Saturday, July 10, 2010
DeRozan beats Johnson in battle of former Trojans
By Pedro Moura
LAS VEGAS -- Saturday, part two of the battle between former Trojans took place -- this time with 2009 Raptors' first-rounder DeMar DeRozan going up against Marcus Johnson as Toronto took on the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Summer League.
Part one featured Johnson and fellow USC alum Dwight Lewis going one-on-one for portions of Friday's Rockets-Suns contest.
"It's cool, having all these USC alums out here, going against each other now after being teammates," Johnson said. "It's real nice."
In 27 minutes Saturday, 20-year-old DeRozan had 16 points, two rebounds and an assist to lead Toronto to a 103-69 win at UNLV's Cox Pavilion. Half his points came from the free throw line, and he didn't come off the bench in the fourth quarter after the Raptors went into the final period up by 20.
"That's real cool, seeing one of my teammates in summer league, playing against him," DeRozan said of the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Johnson. "We played together last year so it's real cool to have the opportunity to play with him."
Johnson played 14 minutes off the bench Saturday after logging just five against the Rockets on Friday. He finished Saturday's game with two points and one rebound, but his primary impact came on defense, where he was assigned to guard DeRozan and former UCLA guard Michael Roll.
"I defended well," Johnson said. "Offensively I didn't play as well as I could've but I felt like I defended pretty well and that's what I'm out here for -- just to play defense."
Johnson, who spent two seasons playing for UConn before finishing his career at USC, said it was difficult to jump right in to the mix with the Suns.
"You're playing with a brand-new group of guys," Johnson said. "Every single person on this team I've never played with. It's brand new offense, a brand new coach, so, for a guy like me it takes a little adjusting."
Johnson, then 21, befriended the young DeRozan when the highly touted high-flyer came into USC as a 19-year-old freshman for the 2008-2009 season. The two were part of a solid core of players that took the Trojans to the second-round of the NCAA tournament that season, where they fell to eventual tourney runner-up Michigan State.
"A lot has changed," DeRozan said when asked about the past 16 months. "I'm living my dream, I'm in the NBA. I went through my first year, my rookie year and did well. It shows me how fast time goes by. You see other people out of the USC program, it's great."
Lewis and DeRozan will face each other Tuesday when the Raptors and Rockets play at the Thomas & Mack Center. DeRozan said he was looking forward to it.
"I love seeing my teammates -- former teammates from USC -- in this situation," he said. "It's great.
"And to see them doing well, it's even better."
A full recap and box score for the game is available here. Toronto's Sonny Weemsled all scorers with 19 points; Suns' second-round selection Gani Lawal had 18 points and a thunderous slam while 2009 first-rounder Earl Clark added 15 points.