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Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh has a shot blocked by Los Angeles Clippers defenders Rasual Butler, left, and Drew Gooden in Toronto on Wednesday. (MIKE CASSESE/Mike Cassese/Reuters)
Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh has a shot blocked by Los Angeles Clippers defenders Rasual Butler, left, and Drew Gooden in Toronto on Wednesday. (MIKE CASSESE/Mike Cassese/Reuters)

Raptors cuff Clippers after <br/>big third-quarter push Add to ...

In the midst of a dreary first half in which the Toronto Raptors were a step behind the road-weary Los Angeles Clippers, the NBA's institutional door mat, a frustrated Raptors fan said out loud what surely everyone was thinking.

"Come on, it's the Clippers."

The Raptors were trailing and their fans, who have had a tough time of it lately, were understandably restless.

The Raptors (37-37) woke in time to dispatch Los Angeles's other NBA team 114-92, overcoming a five-point halftime deficit and blowing them out in the third and fourth quarters in front of 16,106.

But who would have thought it would be Sonny Weems leading the charge?

The Raptors' 15th anniversary season has been full of surprises, only some of them good, but Weems, the effervescent second-year swing man plucked from the remainders pile in the off-season, has been one of the most pleasant.

Last night he pitched his towel across the Raptors spacious dressing room over the crowd of reporters surrounding his locker and put it right in middle of the hamper.

Before that he'd made all eight of his field goal attempts, including just his second three-pointer of the season, to finish with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists.

At that point, with the game well in hand thanks to the Raptors' 66-point second half, Weems couldn't help but circle his thumb and forefinger like all the real three-point shooters do, much to his own amusement and that of his teammates on the bench.

"Every day I wake up and try to thank God every morning for putting me in this position," said Weems.

"Last year [in Denver]I didn't play at all and now God has given me an opportunity to get a chance to play and show people what I can do."

The Raptors were led by a big night from Chris Bosh, who scored 34 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Andrea Bargnani scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and point guards Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack combined for 17 assists against just four turnovers.

But Weems's steady season-long improvement was nicely punctuated last night.

Clippers coach Kim Hughes was probably correct when he said after: "I am not sure Sonny Weems will make eight for eight again."

But those who've been watching know that his inclusion into the Raptors starting lineup was on merit.

Raptors head coach Jay Triano credits Weems's development to more earthly sources than Weems himself does.

"Sonny was a guy earlier this year who was going to be maybe a role player on this team, but the kid comes back every night, works on his jump shot with DeMar [DeRozan]and works hard every day and gives us something we don't have and he's earned his spot in the rotation."

He's earned his spot in the starting lineup alongside Antoine Wright as Triano tries to reshape his rotation on the fly with just eight games left in the season, introducing Weems's and Wright's additional length and bounce on the defensive end, though both have held their own scoring, too.

"We're hoping it gives us energy right off the bat," Triano said. He didn't get it last night, but got some and more after the half.

The win was Toronto's second straight and gives them a chance to gain a little momentum as they try to solidify their playoff position at bottom of the NBA's Eastern Conference playoff bracket.

Toronto doesn't play a team headed for the post-season until they head to Cleveland next week.

If the Raptors play their cards right, they could have a four-game winning streak on the line.

Stranger things have happened.

 

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