The “holy crap, it’s really really back!” edition:

Barbosa: the blur was far from it, but he was creating for his teammates. Rarely standing still with the ball he was looking to make things happen, which is why he could be the one player you don’t want to see sitting out games this year. We’ll need what we can get out of him.

Bargnani: it would be an easy out to rip him for not getting the “required” rebound numbers his coach has challenged him with, but you have to admit that the vegetarian pasta is looking a lot meatier. Talking on defence (and it actually getting caught on camera!), following his shots, getting his hand on loose balls, etc…all things we saw tonight and in the fake pre-season and something we have rarely seen in his years here. Impressive.

Bayless: it’s as if he and Jose decided to switch roles just to see how the other lives. Coming in you had to worry that Irving and Sessions would throw Jose around like a gingerbread man, but it was Bayless who seemed to show the frustration of getting a BlackBerry Playbook for Christmas and not an iPad2.

Butler: Rasual got the starting nod ahead of James Johnson and, to be honest, he did as much with his time in the spotlight as Kris Humphries did. You just gotta hope that Hump has some great video to show for it. Butler was never even close to being a factor and short of James just being a naturally better fit  with the second unit, Rasual should be back coming off the bench the rest of the season.

Calderon: not entirely shocking in that Jose always seems to play above himself (read: he actually exerts effort on the defensive end) when playing in big games. This being the first game of the season and the first real trial of who should be the starting PG, Jose flourishes against someone who is already in ROY talk by posting a double double (15/11).

Davis: Thompson made Ed look foolish early on, absolutely undressing Davis any chance he had. Pregame we asked RR followers who would lead the team in rebounding in this game and the straw poll had Davis the winner. Certainly didn’t start off that way, but Davis turned it around, hunkered down, and made TT work for everything he got. Offensively he was as perfect as Katy Perry in a bikini, going 7-for-7 and rocking the red headband.

DeRozan: remember as a kid you always seemed to open the smaller crappier gifts first? Socks, underwear, pet rocks, the new release from Menudo…..then, magically, as you hit your final few, it turned into Colecovision, a Three’s Company calendar, and a Michael Jordan rookie card. Well, that was DeMar’s season debut. To say he sucked rocks in the first half would be kind. No doubt that the coaches laid into the poor bastard at the half, because he sat for an extended period in the second and came back like he had been told if he led the team in scoring he’d get first dibs at landing the team charter.

A. Johnson: remember a few years ago when management would try and convince us that Toronto had a new Twin Towers? Well, under the radar, we might actually have it now in the Johnson’s. Together on the floor tonight they were prettier than some of the sister acts I’ve seen at the Zanzibar over the years. You get past one and, bam, another was waiting for you to break your heart. Amir threw double 13s and, for one game, absolutely wiped out the bad taste he left in some peoples mouth last season (okay, mine), but still he was out performed by….

J.Johnson: ……who came off the bench and LeBron’d the Cleveland crowd. He absolutely just made you go “whaaa??? whoooo???” as a Raptors fan and literally had Cavs fans buying programs to find out who the guy was with the funny hair. As the game wore on, others took over the spotlight, but a solid line of 5pts, 5asts, 6rebs, 3blks and 2stls doesn’t show justice to the effort he put forth to jumpstart his team.

Magloire: I’ll give you this: he has shown up in the best shape he has been in for years. After that, I got nothing. Sure, great story that he is the first Canadian to play for us, but Khloe got married before Kim, so firsts mean nothing. Surely there is someone out there that can save us from a season of watching this guy lumber up and down the court only to be lauded post game for being born here and nothing else. Waste of a roster spot.

Driving the bus: James Johnson

Under the bus: Rasual Butler

Theme of the Game:

  • Theswirsky

    I though Barbossa was a chucker tonight.  I know thats his role (in a sense) but its completely unneeded on this team.  Hopefully his expiring contract has value because nights like tonight don’t

    If Bargnani’s effort was “impressive” tonight, his bar has been set so low that there is almost no way he can’t impress.  Yes marginal D is better than none, and 6 rebounds is better than 5. 

    Rookies always have issues with Jose.  So used to PGs not passing the ball they don’t know what to do when one does. 

