DeMar up for the task

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

A weekend that begins with an assignment to contain Dwyane Wade and finishes with a request to do the same on Vince Carter could call for danger pay.

DeMar DeRozan isn't looking to pad his rookie pay cheque, however. In fact, he relishes the opportunity to go up against the best in the NBA and, it just so happens this weekend, that he's getting a double dose of that upper echelon.

On Friday against Wade, DeRozan capably held his own, keeping the Miami Heat star in check for much of the game before Jarrett Jack took over down the stretch. He got big marks from the coaching staff who rewarded him with extra minutes.

Now, DeRozan gets VC he is champing at the bit for that battle, too. DeRozan was disappointed earlier this year during Orlando's first visit to the ACC on Nov., 1 when Carter wasn't able to answer the bell because of a sprained left ankle.

"I was hyped," DeRozan said. "This place is going to be rocking with Vince back in here and going up against a good team. I was real hyped, so today I'll get the same opportunity."

DeRozan ensured his first encounter with VC would have more than just that regular-season game feel when he tweeted on draft night: "Toronto here I come. Air Canadas back."

Air Canada of course was the monicker Carter went by when he wore a Raptors uniform. And while DeRozan has some Vince-like qualities to his game, he remains a work in progress.

DeRozan and Carter have met previously. That happened two years back at the Jordan Brand Classic where DeRozan, a high school senior, was playing and Carter had a courtside seat. Carter had heard of the youngster's dunking abilities and wanted him to put on a show. DeRozan complied.

"He was just a cool player," DeRozan said. "He was talking to all the players. Every time we ran up and down the court, he was cracking jokes."

Don't expect DeRozan to stray from his game plan for Carter or anyone else. Just as he did in high school and then for a year at USC, DeRozan approaches every game with the intention of being better than the night before.

"I'm just trying to grow," DeRozan said. "It's a long season and I want to learn as much as I can."

Head coach Jay Triano says how quickly DeRozan progresses is up to him.

"I like where he is right now,' Triano said. "He's growing and he's loving the game. A lot of time, rookies are thrown in, play so many minutes and then they hit that rookie wall and they're overwhelmed. We just want this kid to cruise and get better. We saw that in high school and we saw that in his first year at USC. He progressively got better and we like where he is going."

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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