With new optimism in the air, the Raptors played with an energy and intensity that they had been lacking all season.
Their opponents came in expecting to have their way with the 16-30 Toronto team, but that simply wasn’t the case.
Gay started out slow but finished the first quarter with seven points on 3-of-5 shooting. One of those buckets, his first as a Raptor, was an exciting fast-break lob finisher from DeMar DeRozan.
That moment alone may have been worth the price of admission for a fanbase that has had little to cheer about while missing the playoffs for the past four seasons.
Toronto built a 19-point lead midway through the third quarter, when Gay entered the game for the first time in the second half. That’s when things got even more out of hand.
The newcomer hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the team a commanding 72-45 advantage heading into the final period.
He went off again in the fourth quarter, dropping seven more points to help crush any hopes of a comeback for the defeated Clippers.
Overall, Gay was effective, but some of the same problems that have plagued him all season in Memphis were on display at times in his debut. He made a couple of questionable decisions and took some bad shots.
Still, he ended up leading his team in scoring as fans roared for his impressive debut.
The spotlight may have been on Toronto's newest acquisition, but the team responded around him. John Lucas surprised, scoring 17 points by hitting 5-of-7 from behind the three-point line.
The future is looking up in Toronto. If the Raptors can deal Andrea Bargnani and get another usable asset or draft pick, they will be positioned to contend in the coming years.
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