Well I hope the Brits enjoyed this tilt for David Stern’s sake, because it was most unpalatable triple-overtime game I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t think basketball will ever catch on here, it has in other parts of Europe but this nation is on another level of soccer madness. It’s crazier than hockey is over here. Anyway, it’s too bad they had to have two bad teams up here, only because having teams with actual aspirations would have created a lot of complaining about putting them at an unfair advantage by flying them out here during the season. But I guess Bryan Colangelo already knew that this team wouldnt be very good when he signed up for this gig probably sometimes this offseason, although he never admitted it publicly then.
So the game, yes, kind of painful to watch but at least it didn’t turn into a blowout and was competitive until the end. The Raptors started off well, with a lot of the offense on quick DeMar DeRozan jumpers. For some reason New Jersey still thinks he can’t hit the mid-range shot, when it in fact has quietly become the strength of his game. He’s showing a little bit of everything now, actually, which is not too common if you think about it. Alot of times what you see from a player, even at the age of 20 or so, is what you always get. Players do get better at that age, no doubt, but it’s because they fill out a little bit, some do improve their shot but it’s rare to see a guy add layers to his game like DeMar has.
You have to applaud that. Just this game, he showed some penetration and kick-out skills, he’s showed more consistency in keeping his dribble alive when driving into the paint. He showed poise in hitting a stepback jumper at the end of a shot-clock on Sundiata Gaines, ok a D-Leaguer, but nonetheless impressive. You know that’s the elite players’ domain, when the Kobes and Lebrons of this world just conjure up an excellent individual effort to save a possession.
That’s what DeMar DeRozan is starting to show us. I’m not sure he will ever be at that level because he lacks the combination of elite level size and athelticism, but he’ll be very good, if he isn’t already. Almost forgot, he hit a three! 3rd three of the year and from the corner where it’s almost like his patented mid-range shot. Look what adding a three has done for Derrick Rose, it’s imperative that a quality guard has it, but I think we all know that already.
The second quarter witnessed the Raptors giving up 42 points. The Raptors defense wasn’t bad, but the Nets worked the ball through Brook Lopez, which caused the Raptor defense to adjust and this team is just not good at rotating to the open spots for whatever reason. Especially with Andrea Bargnani involved, who needs any excuse to float out to the perimeter and stay there. Once he’s guarding that perimeter player, you can forgot about any help defense from your center. Real NBA defenses would have him coming back inside on penetration and a guard rotating over to his man. Nope. And if he is actually still guarding a big, and there’s penetration, he’s more interested in boxing out his man, and you’ll see Ed Davis and Amir Johnson trying to help instead. At least he rebounded well in regulation. That and the fact he played decent offensively minimized his daily defensive ineptitude.
This is how I see it. Other parts of his game are so bad, he puts the team at a huge disadvantage. His offense only serves to minimize the negative impact on his team. In rare cases, when he is super-efficient offensively does he perhaps cross over to the threshold of being a slight positive impact. I love it when people say that he’s a big reason why we have even won any games this year. I look at it the other way. He hasn’t hurt the team that badly with his defence and rebounding in those games because he scored well. In all the other games he has played he has usually helped this team lose with his horrific defense and rebounding. Is this an inept offensive team without Bargnani? I don’t think so. I think DeMar has shown he can create his own offense. I think Jose Calderon could be more aggressive and he uses Amir Johnson effectively to generate offense. Our offensive rating is 105.8, good for 20th in the league and a big reason why it isn’t even lower is because of Jose Calderon, not Bargnani.
The 3rd quarter was sloppy, with the Raptors making a concerted effort to take away the 3-ball after being shellacked in the second, which took the Nets out of their rhythm. Andrea Bargnani shouldered the load offensively, and Ed Davis played well, and continues to show he was one of the steals of the draft. He may be a little on the light side like Amir Johnson, but he just out jumps other guys. He’s starting nail that little jumper near the free throw line which is good to keep defenders honest.
The Raptors held the Nets to 7 points until the halfway mark of the 4th with and Ed Davis/Amir Johnson frontcourt, jumping out to 101-95 lead with 5:28 to go. The Nets resorted to pick and rolling Brook Lopez, which the Raptors mishandled badly by lame pressure on Deron Williams who easily found Lopez at the rim. Why does our pick-and-roll defense suck? Why aren’t guys getting pulled from the game for not being able to defend such a simple scenario more effectively. Fine, it can burn you once in a while, but possession after possession? Especially with Bargnani, who immediately think he needs to switch up on the perimeter player because the rim gives him negative vibes or something. Once he does that, Amir or Ed need to rotate over, because that’s what NBA bigs do, and Kris Humphries is left open and theres your secret to why he’s had 2 pretty good games, folks.
The best part of last night? Two times where the Raptors had the ball at the end to win the game. The first time, a ball out to Bargnani at the top of the key. He waits until there’s a couple of seconds left and takes a contested deep two. Wow. Same scenario at the end 3rd overtime. Again, Barganani holds it, everyone else is just standing, I’m sure the Nets are just as dumbfounded as us fans are. Same thing. Contested deep two. I will not comment on this, because it’s too easy. But I will refer you to a quote by a pretty smart guy by the name of Einstein:
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.