Kings 98, Raptors 91 – Box

Missing Andrea Bargnani’s scoring touch I completely understand. But if you had told me we would miss him on the boards just as much in the fourth quarter, I probably would have laughed. As it were, though, on a night where Bargnani’s shot wasn’t falling he made up for it with a strong presence on the boards, and it was that presence that the team was sorely lacking down the stretch.

Of course, having no reliable threat to score the basketball, regardless of his night shooting (2/13 for the record), certainly didn’t make things easier, either. It honestly looked to be yet another night that could redefine Andrea as a player before a strained left calf muscle derailed him and kept him sidelined for the entire fourth.

You can’t blame Andrea, really, as even a hearty pre-game helping of Primo would have been in tough to keep fatigue from setting in. Even though Dwane Casey limited Andrea to 29 minutes on Tuesday, he still racked up 102 minutes over a three-night span, a total that wouldn’t have been possible under a more spread out schedule without some serious overtime.

To see just how rare a feat it was for Andrea to contribute significantly without his shot falling, I went back through his game logs to try and find other instances where he shot 30% or worse with 10 or more field goal attempts. Surprisingly this occurred 8 times last season, and in those games Andrea averaged 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 30 minutes. Tonight he posted 10-10-0 in 28 minutes. In last season’s 8 instances, Bargs’ top rebound output was 8 and he surpassed 5 only twice. Obviously, then, it’s been rare in the past to see Andrea adjust to a poor shooting night by getting after it on the glass.

All of this is, to say, the Raptors could have used his help keeping DeMarcus Cousins in check. I mean, damn! Attitude or not, Dunk-DMC played incredible, putting his full skill set on display and making it clear why it was coach Paul Westphal, and not him, that suffered the short end of their dispute. Cousins was a savage on the boards en route to 19 rebounds, 5 on the offensive glass. He added 21 extremely efficient points, requiring only 11 field goal attempts (with 11 free throws) to get within a board of a 20-20 night.

Just two nights after Amir Johnson and company did an admirable job keeping Kevin Love at bay, they were absolutely annihilated by the Man Child. You could suggest that’s the difference between the opening and closing game of a back-to-back-to-back, you could chalk it up to random variance on the part of both men, or you could just bow down in appreciation of what was quite a phenomenal night for the 21-year old head case.

The Raptors managed to keep it close until the end, eventually falling 98-91. This is a Sacramento Kings team, by the way, that was 0-4 on the road with an average scoring margin of -23 in those games coming in, a team that travelled the night before, eliminating the Raptors’ only real excuse. The MO on the Kings is well known, a pass-free team full of ISO-heavy chuckers, and the Raps did a good job keeping them to low percentage shots for most of the evening (30/81 for 37%). They did an especially good job forcing Tyreke Evans, an under-the-radar terrible shooter when not close to the rim, to take an array of ugly shots and seeing him finish at 7/22 from the floor. Of course, he’s the perfect example of how the Raps allowed a season-home-high of 98 points, as he got to the free throw line at will, going 14/14 at the stripe to finish with 29 points despite the poor shooting. As a team, Sacramento shot a ridiculous 31/34 at the line, meaning the Raptors were the victims of some old fashioned bad luck in this one.

Nevermind…just don’t give out 34 free throw attempts, and that won’t matter. Noted.

The Raps actually entered the fourth in a tie game with an even mark on the glass before things went awry. As mentioned, the loss of Bargnani loomed and the team was out-rebounded 10-6 while allowing 19 of said free throw attempts with little offense to keep things balanced. Basically, it became hack-a(n)-Everyone strategy, and the defense actually got worse as the Kings went 7/15 from the floor to pull away. Isaiah Thomas was ridiculous off the bench, adding a change-of-pace scoring punch for the Kings. His ability to drive and shoot with range make him a very tough cover, and he dropped a 20-piece with 6 dimes, easily his best game to date. Outside of him, DeMarcus, and Tyreke, only Jimmer was of note, chipping in 10 points on 3/10 shooting and continuing his trend of poor shooting (down to 35% from the floor on the season).

The Raptors did have two bright spots, both coming off the bench and inspiring some hope for a more balanced offensive attack moving forward. Linas Kleiza looked to be in mid-season form in his first game action since microfracture surgery last January. He played a surprising 14 minutes adding 10 points and 3 rebounds, while completely shocking the Kings with barrelling drives to the hoop upon entering. While I’m not the biggest Kleiza supporter, his ability to score in a variety of ways has been sorely missed so far, and at the very least it should mean fewer (hopefully 0) minutes for Rasual Butler’s Corpse moving forward. Leandro Barbosa also played his best game of the young season, adding 24 points on 11/18 shooting and providing the high-octane offensive spark we all expected when we nabbed him from the Suns. Coming off a 5/11 game against the Wizards, the Raptors need to hope this is a sign of Barbosa rounding into form, as another reliable scoring option is desperately needed.