    Loved what James Johnson did… but Jose was definetely the bus driver tonight.

    (How did Amir leave a bad taste in your mouth last year?  He was the teams best player)

    • CalgaryRapsFan

      Agreed about Barbosa, he might be a sparkplug, but his greatest value long-term for the Raps is as trade deadline trade bait!  Increase that shooting % and stay healthy, and hopefully the Raps will get a late 1st round pick from a playoff team that needs a scorer for their 2nd unit.

    • Buschfire

      Why don’t we need a player like Barbosa on our team? He is amazing off the bench, tonight when we were in a lull he created his own offense. Then started drawing a 2nd defender when driving the lane so that he could pass it off or ED was open for that nice put back.

      I agree he is 29, but in todays NBA that seems reasonable with player like J Kid being almost 40 still playing. They know how to take care of themselves better now with the tech we have disposable to us today. Tell me the package we  would get in return if we could get rid of Bargs and Barbosa  then i’ll tell you if he is worth it.

      • Theswirsky

        “Tell me the package we  would get in return if we could get rid of Bargs and Barbosa  then i’ll tell you if he is worth it”

        I always did want to make sure I got your approval before I talked to GMs about trade packages.

        You need to re-read what I wrote.  We don’t need nights like last night from him.  Where he is chucking the ball and playing selfish.  Barbossa had the most shots on the team yet only played 22 minutes.  At one point in the late 3rd early 4th, it was as if him and Bayless were taking turns trying to take over the game, at the expense of the rest of the team.  Its not suprising Cleveland all but eliminated the 10 pt deficeit at that point. 

        • mountio

          Agree completely. Something is gonna have to give on our rotations .. cant have Barbosa and Bayless out there at the same time .. killing the team (and killing Ed). I realize we will need to give lots of guys run this year in the shortened season .. but that 2nd five we put out last night was struggling .. and it was all because of the two black holes at G ..
          I actually think both of them can serve a purpose and behind AB  are the two most competent scorers we have (maybe similar to DD) .. but cant have them playing together and Bayless better learn to play PG (not holding my breath) or thats the #1 target in the 2012 draft ..

        • Milesboyer

          Barbosa’s the only guy on the team who can create is own shot with any consistency.  He may take alot of them but it’s a needed skill for this team, it helps shift defenses, changes the pace and often makes something out of nothing.  Every team needs a guy like that even if he’s a bit flawed, without it things get real ugly real fast.

          • Theswirsky

            except last night the offense was at its best without him (and Bayless for that matter) on the floor.  “Creating your own offense” is a useless skill if you are having problems scoring.   
             
            If he had the hot hand I’d have no problem with him shooting alot.  If any player is ‘on’ they should get touches and take shots.  At the same time if a guy is off he needs to start making better choices with the ball.  Barbossa did not have the hot hand, and yet didn’t slow down on his choice to keep shooting.   That is not acceptable, especially when the rest of the team is shooting 50%+ from the floor.
             
            When Barbossa came in at the 5:13 mark of the 3rd the score was 67-54 for Toronto.  Here is the game log (as it relates to him)
             
            – 2 foul shots
            -missed jumpshot
            -shooting foul
            -missed 3pter
            -assist to bayless jumpshot
            -assist to bayless 3 pter
            -missed running jumpshot
            -missed running jumpshot
            -missed 3pter
            -layup: assisted Johnson
            -offensive foul

            score 88-83 Toronto at the 6:50 mark of the 4th

            here is the game log:

            http://www.nba.com/games/20111226/TORCLE/gameinfo.html?ls=gt2hp0021100009#nbaGIboxscore

            • Buschfire

              The people with the hot hands were on the bench. no one else on the team was really creating when the Cavs were drawing close. I think he did what was needed to be done. The game log was probably, if not the worst part of his night.

        • Buschfire

          Sorry bud, but i’m not asking you to seek my approval, but hey if you want… sure you can seek it anytime. I would just give you my 2 cents on what IMO is worth it. Jeeze, aren’t we cheering for the same team?

