Raptor fans got a late Christmas present on Wednesday night. The team’s best player, shooting guard Demar Derozan, returned to the lineup to led the Raps to a 100-84 victory over the lowly Philadelphia 76er’s.
Until last night the only time that fans were able to see the injured star was when TSN showed footage of him working with Alex McKechnie, the team’s director of sports science, on the sidelines.
It appears all the patience the team showed with Derozan’s injury paid off. He scored 20 points in his return, the most points for the Raps in the tilt. Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas also chipped in with 18 and 12 points respectively.
Derozan sustained the injury earlier in the season during a Nov. 28 game against the Dallas Mavericks. He was driving to the basket when he fell to the floor without any contact from an opposing player. Tests later revealed that Derozan had sustained a groin strain and would be out for 4 to 6 weeks.
Although they came away with a victory there were a couple of disturbing notes to take away from the game. The 76er’s are one of the worst teams in NBA history and are second from the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 7-31 record.
The Raptors, who boast a 26-12 record, should have easily handled the 76er’s. However the Raptors struggled early on and played down to the level of their competition for most of the game.
It was only in the fourth quarter that the Raptors were able to pull away and show Philadelphia the best ball they could play.
This continues a disturbing trend of the Raptors playing poorly against teams they should beat with relative ease. They lost to the red hot Detroit Pistons last week as well, another bad team who has actually been playing very well recently.
They also lost to the Charlotte Hornets last week, another lowly team that the Raptors could have easily beaten.
Another disturbing trend for the Raps is the number of turnovers the team commits. Toronto was one of the best teams at the start of the season in minimizing turnovers. However as of late they have increased their number of turnovers dramatically. Even Kyle Lowry who led the league in fewest turnovers for the first two months has been giving up the ball much more in the past five games.
The Raptors will look for their first winning streak since Dec. 28th when they take on the eastern conference leading Atlanta Hawks in Toronto on Friday.