TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors were an irritated bunch at halftime Sunday night, frustrated about being down nine points to the Golden State Warriors — a team that had embarrassed them in their previous meeting nearly one year earlier.
Two sensational quarters later, the Raptors and their fans went home satisfied.
DeMar DeRozan poured in a game-high 25 points and the Raptors limited high-scoring Golden State to a season-low 28 second-half points on the way to an 83-75 victory. The win was just the fifth in 16 games for Toronto, and provided a small measure of revenge for a club that surrendered 84 first-half points in a 138-100 thrashing at the hands of the Warriors in California last March 25.
Thanks to a tenacious stretch of defence from a hungry Raptors team Sunday, Golden State didn’t even reach its first-half total from that blowout.
“I thought our guys did a good job,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. “That first half, we can cancel it out. But the second half, our guys came in and really gave us energy.”
Toronto’s second-half defensive effort may have been its best of the season. The Warriors, who came into the day averaging 97.6 points per game, shot an abysmal 11 for 40 after the break — including a 5-for-22 performance in an 11-point third quarter that allowed Toronto to seize the lead for good.
Casey praised his team for coming out in the second half and making a commitment to shutting down the Warriors — especially after his club had failed to do so two nights earlier, falling apart in the third quarter of a narrow loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I told them (at halftime) to have a nice day, it’s a beautiful Sunday,” he joked. “I challenged them. I told them, ’The game’s about frustration. It’s how we fight through this … feeling sorry for ourselves, fatigue, whatever it is, that’s not important. What’s important is how we approach our job as NBA players.’
“I challenged them at halftime and they stepped up and that’s what this league is all about … when someone challenges your manhood, you have to step up.”
Limiting three-pointers, second-chance and fast-break points were Casey’s goals coming into the game — and the Raptors accomplished all three. Golden State shot just 4-for-19 from beyond the arc, had only eight second-chance points and scored exactly one fast-break point — 39 fewer than it had in the lopsided win over Toronto last season.
“We have a lot of those little things that you don’t think you should waste time working on that we’ve been working,” said Raptors forward James Johnson, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“That’s been a benefit to us.”
David Lee had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Warriors, who fell to 2-3 on a six-game road trip.
“It hurts really bad,” said rookie Warriors guard Klay Thompson.
“This was a very winnable game, a team that we thought we were better than. We can’t let it carry over until (Monday) in Washington … (but) this one hurts, it’s going to sting for a while.”