As a bonus, you can read this post in ugly Comic Sans.

Raptors 120, Cavaliers 105 – Box

If beating the Mavericks wasn’t enough, the Raptors pulled off another win on a back-to-back, this time against a much less impressive opponent in the Cavaliers. Matt Devlin called it in favor of the Raptors right before tip-off it and he was looking quite the tool when the Raptors were down 34-19 late in the first quarter. Matt Devlin called it in favor of the Raptors right before tip-off it and he was looking quite the tool when they were down 34-19 late in the first quarter. Things were going south on defense at every position and it appeared that win-starved Cleveland was up for this one, and they would have had a crack at it if it weren’t for Triano swapping out the defensively ineffective DeRozan and Kleiza in favor of Barbosa and Wright. Andrea Bargnani obliged by taking care of Leon Powe and Ryan Hollins, and in a reversal of trends, the Raptors had a 40-25 second quarter which provided enough momentum to carry them through the game. Rather easily.

Matt Devlin later described the game as an “unbelievable comeback”, not sure I agree that but I’ll let it pass since he called it before the tip and didn’t appear shaken when down 34-19. A couple of concerns jumped out early at you, one of them being dribble penetration which was a big problem against Chicago. Against the Bulls it was excusable with Derrick Rose being there, but when Daniel Gibson and Mo Williams get into the paint that easily, questions have to be asked of your defensive technique. By “your” I mean DeMar DeRozan and to a slightly lesser degree, Linas Kleiza who had trouble with some guy named Alonzo Gee. Andrea Bargnani gets a lot of criticism dished out at him for being an awful defender and all that might be true, but DeRozan is just as bad, if not worse. I’ve rarely seen a starting shooting guard get beat on a high-screen after he goes “under” the screen, and it happens to DeRozan consistently. Poor perimeter defensive play led to pressure being put on an unfit Amir Johnson who was already trying to deal with Antawn Jamison – things weren’t looking good.

The offense was sputtering with Andrea Bargnani’s touches coming randomly and without an accompanying plan, so it was left for Jose Calderon to make something out of possessions and to his credit, he was solid all night long. Kudos to Triano for recognizing the two weak links on defense (not Bargnani, pretty adequate again and even took a charge) and subbing them out in favor of Julian Wright and Leandro Barbosa. How much it was a response things or how much of it was just the normal substitions taking place isn’t quite known, what is know is that it worked. Leandro Barbosa had his good streak going and just like he’s done numerous times, he supplied timely offense that was much-needed – 14 points in the first half. His offense was contagious to Andrea Bargnani (14 points in the second quarter) who had three straight scores to open the second frame to shave the Cleveland lead down to five. He pwn3d Leon Powe twice so Byron Scott put Ryan Hollins on him, after Hollins got had, Scott called a timeout, presumably to check whether any other NBA jobs were available.

The man of the second quarter had to be Kansas-product Julian Wright (+32 for the game!), check out his first half line in 13 minutes: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and buckets of defense. I swear I had him confused for Oscar Robertson. He embodies what a 15-minute role player should be and if I had the power, I would get a chainsaw, cut Wright’s body into 14 pieces and then find me some surgical equipment to insert those 14 pieces into every other Raptors player. If there’s any pieces left, I would clone them, grow them into more Julian Wrights, cryogenically freeze them and then sell them on eBay.

Cleveland’s early lead was entirely due to the Raptors bad perimeter defense which allowed them to shoot 67% in the first quarter. As we know, it’s hard to shoot 67% for the whole game and the Cavaliers happen to have the second worst offense in the league (Bucks). It was not going to last and if the Raptors kept on shooting at their 48% clip, things would turn out just fine, as they did. Not to mention that they had 10 fastbreak points in the first quarter, most of them off Raptors turnovers. It was going to be hard for them to keep up that act up because they also happen to be 25th in the league in defense.

Two guys I’d like to single out for props:

Amir Johnson: He’s obviously in pain and is playing through it. Antawn Jamison was torching him by taking him outside and Andersen Varejao was causing the Raptors trouble with his interior defense but Johnson did not relent, he went right at Varejao a couple times for scores, didn’t back down in the paint and even dove for the ball (ill-advised given his condition). He is showing things that make you believe that if he’s able to find a consistent form, he can be the leader of this team. We know that’s not Bargnani’s cup of tea, DeRozan doesn’t appear to be the vocal type, Weems is turning out to be a fraud, Calderon isn’t here long-term, which perfectly paves the way for Johnson to assume the quiet leadership role. I know, 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 fouls doesn’t jump out at you, but his presence in the first half was key. There aren’t many power forwards who can cope with Jamison on the perimeter so I’ll excuse Johnson for that.

Jose Calderon: Let’s check out the good ‘ol assist distribution which went nicely with 8-10 shooting and 20 points:

By player:

Bargnani 4
Johnson 3
DeRozan 3
Barbosa 3
Wright 2
Kleiza 1
Davis 1

By quarter:

1Q: 4
2Q: 4
3Q: 3
4Q: 6

Steady captain that guides the ship through the rough seas. Too much? Probably. How about: A shepherd tending to his young flock. Too serene? Let’s go with: A camp counselor making sure everybody crosses the street safely.

Whatever metaphor you go with, Calderon is the glue that makes this team function on the rare occasions it does. He was killing Gibson and Sessions on the high pick ‘n roll, was getting his nose dirty on defense (2 steals) and spurring his teammates to get ahead so he can deliver the ball. Barbosa was his beneficiary when this game was still in relative doubt and late on, when matters had been settled, DeRozan was spoon fed a couple times. Speaking of the USC grad, his scoreline looks a little more respectable (13 pts, 6-15 FG) thanks to his fourth quarter burst, but I was expecting more last night because he actually had a physical advantage at his position. He couldn’t translate that into scores in the first half despite getting to the rim, his poor finishing letting him down.

