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Revamped Raptors See First Game Action In Intrasquad Scrimmage

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October 3, 2009

OTTAWA (CP) - Rookie DeMar DeRozan wowed the crowd with a couple of big time dunks, scrappy new forward Reggie Evans showed some of the hard-nosed defence that first attracted Toronto's interest, and Jarrett Jack barely kept his mouth shut.

The trio of newcomers, three of the 10 new faces in Toronto's remodelled roster, gave Raptors fans a glimpse of what's in store as the team capped its training camp in Ottawa with an intrasquad game Saturday.

``I didn't know what to expect from so many of these guys,'' Raptors coach Jay Triano said. ``But they all came as advertised and they delivered what we expected. It was just fun to watch some of these guys and the way they evolved into what we had hoped they would be.''

The 20-year-old DeRozan, a swingman out of Southern California the Raptors nabbed with the No. 9 pick in the NBA draft, scored a game-high 13 points. Evans, acquired in an off-season trade from Philadelphia, finished with 13 rebounds and nine points in helping the black team defeat the white jerseys 47-32.

Marco Belinelli finished with 12 points, while Andrea Bargnani had 10.

While Triano said the young DeRozan had some rough days during camp as he adjusts to the speed and intricacies of the NBA game, he displayed the athleticism he's known for during the scrimmage, taking flight for a big alley-oop dunk from Marcus Banks that had the 1,200 fans at Ravens Nest gym at Carleton University cheering.

``You can see the level picked up, each team wanted to win, everybody wanted to win, everybody was going hard and that's what we like,'' DeRozan said. ``I learned how tough a real NBA game could be. We only played eight minutes (per quarter rather than the regulation 12), you have to really be in shape, you have to be mentally ready for it because it's tough.''

Evans, playing for the victorious black team, dominated the boards in an energetic performance. The Raptors swapped scoring for toughness when they traded sharp-shooter Jason Kapono to Philadelphia for Evans in the off-season, and Evans is expected to endear himself to a Raptors crowd that appreciates hard work.

``Right now, we're going through a recession so people are trying to do whatever it takes in a positive way,'' Evans said. ``When (fans) come to the game, they at least want to see hard work. No matter if you win or lose, they want to see somebody going real hard because they're working hard to earn a living just so they can come to our games. ''

``You never want to disrespect the basketball court. You want to come out here first-class, practise, shootaround, no matter what. You want to come out and play hard every time you step on the court.''

Triano said Evans' presence was instantly felt in practice this week, and his work ethic rubbed off on his teammates.

``He's a good defender and we traded away a very good shooter to get a guy who doesn't really score a lot but is super tough and will defend and rebound,'' Triano said. ``He changed practices. It was the energy and intensity and I think that is good because people have to match that.''

Jack, a former Indiana Pacer who signed as a free agent in the off-season, had seven rebounds and playing as the black team's point guard gave Jose Calderon, his opponent for the afternoon, a bit of trouble - all the while barking orders and encouragement to his teammates.

Triano said Jack was vocal throughout camp.

``He's been that vocal his whole life,'' Triano said. ``He's always talking, it's good to have. Before we made the trade I used to coach against him and he's giving calls out and he does not stop. It's all basketball talk, it's not fake or street talk. He's communicating with his teammates and that is something we lacked last year.''

The Raptors opened camp with only three returnees from last year at this time in Calderon, Bargnani and Chris Bosh.

With his top priority getting everyone playing as a cohesive unit, Triano said there's still plenty of work to be done.

``I think the good thing about playing is I make my list and there were things that happened during the game that jogged my memory. `Oh, we have to put that in, we haven't talked about this situation and so on.' Training camp was to establish the foundations,'' Triano said. ``Obviously it's ever evolving and ever-changing. I think we got off to a good start. The energy level was very good. I like the way we are pushing the ball up the floor.''

Neither Bosh nor Hedo Turkoglu played in the scrimmage. Both spent training camp nursing nagging ailments. Bosh strained a hamstring earlier this month running on the treadmill back home in Dallas, while the Raptors staff decided to rest Turkoglu after a busy summer spent playing for Turkey.

The Raptors open the pre-season Tuesday against Philadelphia in London, Ont., then host the Sixers at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.

NOTES: The Raptors presented Carleton officials with a cheque for $15,000 to go to the athletic department's scholarship program.