There were several eye-pleasing aspects to the Toronto Raptors 97-91 victory over the Detroit Pitstons at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night.
There were Jose Calderon’s 17 assists, a season low six turnovers for the team, not to mention the outcome was Toronto’s fourth consecutive win, something they have not accomplished since back in November of 2010.
But when looking at the box score after the game was over, Toronto coach Dwane Casey kept on zeroing in on one number: 22.
And it wasn’t pleasing to the coach.
That was the number of offensive rebounds that the Detroit Pistons managed to snatch against the Raptors in the game – and they still managed to lose.
“The negative, giving up 22 offensive rebounds,” Casey said. “You can’t do that every night and expect to have a chance to win. Again, we found a way, which was the most important thing.”
Finding a way to win was something that eluded the Raptors with regularity early on in the season after dropping 19 of their first 23 games.
Recently, with an improved outlook at the defensive end of the court, things are starting to fall Toronto’s way.
Although Wednesday’s win wasn’t one of Toronto’s crisper efforts, the coach can’t find too much fault with the outcome.
“I told the team, there’s a million different ways to win and lose a game and right now we’re finding ways to win, and that’s the most important thing for our group,” Casey said. “Now we’re believing we can win, we trust in each other, we believe in each other, we’re pulling for each other.”
Casey said you had to look no further than Amir Johnson to prove his point.
Johnson twisted his ankle early in the game and headed to the locker room to have it taped up so he could return to the court.
“Really, probably, shouldn’t have come back in,” Casey said.
But there was Johnson, on the floor in the fourth quarter, where he came up with a critical steal with the Raptors leading by four points with less than a minute to play.
“Those kinds of plays are championship type plays, or winning plays, that you make instinctively, without even having talked about it,” Casey said. “I thought that was huge.”
Casey also praised the continued good work of Calderon, who finished the game with 17 assists, including nine in the first quarter.
“Jose is our quarterback, he’s our Peyton Manning,” Casey said. “He sees everything.”