Ed Davis (a tidy 8 pts, 7 reb) stepped it up in the second half with Johnson’s time being limited, he didn’t look out of place and ran a couple good instances of the two-man game with Barbosa and Calderon. It’s too bad we didn’t see him go up against J.J Hickson (healthy scratch, pissed off Byron Scott). By the time the fourth rolled around, Antawn Jamison had cooled off, Gibson couldn’t care less, and Mo Williams was seen talking to his agent wondering if any team was looking for the services of an under-sized and over-paid defensive liability. It was only a 6 point game at 90-84 when at the start of the fourth, Ed Davis fought for an offensive rebound for a dunk, and then ran a two-man play with Calderon to make it a 10 point game. Really, that was it as the Raptors went up by as much as 19 before winning by 15.

Raps beat the worst in the east, up next it’s the best: The C**tics. Check out this description of the Boston accent:

The Boston Accent is not just an accent, it’s a lifestyle. Everyone in New England who speaks with varying degrees of this “No R” accent has a swagger about them, because they know they’re better than people from other parts of the US. We all live the No R Lifestyle.

Honestly, that entire town is full of sh*t. And I saw “The Town” the other day which is based in Charlestown (part of Boston) and it sucked. The movie sucked, the people in it sucked, the places sucked and Ben Affleck sucked. From Bill Belichick to Aerosmith, they all suck.

  • EuroPussy

    For the first time, i cannot blame the coach. :-) Triano did yesterday a very good job. This is not the same team if Calderon plays. Matchwinner: Wright, Calderon, Bargs. Looser: Kleiza and finally DeRozan. Just my opinion, of course.

  • yertu damkule

    i know saying anything positive about DD at this point is open for riducule. as much as i want to see greater/faster progression on the defensive end, i’m trying to be patient, for all the reasons mentioned here & elsewhere (age, lack of ‘real’ experience, trying to discover an offensive game while checking – usually – an opposition’s top-3 offensive player, yada yada). doesn’t excuse his lapses or poor/inconsistent effort.

    from an offensive standpoint…i really hate being one of those guys who complains about officiating, but what happened over the last few games? was the 37 pt (& 15 trips to the line) game an abberation in term of officiating? we all know that officials ‘scout’ players & call the game accordingly, and the report on DD is that he goes into the paint looking to draw contact/fouls vs. actually trying to finish (and so refs are less prone to give him the benefit of the doubt), but there were – what? – half-a-dozen forays into the paint where he drew legit contact & were cases where a foul would be called for 85% of SGs in the L? seems fairly obvious that the refs are making a concerted effort to not make those calls, at least for him. i have zero problem with him looking to drive, since it’s the only way he’s going to learn how to finish with contact & improve his handle…and i wonder how we’d be viewing his game if he’d simply gotten 2 or 3 calls in his favour on some of those drives that ended up as missed FGAs/TOs?

    • voy

      as long as we see progression in aspects of DD’s game is all I care about for now. His defence may be just progressing at a slower rate. I like the toughness the kid has been showing of late – ie after he got mugged by Pierce, in the boston game, he came back, I think in the very next possession, and completed a difficult +1; and in yesterday’s game, that knock in the head didn’t discourage an aggressive style of play (in fact, it seemed to wake him up as previous to that he seemed invisible).

      I’m not a huge fan of DD, but the kid is young, the raps aren’t going anywhere in 2-3 years, in my opinion we need to be patient and see if the kid continues to develop his game.

    • barenakedman

      Everyone goes into the paint looking to draw contact and it’s ridiculous to penalize a young player when you would give the call to everyone else.
      Is it really true that officials call the game according to a scouting report? I don’t know much about officiating in the NBA but if you’re calling it based on who is involved in the play and not just the play, it opens up too many opportunities for the refs to change the outcome of a game instead of having the players decide it.

  • yertu damkule

    oh, and since i’ve officially been classified as a bargs hater, i should mention that he played a pretty good overall game…still seems to be getting his legs back, but that’s to be expected; was nice to see him remain engaged in all facets of the game.

    • cesco

      The main reason Andrea played what you call a ‘good overall game’ was because he played a lot with two perimeter players that are good defenders (Barbosa and Wright) . DD and Kleiza cannot provide that defense .

      • sleepz

        I’ll bite.

        So if Barbosa and Wright are playing the wing then the perimeter is locked up and Andrea doesn’t look like a poor defender right?

        Quick note. I think we would all agree that the Celts or Spurs are good defensive teams? Do you see these teams locking down the perimeter penetration every possession? They don’t. The bigs rotate and help like they are supposed to. Do you think Pierce and Allen prevent all wing penetration to the rim? They are certainly better than what the Raps have to offer but the bigs on that team collapse, help, rotate and it works in unison with the wings and where they steer opposing players.

        Nothing wrong if you are a Bargnani fan (which clearly you are) but Andrea’s defensive woes are not solely on his teammates backs. If this was the case we would be seeing and saying the EXACT same thing about Amir who plays with the EXACT same wing players…..but we don’t. Andrea’s a big boy now. Being responsible for your actions is better than lame excuses.

        • Nilanka15

          But, but, but….Reggie keeps stealing his rebounds.

          • Giolondon999

            Always an idiot! Actually is Bargs who leaves easy rebounds to his fellow teammates …stats are for losers !

