what would you say? This is of course if you never saw the game with your own eyes. Pretty much everything you would imagine happening in this game went the opposite of what logic would have suggested. Raptors will get off to a slow start and fall behind early. Nope it didn't happen. They came out and kicked the Celtics tail. At the point the score reached 20-7 Raptors, Doc Rivers called a time out and I really thought his head might explode. If you have seen the video of how excited he was when his son hit the winner for Duke, take that joy and turn it into rage and you have an idea. James Johnson was a one man defensive army at times and was getting his own offence too. Rivers raging time out only had a minor impact as the Raptors still had a 26-14 lead after one. The largest Raptor lead after one in like forever.
If there was any downside to this game it came in the 2nd quarter. The Raptors struggled more than Boston to get points on the board. But both teams looked all kinds of horrific at times in the second quarter. The Celtics would slowly chip the 11 point lead down to 7 by halftime. In was not a festival for the eyes in any way shape or form. Both teams were more than happy to throw the ball away and invent all kinds of exciting ways to commit turnovers. The less that is said about the 2nd quarter the better it is for all parties involved in this game. In the end for the record 35 points were scored in quarter, 20 by the Knicks and only 15 by the Raptors. Which left us with a 41-34 lead for the Raptors at the half.
Something strange was going on this night. Rajon Rondo was nearly invisible and Jose Calderon was having a rare game where he was totally out playing Rondo. That more than anything might have been a clear sign that this was going to be the Raptors night. Numbers don't lie. Well not often anyway.
Rondo: 5 points 7 assists and 5 rebounds
Calderon 17 points, 14 assists and 4 rebounds
Just part of the amazing magic carpet ride that the Raptors were on tonight. How crazy was it? There was a legit conversation about the merits of Aaron Gray as a player. Who was good on the glass with 11 rebounds but still offensively challenged with just 2 points. Should we call him the white Reggie Evans? No beard and I think Reggie might kill me so let's not do this. Anyway if you had a Raptor uniform on you had a good night. Ok not if you are named Carter or Butler but that would have made this story to unbelievable.
Raptors got back the 5 points they lost in the 2nd and they played the 4th quarter to a draw making your winner by TKO the Toronto Raptors 86-74 on all judges scorecards. We mentioned the numbers for Gray and Calderon but the Starting 5 came to play tonight as a unit. Demar DeRozan scored 21 with Dad on hand to catch another game and watch his son lead his team in scoring. The Ninja had the dunk of the night early in this one and was flying around the floor. James Johnson had 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 dimes, 3 steals and a couple of blocks. He does it all. Amir Johnson has a nice 12 points and 12 rebounds and the Raptors starting 5 did something they rarely have done in the Boston Big 3 Era as they out played the Boston starting 5.
The Celtics looked gassed and by the end were trying to bully their way back into this game but the Raptors would have none of it. Rondo was talking smack at Kleiza who had injured him in the first meeting between these two teams causing him to miss significant time. Kleiza responded by soon after draining an open 3. It wasn't a perfect performance from the Raptors. But it was a hard fought, effort filled, with hustle and pride. Which was exactly what Dwane Casey was looking for. He said after the 100-64 loss to Boston to start the month that the Raptors let the city, the fans and themselves down with their performance. Tonight in front of one of the largest crowds of the season they showed up and the fans were happy to see it. The fact no one went home with a free piece of pizza was the furthest thing from people's mind.