Sunday, November 23, 2014

DeRozan can rise to playoff occasion

TORONTO—After a wobbly playoff debut, Raptors’ star DeMar DeRozan returned to attack mode for Game 2 against the Brooklyn Nets.
The 24-year-old Toronto guard had just 14 points in Game 1, with eight of those coming from the free-throw line, in a 94-87 loss to visiting Brooklyn that saw DeRozan miss 10-of-13 shots.

On Tuesday night, a different DeRozan took the court. As he approached the Nets’ basket, it was if his brain was in overdrive as it diagrammed possible plays.
The possibilities seemed endless—dish off to a teammate, drive to the basket, pull back and take a shot.
The Raptors will need more of the same tomorrow when the series switches to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for Game 3.
While Toronto preaches a team approach, the Raptors know good things happen when DeRozan is rolling.
“I was just trying to feed him,” Toronto guard Greivis Vasquez said of Game 2.
“I was just trying to get him the ball— it was just ‘Go, go. We need you to get confidence.’”
Mission accomplished.
DeRozan finished with 30 points, 17 of which came in the fourth quarter when he made four-of-five shots and nine-of-11 free throws.
He finished the game on five fouls—hanging his head at one point at the end of the bench while his teammates huddled during a time-out.
But he was on point when he returned to action in the 100-95 win.
DeRozan’s fourth-quarter output was just two points off the club playoff record of 19, set in 2001 by Vince Carter against Philadelphia.
Again and again, DeRozan answered the veteran Nets as they tried to claw their way back.
For coach Dwane Casey, DeRozan showed his maturity by taking the shots the defence was giving him rather than trying to force things.
“He’s growing,” said Casey. “He’s still not a finished product.
“We’ve just seen the beginning of a guy becoming a star.”
Tuesday’s playoff performance was clearly a big step forward on DeRozan’s young career path.
“He knows he can do it in a high-intensity situation,” said guard Kyle Lowry.
“It just show he’s growing,” he added. “He’s an all-star for a reason.”

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