        • Alucart999

          Meh, there’s also the secondary help, and by that I mean the guy who’s suppose to hedge towards the helper’s check so that he’s not left out to dry.

          The Raptors are bad because failure on the defensive end happens on many different levels. It’s the perimeter defenders letting their checks go unimpeded to the basket. It’s the help defenders failing to provide enough cover for the primary defender to recover. It’s the other players for standing around thinking that they don’t have to play any defence because their checks are on the perimeter. There’s a lot of blame to go around. But at least this year we’re not on pace to be one of the most defensively inefficient teams in NBA regular season history.

          • cesco

            +1000

            • sleepz

              Lol. Nice jump on the next mans bandwagon.

              I agree with Alucart, there are many breakdowns but that doesn’t erase what you were saying.

    • albertan_10

      Agreed. I know I saw him get two blocks last night too so he was active at the rim. It was a good effort from him!

      • RapthoseLeafs

        .
        Yeah … what’s with the Official Scorers. They seem to miss counting blocks – too often for my liking.
        .

    • RapthoseLeafs

      .
      Barg h@ters (I’m breaking my New Years’ resolution – wtf), have a hard time saying “he played a pretty good overall game” – so that means you’re excused yertu. Plus it takes a lot more to get to that level of anger and bias, in order to generate stupid responses/sarcasm with statements like “Reggie keeps stealing his rebounds”.
      .

      • cesco

        +1000

      • Nilanka15

        .
        Why do you use periods to separate paragraphs? Is it an attempt at highlighting your own posts?
        .

        • RapthoseLeafs

          .
          .
          It’s cleaner.
          .
          .
          .

      • sleepz

        They shouldn’t. If he has a good game he has a good game, there should be no ‘hatred’ as you refered to. I’m not sure if it’s hatred or criticism but thats another debate.

        Bargnani worshippers (not referring to you specifically) often cannot bear to fathom a response, observation or comment that might not shed Andrea in the glowing light they see him in, on the flipside. It often seems to me like a fair amount of the ‘hatred’ (personal attacks and insults with little basketball reference) semingly comes from defence of these critiques.

      • Statement

        I know for me, I don’t dislike Andrea as a person. I just don’t happen to like his game. That said, I was in the comments section after the game yesterday giving him his due praise.

        What I don’t like is the people who take any Bargs criticism as a personal attack and resort to name calling. That is weak-sauce and sometimes I fire back with name calling because I just get pissed off.

        I’ve just resigned myself to ignoring comments made by people who I feel can’t express what they want to say without adding a personal insult.

  • sangaman

    Starting line-up when reggie gets back
    Reggie-Amir-Bargs-Wright-Calderon

    Defense and grit to match the celts-and wright can score and pass as well.

    • yertu damkule

      i’m all for adding grit/intensity to the starting 5, but one of reggie, amir or bargs would have to guard the opposing team’s 3, and i’m not sure either of them can (read: none of them can).

      i wouldn’t read too much into wright’s game from an offensive standpoint – a starting 2 needs to provide a certain level of offense, and i just don’t see that from him (cue the ‘he’s no worse than DD, and waaay better defensively’ remarks); i would actually like to see wright either start or get heavier minutes, but at the expense of kleiza (not DD). and as much as i appreciate reggie’s rebounding & hustle, he’s still an average defender (at best), and abysmal offensively…so if you’re starting wright, i think you need more offense from the other positions (not less), meaning amir (a highly efficient offensive player) should get the nod at the 4. in fact, i’m not sure why there’s so much love for reggie, who does one thing well (and that one thing – rebounding – is made to look even better playing beside bargs)…dorsey gives them generally the same overall impact, isn’t as bad offensively, and is a better defender.

      • voy

        I’m not sure you need both Reggie and Dorsey on the same team. I’m assuming Dorsey is a ton cheaper. And while I’m on this point, I dont even know if you need Barbosa and Bayless on the same team.

        • Nilanka15

          Agreed. I remember a prior post suggesting a lot of redundancy on this roster:

          Dorsey/Evans
          Barbosa/Bayless
          Amir/Davis
          DeRozan/Weems
          Kleiza/Peja

          In my opinion, it’s the main reason why Triano has been unable to find a consistent rotation (aside from when decimated by injuries).

        • yertu damkule

          i’m quite sure you don’t need both. in fact, i’m pressing for reasons why you ‘need’ either…dorsey’s a ‘nice to have, just in case’ kind of player, and reggie is a nice asset (expiring contract who could definitely help a chip-calibre team in limited minutes).

          • RapthoseLeafs

            .
            Reggie will be moving his talent to South ………..
            .

      • sangaman

        Raps were much closer to 500 with Reggie, and his defense is better that stats suggest–He scares people–physical play doesnt show up in stats–like body punches. Dorsey is not as mean..but is a good understudy. Wright can shoot and his defense warrants a starting role..because the raps problem is their abysmal perimeter D.

        • Ihatehaters

          …Wait… are you saying that body punches show up in stats?… or that they don’t?…

        • yertu damkule

          actually, one of the raptors biggest problems from the offensive side is their lack of deep shooting. putting wright in the starting lineup &/or giving him a significant bump in minutes (something i have no problem with, if he’s replacing the right guy) would not necessarily help in that regard…though you could argue that his improved D, rebounding & – at times – playmaking ability at the 3 may lead to easier (read: transition) hoops, and that could offset his limited offensive skillset. but let’s not cream in our dockers over one game, or a small sampling of games.

          oh, saying somebody ‘can shoot’ doesn’t mean much. i ‘can drive,’ but it’s unlikely i’ll be racing in the indy500 anytime soon. wright ‘can’ shoot, in that he’s physically on the floor, and is often presented with an opportunity to do. it doesn’t mean that he’ll make those shots, especially if they’re from any kind of distance – it’s why he’s working on what may be his last shot to prove he belongs in the L. and not having something of an offensive threat at a critical position (wing) makes life for the defense easier – frees up a man to help/float or double on the few offensive threats they do have.