Which of course brings me to DeMar DeRozan. Unlike Andrea, DeMar failed to add much else when his offense wasn’t there – he had just 3 rebounds, a lone assist, and complete disinterest defensively. I realize DeMar may just be a sub-par defensive player, which I can understand (though not accept, given his athletic gifts), but the amount of times he appears lost on coverages and rotations is unacceptable. This is forgivable (I guess) when he’s scoring in the high teens, but this was the first time he crossed 11 points in 6 games. He finished with 13 on 5/9 shooting, but once again limited his output with just 3 free throw attempts. Late in the game the team basically begged him to take over, even passing him the ball three times in a single set before he hit a turn-around jumper off a post-up. On his next touch he showed good vision by finding a wide-open Barbosa for a missed three, then scored an And-1 jam, but then dribbled out-of-control right into a defender for a game-sealing turnover out of a timeout with just a minute to go. Look, I want DeMar to be given the time to grow and work through these kinks, but on nights where you don’t have “it,” you need to pick at least one area to contribute – if it’s not going to be by creating offense and taking on a scoring load, it’s gotta be on the glass or defensive end. Just ask…Andrea??

This is getting a bit long in the tooth, so you can check the box score for more details, but just quickly: Amir looked exhausted in game three of the swing, understandable given his illness earlier in the week. He tried hard on Cousins but was bullied and came out with just 9-and-6, fouling out in 28 minutes; Ed Davis was productive in his 14 minutes (6-and-6) but I can’t help but feel he could still be doing more with his playing time (I’m a big fan, so this may just be the result of high expectations); James Johnson can not shoot (0/4) but at least chipped in with rebounds (5), assists (4), and his usual hustle; Rasual Butler, please leave; Jerryd Bayless, please come back, because watching Anthony Carter is painful; Jamaal Magloire…you can’t wrap a guy that high, though I dig the aggression.

A single day off and then another back-to-back (Indy and Chicago…4-9 here we come!).

Oh – and sorry, I know you were all looking for more puppy stories, but those will have to wait.
Raptors now 1-14 over two seasons in games I cover for RR.

  • Brian B

    Turnovers and dumb fouls… tiredness or back to the lack of smart basketball so typical over the last two seasons?

    Any word on AB’s injury? If he’s out too long this goes past ugly… what comes after ugly?

  • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

    IMO DCasey in Washington should have started the bench unit. Using Bargnani and AJ just 12 min in a reserve role. You can still lose both matches and injuries..

    I suggested this after the match against Wolves and Nilanka made a funny comment  about it (like save them for the PO)

    STFU was andstill is my answer.

    • 2damkule

      totally agree, but i’d have taken it further & just forfeited the game, not even bothered travelling to wash, and rested up for last night.

      • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

        Because we must see the glass half full….. It’s time for Ed Davis to show up.

        • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

          Didn’t AB get 5 years?lmfao

          And then only lasted 10 games before bitching up with an injury due to playing both ends of the court……

        • sleepz

          Davis played 14 minutes. Nuff said.

          • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

            I believe that Ed may be in Casey’s  doghouse as 14 minutes in bullchit especially in the 3rd game of a b2b2b.

            Player development?????

            As well, can Casey talk without coughing or stuttering?

            He sounds like he’s lying or trying to remember BC’s talking points in pressers.

      • bargs out 11 games

        yes with the new rules your allowed to do that now, forfeit or not show up you just have to phone the other team and let them know that your not coming (raincheck)

        • 2damkule

          exactly.  also helps with the tanking…

          • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

            Will is still be considered tanking if the Raptors suck next season or will it be because BC’s Raptors vision is BullChit mixed with more BullChit?

            People who support losing are pathetic in Nature to the sport of basketball no wonder the Raptors have created such a losing basketball culture as in Philly BC would be long gone by now as would AB…………..but in the TDot BC controls almost all the media talking heads who hypnotize the fan base with BC’s latest PR Spin in the wind.

            Media =’s Medium =’s Hypnotizing Minds

        • Juicy

          Weren’t you watching the games?  I’m pretty sure nobody did show up.

          At least not in the Raptor uniforms, or the Washington stands.

    • Nilanka15

      I laughed at the idea then, and I still do now.  Let’s play our starters just 12 minutes.  Great idea!!!  Hell, let’s just rest them for the final 53 games.

      We should be starting Carter, J.Johnson, Barbosa, Davis and Magloire all season!

