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:

Thabo Sefolosha’s lawyer: White police officer targeted black Hawks forward

Thabo Sefolosha
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NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer representing a professional basketball player arrested outside a New York City nightclub has told a jury his client was targeted because he’s black.

Attorney Alex Spiro said Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court that a white police officer saw a black man in a hoodie when he confronted the Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on April 8.

Sefolosha was arrested while leaving a Manhattan nightclub following a stabbing. He subsequently suffered a season-ending leg fracture after a confrontation with police.

A prosecutor said in opening statements that Sefolosha called an officer who repeatedly told him and others to leave a “midget.”

Sefolosha pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. The Swiss citizen declined a plea deal from prosecutors.


DeMar DeRozan says he hates talking about free agency, takes pride in Raptors longevity

DeMar DeRozan
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DeMar DeRozan has a $10,050,000 player option for 2016-17. Given the rapidly escalating salary cap, it’s a practical certainty DeRozan will opt out and get a major raise.

But he says he doesn’t want to talk about it.

DeRozan, via Eric Koreen of the National Post:

“I hate that, honestly,” DeRozan said in a one-on-one interview. “I never speak about it. With me, I’ve always been that one player: I’ve been loyal. I’ve been every single thing you can think of here. I think people don’t understand how much pride I take in playing (in Toronto). A lot of times when I do get asked that, it kind of frustrates me.

“Everyday I wake up, I take pride in being the longest Raptor here. People bring up third or whatever in franchise scoring — there is so much stuff like that.”

This sounds awfully similar to LaMarcus Aldridge, who stated his desire last year to become the great Trail Blazer ever and then signed with the Spurs this summer.

Things change, and the impracticality of an extension ensures DeRozan will hit free agency. I believe he’s devoted to the Raptors right now, but his loyalty might change in the next nine months – especially once he sees contract offers from other suitors.

Toronto’s interest in DeRozan might fluctuate, too. He’s a nice player, but the Raptors haven’t won a playoff series with him despite winning the division the last two years. Depending how this season goes, Masai Ujiri might want to rework the roster significantly next summer, and letting DeRozan walk could create major cap space.

I believe DeRozan wants to return to the Raptors, and I believe they want to keep him. But so much can change between now and when both sides must make that call.