          • RapthoseLeafs

            .
            If Wright plays the Starting SF spot, then Demar has to develop a perimeter shot – at some point in time. Currently, DeRozan’s the worse 3 pt shooter amongst NBA Shooting Guards (.091). As such, a combo of Demar & Wright on the Court, would have to be kept to a minimum.
            .

    • WJF

      That is a bad lineup, only two guys with a jump shot and zero guys who can create their own shots….who plays and guards the wing?

  • Daniel

    Why wouldn’t Jose part of our future plans? He is our only truly elite player: 4th in Assists/48 after Rondo, Nash and CP3, 2nd in TO/As after CP3, 8th in 3-point FG%, average defensively. And he’s not even healthy. PG’s last longer than bigs. Almost everyone else replacing him would be inferior to him. He knows our system, he’s always been a team player and he loves Toronto: why exactly he should not be part of our future plans? If he wants to play for a contender and asks for a trade then I’d understand.

    • Ol’ Dirty Raptor

      don’t agree with “elite” (which really should be reserved for players like nash, cp3, d-will, etc.), but i agree that jose is the heart and soul of this team, and if you can keep him around on a cheaper contract when this one’s done then do it.

      of course, it comes down to what other teams are willing to offer for his services, but i think it’s pretty clear from seeing the games where he’s missed (small sample size and bayless injury be damned) that this team is completely lost without him running the offense, and we don’t become any noticeably get any better on defense (traditionally the area his detractors will run to) when he’s off the floor. if BC and Triano are still around (let’s face it, it looks like they will be), than Jose’s knowledge of the “system” are extremely valuable.

      • albertan_10

        the description up there puts him pretty close to “elite”. How can you be 4th in assists/48 min and 2nd in TO/Assists and be surrounded by those guys to not be considered elite. that’s his job and he is ranking up there with the best of them.

        I bet you Jordan kicks himself every day for not making that trade

    • c_bcm

      Agreed, beyond the Nth-power. This guy is our warrior. Calderon’s commitment to this team is reminiscent of what Mo-Pete used to be. A Raptor through-and-through. You can’t tell me that trading Calderon would be able to net us anything useful in return. The failed trade this summer was our only hope of gettign better without him. And given that JJ is laying some eggs in NO, i’m not sure we would’ve been half as competitive.

      Jose is the perfect veteran to teach our impetuous youth how to play team basketball. He’s a great role model and should be the face of this franchise. He’s not flashy, he’s not quick, but the guy is a leader and has been since day 1.

      • Statement

        The trade for Jose was an attempt at a salary dump, I think.

        Otherwise, I continue to be baffled by Colangelo’s player evaluation methods.

        • Statement

          To clarify, the attempted Jose trade to Charlotte.

          • Statement

            BTW, Colangelo dumping the defensive problems of the team on Jose (while lavishing praise on Golden Boy Bargnani) in the off-season is just poor character.

            • sleepz

              Do you say that based on the attempted trade of Calderon and not Bargnani or is it something that Colangelo has said?

              • Statement

                It is something that Colangelo has said regarding Jose and his defensive struggles and by the same token not fully acknowledging Andreas. Last year’s end of season press conference, Colangelo acknowledged that Andrea’s help defense wasn’t the best in the world but that he was improving. I over-extended myself there, has hasn’t explicitly lavished praise on Bargnani. That was a mistake on my part. He did however, basically threw Jose under the bus regarding his defensive play last year.

                • yertu damkule

                  BC hasn’t lavished praise on bargs for his D, but in a roundabout way, he’s condoned his (bargs’) lack of improvement in that area.

                • Statement

                  Yertu,

                  I totally agree with that. Good job clarifying the point (no sarcasm).

                • cesco

                  Then we have to blame BC comment about Jose for MJ changing his mind on the trade.

                • Statement

                  We could I guess, yes.

                • RapthoseLeafs

                  [ “Then we have to blame BC comment about Jose for MJ changing his mind on the trade.” ]

                  MJ is already doing that on his own.

                  Charlotte went from a .536 regular season team, to a superb 12 & 21 (.364). Jordan may have been the greatest player (or close to it), but as someone in power (and control), he scores an E.
                  .

    • tom

      I also wouldn’t call Jose elite, but when healthy this year he’s been surprisingly quick on D, and ultra-efficient on O. That makes him comfortably above average in my book.

      Not sure why everybody wants to trade him for any warm body with a shorter contract (eg Bibby); why not just let him expire, re-sign a low value veterans contract and retire as a Raptor? Do we really need the cap space in the next 2.5 years?

      • Alucart999

        Everybody wants to trade him for a warm body because they’re afraid he’s going to look like Ole Jose once one of his hamstrings goes down again, so you might as well get something for him while he’s looking healthy.

        The other side of the argument is that if he can stay healthy, he could be a pretty good mentor for this very young team, making sure that the youngsters adopt a share the ball style that is complemented by his steady playmaking.

        Make no mistake about it though – Calderon is not part of a future Raptors team that contends, at best, in 3 to 4 years time.

