Just when it appeared the game was once again about to slip away from the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan delivered a game-winning buzzer beater that stunned the Orlando crowd.
Raptor fans had seen the script played out numerous times before. Toronto entered the fourth quarter with another lead that quickly evaporated with an Orlando Magic run, as the home team took a lead despite being down nine points to begin the final frame.
Only this time DeRozan was determined not let the game get away by going 7 for 8 from the field in the final quarter to lead his team to a 97-95 victory. His game-winning shot were the two most important points out of his 22 in the contest, to go along with seven assists and four rebounds. The win also marks the first time the Raptors have swept the Magic in their four game season series, since 2006-07.
DeRozan’s performance comes off the heels of three games where he combined to score only 28 points in the contests. Toronto won one of those games, as the production expected from DeRozan requires more from the fourth-year player.
However, it’s hard to put blame on the shooting guard considering the extra emphasis teams have begun to place on him. With Toronto having little consistent scoring options to take pressure off DeRozan, defenses have been hounding him with physical defense as they try to wear him down. Not to mention the caliber of defenders he’s had to face recently that includes Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. Clearly, life hasn’t been easy lately for Toronto’s leading scorer.
The Raptors split their Florida road trip by losing to the defending champions in overtime, followed by the bounce back win against the Magic. A hard fought loss to the Miami Heat is nothing to hang their heads about considering it took a triple-double from James, a double-double from Chris Bosh and 35 points, seven assists and five rebounds from Wade to get the job done. The win against Orlando is arguably even more important considering the Magic entered tonight half a game behind Toronto in the standings.
With a record of 16-27, the Raptors have a lot of work to do if they want to catch the eighth seeded Boston Celtics to make the playoffs. One thing in Toronto’s favor is they still have three games remaining against the Celtics this season, including two at home.
The Raptors playoffs hope may be slim, however, DeRozan’s double-teamed fade-away buzzer-beater proved anything can happen.