On a night when Terrence Ross added his own chapter to best posters of all time, perhaps the bigger story-line was the Raptors getting off the schneid in Denver. Twitter would definitely beg to differ as it blew up with Terrence Ross chatter after the defending dunk champion put Kenneth Faried on a poster just before the half ended. But it has been 10 years and a month since the Raptors last tasted victory in the state of Colorado and to finally get one here has to take precedence. To be fair, the deck was definitively stacked in Toronto’s favour Friday night Without Ty Lawson, “the head of the snake” as Raptors head coach refers to the Nuggets point guard who was out with a shoulder injury, Denver never did get the game at its tempo. Forced to play a half-court offence, the Nuggets tried to take advantage of their physical interior players and, for a while, it worked. Denver owned the paint for much of the game, finishing with a 50-38 advantage in points scored there. With both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan stuck in neutral for much of the first half it was enough to keep the Nuggets in the game. But as soon as DeRozan, playing in his first game since turning an ankle and Lowry, playing his first since his all-star snub, started to heat up in the third, this one started to go all in Toronto’s direction. Between them the should-be Raptors all-star duo combined for 22 of the 26 points in the quarter and the lead went from seven to 16. The Raps never looked back, settling for a 100-90 win. We use that word ‘settling’ because Dwane Casey’s post-game presser was very light on celebrating a win and very heavy on chastising his team for putting it in cruise mode once they got to a 20-point lead. “We’ll take the ‘W’ but I was disappointed and I let the players know about it,” Casey said afterwards. “I was disappointed in the close. You can’t come in and feel like you’ve got the game won with a 20-point lead. You’ve got to continue to execute, continue to be strong with the ball, continue to execute defensively if you want to be serious about winning in this league and until you grow up and do that, you’re going to end up on the short end more times than not.” That didn’t happen and Casey wants to make sure it doesn’t down the road. “It’s a four-quarter game,” Casey said still fuming. “If you’re serious about being a winning team ... I’m going to say it again, we haven’t done anything in this league to think that just because we have a 20-point lead that you’re going to walk away and teams are just going to let you do what you want to do. We’ve got to finish out games and be strong mentally and physically in the paint.” But the talk of the game and perhaps the talk for the next little while will be the Ross posterization of Faried just before the second quarter ended. Off a steal at the Raptors end, Ross went the length of the court and with Faried the only man between himself and the basket, went airborne as Faried tried to cut him off and threw one down with authority in the Manimal’s face. With the poster coming right in front of the Raptors bench, his entire team had a front row seat for the sheer power of the dunk and did not hesitate to show their appreciation. DeRozan, as much an aficionado of the dunk as Ross, had one of those front row seats. “Man, it’s got to be a nomination for dunk of the year so far, especially on a guy like that,” DeRozan said. “But that was big.” The reaction from the bench, which was caught by the Open Gym videographers and will surely be on a future episode was almost every bit as good as the dunk itself. DeRozan wound up with a team high 19, narrowly edging the ever-improving and dunkastic Ross who had 17.
Raptors snap long losing streak in Denver with big win over Nuggests
Toronto Sun | Feb 1