  • Miles Boyer

    A few observations going forward – Julian Wright should be shown more confidence and commitment – he’s the perfect complimentary piece and should get consistent playing time, not just every few games when Triano’s searching for defensive answers. The season at this point should be all about development and that doesn’t just mean playing the young guys. There are a lot of politics and egos involved with a team as well as the subtleties of mixing vets with youth to facilitate proper growth.

    With the current injuries (aside from Bayless), the roster almost works – although there is still probably one too many guys in the mix – for enough PT to give the (W)right guys a chance to play. Calderon needs to play because he’s such a great facilitator, Bargnani obviously (although I wouldn’t hesitate to pull him when he messes up defensively), I love Barbosa just because he can flat out score and that just helps with overall team confidence, watching the ball go in the hoop. DeRozan and Amir of course, Ed Davis could be given a few more minutes, Joey Dorsey as much as I like him, may be the odd man out, other than for injuries or spot minutes. Kleiza should get less minutes at the expense of Wright and because they’ve shown a commitment to Bayless, he needs some minutes (still not sure about his point guard abilities – Julian Wright moves the ball better than him – which means having them on the floor together makes sense).

    That’s a 10 man rotation depending on whether you play Dorsey. Ten is too many, nine is borderline, an eight man rotation means everyone has a chance to get in synch and develop. Now you may be wondering – do Barbosa or Calderon or even Kleiza really need to develop? No, but the former two help others and Kleiza, well he can be valuable every few games and if you didn’t play him, you’d kill his confidence.

    For the most part this is the rotation we’ve seen lately, minus a few injuries for Calderon, Bargs and Bayless. But there have been some inconsistencies like Julian Wright’s minutes and again Ed Davis should be getting more PT. The problem will be when Weems and Reggie come back. I think they’re just going to throw a wrench into this well oiled machine we call the Toronto Raptors (sarcasm for those who think I’m serious).

    To Rap up this post – what I’m saying is that I’m an advocate for not only more PT for Julian Wright but a commitment from the team that he is worth playing, developing and keeping – even though he’ll never be more than a role player, he could be a very good one.

    • Nilanka15

      One thing that’s often forgotten is that Wright is only 23 years old. He provides a skill set that is truly unique (and much needed) to this team. It’s about time management realizes his value, and puts just as much emphasis into developing his game along DeRozan, Amir, Bayless, Davis and the rest of the “youth movement”.

      • RapthoseLeafs

        .
        Yes …. I don’t get why Wright has averaged only 12.2 minutes per game – prior to last night. Either Kleiza is being showcased (whatever!), or Wright has pissed someone off.

        It would be nice if a sports writer initiated a “why ain’t Wright playing more” discussion with Jay (if it already hasn’t happened).
        .

        • Bendit

          Oh puhleez….all the disturbers in press row in this town are on the hockey side. They want to know why Kessel has a jock itch. The bb guys fade away from the tough incisive questions.

  • 511

    As I saw it last night, Julian Wright was the glue that brought everything together on the floor. Barbosa was ‘on’, Amir was near-heroic considering how he played – and has been playing – with the obvious (and usually incapacitating) back-discomfort that many of us, I’m sure, are at least somewhat familiar with, Jose brought his absolute number one game and Bargnani had somewhere around his medium-best going … but it was Julian Wright who had the hustle and smarts that the rest of the team caught on to and then got caught up in.

    Since his first minutes on the floor near the beginning of the season, it was apparent that he had more game than this Raptors fan had been expecting to see, thinking that maybe we were actually seeing some of why he was a first round pick (13th overall) … but as time has gone by, more and more, he just seems to affect the game in good ways, whether they show up in the box scores or not.

    It’s now becoming almost commonplace to see him make at least one Steve Nash-like pass in a game that leaves me looking around to see if anyone else just saw what I did. It’s a rare gift for a player to see the floor like that – the way Nash does – and it seems apparent that he has at least some of it.

    Considering that he’s only twenty-three and that his attitude is (for my money) almost off-the-charts-good and how obviously very smart and cool-headed he is out on the floor … I’m suddenly quite happy about just what it is we could have here. We might’ve lucked into a player who could one day be a very important cog on a good, maybe even a very good, team. We don’t only need to keep him — and after last night’s display, I can’t imagine anyone up top thinking otherwise — but we need to let him grow to as good as he wants to be and can be. ‘Cause I suspect he’s got ceiling above him that he’s got a shot at getting to. He makes players around him better than they normally are … and that’s not something every team has.

    • Pesterm1

      Jwright has been playing well but dont talk him into something he is not. He is can become a solid role player and thats awsome IMO

  • Valit

    couple of points if I may about last night:
    1. We proved we are not the worst team in the league which is an excellent boost for the kids psyche in the future seasons.
    2. We need to play to the strength of the guys we have and hide their defficiencies as much as possible. That means ( most of the times) the 5 best guys should not be automatically on the court at the same time.
    3. There were more than 1 drivers last night but the conductor was without the doubt Calderon.Instead of trading him I would keep him as a mentor for the future PG. He knows the system(s) better than anybody right now. The way I see it, the natural evolution for future PGs is a passing first guy with the speed of D Rose or J. Wall which will make Calderon a perfect mentor. Yes, the contract is pretty bad, his D is shaky and the shots may go or not in but in the next 3-4 years I really dont see anybody spectacular coming our way unless thru draft and that means more teaching and learning.
    4. I dont know why but I dont think Kleiza fits with this team the way they seem to play. I dont know if it is his fault or the management but he truly seems “lost” for many possesions.

