Wednesday’s win over the Pistons at ACC brought the Raptors brought a little validation after days of prep time and with the presence of an unexpected restricted free agent, might have hinted at some change on the horizon for the 10-23 club.
On the floor, the Raptors looked every bit the more rested, focused team. Their willingness to share the ball (30 assists on 40 made field goals), ability to execute offensively (52.6% shooting from the floor) and a renewed commitment to defence helped them build a big lead before hanging on against Greg Monroe and company down the stretch.
There was no shortage of standout performances, with DeMar DeRozan continuing his mid-season scoring resurgence (six 20+ point efforts now in nine games), another sneaky great line from Jose Calderon (15 assists, eight assists, six points) and Leandro Barbosa once again bringing that spark off the pine with 17 points.
But the player that had fans chanting late was none other than starting centre Aaron Gray. The MVP chants weren’t particularly bright, but Gray was a legitamite difference maker Wednesday, with season-highs of 12 points and 12 rebounds and perhaps most importantly, some outstanding screens to free up his teammates in 28 minutes of work.
Our #RTZ Tweet of the Night winner Ryan Phillips agreed when we asked who the unsung hero was against the Pistons:
A big win with many hands involved and one to build upon when the Raptors can add Linas Kleiza and Andrea Bargnani back into the fold.
But the second-half additions may not end there. There was a definite buzz around the arena Wednesday with the news that restricted free agent forward Wilson Chandler and his agent were on hand to explore a potential opportunity with the Raptors.
Given the Raptors’ current available cap flexibility and the parameters of the new CBA (a sign-and-trade deal with Denver is reportedly not possible), it remains to be seen exactly how they can sign the versatile guard/forward to an offer sheet without having the Nuggets match. But Chandler’s presence obviously pushes this past mere conjecture. March 1st appears is reportedly the date by which he can sign an offer sheet with another NBA team this season, so updates to this story should come soon.
Until then, here’s your Top 10 #RTZ Tweets Of The Night: