It wasn’t an exciting one, in fact, the best part about the game was that it was coming to an end, but then the last half (or so) of the 4th quarter happened, and we saw something we aren’t used to – the Raptors held it together and pulled one out. How many times over the years have the Raptors trailed heading into the 4th, and won the game? I’m sure it’s happened, but I can’t think of any many. Even though it is pre-season, and the bench is playing most of the game, we saw our boys play hard for the 4th game in 6 days, and bring the pre-season record to 2-2. like These games are good for one thing: to see what the guys on the 2nd and 3rd units can do with the minutes they are handed, and for this one, they did pretty damn good.
Bosh had his minutes managed again, getting eased back into play. While he was on the floor though, his play from the low post was the best I have seen from him. That conditioning from the hips onwards he talked about from the summer, lets him set AND keep position in the block. A luxury he hasn’t had, ever.
You hear about those games that build character for a team, and I really believe this is one of them. Sans Bosh/Calderon/Hedo/Bargnani contributing anything major, our boys weathered the loss of Weems (the best player in pre-season) and won against a team that will be gunning for us in the regular season. Can’t ask for much more, other then an exciting game.
After losing the most important quarter (3rd) of the game, the Raptors held it together and won the 4th 30-11 locking up the game. Sure it was the 2nd/3rd unit, but they done-did-right. Amir Johnson and Patrick O’Bryant used their length and athleticism to change the game on the boards. Thing of beauty. If the toe jam is no big deal, Weems looks more and more like a regular contributor then the 3rd forward off the bench.
Where would we be this pre-season without Sonny Weems? Dude is everything to everyone at every point of the game. Before leaving the game with an injured toe, he crashed the boards hard, went coast to coast and dunked in traffic, came off a screen and stuck a J from the elbow, all while playing defense. Hopefully the toe isn’t serious.
DeMar had his best game by far, playing 36mins and dropping 19pts 3rebs 1blck and a +17. I love this kid, he fills a very real need this franchise has had over the years: a slasher. The fact that he isn’t a great shooter will benefit him in the long run. You can always take 500 jumpers a day and improve that shot, but while that goes down, he can work on attacking that rim. We saw some maturing from the kid today. He wasn’t trying to outjump/outrun folks, but used his athleticism to get him better looks, and attack the basket. He had a putback dunk off a missed shot, a dunk in transition, and grabbed an offensive board for an easy layup.
So I ate a big heaping serving of crow when I called Johnson inconsistent. He got at the whole time he was in the game, and really changed the flow in the 4th. 12rebs 3blks 5pfs in 23mins. That’s what you call getting at it. Oh, he chipped in 7pts and two monstrous dunks, one a put-back off a missed free throw that took 3 years off Flip Saunders life. The kid just needs to work on his fouls, but in doing so, he might not be as affective on the boards and on defense. The left hand and the right.
In what could be considered a turning of the guard, and a validation of one of a few astute people have mentioned previously, Belinelli was the best playmaker of the day. He only dropped 3 dimes, but on 3 different occasions that I could remember, he penetrated from the wing position and kicked out to a wide open shooter *cough* Jose *cough* who just missed the shot.
Evans shot a bit more then I would like (every single one of his shots exact the layup he drew a foul on), but he hit the boards and was vocal. Tough dude. Like seeing that.
You can’t win every quarter, but the Raptors almost seemed to lie down in the 3rd. The lack of aggressiveness and really bad decision making continued from the 2nd quarter, but got worse. Jose had his only good couple of plays at the end of the 3rd when he was moved to off-guard. He drove the ball to the hoop and hit a trey in two straight possessions.
Calderon…I know he is getting back into game shape after a full summer off, grabbed more rebounds then he had assists, but he had 12pts on pretty decent shooting 3-4 from the field if you don’t count his performance from beyond the arc (1-4). He did look good as an off-guard at the end of the 3rd. I worry about him long term if it turns out that Belinelli can actually run the point, and the Raptors get that play-making we all so desperately want out of Hedo.
Jack could have been a bit more assertive, but you can excuse his ughh…none aggressiveness since he had his hands full with Arenas when Agent Zero started to go off on Calderon. You had to like how he played when teamed up with JC at the point. Am really interested to see that dynamic during the regular season.
It was a boring game. We saw the Raptors cycle between sharing the ball around the perimeter without creating any meaningful scoring opportunities and holding on to the ball, bringing the entire offense to a screeching halt.
Bosh was badly shown up by Jamison who had his way from the tip. We can excuse him seeing as he has been injured the and missed training camp, but we would have liked to see him get a bit better from the last outing, which was a pretty good 1st showing. Fortunately, this wont continue, and Bosh will get bounce back…hopefully.
Finally, my X-Factor for the year, Bargnani, had a terrible showing. Sure he grabbed 5 rebounds, and he looked pretty decent early in the 1st quarter when attacking the rim, but he just plain disappeared. If I didn’t look at the boxscore, I would have guessed he played no more then 10 minutes (he played 25).
Keys to the Game
What stood out for me the most, and got me super excited was how the Raptors won this game:
- The Raptors out-rebounded Washington 49-41 (13-10 on the offensive boards). The bench contributed 27, with Johnson and Evans grabbing 12 and 7 respectively.
- 90% (36-40) shooting from the line. That’s how you put points on the board when your jumpers aren’t falling.
- Sonny Weems started it from the wing 4pts 6rebs 1ast in the 1st quarter, and DeRozan finished it in the 4th. How much have we missed that slashing wing play?
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