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Talking about tipping off the new year with a bang!
DeMar DeRozan set a franchise standard for the Toronto Raptors on Monday night against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.
DeRozan fired in a career-high 52 points in leading the Raptors to a 131-127 triumph over the Bucks. His 52 points bettered the previous franchise best of 51, which had been twice, first by Vince Carter against Phoenix in 2000 and then duplicated by Terrence Ross against the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014.
“I for sure wanted to beat T-Ross,” DeRozan laughed to reporters after the game while talking about surpassing his former teammate.
He said he was inspired by watching the legendary Michael Jordan earlier in the day. DeRozan said he watched the final moments of Jordan’s Bulls in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz when Michael hit the memorable jumper over Utah’s Bryon Russell at the left elbow to wrap up Chicago’s sixth NBA championship in an eight-year period.
“I remember being a kid and wishing to be in moments like that,” DeRozan said. “When you come out here and you’re in those moments, you’ve got to make the best out of them.”
His 52-point explosion easily surpassed his previous best effort, a 45-point performance against the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this season. He scored the first nine points of the game en route to a 21-point first quarter, the most points in a single quarter by a Raptors player this season.
“He was playing with a lot of juice,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “You could see the bounce in his step.
“Tonight, DeMar DeRozan played like a superstar.”
Bucks coach Jason Kidd tipped his cap to DeRozan.
“He’s dangerous any time he puts on a uniform,” Kidd said. “Now to be able to expand his range out to the 3-point line just makes the game easier for him.”
The 6-foot-7, 221-pound shooting guard out of Southern California connected of 17 of 29 field goals and added five rebounds and eight assists in 41 minutes. He shot 5-of-9 from 3 (one off his career best) and was a perfect 13 of 13 from the free-throw line. Backcourtmate Kyle Lowry backed him up with 26 points, six boards and six dimes, while Serge Ibaka and Fred VanFleet had 11 points apiece for the Raptors (25-10).
Eric Bledsoe’s 29 points, six rebounds and seven assists for Milwaukee (19-16), while Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Khris Middleton (18), Thon Maker (16), Malcolm Brogdon (15) and John Henson (10) all reached double figures for the Bucks, who also received 10 assists from Matthew Dellavedova.