Josh Weinstein

Jonas Valanciunas’ 20 points and 13 rebounds led the Toronto Raptors to a convincing blowout 129-111 win over the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night. Believe me, the score made it look far closer than the game actually was.

Valanciunas punished the Bucks down low in the second half, securing numerous offensive rebounds and converting multiple and-one opportunities as part of his big night. The best part for JV, aside from his efficiency (8/9 FGs) was that it took him just 17 minutes to put up the impressive numbers that he did. Performances like these are few and far between for the Lithuanian, but if he can replicate efforts like these more often, the Raptors will be far better off for it.

DeMar DeRozan continued his recent trend of massive third quarter scoring outputs, this time scoring 14 of his 20 points in the frame. In the team’s last game on Wednesday, DeRozan scored 18 of his 35 in the third. The Compton-native has made a trend of bouncing back from slow starts in emphatic fashion when his team needs it most. He truly is a top-tier talent in this league, and claiming otherwise is foolish.

Serge Ibaka had another strong offensive game with 21 points on 8/12 shooting. If you take away his four misses from long-range, he was a perfect 7/7 from the field.

After Friday’s win, the Raps sit 2.5 back of the Celtics for first in the East. At 27-10, Toronto sits behind Boston in the standings in part because they’ve played five fewer games (and happen to have five fewer wins as a result). I wouldn’t be surprised if the Raps continue to close the gap between them and the Celtics, considering the way they’ve been playing of late. Also, Cleveland can’t be overlooked at the moment as they’re right on Toronto’s tail.

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