  • KJ-B

    MAN ARSE YOU’RE OFFICIALLY A DeROZAN HATER–can’t even give him props for finishing strong when most players in the L, especially young players don’t comeback like that to finish like that–I wonder how much sports some of y’all have actually played round here except for the fantasy variety…

    • Nilanka15

      You’re starting to sound like a fanboy…

      • KJ-B

        @ Least I’m not a fangirl of “Money/No-Time-On-The-Floor-When-He-Gets-Back” Weems…

        • Nilanka15

          Ha, I’m not a Weems fan by any means.

          I just find it strange how you can absolutely love DeRozan, and hate Weems. They’re pretty much mirror images of each other…neither one being worthy of starter’s minutes (based purely on their play so far). It would make as much sense as loving David Robinson, and hating Patrick Ewing. Are their games that different? Unless of course, Weems slept with your girlfriend, and DeMar convinced her to come back to you…then your love/hate would make sense.

          I’m sure if you gave Weems 25 shots, he could score 27 points as well.

          • Pizzaman1

            As bad as Weems has played at times this year, if he could use his brain a little better he is still a way better basketball talent and overall player than DeRozan. DeRozan came back in the fourth to make a few baskets he was set up for after the game was already ours, similar to what he does most times to get his numbers. The kid is still developing I get it, but he today is not worthy of more than 8 minutes or so a game.
            Someone on the roll call commented he is one of our two best players which is totally fale. As Basketball players go, Jose and Bargnani are far and away the best on this team and the only legitamite starters we have. After them in basketball skills and talent there are still these guys ahead of DeRozan in my books at least: Amir, Davis,Wright, Bayless, Weems, and for sure Barbosa. Where exactly does that leave DeRozan??

            • sleepz

              I don’t agree with everything in your post but you make a very vaild point that Weems may indeed be a better basketball talent than DeRozan.

              To indicate Demar is one of the 2 best players on the team is also an opinion I cannot share and I agree with you. In regards to the 2 best players on the team I would put Barbosa in there somewhere as he has accomplished a great deal in his career and has played much better than I expected this year but once again I think you are bang on regarding DeRozan.

              • Pizzaman1

                sleepz I try hard to resist slamming the kid, because I get he’s a kid and I have no problem giving DeRozan more time to develop, however I just don’t get the praise he gets, or the huge amount of rope he gets here and elsewhere. Aside from being a good kid, with great athletic ability, he is still not much of a basketball player.
                I played in a few leagues, and there was always one guy who had freakish athletic ability, and because of that was a decent to good baller in the leagues I played in, but in the NBA you also need alot of basketball talent to go with the athleticism and he has not yet shown much.
                Barbosa in my opinion is the third best we have on this team, but I did not rank the guys only to point out they are still better than DD. If we actually wanted to try and win more games based on our current roster, then the starters would be
                Jose, Barbosa, Wright, Amir and Bargnani. That’s the best pure starting lineup we have today IMO.
                Also based on talent alone the bench would clear in this order for me; Davis, Kleiza, Bayless, Weems, Dorsey, DD. I think investing more playing time in Wright at 23 years old,Bayless and Weems is better than what we’re investing in DD.

                • yertu damkule

                  respectfully disagree. i’ve voiced my concerns over DD’s slow progress in the past, and i’m certainly not his biggest fan, but i do see a little something there. his shot still looks wonky to me (i see way too much elbow/forearm action in his shot, and not nearly enough wrist, like he’s throwing it at the hoop), but there is definitely skill in him…just not sure TO’s the place for it to be tapped.

                  as you watched the game last night, did you feel that DD was getting the benefit of the doubt on some of his forays into the paint? do you feel that over time, as he becomes a more ‘known’ player in the L, he’ll start getting those calls? let’s say that on a half-dozen or so of his drives that resulted in either a TO or a missed shot, he got a call on just half of them, putting him to the line for up to 6 FTs. let’s say he makes 4/6 (assuming none were and1’s). does that change how we perceive his game? so, instead of 6/15 from the field, he finishes 6/12 with 17 pts. i’m not trying to make excuses, and i’m not saying that that statline is anything to get excited over, and i absolutely hate coming across as someone blaming the officials, but it’s a game of inches (or calls/non-calls). early in bargs’ career, he’d do the pump-fake-jump-into-the-defender move, and he wouldn’t get the call (or would hardly ever get it). now? he gets it all the time, and he usually uses it once or twice per game, giving him an extra point or so per game.

                • sleepz

                  Watching the game last night I thought that DeRozan didn’t get any calls late in the game, however I felt this was the case because he burned his currency with the refs early in the game with bad turnovers and charges that he forced himself. A larger example of this phenomenon to me is Turk. In Orlando he got calls regularly, but in Toronto and Phoenix the word was out and flailing arms and banshee screaming wasn’t helping him anymore, cause his game was weak.

                  Early in Bargs career the pump fake he used wasn’t as refined as it is now. He used to rush it and then leaned too hard and noticeably into the defender. He executes it more naturally now so he gets the call, and you are probably right that as the refs have gotten accustomed to him they give him the benefit of the doubt. On a seperate note why are dudes even jumping for the fake(can’t believe i agree with Leo, lol)? You’re not blocking his shot.

                  As for Demar I’m trying hard to find the silver lining in his game but he hasn’t grabbed me yet outside of willingness to absorb contact, which I respect.

