Linas Kleiza returned after missing the past two games, scoring 20 of the team’s 53 bench points. The small forward was on fire from downtown connecting five times from three point range.
The game’s second leading scorer was Raptors rookie Terrence Ross who finished one point shy of his career high with 18 points to go along with five rebounds in 23 minutes.
After starting the season receiving limited playing time the rookie has been seeing regular action with Toronto being bitten by the injury as of late. The team only played eight players against the Brooklyn Nets in their last outing due to the amount of injuries that have piled up.
Ross has had an up and down season but his performance against Dallas reminded fans why he was chosen with the eighth overall pick in last June’s draft.
Labelled as a shooter capable of playing acceptable defense entering the season, the 6-foot-6 guard has lived up to that reputation when he’s received playing time. Unfortunately, like most rookies Ross has struggled to be consistent but with each passing game the confidence is visibly growing within the 21 year old.
Ross has shown his shooting range however it’s been his athleticism and leaping ability that has been most surprising. The guard has shown early in the season his ability to get above the rim throwing down multiple thunderous dunks that has many in the Toronto region wishing he’d be considered for the Slam-Dunk Contest. Being tucked away up in Canada it’s unlikely he’ll receive enough attention to be considered for the honor but Toronto has learned early that Ross is more than just a shooter.
That athleticism has been displayed on the defensive end as well with Ross helping to force O.J. Mayo commit six turnovers against the Raptors. He’ll need to get stronger to truly become a factor on both ends of the court but Ross has shown after the first month and a half of his career the potential to become a solid two-way player in the league. He’s athletic enough, quick enough and possesses the hard working attitude coach Dwane Casey likes in his players to be a contributer at both ends of the floor.
Amir Johnson returned from his one-game suspension while Allan Anderson also returned after missing the past 17 games. Johnson finished with four points and seven rebounds while Anderson went 0 for 8 from the field but still managed to contribute two points and five rebounds.
All 11 players that saw action for Toronto finished with at least one point with the team managing to show off some depth for once. Preseason discussions highlighted depth as one of the team’s strengths entering the year but with so many injuries affecting the team early on, Toronto hasn’t had a stretch of games with everybody healthy yet.
With Kleiza and Anderson returning hopefully the injury bug is finished with the franchise as the team can’t afford anybody else to drop with Kyle Lowry, Andrea Bargnani and Landry Fields all still out of action.
With the trio unavailable the Raptors will continue to look towards the bench and most notably Ross, to continue to step up.