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Raptors did what they had to: Remember to work harder, longer

Like I said on The Magic Tweeter Machine, I don’t care if Tiger goes wire-to-wire this weekend, this will be the enduring moment at Augusta this year.

That’s Jack’s grandkid, in overalls, not having hit a ball all day, front of a legendary group including his grandfather, Gary Player and Tom Watson, making a one on the final hole of the par-3 contest yesterday.

Yeah, an ace. Hell, I’d probably have whiffed. Or hit it off the hozzle into the crowd.

You don’t think grandpa was proud?

Okay, basketball.


As some of us suspected, it wasn’t about Xs and Os, it was simply a case of the Raptors getting back to what they did most of the season – playing harder for longer and with enthusiasm and winning.

They didn’t shoot very well, they looked a bit sluggish to start but that was as complete a performance as they’ve put on, probably since the Houston game what feels like a hundred years ago.

“To be a good team, that’s how you’ve got to respond, when you have games like we had (Tuesday) night, to be able to understand and just tighten up our mistakes and come out the next night and handle business,” was how DeMar DeRozan put it.

It’s not like any creeping doubt had crept into the minds of players or coaches – that was primarily the domain of The People – but they needed to play well just to remind themselves how they could, and they did.

The Celtics were hardly wonderful and certainly not at full strength but was the same team that beat Toronto on Saturday and the Raptors found a way to negate Boston’s length and not get abused by Al Horford or Greg Monroe.

Not a pretty win but an important one and, hey, 60’s still in play.


Yeah, Norm

I figured Dwane would stick with OG Anunoby after he got the two quick fouls because OG only plays about six minutes a half anyway so what’s another foul between friends?

But going to Norm Powell instead of what would likely have been C.J.  Miles time kept the Raptors physical when the Celtics were trying to bully them but couldn’t.

“Toughness,” was how the coach put it. “I love Norm’s toughness. I don’t think he made a shot but what did he have, five rebounds?

“It’s about toughness and we’ve got to get everybody in the locker room’s toughness level up and he had it tonight.”

Powell didn’t have a huge night statistically, all four of his shots were missed three-pointers but he did have a bit of a “presence” they needed for his 11 minutes.

Standing in

Kyle Lowry’s ability to draw charges is top notch, he’s the best in the NBA in putting his body on the line, often in the paint and often standing in against bigger, more solid opponents and taking whatever punishment he must to get the Raptors another possession.

One he took last night with about five minutes left in the second quarter was so wily, so smart that I actually giggled out loud.

Jaylen Brown came barreling down the lane and there stood Lowry and a fraction of a second before he would have taken a crazy hard hit, Lowry started his fall. He was going backwards and down just before he got hit, totally selling the charge.

It was as veteran a move as Lowry made all night, a crafty, subtle “sell” that few can pull off.

It was Brown’s third foul, he had to come out of the game and while I couldn’t see Lowry too closely, if I could have, I bet he was smirking.

Yeah, Lucas

You kind of set a good tone when you haven’t played significant minutes in a game still in doubt in weeks and the first touch is a steal that you follow with a transition dunk.

That’s what you get with Lucas Nogueira, though, that crazy length and athleticism and if his mind’s in the game, he can be a game-changer.

Dwane said he was just looking for the elusive “something” when he called on Bebe in the second quarter and, to his credit, the kid gave them what they needed.

“What he brings every night, length, lob threat, blocking shots,” Fred VanVleet said. “He kind of gave us a presence at the rim there. He kind of makes those intangible plays that are rare for a big.”

Lucas might go back and gather dust for another two weeks or so but he’s a nice gadget to have, just in case.


You all know they’ve tied the franchise record with 56 wins in the season but they’re also at 32 at home on the year and can set a new all-time standard by beating either Indiana or Orlando on the weekend.

All right, really busy day ahead, I gotta go get into it.

But, first.

I know the number of mailbag submissions yesterday didn’t get to double-digits so I’m presuming many of you were waiting for the game to be over.

Well, it’s over.

So load ‘em up at askdoug@thestar.ca and come back Sunday to see what the fuss is all about.

You’ll be glad you did.