                • Pizzaman1

                  yertu I watched and agree that he should have gotten some calls from the refs for sure; I also know the NBA is perhaps the poorest refed sport there is. I also do not see the refs giving him the benefit of the doubt as he gets older and more experienced as is the norm, unless he actually develops the rest of his game. Even if he were to get some of those calls, many if not most of his drives to the hoop are out of control, head down, very poor attempts that he would be better off not even trying. He continually drives into people and cannot finish.
                  At this stage he just does not display alot of basketball talent; he’s a horrible shooter especially for a shooting guard!! He’s a bad passer, cannot dribble, constantly makes questionable decisions,and plays very poor defense. I would like to see Wright start for his grit and team play..he’s also a young great athlete, but starting him in place of Kleiza means that now three starters in Amir, Wright and DD have no range in their shots which would be chaos. I would rather see Barbosa or Weems, or Bayless start at the SG withWright at SF and let DD develop from the bench if he can.
                  Also agree with Nilanka here that regardless of some bad games, Weems is much more talented in all areas than DD, and is as athletic and then some.

                • sleepz

                  I’d actually like to see how that line-up you’ve identifed plays together.

                  It would be interesting.

                • Pizzaman1

                  sleepz so would I.
                  I need someone to help me with my poor blogging skills.
                  I cannot make this new RR posting method work for me. I tried setting up an account in Disqus and it tells me my Nickname is taken, so changed it to add the 1.
                  Evry time I post I have to type my e-mail in and nickname. I do not think that’s the way it’s supposed to work, and it’s killing me…please help!

                • sleepz

                  I think thats how it works man.

                  I usually type in my email and name cuz there doesn’t seem to be a way to get that info to stay put.

                • Pizzaman1

                  sleepz that’s crap! I thought it was just my lack of blogging skills. Why would they make the site so much more difficult to read and post? There has to be a better way.

            • Nilanka15

              I’m jumping in on this too.

              There’s something about Weems’ game that just seems more “polished” (for lack of a better word) than DeRozan’s. Weems appears a bit better in a lot of attributes such as shooting mechanics, handles, quickness, and defensive instincts. But he’s lacking in his ability to draw fouls. I dunno. It’s hard to explain using words and stats (it’s really more of a hunch based on watching them both), but DeRozan, although young, does seem to be lacking in fundamental areas you would expect even college players to possess.

              I’m not suggesting DeRozan’s a bust. I’m just saying (in my opinion), Weems seems like the better “overall” player at this point in time.

              • KJ-B

                WhackNESS…

                • KJ-B

                  Dunno how many times I’ll have to say–oK… I won’t talk about the little subtleties that apparently seem hard to discern by the hoops masses instead I’ll point to 1 stat in particular DeMar 21 – 24 Weems … as in age, Sonny is a full 3 years old than DeMar and has played in less pro games than his counterpart… Do you understand where DeMar will be the time he’s 24… The huge gap mentally, socially, emotionally between a 24 year old to a 21 year old… They only seem similar due to the fact of Weems already hitting his ceiling while DeRozan’s just getting off the ground floor which is actually the same height to the “eye test” according to most…

                  In essence, I’m saying Sonny looks comparable in his two storey house looking “eye to eye” so to speak with DeRozan BUT I look at Demar’s game as the 2nd floor of “unfinished” skycraper…So it’s oK fo’ y’all to call Weems more “polished”–ahem, for the D-League…

  • c_bcm

    Best post of the year Arse. Nice job. Humour, insight, linguistics, and the customary sprinkling of cynicism.

  • sleepz

    I’ve been harsh on him his entire career but Jose was sensational last night in running the offence and getting shots for his teammates. He has looked better on the defensive end this year as well. Going to lay off criticizing him for a while cause he’s earned the reprieve.

    Wright played well no doubt but the calls for him starting are very premature. Cavs are clearly bottom of the barrel and most Raps players (save DeRozan) looked like all-stars last night.

    I wish that the Raps had the players they currently do but were getting Cavs W-L results this year to ensure a top pick. I wonder if Mr. Gilbert would still be willing to wager that the Cavs will win a title before the Heat? I’d be prepared to give him sweet odds. That team is bad and I’m hard pressed to find a more ‘no upside, no hope’ roster in the league.

  • dribbles

    Wright should start in place of Kleiza, end of story. The current starting lineup is as unbalanced as last year’s (4 out of 5 guys are below average to terrible defenders), and Kleiza hasn’t been nearly good enough on offence to justify starting. Wright consistently brings defence and energy and is a pretty good playmaker (that no-look pass of his to Amir in the 4th was sick by the way). Let Kleiza come off the bench.

    DD is improving as a scorer, and so far that’s it. But he’s 21, so one thing at a time, I guess. I’m not sure why he hasn’t been able to improve more defensively though. It’s worth being patient with him IMO, unless there’s a no-brainer trade offered to BC.

    • JamesJ

      True about Kleiza not being “nearly good enough on offence to justify starting”, but Kleiza coming off the bench has proved to be very ineffective (Like when Weems was starting) and he’s said himself that being able to start and get that consistency and feel to his shot early in games makes him a more effective offensive player than if he was coming off the bench. I agree with the thing about 4 out of the 5 guys on the starting lineup being below to terrible defenders. Maybe not so much Derozan (I haven’t noticed his defence being poor, I mean come on, he guarded Kobe pretty well..) but yeah Calderon isn’t great at keeping his guard in front of him, while Kleiza and Barg have poor help D.

  • http://twitter.com/EC_Rapsfan D. Gillis

    Good recap as usual Arse.

    Now let me go off topic a bit and vent on something.

    While BC hasn’t had a problem getting rid of guys, my biggest gripe is we have a hard time squashing problems while they are here. We all heard how we’ll try to make it work with Turk, until he left, and then it was like WTF you gonna do, Turk was screwing us. When TJ got moved, it was chemistry issues hurt the team, meanwhile, TJ was starting. We had to move JO rather than let his contract expire, because Andrea was starting to play well in JO’s absence and we’d be stalling his development when JO came back. Apparently it would have been out of the realm of possibility to make JO come off the bench, when really, his expiring contract and play off the bench would have been useful.

