DeMar DeRozan was the only source of consistent offence the Raptors had to offer all night, finishing with 27, which was a nice follow to the career high 37 he threw up in Houston, but no where near enough when he was the only Raptor who seemed to possess any touch at all.
“We missed a lot of chippies,” DeRozan said. “Sometimes that happens. Sometimes it doesn’t bounce your way but you got to keep playing.”
While DeRozan made good on 11 of his 25 attempts, the trio of Linas Kleiza, Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa were a combined 9-for-38. The Celtics would have had to shoot well below the 54% they did from the field for the Raptors to have had any chance with that kind of production.
It’s not like the Raptors were going to bail themselves out with a healthy dose of three-pointers either. From that distance, the Raptors went 1-for-14 to extend their NBA-best streak of games with at least one successful three to 975.
“Our guys who shoot the best didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight,” head coach Jay Triano said afterwards. “For Linas and Leandro and Jose to have three field goals each, we need to have more from those guys, but I thought they played extremely hard. It was one of those finesse things where we just didn’t capitalize.”
Joey Dorsey, who is in the lineup for his size, strength and rebounding was the second most productive Raptor with 13 points.
The lack of shooting touch turned out to be a double whammy for the Raptors, who seemed to get far fewer calls from the officials than they normally would.
Home sweet home didn’t change anything for the Raptors.
They were still the same banged-up, injury-riddled team they were on a three-game post Christmas trip.
Worse, the visiting Boston Celtics arrived in Toronto expecting to be without both starting point guard Rajon Rondo and power forward Kevin Garnett.
At least that would have evened things up a little, until Rondo and the Celtics decided seven games without its starting point guard was more than enough and activated the key to the Celtics offence to start.
Rondo’s return saw see him play for the first time since Dec. 15. He had been out with a sprained left ankle. He led the NBA in assists with 13.8 per game heading into Sunday night’s game.
For the Raptors, Jose Calderon was able to play as he did in Houston on Friday, but still out were his backup Jerryd Bayless, starting small forward Sonny Weems, Reggie Evans and Andrea Bargnani.
To their credit, the Raptors hung around for quite a while and were down five with just over four minutes to go. But that’s when the stars came out for the Celtics.
After two missed free throws by Joey Dorsey that would have put the Raptors within three, Boston’s Paul Pierce snaked his way through a gaggle of defenders and threw down a thunderous dunk. Following a DeMar DeRozan miss — Shaquille O’Neal was credited with a blocked shot — Ray Allen got loose and nailed a three-pointer. After a Jose Calderon miss and a Dorsey foul, Allen got in the lane and hit a pretty little 12-foot jumper.
All of a sudden, it’s 12-point Boston lead and all over but the shouting.
Yes, the officiating was spotty and the Raptors certainly didn’t get the benefit of the whistle, especially DeRozan, who probably could have been at the line half a dozen more times than he was.
But does that simply come with time? And consistently attacking the rim so that refs are, well, more aware?
Probably and that’s dead wrong but it’s also part of the game. A bad part.
But one thing that was good about last night is that DeRozan didn’t spend seconds after every non-call whining about it. He picked himself up and got back on defence, which was good to see.
And the kid sounded pretty grown up after the game about learning how to handle himself.
“Just keep your mouth shut and don’t say nothing to them. Just build a relationship with them and at the end of the day, that goes a long way.”
Toronto was without Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf), Jerryd Bayless (left ankle sprain), Peja Stojakovic (left knee), Reggie Evans (broken right foot) and Sonny Weems (back spasms). For Bargnani, it was his forth missed game in a row and sixth in his past eight games.
On the bright side, Raptors head coach Jay Triano said, his young reserves were getting more minutes, helping in their development.
Joey Dorsey contributed 13 points and 13 rebounds. (He’s averaged five rebounds and four points this season.) But shooting guards Linas Kleiza (seven points) and Leandro Barbosa (eight points) were disappointments, Triano said, as was the team’s 45.5-per-cent shooting at the free-throw line.
DeMar DeRozan, who was coming off a career-high 37-point game against the Houston Rockets, finished with 27 points. Triano suggested DeRozan may have had more if more of the referees’ calls had gone his way.
Shaquille O’Neal, however, would hear none of it.
“That’s the way it is,” he said. “[Triano] can cry a little more next time.”
On the surface, there was not much to complain about. The Raptors shot 22 free throws; the Celtics shot 19. That the Raptors made just 10 of those attempts was the far larger problem.
Triano, however, had his rage working overtime right from the start of the Raptors’ first game of 2011. His on-court frustration curses were prolific, his sighs especially pained. Each time a Raptor went into traffic and did not get a call, there was a reaction from the coach.
When TSN’s James Cybulski picked up the politics comment with an assertion that the veteran-laden Celtics might get the favour of the whistle more than the anonymous Raptors, Triano responded, “Thank you. I didn’t have to say it.”
DeMar DeRozan shot eight free throws, a game high he shared with teammate Joey Dorsey and Boston’s Paul Pierce. DeRozan had 27 points (although it took 25 field-goal attempts to get there) a game after he scored a career-high 37 points on Friday in Houston.
“He played OK. He’s being aggressive,” Triano said. “If he keeps playing this hard and taking the ball to the basket, he will soon earn some of the respect that other players in this league have, and the whistle will go in his direction.
“I wish our guys got rewarded a little bit more for the work and the effort that they do. I think they would have got rewarded had they made more shots.”
The defense was again great tonight as the Celtics smarmed the Raptors in the paint. Glen Davis, Jermaine O’Neal and Shaq owned the paint. The bigs blocked shots, rebounded, and doubled perfectly. The perimeter defense was solid with the team keeping their hands up the entire way as they chased down the Raptor shooters. This is the second game without KG the Celtics have held their opponent under 85 points.
