There were times when the Raptors competed better, but it was produced by the team’s bench, which nearly came back from a 22-point second-half hole.
So bad were the Raptors in making stops that Triano had no option but to go with a zone defence for most of the fourth quarter.
And so desperate were the Raptors that a unit featuring not a single American-born player was on the floor.
Peja Stojakovic even took a turn at playing power forward when the Raptors went small.
Beginning on Sunday, when the Atlanta Hawks visit the ACC, Triano is set to throw all kinds of different looks, depending on matchups and game situations.
After Johnson, there’s Joey Dorsey, an unproven power forward whose offence is very limited and is foul-prone.
There’s no real backup at centre behind Andrea Bargnani.
Stojakovic can fill in at power forward as could Linas Kleiza, but neither is built to handle legitimate power players.
What might happen is for the Raptors to go the unorthodox route and try to basically beat teams by running.
We do know that rebounding will be an issue, especially if Johnson picks up too many careless fouls, which he has done in the past.
“I’m ready for anything,” Johnson said.
Get ready for life without Evans.
Jay Triano couldn’t find the right description but everything he said about Reggie Evans was couched in the worst possible terms.
The menacing Raptors rebounder, the veteran who was emerging as a leader of a young team, had left the TD Garden on crutches and no one knows when he’ll be off them after he injured his right foot in Toronto’s 110-101 loss to the Boston Celtics.
“It’s broken, a fracture, a break, I don’t know,” a downcast Triano said. “X-rays were positive, I have no idea of timeline or anything else.”
Evans, who averages nearly 12 rebounds a night and is by far Toronto’s most effective player on the boards, was injured with about six minutes left in the third quarter and hobbled to the bench.
He had the x-rays in the arena and got the bad news there, departing for the team bus on crutches before the post-game media session began. He missed 50 games last season with an injury to his other foot but was among Toronto’s best players before Friday’s mishap.“He went up for a rebound and I guess he came down funny on it and felt something and knew he was in trouble,” said Triano.
Already relatively thin up front, the Raptors are likely to move Amir Johnson into Evans’s starting role and ask the recently acquired Peja Stojakovic to play some power forward after spending his entire career as a small forward.
“Joey Dorsey’s been working hard and he’s going to have a chance to play,” said Triano. “We talked about trying to find minutes for Peja and we’re going to have to use that, Amir Johnson can slide over into a starting role which has happened in the past for us.
“I feel bad for Reggie because he’s been playing very well but as a team we have guys who are ready to fill in for him.”
Johnson, while an energetic sort and a solid contributor at times, will now be asked to log longer minutes and stay out of foul trouble while trying to replicate some of the things Evans brings.
“Of course his hustle, his rebounds and his hard play,” Johnson said of what they’ll lose in Evans’s absence. “But when he comes out, we can’t put our heads down, we’ve just got to keep on playing and bring it up another notch.”
The call from Serbia came before news of the trade broke in North America. Vlade Divac usually tries not to bug his friend Peja Stojakovic during the NBA season, but when life-changing events happen, he picks up the phone.
“I immediately called him and we talked. I have so many friends in Toronto and I told him if he needed help to get adjusted up there, he can always talk to those people,” the retired NBA star and FIBA Hall of Famer said in an interview from Belgrade.
Peja Stojakovic (5-7 FGM-A, 13 points, three 3-pointers) received twice as many minutes as in his debut on Wednesday and his dead eye shooting helped a unique lineup nearly storm back in the fourth quarter.
It could be a sign of things to come for Stojakovic as head coach Jay Triano said the forward will likely see an increase in minutes following the injury to Reggie Evans (more on that below).
- Kevin Garnett posted a season-high 26 points to go along with 11 rebounds. I lost track of the number of alley-oops he connected on with Rajon Rondo.
- Ray Allen added 17 points (three three-pointers in the first quarter), Paul Pierce chipped in with 18, and Glen Davis poured in 18 off the bench (8-16 from the floor). Does anyone else think Davis might be taking a few too many jumpers?
- Toronto’s bench stole the show, as four players combined for 63 points, compared to just 38 points for the starters. The Raptors’ bench brigade scored the majority of the team’s 34 fourth quarter points. I’m sure Doc Rivers won’t be happy with that number.
Kevin Garnett didn’t sleep much on Thursday night. He had spent his Thanksgiving ruefully looking back on a loss earlier this week to the Toronto Raptors, and he was anxiously awaiting a chance to get revenge.
Thanks to the schedule gods, he got that chance Friday night at the TD Garden, and he made the most of it. The Big Ticket was big to the tune of 26 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and an assist, and he carried the Celtics to 110-101 victory over the visiting Raptors.
Garnett and the Celtics went north of the border over the weekend, and their motivation must have been confiscated by customs officials at the Toronto airport. Sometime this week, they got it back.
"I was motivated in more than one way tonight," Garnett said after Friday’s victory. "We needed this win. I think we looked at the loss up there as one that we gave away, and that stuck with us all the way into tonight."
North of the border, Garnett got lit up by Raptors star Andrea Bargnani for 29 points; KG himself was more tentative offensively and settled for just 12. That matchup decided the game. So the Celtics’ forward decided to get even on Friday, holding the Raps’ former No. 1 pick to 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
"Kevin’s energy tonight was off the charts," coach Doc Rivers said. "And you knew it would be if you know Kevin, because the last time we played them, the guy in his position had a pretty good game. That’s just Kevin Garnett."
Last Sunday, Amir Johnson came off the bench to collect 17 points and 11 rebounds for Toronto and angered Garnett even more by talking trash. Garnett is one of the league’s most notorious trash talkers, but in his opinion Johnson hasn’t done enough in the NBA to speak up.
“A lot of young cats,” Shaquille O’Neal said, “disrespect the legends out there. Amir scored and he had a good game last time so he was actually talking like he was a player and Kevin took that personal as he should.”
Toronto center Andrea Bargnani scored 29 points last Sunday, but Garnett helped limit him to 4 of 13 shooting and 11 points last night.
“Doc wasn’t very happy with the Bargnani situation up there,” Garnett said, “and I wasn’t really pleased with that either. Tonight was a concentrated effort to make sure I kept him under control. It doesn’t take much to motivate me. I didn’t get much sleep last (Thursday) night.”
The C’s got plenty of help from the Raptor defenders in their high-scoring first quarter endeavors. The only guy who provided much help defense underneath was DeMar DeRozan, which would have been great except he was supposed to be guarding Ray Allen twenty feet away on the wing. The result of this was that Allen dropped three bombs in the first four minutes and no civilians survived. Everything combined to stake the C’s to a 31-20 lead at the quarter’s end.
Then the Raptors bench guys came in and started to regulate. Jerryd Bayless and Leandro Barbosa were way better than Calderon and DeRozan tonight (they might be any night) and Amir Johnson had another decent game. A bunch of dumb early fouls from the C’s bench guys helped them close the lead to 3 halfway through the quarter, and it was only 6 at the half.
In the second half, the first half essentially repeated itself. The Celtics starters opened things with a huge run with crisp ball movement and transition buckets (except Ray got the assists off the extra pass instead of Rondo). Then some bench guys came in, more dumb fouls, a few turnovers, no protection against the three, and the Raptors came within eight before the starters came back to close it out.