      Please email this suggestion to Casey.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SJT6LQ6HZQWMPJMT22LTN24UUY Antonino Ferraro

    I am curious to see how DD and ED will play the next games. I hopefully see more minutes fron Klieza e less very less minutes from Butler. DD has to raise his level in both side of the floor and I don’t accept nothing than this. The guy has the body to be a factor defensively speaking and I don’t understand why he doesn’t do. ED is going to have a plenty of minutes to prove how he is good, because the team have to compensate almost 23 point per game.

    I hope that AB’s injury is not really serious, otherwise I foresee a lot of lose games.

    • 2damkule

      ‘I hope that AB’s injury is not really serious, otherwise I foresee a lot of lose games.’

      because otherwise?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SJT6LQ6HZQWMPJMT22LTN24UUY Antonino Ferraro

        You’re right ….lol

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      With or without AB the Raptors will be losing alot of games…….

  • http://www.theondeckcircle.net/ Blake Murphy

    Suppose I could/should have mentioned another stellar offensive effort from Jose, my bad.

    • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

      Don’t worry, You have my A grade vote for your article. Bau-Bau 

      • Lino

        diddo

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      I liked the way that he guarded rookie pg Isaiah Thomas 20 pts 6 assists- why can’t the Raptors get young guys with heart & skillz like IT?

  • c_bcm

    Great article. Pretty much nailed DD there, the man has to find a way to contribute while he figures this new system out. He’ll get it out though. His lack of experience is probably contributing to how slow he’s picking up DC’s system. Keep in mind that DC is the opposite of JT. Defence first, slow pace, deliberate offense. DD seems to do a lot better in a free-flowing type of offense, so it will take more than 10 game, with no training camp, to get it. For all those Bargs fans out there, keep in mind that patience will be rewarded.

    • Nilanka15

      Doesn’t it seem like DeRozan plays at half speed?  His body is completely upright when he dribbles in transition, and he looks like he’s always jogging and never sprinting.  And I’m not just referring to this season, but his whole career so far.

      As a fan, I’m definitely frustrated with his play, but I’m also starting to think that all the “athleticism” labels was completely unjustified.  He isn’t quick, can’t dribble, can’t shoot consistently, can’t finish in traffic, can’t create his own shot, and quite honestly, can’t dunk (yes, I said it).  I don’t care if you can put a ball through your legs and throw it down during all-star festivities.  If you can’t use that ability in games, it’s completely worthless.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SJT6LQ6HZQWMPJMT22LTN24UUY Antonino Ferraro

        Right. Durant is uncapable to lift 90 kg from the bench press. Richard Hamilton is slim too but he had an incredible career even now is playing less than recent period. I don’t understand why many players continuing to put weight even is quite clear that most of the time is useless.

      • voy

        dude, you are totally right.  I still think he’s athletic but so is Bruce Jenner, and I dont want him as our starting shooting guard.

        I dont know if dd has that killer instinct or that type of aggressiveness that will allow him finish strong in traffic or deal with the mental aspects that come along with a scoring slump.

        If I was Casey I’d be tempted to say “forget about scoring for awhile, try and impact the game through your defense, no easy baskets, lower the forearms across the side of some guy’s face under our basket (this is my answer to everything), dive on the floor, get sweaty, make eye contact with a pretty girl in the stands, contract a preferably mild social disease at a scarborough strip club, have fun, but just dont think about scoring for a while”.

      • tiddles

        Is this Nilanka or Josh Renolds ?

        • Nilanka15

          If this was Josh Reynolds, I’d be speaking of how I bought a Bargnani swingman jersey off ebay for $1200, because they were sold out at Real Sports.

          • tiddles

            ok i was just making sure because of so much hate but i’m not worried because the man who drafted him said a few days ago that DD is not a finished product and i have to take his word for it 

            • Nilanka15

              No hate, just frustration.  I know DeMar’s a better player because I saw it last year.  He’s just lacking in confidence right now, but the decisions he’s making aren’t helping him get over the hump.

            • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

              Yeah, because BC is a very truthful person………..

              Another one of the Raptors fans that calls BC’s piss rainwater & his shit Kobe Steak…smdh lol

      • 2damkule

        is it oversimplying things to think that a big part of his problem is that he’s a one-footed leaper?  essentially, his athleticism is related almost exclusively to his leaping ability, but because he’s only a ‘leaper’ when going off one leg, he’s limited in his ability to finish around the hoop.  he needs a lot of space to elevate, something that usually isn’t available in the paint unless in transition…and since the raps play the slowiest brand of slow-it-down ball going, those transition opportunities are few & far between (caveat: even when he does get the ball in the open floor & has a chance to finish, he usually fucks it up, soooo…yeah).

        • Nilanka15

          His preference is definitely the one-foot launch, but when he’s curling off screening and elevating on his jumpshots, he gets up pretty high, which leads me to believe that he’s perfectly capable of going up strong with both feet, but chooses not to.

