Still in the walking boot he was fitted for in Dallas, Bayless is taking the injury in stride — “I’ll live,” he said as he made his way to the team bus — but it’s going to mean a definite change to the point guard rotation where Jose Calderon and Bayless were just settling into a nice rhythm with the split of the minutes.
Head coach Dwane Casey is talking about going with a four-man rotation at the point with Anthony Carter, Leandro Barbosa and possibly Gary Forbes sharing the workload.
“I thought (Barbosa) had some big minutes (Friday night) but you start to see some diminishing returns,” Casey said of adding to Barbosa’s workload. “He was spectacular but once his minute level went up quite a bit higher he started to slow down defensively and they started picking us apart. That’s when Jason Terry got going.”
The way Casey is moulding this team a trade off of less defence for more offence is never acceptable so either Barbosa’s stamina will improve or the minutes will be spread more evenly.
“Friday night, what got us is we made the run, we got the lead and now you know they’re going to make a run but our guys are dog tired,” Casey said. “They come in with Vince Carter, Lamar Odom and Jason Terry, who are three all stars. That’s their second unit. For us, our second unit, we just want to hold serve, but now we don’t have Jerryd Bayless’ points in there and it’s (Anthony Carter’s) first real run so we’re kind of caught in a rut offensively. Hopefully today and going forward, AC will get his rhythm and get us going a little bit more offensively.”
“We really made the game for three quarters,” said Andrea Bargnani, who led he Raps with 28 points. “We played good offence and great defence for three quarters, but then we didn’t play the fourth quarter. We were really bad on offence and we gave up a little on the defensive end. They did make some tough shots. Anderson, J.J .and Hedo, those guys really played good. Those shots they made in the fourth were really something.”
At the other end of the floor, other than a three-ball from Bargnani with about three minutes to play, the Raptors never seemed to get the ball to the guy they wanted or in the place they wanted.
The most obvious of shots that shouldn’t have been attempted were three-point attempts, albeit open ones, by first DeMar DeRozan and then Anthony Carter who was in the game with Leandro Barbosa getting a quick rest on the bench.
Both attempts came in the midst of a 16-0 Orlando run and, while Casey refused to fault either attempt considering both had a clear opening, he didn’t let them off completely scott free.
“I’m not going to question a man’s decision if he has an open shot, but is there a better option in that situation,” Casey said, the inference being that there clearly were better options.
Calderon, who has seen this Raptors team struggle in the past still sees more positives than negatives in its approach early in the season.
“We have to just keep believing in what we are doing and the wins will come,” Calderon said. “No one said this was going to be an easy thing to do, to start winning games, right away, but I like what I see. I like what the coach is trying to get us to do and I think we can be really good.”
“It’s almost like a broken record but we’re growing, we are doing some good things, we just have to be able to finish it out,” said coach Dwane Casey. “Where a veteran team comes and closes the door like Orlando did tonight we have to be able to hold the led and not let a team take a run on us.
“Believe me, I know to everybody, the super fans, they don’t see the growth, I see the growth, I see the movement but I also see some of the mental breakdowns at crucial times, we’re decreasing those but in the crucial situations we have to execute and make the right decisions.”
Two of the biggest faux pas on the night came on the offensive end. DeMar DeRozan and Anthony Carter both missed crucial, yet ill-advised three-pointers in the midst of a game-changing 20-2 Orlando run.
In a vacuum, the shots might have looked like good ones; in the flow of that particular game, they were awful.
“It’s knowing what plays to make at what time, it’s experience more than anything else and they made the big plays,” said Casey. “They made some tough shots, we forced them into some turnovers, got some steals, now we have to go down and execute and those are the decisions we have to make.
“Those (bad shot) decisions will kill you. You can’t fault a guy who’s wide open taking a three-point shot but, again, is there a better shot, you have to ask yourself … Is there a better option in that situation?”
The company Calderon is keeping is impressive. He’s behind only Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, Deron Williams and Andre Miller and tied with Baron Davis for active point guards in reaching 3,000 career assists the quickest.
He is far ahead of the likes of Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash, Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups. And while Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo — two current all-star point guards — aren’t at 3,000 career assists yet, Calderon isn’t going to drop too far down the list.
“He’s a floor general, he’s who we are,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of the 30-year-old Calderon. “He’s the coach on the floor. He knows every play, he knows what we want to do, he knows the calls. He’s been solid and we need that steady hand out there with that first group.”
It is Calderon’s steady hand that has made him stand out from the 3,000-plus group more than anything. With only 733 turnovers in his first 430 games, he is by far the “safest” point guard in the game today. No one who has reached 3,000 assists did it with fewer turnovers than the native of Villanueva de la Serena, Spain.
