When Terrence Ross threw up an air ball on a three-point attempt in his first few minutes on the floor, it looked like a long night could be in store for the Toronto Raptors’ rookie.
But it was just a blip in an otherwise strong NBA debut Monday as Ross and the Raptors won their preseason opener, 102-95 over Spain’s Real Madrid.
“Other than that I felt comfortable, I wasn’t nervous or in a rush, I just calmed myself down, got myself together,” Ross said. “It wasn’t too bad.”
DeMar DeRozan scored 18 points and John Lucas added 16 of his own for the Raptors, who ended the third quarter up by two before pulling away in the fourth.
Andrea Bargnani had 14 points, Amir Johnson added 12 points, scoring on several big dunks, Jose Calderon had eight assists to go with nine points, and Ed Davis grabbed 10 rebounds.
Ross, the Raptors’ No. 8 pick out of Washington, scored 10 points in 22 minutes, calmly knocking down a pair of threes.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey was pleased with the 21-year-old’s first NBA game.
“There was that one casual play where he thought he was in the park by himself, and [former NBA player Rudy] Fernandez came from behind and got him ... just little things like that,” Casey said. “But his upside is off the charts.”
Ross said the speed and intensity of the game is different from what he faced at the college level.
“Most of the guys are veterans, they’ve been playing this for a long time, so it’s a lot different from college kids to grown men,” he said. “You’ve got to be a second quicker [getting your shot off], you’ve always got to do something a little better, jump a little higher, get a little more arc.”
While it was only the pre-season, Ross said the moment he put on his jersey before the game wasn’t lost on him.
“Definitely, it gave me a sense of how much I’ve done to get to the point I’m at now,” he said.
Nikola Mirotic had 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the visitors, while Martynas Pocius added 15 points.
It was no surprise that the game, which came just two days after the Raptors finished their Halifax training camp, was a sloppy, dragged-out foul-filled affair for a Toronto team that featured 10 new faces.
Real Madrid, with four players from the Spanish team that won silver at the London Olympics, arrived game ready. The European powerhouse — winner of 30 Spanish League titles and eight Euroleague titles — is a few weeks ahead of the Raptors in terms of preparation.
“Up and downs, some good minutes, some not as good minutes. But I think it’s expected for the first game, after one week of practice, not even one week, it’s been six days,” said Calderon, who was also on the Spanish team at the London Games.
“Some good stuff we’ll see tomorrow in the video, some bad stuff we’re going to see tomorrow in the film.”
Real Madrid already won the Spanish SuperCup two weeks ago, and was coming off a 105-93 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis two nights earlier.
“A team that moves the ball that crisply and screens so well and moves without the ball so well, that’s a hard night’s work and our guys did a decent job,” Casey said.
The crowd of 10,359 at Air Canada Centre was dotted with Madrid fans who periodically broke into Spanish songs.
The Raptors were missing newcomers Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas — Lowry’s debut has been put on hold because of a strained adductor muscle in his left leg, while Valanciunas is sidelined with a calf strain. Lowry is expected to miss all of Toronto’s games this week.
The game marked the ninth time the Raptors have played an international team in the preseason, having hosted teams from Greece, Italy, Israel, Lithuania and Russia in the past. The Raptors lost to Madrid in its 2007 pre-season trip to Europe.
Johnson scored seven points in the first as the Raptors ended the quarter up 29-22.
The Raptors turned the ball over five times in a sloppy second and led just 50-48 at halftime.
Calderon led the team with seven points in the third and the Raptors took a 75-73 lead into the fourth quarter.
Notes: Toronto FC midfielder Torsten Frings attended the game. ... The Raptors play the Pistons in Detroit on Wednesday. ... Toronto opens the regular season Oct. 31 at home versus the Indiana Pacers.