The Celtics looked great. They will have the rested, young, and dangerous T-Wolves Monday. Kevin Love is a Beast and Mike Beasley can score as well. This will be a great test for Boston with a young athletic team on the second of a back to back. If the bigs own the middle again and Paul pierce comes out firing, look for Boston to make it two straight. Remember Go Green or Go Home!!!!!!!
Half way through the second quarter, Rondo broke a pair of ankles on his way to giving Paul Pierce a wide open three point make. If you watch the above clip again you’ll see Jose Calderon get embarrassed on Rondo’s initial crossover and then Julian Wright get caught by a head fake into a fake crossover. I don’t think I have ever seen a fake crossover come that far to the other side of a player’s body. Even coming off an ankle injury, Rondo is able to use his speed to blow past his opponents before they can even establish their defensive stances. He is certainly not all the way back but tonight was a good sign.
DeMar DeRozen is becoming a force to be reckoned with, albeit on a weak team. After scoring a career high 37 his last time out, he backed it up with 27 PTS, 6 REBS (three O boards) and 3 STLS. He was the only real threat Toronto posed as Joey Dorsey had 13 PTS (mostly coming off his 7 offensive boards) and Jose Calseron misfired all night going just 3-15 and 0-3 from deep.
- Toronto held the edge in fastbreak points (29-15), points in the paint (42-32), and offensive rebounds (19-2), but it was not enough. As a team, the Raptors shot just 1-14 from three-point nation.
- Some game-changing plays: With 9:24 remaining, Luke Harangody lost the ball, but dove to the floor and punched it out to Nate Robinson, who swung it over to Ray Allen, who buried a three-pointer along the left wing, making it 74-68, Celtics. Also, at the end of the third quarter, Paul Pierce hit a deep three from the right wing off of a Jermaine O’Neal offensive rebound, which he fought valiantly for. O’Neal finished with six points and six rebounds off the bench.
The Raptors continue having a nightmarish season from the free-throw line, shooting just 10-22 tonight. In fact, shooting in general seems to be a challenging task for the Raptors. Tonight, the trio of Jose Calderon, Linas Kleiza, and Leandro Barbosa combined for just 9-of-38 shooting. Adding to that woeful stat, the Raptors shot just 1-of-13 from behind the ark. For those of you who still have any interest; Kleiza’s lone 3-pointer keeps the three-point streak alive.
Up front, Joey Dorsey and Ed Davis both had solid performances. Dorsey grabbed a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds), while Davis grabbed 6 points and 9 rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
I eagerly await the return of Bargnani and Bayless. Hopefully, the young core of the Raptors can form a cohesion sooner rather than later, and that Demar will continue to get his touches even with the return of Bargnani.
I thought (Pierce) and Ray were really struggling because without Rondo they got the ball way out of their spots — never on the spot where we wanted them to get the ball. Rondo has the ability to deliver the ball at the time they’re open, in their spot, and it makes a big difference.
“Down the stretch you could just see the difference in the execution. We ran basically one play and got every option out of that play, and that’s what a point guard does for you. Because he knows everything we run, we were back to running stuff that we had put into hibernation while he was out.”
Raptors rookie forward Ed Davis has gone mostly unnoticed because he missed the first month recovering from knee surgery (and he plays for Toronto). But he collected his second double-double of the season Tuesday in an upset win over the Mavericks. The Raptors desperately need a boost after losing Chris Bosh to free agency, and Davis could become a standout . . . An intriguing player on the market is Raptors sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic, who has not played since Nov. 26 because of a knee injury but is close to returning. Stojakovic is earning $14 million this season, and the Raptors also have most of the Bosh trade exception to facilitate a deal . . .
Triano said before the game that, if there is a positive side to being snake bit with injuries, it gives some of the young players a chance for big minutes and a chance to step up.
Joey Dorsey has certainly fit that bill.
Starting his fourth straight game for the injured Andrea Bargnani, the third-year NBAer set career highs in minutes (37), points (13) and tied a career high in rebounds (13), while doing a impressive job in guarding the 7-1, 325-pound Shaq. He also had two steals and seven offensive boards. It’s a good thing that Dorsey, who goes
6-foot-8, 268, is built like an NFL linebacker. Shaq managed seven points and six boards, and picked up four fouls, in 24 minutes.
“Three minutes into the first quarter I was tired,” said Dorsey, with a laugh, when asked about guarding the man-mountain Shaq.
Still, it certainly wasn’t a one-side battle. Dorsey gave it as good as he got, against Shaq and the Big Baby, the 289-pound Glen Davis. With just over a minute left in the game, Dorsey sent Davis and Celtics guard Rajon Rondo crashing to the court with a hard foul.
“It feels good,” said Dorsey, when asked about getting some major minutes. “I know Andrea’s ready to come back, so I have to keep on trying to produce. Every time they put me on the floor I’m going to try to showcase what I can do.”
The one part of Dorsey’s game that let him down was his free-throw shooting, as he went 3-for-8 from the line.
Am I the only one who is starting to get a little excited about the future of this ball club? True, there is no Lebron James type or a John Wall that you can hope becomes an NBA superstar, but these kids are really starting to mature into fine NBA players.
Demar Derozan has elevate his game to another level recently and looks like he may finally explode into the player many hoped he was going to be. Ed Davis is looking like a bona fide gem and Amir Johnson has played with increasing maturity. If Amir stays on the floor, he has a good game almost every time.
This season has certainly had its bleak moments, but there is definitely something to be hopeful about as the new year arrives.
- Wily vets Pierce, Allen show how it’s done
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