“It doesn’t matter what they look like,” said Calderon. “When you get an assist, it’s good for your team and your teammates. It doesn’t matter if they are pretty or ugly or whatever. Sometimes you just have to go with the easy stuff. The important thing is to get the two or three points.”
Calderon has been criticized in the past for making the “safe” play too often and missing the chance at the spectacular, which has kept his turnover totals down.
While he has become more daring in the past couple of years — mainly because he has better athletes to finish, DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson are good weapons to complete lob passes — his current coach isn’t all that worried about a lack of flamboyance.
Orlando shot 4 for 5 from 3-point range during the burst, with Anderson making two of them, as the Magic took a 94-89 lead with 3:05 left after trailing by as many as 16 points.
“We sort of could’ve just given up, but we kept pushing through it,” Anderson said. “This was huge for us.”
Dwight Howard had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Magic, who have won four straight since a season-opening loss to Oklahoma City. J.J. Redick added 21 points and Hedo Turkoglu had 15 points and seven assists.
“I thought we played a great fourth quarter,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Our intensity level went way up.”
Bargnani paced the Raptors with 28 points, and Jose Calderon had 18 points and 13 assists.
It was the second consecutive late collapse by the Raptors, who also gave up a second-half lead to Dallas on Friday.
“I don’t really have an explanation as to why this game got away,” Calderon said. “It’s tough. It’s kind of like the same thing that happened with Dallas. They’re two veteran teams. They know how to play in those moments. We’ve got to learn from that.”
Calderón and Bargnani are talented players in their own rights, but watching them for most of Sunday’s game, one might have mistaken them for the Dallas Mavericks’ old Steve Nash/Dirk Nowitzki combination. And as lazily as the Magic defended–letting Calderón into the lane almost at will, conceding jumpers to Bargnani–one has to credit the Raptors’ top players for an outstanding showing. Bargnani, who entered the league as a spot-up shooter, showed a diverse offensive game. He befuddled whomever Stan Van Gundy assigned to cover him, even defensive specialist Earl Clark.
And Calderón got to wherever he wanted to go, it seemend, whenever he wanted to go. Not a flashy point guard by any means, the seven-year veteran clinically dismantled Orlando’s defense with dribble penetration. When afforded the opportunity, he knocked down his shots, shooting 6-of-9 from the field on the night, and 3-of-4 on threes.
But when the Magic knuckled down defensively, when they didn’t allow Bargnani to roll or pop free from his man in the two-man game between him and Calderón, when they rotated correctly and closed out aggressively, the Raptors’ offense went bust. After making their first two shots of the fourth period, Toronto ended the game in a 3-of-13 drought. Just as importantly, the Magic didn’t send the Raptors to the foul line as often as they had in previous quarters, yielding just four attempts from the charity stripe in the fourth period.
There are a few surprises in the data. Minnesota, not Utah or Indiana, was the whitest team. Toronto was not the most international team as they were fourth behind Sacramento and Milwaukee, which were definitely unexpected. No team, however, was more than 50% Caucasian, Hispanic, or International.
As for how ethnicity or background determined a team’s success, the charts at the end of the post show that there is no correlation whatsoever with ethnicity or percentage of internationally born players. Teams with more white players did not have a lower winning percentage overall, and vice versa. If you squint hard enough, you can sort of see a correlation in the international data, but a regression found that there was no significant prediction of wins from international player-minutes percentage. No correlation of wins with the international players is somewhat surprising because one could argue successful teams know how to find harder to locate players in Europe or other places, but recent champions like the 2006 Heat, the 2008 Celtics, and the 2004 Pistons gave few minutes to international players. Cellar-dwellers from last year include the Raptors and Kings, and both of those rosters could fill out a decent UN meeting.
The Raptors were doing well defensively, holding the Magic 43 percent from the floor and 35 percent from the three-point line, until the fourth quarter hit.
Orlando made 12-of-17 field goals and shot 5-of-7 from the three-point line. They went on a late run where they scored 16 unanswered points and shot 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
It’s not easy to win when you let your opponents shoot 49 percent throughout the entire game. It is harder to win when you let your opponents make 12-of-27 shots from beyond the arc.
Toronto’s perimeter defenders did a piss-poor job as they allowed Orlando to shoot 19-of-30 from 16 feet and out. The Magic burned them in transition plays, making 4-of-5 three-point transition baskets. Ryan Anderson made two of them and finished with 24 points.
The Raptors did well defending inside, but when you play a Magic team that is loaded with three-point shooters, you need to do a better job defending the three-point line.
The Magic looked like they needed some sleep, unable to slow the Toronto Raptors Sunday night.
The harried schedule had caught up with them, and they couldn’t make many defensive stops, falling behind by as many as 16 points in the third period.
But there’s always the 3-ball — a staple of Stan Van Gundy’s offense — to cover a lot what ailed the Magic.
The ‘3′ is their life-raft.
