Raps look to clean up act in Game 2
TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan didn't dwell on his disappointing playoff debut. After missing his first eight field goals on Saturday and finishing with only 14 points on 3-for-13 shooting, DeRozan decided to take it easy. Toronto's 94-87 loss to the Brooklyn Nets ended just before 3:30 p.m., which gave him a while to think about what happened.
"I sat in my room the rest of the day," DeRozan said. "I didn't leave the room. I didn't turn the TV on. I didn't watch no game. I just cleared my mind."
At about 1 a.m., DeRozan thought about heading back to the Air Canada Centre to get some shots up. He decided not to. Between then and Tuesday's Game 2, the Raptors would have plenty of time to prepare. There was no reason to put extra pressure on himself.
"I'm trying to be more of a playmaker," DeRozan said. "For myself, try to use myself as a decoy, but at the same time be aggressive. It's just adjusting. I watched the game, I watched it again this morning."
The film session gave DeRozan confidence in his team's ability to bounce back. He saw correctable mistakes and a game that still ended up going down to the wire. He said the shot clock malfunction -- Toronto public address announcer Herbie Kuhn had to call out 24- and 10-second marks, then count down from five for most of the second half -- threw him off.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said DeRozan appeared frustrated when a couple of calls went against him in the first half, but the spacing and screens have to be better for him to be successful.
"I really wasn't nervous," DeRozan said. "I think with as much energy was going on, it felt like things were going faster than they were. Me watching the film today? Same game. We were just as slow as they were yesterday. We could have picked it up a lot more."
Casey started his media scrum on Sunday saying, "I promise you I won't have any profanity." After Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri made headlines with his "F--- Brooklyn" speech and big man Amir Johnson added postgame, "If he said f--- em, we all say f--- 'em," the Raptors were clearly trying to move on from Game 1 in more ways than one.
"All that stuff has happened, we're very supportive of whatever Masai said," Casey said. "All the other stuff, what was said -- it's about basketball. It's about screening. It's about finishing plays. It's about executing defensively. I don't want to get off on another tangent."
Sounding relieved to get the postseason opener out of the way, Casey said that he saw a lot of things to clean up and wasn't discouraged by how his young team fared. He said the "newness and the shiny part of the playoffs" had worn off now, and that would help the whole team.
In addition to DeRozan, sophomore starters Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas had never competed on such a stage. As a deep reserve in Detroit, Johnson compiled a total of just 56 playoff minutes in 2008 and 2009 on his resume.
Ross, who had said leading up to Saturday that he wanted "insanity" from the home crowd, blamed foul trouble for his lack of production. While center Valanciunas impressed with a 17-point, 18-rebound effort, the swingman finished with just three points. Playing only 16 minutes, for much of the game he could only watch, just like the fans who were as crazed as he'd hoped.
"I wasn't nervous, but it was unreal," Ross said. "I can't even explain it. The atmosphere was unlike anything I've ever been in in my life."
As has been the case most nights this season, Kyle Lowry was the best Raptor on the court in the first game, finishing with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He's the only starter who has really done this before, having played for the 2008 Houston Rockets club that took the Los Angeles Lakers to seven games in the Western Conference semifinals. Lowry said Toronto was confident and that the next time out would be completely different.
"I think the bright lights will dim a little bit for everyone, everything will calm down a little bit," Lowry said. "I think that first game is always tough at home, because of the excitement, and we have a bunch of young guys. But now it's over. Now guys are ready to move on, now we're ready to go."
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