          He might of put up a lot of shots last night, but none of his team mates were producing we needed him to change up the flow. he had 14 pts, and quite a few assists because the defense was being drawn to him. To be quite honest he is the lesser of 2 evils when its between him and Bayless, and at this time I would pick Barbosa. Bayless is just so hot or cold, Barbosa is more consistent.

          • Theswirsky

            your right no one else was producing.

            Oh wait… Ed 7/7….. nah thats terrible production.  No sense giving him the ball.

            • p00ka

              Any time you can get a big the ball two feet from the basket, he’s a great option. I like the lad, but shit, no wonder he’s so efficient when all ya gotta do in the team’s scheme of offense is to dunk. Fn joke to be pounding away on that efficiency.

              • ED DAVIS

                i wish the 7fter would do the same instead of taking 12 shots to get 13 point who do you think the coach should love more me or the 7fter  [[[[ EFFICIENCY!]]]

                • p00ka

                  Good thing the real ED isn’t such a dumbass

            • p00ka

              PS. and always with a rookie guarding him.

            • Buschfire

              yeah Ed played great last night. except in the beginning when TT was getting his way. but Ed put a stop to that quickly. It wasn’t like Barbosa was holding on to the ball like Bayless does. other people weren’t moving or weren’t open so he made those decisions to try and create. At the end of the second he was drawing 2nd & 3rd defenders to him he had 2 great plays if not more with Ed Davis where he passed the ball inside for the put back, or went for the layup (3 defenders tried to stop him) & Ed was there for the easy put back.

  • CalgaryRapsFan

    Great game!   Awesome to have the NBA back, as well as a stellar start to this season’s Roll Call!

    There may have been a lot of debate in the lockout forums about the Raps’ bigs and who should stay/go, but jeebus, that three-headed monster of Amir/Bargnani/Davis was kickin some ass tonight!

    • mountio

      Agreed – gotta find a way to get some run for Ed off the 2nd unit (read: Bayless) … even though JB bailed out his horrible overall play by hitting a few shots .. overall he was a trainwreck .. definitely should be under the bus
      Otherwise, a pretty darn solid effort all around. Cavs are horrible, but Raps looked promising in many areas .. the trio of Ed/AJ/AB leading the way.
      Jose was great of course .. question is whether his body (hammy) can hold up given all the minutes in a short period of time this year.
      Anyways .. nice way to start off the year ..

  • Allan A

    Agree with everything except the comment about Magloire. What nobody is seeing is that Jamaal is here to be a mentor to the younger players. A voice in the locker room. A veteran presence. We need that, we don’t need mad stat production out of him because that is not his role, we have other guys for that.

    • ad

      Magloire sucks. I highly doubt younger players really listen to vets who can’t play. If Magloire was Tim Duncan thats something else.

  • Daniel

    Nuts!

  • leftovercrack

    I was so hoping Bayless would step forward this year and become the starting PG. We’re not going to be a contender for the next couple of years and he would be the future PG. But, in this game at least, Calderon made a statement and Bayless looked lost. Crap

  • Borg

    My original hopes were on J.Johnson, Calderon and Kleiza to be the glue guys for the team.

    J. Johnson did real good. Calderon was fantastic. Rest of the team revolved around those two. Davis was a big surprise. How the hell did the get 14 points?Finally – can’t wait for Kleiza to get on the floor for a few minutes. What his role would be is to be seen.Go Raptors! 4th place in the conference 😀

  • Jimmy

    Bargnani should play 17-20 minutes off the bench.  The guy is a clown:  5-12 shooting and 6 rebounds in 30 minutes.  Ed Davis: 7-7 fg, 7 rebounds, 2 blks in 18 minutes.

    • leftovercrack

      Colangelo should be out seeing what he can for Bargnani and Barbosa in trades. Let Bargnani get minutes until he strings together back-to-back 20 point games, then fob him off on a naive GM

    • Akash_singh

      I think they both positively contributed to the win, no need to badmouth either of them tonight. Besides, the last thing we need in this compacted season is for a player to injure himself unnecesarily from wear n tear.

  • ED32

    some good contributions by everyone who played, signature game by Jose, showed that he can still be the best player on this team some nights

  • Harry S. Truman

    Unbelievable performance by Jose, took the team by the reins and never let go – dude threw like 6 alley-oops, all connected including a ridiculous heave to DeRozan that had me jumping out of my seat.