Down by 16 at 69-53 with seven minutes left in the third, Ryan Anderson — the NBA’s leader in 3-pointer made — drilled a trey to start a comeback.
By the end of the period, the Magic trailed by 11, and then it was open season from the 3-point line.
Hedo Turkoglu’s 3-pointer cut the deficit in the fourth to 10, and Anderson added another to trim it to six a few minutes later.
J.J. Redick found the range for a triple to slice the Raptors’ margin to three — and the Magic weren’t done yet.
Frankly, they were looking like the team that caught lightning — and 3-pointers — in a bottle to make a run to the 2009 Finals.
I’m not prone to making excuses for the Magic’s paid professionals. They were outplayed by the Raptors until the end, but David Stern gets credit for half a sack.
The commissioner failed miserably to protect his product.
Stern and the owners forced 66 games down the throat of the players instead of creating a more sensible schedule of, say, 55 games.
No matter that there was no way teams could effectively prepare for this gantlet. Appeasing TV executives who largely foot the bill was a priority.
It’s all about the cash grab for the NBA, squeezing in as many games as possible with no regard for the players’ health and the quality of play.
Fans, paying premium prices, suffer the most, having to watch this marathon where first quarters resemble fourth quarters.
Players have been rightfully accused of "taking games off," but now they actually aren’t doing it on purpose.
You’ve heard of the saying, "I’ll rest when I’m dead." Don’t be surprised if the Magic rest tonight in Auburn Hills.
Two nights after recording their "best game yet," according to Stan Van Gundy, in a win at Charlotte, the Magic played their worst game yet.
Playing on fumes, the Magic were a full step slow and fouled too much, as if they were wearing Nike concrete shoes on the defensive end.
Andrea Bargnani, a plodding 7-footer with a nice touch, looked like he was going to need oxygen after all the running he did through five Magic defenders en route to the basket.
If they didn’t have Dwight Howard and a propensity to hit 3-pointers, the Magic would have lost by 20 if the Raps knew how to win.
For three quarters, the Raptors were in firm control of this game. Head coach Dwane Casey, former assistant coach of the Dallas Mavericks last season, has his fingerprints all over Toronto’s roster already. Casey was hired to instill a defensive mentality with the Raptors and that showed forth against the Magic. Casey doesn’t have Tyson Chandler to anchor a defense like he did when he was with the Mavericks. But even so, Casey has the players for Toronto fighting defensively, and Orlando was visibly bothered by it. For 36 minutes, the Magic were unable to get into much of a flow offensively. Howard, especially, seemed invisible at times, as Amir Johnson and Jamaal Magloire battled with him in the post, not allowing the big fella to get to his favorite spots around the paint.
And on the flipside, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, and DeMar DeRozan really had their way on offense at times.
Orlando’s pick-and-roll coverage was not very good for a majority of the game and Calderon happily took advantage. Calderon expertly ran pick-and-rolls to set himself up for jumpshots and to feed his teammates around the perimeter. It was an efficient outing for Calderon, as he finished with 18 points and 13 assists, notching his 3,000th assist (the most in Raptors franchise history) along the way.
When it wasn’t Calderon burning the Magic, it was Bargnani. It didn’t matter if Anderson, Glen Davis, or even Earl Clark was defending Bargnani, he dominated offensively for long stretches. What was most impressive about Bargnani was that he didn’t really rely on his perimeter game too much. Instead, Bargnani did a lot of his damage off the dribble, attacking the rim and either making layups or drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line. Bargnani has historically always been a thorn in the side for Orlando and this game was no different. However, in the fourth quarter when the Magic were making their run, Bargnani was shut down and only produced three points in the period.
As for DeRozan, his jumpshot wasn’t pretty, as he shot 4-of-12 from the field but he got to the free-throw line a total of nine times, which allowed him to score 17 points on 12 shots even though he only made four field goals.
So with Bargnani, Calderon, and DeRozan clicking, and a defense for Toronto that was active, Orlando looked in trouble. The Magic were trailing by as many as 16 points in the game.
But then the fourth quarter came.
The effort from this team was, for the most part, something to applaud. Andrea Bargnani looked like a superstar out there for the third game in a row, Derozan battled through some early shooting trouble, and Jose Calderon was very effective at the point. The Raptors battled and even had nice contributions from Jamal Magloire and Leandro Barbosa off the bench.
In the end the hot shooting of Hedo Turkoglu, Ryan Anderson and JJ Reddick were too much to handle for the Raptors defense.
This team continues to battle. They have shown much improved effort on the defensive end, especially in the first half tonight, and they are hanging with teams on most nights. The most impressive element of this loss is the way Andrea Bargnani has played. He looks every bit a superstar out there and he is making a case to continue as the face of this franchise.
A loss is a loss but there are certainly positives to take away once again.