Jan 24, 2013, 10:00 PM EDT
This had all the looks of another blown game in a season chock full of them for the Raptors. Blown double-digit fourth quarter lead? Check. Fouling a 3-point shooter up four points? Check. Failing to secure a defensive rebound that likely would have iced the game? Yup, give that a check, too.
But in the end, none of it mattered. The ball got in the hands of the red-hot DeMar DeRozan, and he took care of the rest.
DeRozan took full advantage of a fourth quarter where both teams went small. How small? Arron Afflalo and Alan Anderson, who are both around 6-foot-5, played power forward down the stretch. All that extra space to operate was huge for DeRozan, a guy who lives on post-up opportunities and mid-range jumpers almost exclusively. After recording an uninspiring 8 points through three quarters, DeRozan blew up in the final frame, tallying 14 of the Raptors’ 22 points in the period.
Although he was brilliant throughout the entire fourth quarter, DeRozan saved his best for last. With four seconds left in a tie game, DeRozan bailed his team out with an incredible fading, high-arcing jumper from the baseline to win the game, 97-95. The shot splashed so cleanly through the net, it almost looked like it didn’t go in.
Of course, that may have just been the surprise of seeing the Raptors finally close out a close game. Toronto has lost a whopping seven games within five points this season, and they have just a 1-5 record in overtime games. This isn’t a team that slams the door shut very often.
Orlando didn’t make it easy, either. J.J. Redick turned it on late, connecting on a four-point play to tie the game. Orlando as a whole was balanced offensively, having six different players hit double-figures. They were the ones making most of the big plays towards the end of the game. All the momentum heading into overtime belonged to them, and it looked like the familiar dread of clutch time was kicking in for Toronto once again.
But DeRozan just kept hitting big shots, even against good defense. Here’s the video of DeRozan’s gorgeous game-winner:
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