    James Johnson was a rock – he keeps playing like he has and that’s a candidate for Most Improved Player.

  • voy

    wow. the cavs are as horrible as expected. its one thing to suck if your team is young. its another thing to suck with jamison, varejao and parker as 3 of your 5 starters.

    • Ryan

      Parker’s not that bad … or at least, he wasn’t …

  • Adriiian

    Bayless sucks, this guy can’t be our PG of the future… I thought he should be under the bus, Butler’s shots just weren’t connecting.

    • Waiting for Jonas

      Agreed.  Bayless as PG is too slow, too much a ball hog, looks only for his shot, as bad as Jose in keeping in front of his man, and too egotistical for his teammates.  I believe we’ve seen enough of the body of work to conclude he has no future role with the Raps even as a SG (too small and does not shoot well enough)

  • Akash_singh

    IMO 
    Driving:Jose 
    Honorable mention:Amir,Ed, Bargs (the trio)
    Under: bayless, derozan (really expected more from him today, even if he did play better in the second half)

  • RenaldoSugarbush

    Andrea Bargnani fighting for rebounds?
    Did I somehow travel to an alternate universe?

  • Yermiah

    Holding the cavaliers to 41% shooting from the field, and shooting over 52% ourselves on the road no less… out rebounding them, and shooting a good percentage from the 3 pt line?  My goodness.  The only reason this game was close is because we can’t defend without fouling, once we figure that out, we should be good.  I’m very happy with our performance.  

  • ad

    Cleveland is brutal. I know the raps will fall apart when they start playing better teams soon. I already can’t stand butler and magloire. Fuckin useless. Gray and Carter too

    • Waiting for Jonas

      Too early to say for Butler and Gray.  From what we see with JJ’s shooting stroke, Butler can stay around until ?#??! walks through the door.  Gray has a rapid heart issue so its early yet and after watching fat Magloire “racing” down the court, we need someone to fill the lineup as the 5 until Jonas walks through the door.

  • Darien

    Im laughing at how the cavs blogs thought they would be better than us this year. Come on guys, we suck but seriously have you looked at your team lately?

  • CalgaryRapsFan

    Even as a Bargnani supporter, I was initially disappointed at his 6 rebounds (last year we would have applauded 6 rebounds, so already there’s a huge difference this year!).  However, he was defending Jamison, who spends more time hanging out at the 3-pt line than Bargnani does, so it’s understandable that he only got 6 rebounds.

    What did impress me, was the 2 weak-side rebounds that Bargnani got when he was out at the 3-pt line guarding Jamison when the shot went up, then hustled back down the key to get them, instead of leaking out on offense.  I don’t think I’ve seen him go back for 2 defensive rebounds like that in the past 5 years, yet he did today.  The results/stats will come, but I appreciate the significant turnaround in the effort being given on the defensive end and rebounding.

    • Borg

      True.

      6 reb for that match up was huge. The bigger plus was he was involved within the game plan  ofball movement which explains his low offensive number.

      Last 6 mins DD and Bargs were money after the pass and that execution was key for the game. I would much rather have him average 15 ppg and contribute to a win in this fashion.

      • ED DAVIS

        6 rebounds is huge for a 7fter give me a break fanboy his own coach wants him to get 2 rebounds per quater and the pasta boy can’t even do that, in the preseason he had 9 in a game and all the fanboys started jumping up and down talking bout “the king bargs” now i want to see him do it in a real game where it counts i’ll bet you he can’t even get 6 against the Pacers too much pasta it makes him stick to the floor

  • Ray

    It was cool to see “Raptors win” trending worldwide on Twitter.

  • Buschfire

    Great way to start the season for the Raps. I think it should set the tone. I’m not a Jose fan but I have to admit he played great tonight, really controlled the floor. Bayless was really all over the place he needs to settle down. I liked the starting lineup tonight AJ should stay at center.

    For the rest of the Season it should be Jose, Demar, JJ, Bargs, AJ. If Bargs starts suckin it up though get Big Ed in there. I love this kid I think he will have a high ceiling and a bright future in the NBA.

