It didn’t take long for Rudy Gay to electrify the city of Toronto in his debut with the Toronto Raptors.
Gay led all scorers with 20 points in a dominating 98-73 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. The newest addition to the Raptors showed off his scoring arsenal, whether it was a trio of three-pointers or a pair of alley-oop dunks thrown by DeMar DeRozan.
There was a buzz in the Air Canada Centre as the sellout crowd was eager to see Gay in a Raptors jersey for the first time. He didn’t fail to disappoint as his addition seemed to ignite the Toronto roster with an energy boost rarely seen with the Raptors this season. Not only did Toronto come out determined and absolutely shut down one of the best teams in the league by holding them to 34.7% shooting from the field. They also entered the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead and actually held on to it!
Folks, this deal has already proven it has potential moving forward for the Raptors franchise.
As great as Gay was, DeRozan appeared focused to remind the fan base he’s an explosive perimeter player as well. The combination of Gay and DeRozan found chemistry early as the two swapped setting each other up in the first half. DeRozan finished with 19 points and seven assists as the fourth year guard has been displaying his best playmaking skills since entering the league in recent weeks.
DeRozan has recorded seven or more assists in four of the past six games despite entering the Clippers contest averaging only 2.2 assists on the year. Part of the reason for the increase in his playmaking has been due to the extra attention placed on him by the opposition’s defense. DeRozan has been doing a wonderful job of passing out of double-teams and finding open teammates with the extra pass.
One of the biggest knock’s on DeRozan was he’d either put his head down and drive or throw up questionable mid-range jump shots. He’d finish games with stat lines such as 18 points, four rebounds and one assist. DeRozan will always be athletic enough to find rebounds during a game but if he can continue to record more than a pair of assists each game, then Toronto is going to see a lot more alley-oops between he and Gay.
It remains to be seen how well Gay and DeRozan will be able to play together after defenses figure out how to play against the duo. However, one thing proven tonight was given all the dunks thrown down by the Raptors, they may have just qualified to become Lob City 2.0.
With all the explosiveness on the perimeter it’s easy to ignore the incredible game Amir Johnson delivered in the blowout victory. Johnson recorded a season-high 16 rebounds to go along with his 19 points and three assists on 7 of 9 shooting from the field. Nobody works harder game in and game out than Johnson does for the Raptors. He entered the season with some questioning the size of his contract but nobody is mentioning that anymore with the way Johnson has sacrificed his body this year. He was always a heart and hustle guy and now he’s worked so hard to improve his jump-shot and offensive game, he’s easily become Toronto’s best front court player.
It’s only one game, but it couldn’t have been a better start for the Rudy Gay Era in Toronto.