DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Jose Calderon

DeMar DeRozan’s buzzer-beater gives Toronto the win over Orlando (VIDEO)


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:

Lucky? Klay Thompson reminds Doc Rivers which team lost to Rockets

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There’s this overplayed angle talked about by some fans and pundits suggesting the Warriors just got lucky last season — for example, they faced a banged-up Rockets’ team in the conference finals then a Cavaliers’ squad without two of their big three through the Finals. Then there was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers saying the Warriors were lucky not having to play the Clippers or Spurs in the postseason.

The Warriors are sick of hearing they were lucky.

Friday Klay Thompson fired back at Rivers, via

– “I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn’t handle their business.”
– “If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year (Warriors 3-1). I’m pretty sure we smacked them.”
– “Didn’t they lose to the Rockets? Exactly. So haha. That just makes me laugh. That’s funny. Weren’t they up 3-1 too?”
– “Yeah, tell them I said that. That’s funny. That’s funny.”

Warriors big man Andrew Bogut phrased it differently.

If you think the Warriors just won because they were lucky — you are dead wrong.

They were the best team in the NBA last season, bar none. They won 67 regular season games in a tough conference, then beat everyone in their path to win a title. Did they catch some breaks along the way, particularly with health? You bet. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant didn’t win a title without catching some breaks along the way, either. Nobody does. Luck plays a role, but it was not the primary factor in why the Warriors are champs.

All this talk of them getting lucky is fuel for the fire they needed not to be complacent this season. Way to give the defending champs bulletin board material, Doc.

Dwyane Wade serious as mentor, teaching Justise Winslow post moves

Third day of Miami Heat camp 10/1/2015
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Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.

Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.

Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.

“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.

“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”

This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.

It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.