DeMar is DeMan.
When he’s on, the Raptors roar. When he’s down, like he was in Game One against the Brooklyn Nets, the Raptors go down.
But in Game 2, a must-win for Toronto, DeMar was DeMarvelous, with 30 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter to lead Toronto to a 100-95 victory to even the series 1-1.
With six minutes left in a tight game, DeMar picked up his fifth foul. Coach Dwane Casey sat him. During a time-out, DeMar isolated himself away from his team’s huddle, gazed at the floor, and composed himself.
“Just calmed myself down,” DeRozan told reporters after the game. “I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t be out there with my team at that critical moment. It was just me keeping myself together, not being so frustrated, just staying focused.”
He came back, hit two big buckets (including a sublime 18-foot fade-away), and then scored 10 in the final three minutes, including two clutch free throws late.
It was redemption for his tight Game One performance, hitting nothing in the first half and only 3 of 13 in Toronto’s turnover-plagued loss before an ecstatic Toronto crowd inside and outside the arena.
“I appreciate all 14 guys in that locker-room and the coaching staff to have that trust in me to take those shots in the fourth quarter,” he said. “The game is about adjustments. I’m a student of the game. I went back and watched the whole game (Saturday’s loss) two or three times, to understand where I could get my shots, opportunities, where I could score and get easy buckets.”
Along with DeMar’s DeMarksmanship, Toronto won the game on the glass, outrebounding Brooklyn 52-30.
Jonas Valanciunas had another monstrous effort, with 15 points and 14 boards and plenty of infectious high-energy hustle. Even the little bulldog of a point guard Kyle Lowry had nine rebounds along with 14 points and 6 assists.
“I’m just happy for him (DeMar) because a lot of people said he had a bad game,” Lowry said. “The fact is, he is an all-star and he knows how to get his points. Tonight he just showed what he can do. He did an unbelievable job of attacking, being aggressive and he got his rhythm going. Once he gets his rhythm going, he is a hard guard.”
DeMar, at the post-game presser, summed up Toronto’s determination.
“We were here when people thought you could just come to Toronto and get a win. We’ve been through all that, frustrating seasons. And we want everybody to know when you play against the Toronto Raptors you’re going to have to fight, you’re going to have to bring your game, and that’s the passion every single guy on this team has.”
(photo of DeMar DeRozan copyright Ray Vysniauskas. For permission to use this photo, please contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. See more of Ray’s great work at LIT News: http://litnews.lt/ and his photo blog: ray- Vysniauskas-photography.com)