I figure wins will be tough to come across when they count, so forgive me for getting a little excited about a 51-point blowout to start the preseason. The Raptors got their exhibition campaign off in some kind of form last night, romping the Hedo Turkoglu-led Phoenix Suns 129-78 in front of 18,123 fans in scenic Vancouver, British Columbia. The NBA in Vancouver? Who would’ve thunk it?
Linas Kleiza made his first stride toward justifying the four-year, $20 million deal he signed after a year with Olympiakos, scoring 20 points in 20 minutes on 7-of-9 from the field, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. DeMar DeRozan also gave his first hint that he may be a much more rounded player in 2011, scoring 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting in 22 minutes and making his only three-point attempt. Joey “Goliath” Dorsey showed he may just be better than Greg Oden after all, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 boards in just 18 minutes of action in his first game as a Raptor.
The great Turkoglu made the least of his chance to prove his worth to the team that so grossly underutilized him last season, scoring six points on 3-of-10 shooting in 24 minutes. Leandro Barbosa, who Toronto picked up in the deal for Turkoglu, was quiet himself, scoring four points in 17 minutes off the bench. Steve Nash gave a small sample size for Phoenix, scoring nine points and adding seven assists in 22 minutes, while spending time dishing off to the likes of Amar’e Stoudemire, Gani Lawal, Matt Janning, Zabian Dowdell and former Augusta State star Garrett Siler.
The win doesn’t mean too, too much, considering it was against a team I’m pretty sure Phoenix coach Elvin Gentry pulled off the street and strapped in Suns jerseys. Still, keep in mind that Toronto went 7-1 back in the 2006 preseason when they were expected to win about 25 that counted, and then went on to go 47-35. Not that I’m trying to make any kind of prediction right now, that is.
Anyway, with a win under their belts, the Raptors are back in action Sunday night in Boston, where they’ll face Shaq Deisel and the dynastic Celtics.