          • 2damkule

            i don’t doubt that he can elevate off two feet (he’s not a cripple), but i wonder if he has the explosiveness necessary to elevate that way & finish in traffic.

            IMO…he needs to learn two things (well, obviously more than two things, but let’s start slow):

            –  without the ball, how to curl tightly on elbow/down screens & elevate for a quick J (watching about 30 hours of richard hamilton should do the trick);

            – learning how to use tempo/pace & the step-back to get his defenders backing off him so he can either take the mid-range J or a quick floater in the lane.  search ‘brandon roy’ on youtube for endless clips…

            • mountio

              I would add to the high priority list, learning to take the ball up strong. When he gets a head of steam in the open court he reverts to the “old man” slow two step change of direction move and gingerly puts it off the glass. The Vince’s (or JR Smith for that matter) of the world take one big step, elevate (usually off two feet, as you note) and take it strong. DD doesnt seem to have that skill, which can get you tonnes of easy hoops (not to mention fouls if you cant finish) …

  • Nilanka15

    Isiah Thomas reminds me a lot of a young TJ Ford in terms of his style of play.

    • 2damkule

      except, y’know, he seems to be able to shoot.

      • Nilanka15

        He put up solid percentages in his last year in Toronto, although, it was only 51 games.

        • 2damkule

          i know…it’s funny, some guys – despite what the numbers say – are just thought of as poor shooters.  with TJ, it just never FELT like his shots had a chance of going in.  kind of like how it is with DD & butler right now…every shot they take, i’m just hoping they get rim…

  • Aaron8007

    DD didn’t work on his body or his game in the off season.  He’s regressed from last year.  Last year DD looked like he had hit the gym worked on his body, played summer league and was prepared for the season.  This year it looks like he played in drew league and a few of these no defense pro games against durant and lebron but did little else to be ready for the season.  DD is only good when he gets the ball on the run.  When he gets opportunities in transition where he is squared up going to the hoop he’s effective as a driving guard.  Ask him to create from triple threat and he can’t really do anything.  Asking him to do a pick and roll and he’s useless.  He seems to be missing his opportunities in transition when there are no rim protecors.  His decision making has regressed and his body looks weaker then last year.  DD this is the NBA you better be prepared or you will get schooled and thats happening.

  • Raps

    the lockout screwed things up a bit. DeMar will get back on track trust me

  • knickz

    I think rasual butler has the worst basketball ig i’ve ever seen

  • Lucamacus

    I think its worth mentioning that 15 of the Sac’s free throw attempts came in the last minute and a half. In all fairness, they didn’t really give up 98 points, one missed bucket by the raps down the stretch and this game finishes 85-77. Kudos to extending the game though.

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      The Raptors didn’t really give up 98 points?lmfao

      • Nilanka15

        The Raptors did give up 98 points.  But it wasn’t as a result of their inability to defend.

  • hateslosing

    Demar Derozen is simply not getting the ball where he was last year. They are asking him to create and that is not what made him effective, he scored a lot of his points by curling off screens and hitting a mid ranged jumper. His post ups are getting better and his three is also much better than last year (despite having not hit in 5 games) so don’t count him out yet. He is being asked to do a lot more on both ends of the floor and it will take time for him to figure it out.

    Andrea is the only player on this team that I trust to score regularly. If he misses any significant time, we will be in trouble. 10 boards was nice though.

    How about Kleiza! he looked really good yesterday, with our new defensive scheme I think he will be a lot more effective than in the past since smaller threes won’t be ale to blow by and get to the hoop as easily. Here is hoping we will see less of Butler. We now have size on a lot of teams in the league at the 2 3 and 4 (DD Linas and Andrea) and I think running more in the post and looking for some high low action would be a good step for the offense. I really wouldn’t mind seeing the triangle but there would be no time to implement it. 

    Amir shouldn’t be playing the five defensively, but I think offensively he is doing a great job exploiting his quickness against the slower 5’s of the league. Last night was bad, Cousins brutalized him, but then Cousins is pretty much a beast against everyone. I think Amir will be moved to the second unit next season when JV comes over but he is doing a good job playing off Bargs and Calderon so far and he has really started to prove that he is worth all that money.

    Ed Davis is going to be a good player. I’m really not excited for when one of him or Andrea is traded.

    • RobertArchibald

      Completely agree with your assessment of DeMar. He flourishes in run ‘n gun basketball and the half-court offence is a hindrance to him at the moment. He has never been great at creating his own shot, which is what he’s been asked to do a lot lately. Since we run so much high P&R it creates a lack of overall movement in the offence which again, hurts DeMar. I like the idea of him focusing on his D and rebounding for now and letting the game come to him on the offensive side.