    I think Barbosa was a good spark off the bench I love how he cuts in the lane and sneaks by everyone, he changes speed and direction so easily. Demar had a rough start but turned it up in the 2nd half. I really liked Dwayne Casey’s presence in the game he put in the players at the right times, made the right calls in terms of personnel. And knows when to call time outs! LOL not like Triano.

  • Phat AlberG

    You guys are ripping Bargnani for no reason what did he do wrong.  For first time in long time I actual seen making proper rotations on the defense.  The defense was aggressive and tough, they defended the lane, they were running out on shooters and they projected the lead.  The only players didn’t impress me was Bayless & Butler, but Calderon, Amir & Ed Davis played amazing today.  It was a good game plan and I’m not complaining at all, they play hard on both ends.  You guys might not Jamal Magaloire but one thing about Jamal he ain’t softy, and he’s going play tough interior defense.  And his attitude is going rub off on the other guys as well.

  • TheR3dMenace

    Jose or Amir driving the bus tonight.  Don`t get me wrong I liked what I saw from Johnson (minus the turnovers), but come on.

  • Larry

    Ed Davis is just really impressive, we got a good one on our hands with him. He has such great instincts and quietly puts up some very nice numbers and is efficient to boot. Davis and Valanciunas will be really nice pieces on this team, and Amir is a beast as well, efficient, plays exceptional D, and gives 110%. Once JV establishes himself, and once this all aligns we will have a loaded front court that will only get better, it is the hallmark of most championship teams. Really excited about this front court.

  • golden

    OMG.  Has Cleveland perfected tanking or what?  Looks like they are gunning for another top 3 pick in an excellent draft year.   I wouldn’t bet against them getting #1 yet again. 

  • grL

    We need to draft PG next year… under the bus – Bayless

  • j bean

    Bayless played about as well as the number one overall pick Kyrie Irving. 

  • Mediumcore

    Can’t beleive Ed got it handed to him by a rookie. He’s looking lost out there and doesn’t show much confidence. Hope he can wrap his head around the new system soon.

    • ED DAVIS

      your a big dummy

    • anthony

      DAVIS played very well last night. Thompson had some nice plays against Davis but overall Davis played great in just 18 minutes. Not sure why people just love to hate this team.

    • Theswirsky

      is this a joke?  Ed Davis was great last night. 

  • Statement

    I thought Ed Davis had some trouble against Thompson, but he played really well.

    Even though Bargs was 5-12, only one of his shots felt forced to me.  The rest were in a good flow.

    Jose absolutely decimated Irving.  I’m talking serious buttfuckage here.

    Amir was a beast.

    James Johnson was quietly good.

    I was wondering why they left Magloire out there so long (Gray’s injury)

    Bayless played like ass.

    Butler didn’t get in the way of anybody.

    Derozan played well in the 4th quarter, but not so much in the other 3.

  • Rtomas77

    Hey all, I’m just glad to see Raptors Roll Call Back in full effect!

  • PHDMAC

    While Magloire may not have a huge on court impact, I disagree that he is a waste of a roster spot. He is already being lauded by coaches and players as the kind of veteran leader that this team has lacked for quite some time. That alone is a valuable  effect on a team that has been known as soft

  • Simonkinglaw

    If you have 15 roster spots, and 10 players play, how on earth is Jamaal Magloire a waste of a roster spot? Aaron Gray will be back soon, so you will chill out hopefully. But the guy is the first real modern NBA player from T.O., and a really great member of this community even when he wasn’t playing here. Nothing wrong with bringing a guy like that in, as long as its in a small role, and he can be happy playing it.

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    This is AB’s 6th NBA season what he did against Cleveland was not impressive at all….

    Don’t forget that AB quit on the Rap’s post London last season.

    I remember Sam tried to instill a defensive culture w/ accountability and he was fired…

    Amir- bad taste? WTF are u talking about? AJ played on one ankle while AB was missing games with his post London with the flu symtoms.

    Amir also hit a game winner against OKC late last season- AB has never hit a game winning shot.

    Ed & Amir should be the Rap’s PFs not AB.

    • p00ka

      Like a broken record, you should be tossed out with the trash.

  • Katie33rae

    Kim did get married before Khloe.