    Maybe Jay doesn’t have the stroke, but as an org we continue to let our assets be problems and we are looking at that again when Sonny and Reggie come back. Now, I like both players, but on this team, I don’t see a big role for them. Ed’s getting minutes, Wright, Barbosa, DeRozan, Kleiza Bayless and Calderon have a good handle on the wing and pg rotation and I don’t see what Sonny adds. Not that I don’t like him, but really, everyone just assumes because he and DeMar are so tight off the court, that on the court, they complement each other, but do they really? Neither can hit the three. People look at DeMar adjusting to Andrea, but what about Sonny, and DeMar not taking a backseat to his pal?

    Even Reggie, like the guy, and I love what he brings but I don’t know where to put it, and I doubt Jay, from what I’ve seen so far, has the stones to bench him, even though Andrea, Amir and Ed, should own the bulk of those minutes. We don’t need to be getting Reggie minutes to get back in game shape, when he’s not really needed in those games anyway, despite his leadership role. We never could get a pg hierarchy established, until we traded Jack away, yet he was our starting pg. So we traded Jack, and have been fine since, yet we couldn’t decide to start Jose when Jack was here? It’s like if the player doesn’t agree to the role, they get whatever role they agree with, and once they are moved it’s like, NOW we have a consistent pg rotation. Well we could have had one before if Jay had the stones.

    This is more of a concern to me as the trade deadline approaches and how that realates to using our existing assests. For example, what’s the good of bringing in a C unless one of Amir, Ed or Andrea leaves. Let’s say we trade for Dalembert, using Reggie and part of the TPE, really, how much better off would we be? Do we not want Andrea and Amir and Ed to be the crux of our front court? Which of those players minutes would you want him to cut into. That being said, we’re not a good team. So nothing should be off the table, but which spots do we want to improve by internal development, and which do we want to improve through trade?

    If we want to bring in a SF, what do we do with Sonny or Kleiza or even wright, if they don’t go in the deal. The thing I’m ranting about is concern that the peices we have to trade, Reggie, i’ll include Sonny, Peja, TPE – none of them are playing for us right now, so who that is would you replace with whatever comes in?

    I guess this is the predicament of rebuilding, we suck, but we want to develop our guys, but we want to get better. And as bad as we are, it would seem like we suck while having enough pieces we’re committed to that it’s hard to bring in anyone in a meaningful way, yet all of our assets speak to getting a big ticket item. But again where do you park it.

    It all get’s back to the issue being compounded for us, as we seem to be the type of team that will give a guy who thinks he needs minutes the burn, even if it’s counter to our goals. We’re almost lucky Peja has this knee issue, as Jay wouldn’t know wtf to do. He’s almost lucky that it seems like Jose, Barbosa, Weems, DeRozan, Klieza, Wright and Bayless, haven’t all been healthy together, because he doesn’t have to upset anyone. it seems like people want Wright to get more minutes already, yet, maybe because he’s not a FA signing, or a young gun, he’s easy to bench.

    • tom

      Yeah Wright seems to be the one guy who repeatedly gets the shaft even though he’s by far our best perimeter defender (the degree to which is ridiculous) and probably the 2nd best passer on the entire team. Even the games where he has gotten lots of minutes (like last night) it seems like he’s been put in as a desparation move when we’re getting blown out, and winds up playing so well that Triano has no choice but to keep him in the game.

      • PiZZaman1

        Tom Wright based on our lineup should start instead of Kleiza against teams where we do not need as much perimeter scoring, and he should start for DeRozan against teams like the Celtics where paint points are harder to come by because Kleiza still has a much better jumper than DeRozan. If we had a better SG, then absolutely I would start Wright for his defense and team play and bring Kleiza off the bench for his scoring.

    • yertu damkule

      big ups. you’ve made some really salient points, and it’s something that’s bothered me about the culture of this team for a while now. you look around the league at the consistently top-tier teams, and it becomes quite obvious just how different the culture is. take the spurs as just one example…perhaps the model franchise over the last decade, they got lucky in being able to draft duncan, & they’ve also been incredibly smart with their drafting, signing of FAs & trades…but the CULTURE of that team has been established by pops, who doesn’t take shit from anyone.

      problem is, the raps are a 2nd (3rd?)-tier team, and for ‘established’ vets to acquiesce and come off the bench would be embarrassing (‘what, you’re not good enough to start for the RAPTORS!?!?!’), and would require a strong personality at the top.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Maurice/551625103 Junior Maurice

    i heard julian wirght played PG in highschool no wonder why he has those handles and passing abilities to his game

  • Rexadale

    in the 1st paragraph you wrote the matt devlin sentence twice

  • RapthoseLeafs

    .
    Here’s a far-out thought – can Banks be picked up on a 10 day contract, or even a cheap guarantee.

    He’s familiar with the Raptor system, and knows the guys – so he would mesh much better than any D-League pick-up.
    .

  • JamesJ

    “The man of the second quarter had to be Kansas-product Julian Wright (+32 for the game!), check out his first half line in 13 minutes: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and buckets of defense. I swear I had him confused for Oscar Robertson. He embodies what a 15-minute role player should be and if I had the power, I would get a chainsaw, cut Wright’s body into 14 pieces and then find me some surgical equipment to insert those 14 pieces into every other Raptors player. If there’s any pieces left, I would clone them, grow them into more Julian Wrights, cryogenically freeze them and then sell them on eBay.”

    Ew, please don’t do that D: