Raptors 81, Nuggets 96 – Box

Big win for Toronto. They came back from a major deficit and were able to survive a stubborn counter attack and hold on for the victory. The MVP for Toronto this night had to be Josh Sanderson, who led the way with three goals and two assists. Wait a minute … I think I got my gamers mixed up there. This is supposed to be a recap of the Raptors vs. Nuggets tilt; not the rousing Rock vs. Knighthawks lacrosse game I saw when I switched on TSN2. Sorry for the mistake. Obviously I must have temporarily mixed up my channels. It would be laughable for a lacrosse game to bump a professional basketball game. Right? For a lacrosse match to bump a professional basketball game off the dial there would have to be such a dearth of enthusiasm for that NBA team, their ratings would have to be so pathetic, that subbing them for lacrosse action would seem like a plausible scenario. Oh wait…

Just as the Rock were popping champagne back at the ACC, TSN2 switched over to the Raptors game already in progress. The collective fan base were robbed of precious minutes of promising Raptor action, with the team taking the momentum from that inspiring performance in Phoenix and translating it into an eight point lead early in the first quarter. Kleiza was already on the bench at that point but Devlin assured us he was in the starting lineup. Going 0-4 to start the game seems to explain the quick hook. Despite having lost Felton due to injury, and three of their main rotation players from last year to overseas defections, Denver came ready to play. In case you somehow managed to miss it, Bargnani is out indefinitely with another calf injury, and his absence from this game once again completely derailed the Raptors. With a little under four minutes to go in the first quarter Denver was cruising with the score at 14-2. With the help of their bench (Bayless and Barbosa) the Raptors were able to make it somewhat respectable by the end the first, 28-12. Believe me, it could have been much, much worse. Before the buzzer sounded, Andre Miller heaved a shot from three quarters court and made it. I’m betting that’s when probably a lot of folks started changing channels, and for those who didn’t, it was about to get plenty worse.

With the game already well in hand, Denver seemed content to watch the Bayless and Barbosa show, with the former taking open jumpers when they presented themselves, and Barbosa going one on five, which he is prone to do. At one point in the second quarter, our two combo guards off the bench had combined for 17 of the Raptors 21 points. They seemed to be the only players in a Toronto uniform who seemed mildly interested in contributing, and if it wasn’t for their offensive efforts, this game would have turned from ugly to just plain hideous. Coming off that game in Phoenix that had me questioning why I’d written him off so quickly, Kleiza managed just two points and was constantly targeted as a defensive liability. Denver was clinical in dissecting Toronto’s defense. They played unselfishly, always looking for the open man, and were able to score efficiently no matter what defensive scheme Casey threw at them. The TV cameras managed to find some Toronto fans in the crowd, looking utterly miserable, and who can blame them. At the half the Raptors were down 48-27, and it seemed like the team was headed toward a loss for the ages.

But once the third quarter got rolling, a Raptors starter decided maybe he would get rolling too. James Johnson, after already contributing solid defense in the first half, cranked up his offense; hitting jump shots, driving to the bucket, and adding a ferocious put-back dunk. Bayless and Barbosa continued their solid production and all that, coupled with some sloppy play by the usually crisp Nuggets, somehow whittled the Denver lead to 12 points at the end of the third.

The Raptors took the momentum into the fourth, and with a three-headed attack — Bayless, Barbosa and some effective picks by Jamal Magloire (most of which should have been called fouls) — the Raptors somehow cut the lead to six. I cannot describe to you the disbelief with which I met this wonder. After watching painfully as the Raptors wandered aimlessly on offense for the majority of the game, I found them right in the thick of it with one of the best teams in the NBA. Finally, a game worth watching. Until all of the sudden, it wasn’t. Bayless gets pulled for Jose, who had another uncharacteristically bad game; James Johnson gets pulled for Butler — need I say more? — and Barbosa gets pulled for DeMar. Mr. Fourth Quarter decided that since he’d already taken the first part of the game off (DeMar was 0-10 at one point in the third), there wasn’t much point in giving an effort when the game was on the line. He ended with 8 points on 3-15 shooting. Sure he had a couple of baskets, but DeMar seemed so timid at being the first option that even Kleiza had plays run for him in the fourth. Swapping Barbosa for DeMar effectively killed the Raptors hopes of winning this game, which I suppose is a good thing if you’re one of those Big Picture types firmly entrenched in the tank camp.

The game came to a puzzling conclusion when Al Harrington took issue with Kleiza’s foul at the 30 second mark (it seemed harmless enough) and began to lose his collective shit. His incessant verbal barrage gave Kleiza no other choice but to shove him, and everyone jumped up, perhaps anticipating they might get their money’s worth after all, by way of a good-old bench clearing brawl. But even there, disappointment. Cooler heads prevailed, the refs doled out some techs, everyone was subjected to a few more minutes of boredom, and the Nuggets won by 15.

A few quick notes: First of all, I really question Casey’s decision to nail Amir to the bench in favor of Gray. Is Amir, one of the only Raptors who consistently goes out and gives every ounce of effort at his disposal, really the Raptor you want to make an example of? Second, I’m beginning to hope that the Raptors lose by 40 to 50 points real soon, which is completely plausible, especially with Bargnani out for aswhile. These 10 to 20 point losses are just way too misleading. The Raptors are giving just enough effort in these losses to seem respectable, and in the end they are doing themselves (and their fans) a disservice. A true blowout loss might force the organization to make a move, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Raptors are in need of one. Even with the shortened season, I can’t take too many more of these games. Go Rock.

Ed’s Note: David Helm again.

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  • Ska

    Good article. Just fix this:ISn’t Felton but TY Lawson sidelined. Felton is with Portland

  • BC doesn’t want to change nothing, no matter if we are going to lose games for 20 to 30 points of deficit. His idea is high draft pick, add Valanciunas and pick some FA. They will evaluate some guys and decide who have to leave the team between AJ, and ED, and also understand to invest time and money for DD. I don’t foresee trade or movement to improve this team during the rs. Probably part of Raptors management is happy to see AB out indefinetely. I am not happy but this is the reality. Another losing season.

  • Ppellico

    well…I am amazed at you pointing at Amir/Gray as a question.
    Gray was the most solid player of the night.
    He had 7 rebounds in his first 5 minutes of play.
    He set down two opposition players onto the floor.
    In fact, IF you were to be honest here…he set tons of open shot views for his team early on only to see them shoot 2 for 200, or something like that.

    Let’s face it ….Gray isn’t anything but a solid asset.
    This team’s horrid shooting…1 for 17…in that first quarter was THE reason.
    Nothing else.
    Plain and simple.

    To point to Gray here is. well…to be nice, blind.

    They had few shot inside with him in there, but he couldn’t cover 2 big men in the paint at the same time.
    Somebody (PLEASE, somebody) had to help as well and at least cover thye weak side when he had Nene!

  • Ppellico

    Amir played just ONE minute less and had, what? One rebound?
    Gray had 11!
    And you question the reason he is off the bench?

    • Pizzaman

      I agree that Gray is doing exactly what we need of him, and Demar and crew shooting bricks and airballs is the single biggest reason we have not won without Bargnani. We should be thinking of putting Barbosa in with JJ on the wing and letting our young prodigy come off the bench like his talent level dictates.

      • What the

        How about still starting them but pull them earlier

        • Jshchn

          but i just don’t like the entitlement derozan gets cause he’s still “developing” by being a starter in this league. BENCH HIM!

          • What the

            like JAY T. said he was drafted to be our starter not come of the bench talk to the boss BC 

        • Pizzaman

          that works too but we need scoring to at least stay in the game and keep it interesting for everyone players and fans alike. i have no issue with losing alot of games as it seems destined and getting a high pick, but if we get killed all the time and lose all the time player development will suffer because of lack of motivation.

    • RapsFan

      Nicely Said, If player is NOT producing, then he should be sitting on the bench. Amir is No Rookie that needs to be developed at this age of his game. He is ONLY 23-24 but has been in the league for 5-6 years and has been giving ample opportunity to develop.

      • sek99

        But this is only his 3rd year with consistent minutes. Besides, I’d be pretty angry if I was playing as well as he was earlier in the season but I got pulled for someone who is considered a scrub by most.

    • CaseyDaMan

      Amir was sure playing like a legit NBAer until recent few games, but last few he’s stunk for 80-90% of his court time. Sometimes seems that kind of thoughtless stuff inserted to the blogs is nothing more than feeding the significant cynical lemming masses with fodder for shouting down BC and how this organization is being run. You’d think that the bloggers would be a little more mature and responsible, aye. Sad.

      • RapsFan

        Not true. We can list Amir’s stat for every single game that he played and from the 20 games that Raptors have played this year, he only played like a legitimate NBA payer that we all thought he is in 5 games !!! 
        The rest were all inconsistent play or foul troubles or … The stats are there for everyone to look at .

        • RapsFan

          Here are the Points and rebound for all the games:

          PT     REB
          13      13
          2        10
          6        4
          8        2
          5        3
          6        4
          8        10
          12      14
          19      11
          4        10
          9        6
          9        5
          6        13
          4        6
          0        4
          1        1
          5        3
          6        1
          4        2

        • CaseyDaMan

          Well, if you rely upon Pt/RB stats to judge a player’s value, you need a little help understanding the game,,, but if you’re analysis was correct, that adds more fuel to my point that one shouldn’t be saying Amir should have played more.

          • RapsFan

            Tim W
            Why don’t you bring forward some stats to show us how Amir has been playing like a “legitimate NBA Player” ?
            Of course there are different areas that one can look at to evaluate a player but I thought I just show you the easiest one , hoping that you can keep up and understand.
            Amir is averaging 7 points and 6.5 rebound a game !!! That is much below everyone’s expectation of 10 and 8 for this season.

            • CaseyDaMan

              I suggest you keep up fool. Look at the discussion I was responding to,,, and maybe you’ll realize that you keep insisting on supporting what I was supporting, while thinking your correcting me over irrelevant stats to the actual discussion.

              • RapsFan

                Keep your fool BS to yourself. My point has nothing to do with him getting bench and more with him playing sub par all season long. Do you see the Diff ?

                • CaseyDaMan

                  lol. Except for last 6 games or so, you’re full of shyt with sub-par, but you still don’t get the point that that wasn’t the point of the discussion.

      • sleepz

        I guess it’s only the cynical lemming masses that can question how BC is running the team because they have some history with BC’s decision making on which to base their claims.

        To insinuate that makes them immature and irresponsible is laughable.lol

        Why is your take anymore ‘distinguished’ than anyone else that doesn’t see or agree with your opinion on how Colangelo runs this team?

        • CaseyDaMan

          Bottom line is Amir has played poorly over last 6 games, and blog write-up was questioning his minutes and saying he should have played more instead of Gray who got the same minutes, while doing more. Please tell me how that this is a mature and responsible take on things while you’re laughing.

          • voy

            “mature and responsible?!?!”  Dudes are giving their opinion on basketball, not socio-economic theory.  Take the stick out of your ass.

            even though Amir may not have been playing that well, 15, 24, 13 and 7 is not alot of burn to straighten your game out.  Maybe it was a matchup thing, I dunno.  But for the most part, all the young guys should be getting as many minutes as they can handle.  All things being equal, Amir has got to get more minutes that Grey.  There is no more upside to Grey’s game.  There may not be any more upside to Amir’s game either but you need to give him 30 mniutes for the rest of the year to find out.  Who knows,though, like I said before, maybe it was a matchup thing with Grey.

            • CaseyDaMan

              Grey’s 15 minutes, with AB out, is taking away from Amir’s minutes? hahahaha… Yup, he and you are right. How foolish of me.

              • voy

                like I said, maybe it was a matchup thing.  I dont know why its so difficult for you not to try and frame other’s opinions to support your thoughts.  Are you incapable of understanding any other argument?  Regardless if you agree with them at least pretend you possess the ability to comprehend relatively simple sentences.

                But then again what should I expect from a guy who thinks “3 point shooting”, “defense” and “leadership” are the strengths Rasual Butler has been proving throughout his career.  What was it you said on the previous post about Rasual?  Oh yeah “You don’t have a 9 year NBA career without providing value all along the way”.

                • CaseyDaMan

                  I never said a word about what he provided “throughout” his career, but nice try on twisting what I did say. Nah, lame try actually.

                • voy

                  yeah, I twisted what you said by quoting you.

                  maybe then you can explain what “value” rasual has been providing “all along the way” his career, other than the “pretty good career average shooting 3s, his D and leadership” you stated in the previous post. 

                • CaseyDaMan

                  Never used it before, but as I’ve seen on here, you’re stuck on stupid.

                • What the

                  GOOD ONE P00KA!

  • Amir takes an advantage when AB and JC are on the floor. He has ability to attack the space in the paint when the defence keeps an eye on Primo Pasta. Nowadays I saw Amir struggling, probably because is tired.

    • What the


    • RapsFan

      Then rest him !!! Dallas did it with Dirk. Enough of excuses for Amir and Ed and DD. If they are tired, rest them , if they are hurt rest them. We NEED to find out if they were all HYPE or they belong to the future !!

      Last year Amir was KING on this board. The most efficient offensive player, the best defender, the heart and soul and ….  20 games into this season, and only 3-4 games he was able to produce !!!! 
      What is 3 point and 2 rebound stat line ??

      STOP hiding behind excuses and show us who the real AMIR Johnson is.

  • cesco

    At least one positive thing as shown up recently . JJ improvement on offense (besides his defense) , we may have an additional NBA player beside Andrea , Jose and Amir ( all three injured or exhausted ) and Leandro .

  • Nilanka15

    I was so pissed being forced to watch 25 minutes of lacrosse. But after watching the Raps sleep through yet another 1st quarter, I was so pissed lacrosse was over.

  • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

    “A true blowout loss might force the organization to make a move” by Prospect.

    Excuse me Sir, you don’t know what you are writing about. Enough said. Have a nice day

  • 511

    My two cents if you don’t mind. I’m compelled. Reader discretion … ahh, never mind. 

    Checking the sports radio a few times as the day went along, it seemed wall-to-wall, marathon hockey stuff for this upcoming All Star Game like they were playing the fucking SUPER BOWL was ruling the day (maybe it was my timing, don’t know). And then at home with the tv on one of the sports stations, the phony macho voice behind the graphics was urgently talking about being sure not to miss the “electrifying” action … and I thought … ok, I said out loud, “WHO THE FUCK ARE THEY KIDDING?” ‘Cause like, even I know that hockey all star games are about as ‘electrifying’ as me taking a dump in the morning. And then, as Prospect here has already gone over — very nice job, btw — when I could finally settle in to watch the Raps hopefully go at it with a vigorous intention to win without their best player helping them (kind of like the Celtics did, I was imagining, the night before when they came back from being down 27 and beat the Magic in their own house. Bar fight. Say what you will about KG, he’s probably been worth his weight in gold to the teams he’s played for over the years), I was forced to watch rugged little guys run around with lacrosse sticks, playing a game I saw being played in high school a couple times back in the day … and I thought, ‘this stuff makes hockey look good’. (And ya, I’ve pretty much lost friends over the blasphemous attitude that resides within, about most locals’ favorite sport – hockey – but I can’t help it. Too much force-feeding over the years, I figure.) And then the game joined in progress. Which was less than hoped for by a fair margin, but had its moments if I reached, nonetheless. 

    As has been referred to, hard to figure why Bayless didn’t get more minutes when he was near-shooting the lights out (relative to some others I won’t mention who wears number 10 on his jersey – I won’t expand, I’d get way too rude … and I haven’t figured out that edit trick here, as yet) and not running too-fast-by-half as he likes to do, tripping over himself and making us play with fill-in backup pg’s for weeks at a time. And … it’s not like Jose wouldn’t have likely appreciated extra bench minutes seeing as he’s been manning the point almost singlehandedly since just after the beginning of the season. Bayless had it goin on. ‘Big picture’ indeed. 

    Watching Barbosa makes me rethink the whole ‘good trading chip’ thing. I forget that last year, he had that bum-wrist going on. This year, we’re seeing who he is. And he might be too good to let go. 

    James Johnson is getting more interesting all the time. If he keeps going in this direction … that’s all I’ll say. (Except – almost related – enough with the Butler experiment, please. fFs.)

    Kleiza being Kleiza. I like him but what I like most about him is his accent when he speaks. A perfect cross of Lithuanian and Southern Drawl. Having known Lithuanians, I always find it hilarious. 

    And that’s all. Half-nuts-with-this-team five-one-one on a Saturday morning. Over and out.

    • tonious35

      Kleiza attended and was drafted from Missouri, and played in the NCAA

  • Kaman on the market. He would be perfect for us to improve talent in a center spot. He costs 12 mln untill this season and I figure him with a new contract (5/6 mln per year) to help Val’s growth.

    But BC doesn’t want.

    • Copywryter

      Why would Kaman want that? And you think he’s going to go from 12 million to 5 or 6 so that he could be replaced? Kaman is 30, in his prime years for a center, not 35 and dribbling into the sunset.

      • No one offers him much more money (7/8 maybe) because he is injury prone.

      • I see the same Dalembert’s situation. He agreed for two years (7 mln and  6.7) with the Rockets. 31 years old.

        • Copywryter

          Kaman is a better player by far

    • CaseyDaMan

      1. NOH is shopping Kaman for the best deal and you can bet they’re looking for very promising young players/prospects and/or high draft picks. What do you think we should offer that won’t easily be beat by someone else in the league?

      2. Only thing we have that would interest them is our upcoming draft pick. You suggest we should offer that for likely a 1/2 year expensive rental to get a couple of extra wins?

      3. Kaman is a VERY serviceable (much better than Dalembert) C and is certain to get more that 2 years at $5/6 M /year. To think otherwise is shoving your head in the sand about what good centers get paid in the NBA.

      4. “But BC doesn’t want”: If BC could get him without giving up anything of value (not possible), and sign him to the salary you suggest (won’t happen), he’d be a wonderful piece to transition JV into the NBA. Trouble is, those two requirements are not possible.

      5. Whatever you simply imagine BC wants/doesn’t want, it’s been made very clear that what he wants this year is:
      – to not commit any more long term $ until the evaluation and development this year has run it’s course.
      – at the end of the year, and only at the end, use the $ flexibility and the high draft pick in a loaded draft, to proceed with the better knowledge of what the team has, and improve the team through free agency, trade, draft possibilities, with the intent of building with patience and youth.

      Questioning BC on not getting Kaman is neither sensible or good use of anybody’s time.

  • Copywryter

    “I cannot describe to you the disbelief with which I met this wonder. ” Not a fan of this writing style. Also, I’m pretty sure the Raps had 32 at the half, not 27. 

    • Rapture

      ‘Round here, we don’t end our sentences with prepositions. Would you have preferred the colloquial, although grammatically incorrect rendition: “I cannot describe to you the disbelief I met this wonder with”?

      • Copywryter

        I would have preferred the sentence not be present at all. If it’s baroque, fix it. 

  • Balls of Steel

    Contrary to your wishes of being blown away by 40 to 50 points, these are the kinds of losses that I prefer (the one where the entire team fights til’ the end). At the beginning of the season I said that I would mind a 60-loss season for as long as the games are close and they’re keeping their opponents under a hundred points. Let’s face it, Bargs is gone and there’s no one to pick up the slack. At least the team is buying the concept. Look at Washington. What concepts are they buying?

    • CaseyDaMan

      Yay, some sense!!!!!

  • c_bcm

    Amir is tired. He needs these games to let his body heal. This is why Gray was bought in anyways, we might as well use him.
    Bring Jose and Demar back in the 4th because they are the starters. Bench players play bench time, starters play starters time. That means starters, or players you are grooming to be starters, finish the game. always. Have to go with your go-to guys in crunch time.

    • Rapture

      That’s what I was thinking. Amir gets the tar kicked out of him, he needs some healing for sure.

    • Pizzaman

      I do not subscribe to that theory when your starters are playing like shit and especially when one starter DD is not nearly as good a player as his bench replacement in Barbosa.

      • mountio

        Exactly .. “starters” doesnt necessarily mean anything. A lot of teams start one or two glue guys and dont finish the game with them very often. (manu in SA is an obvious example .. but there are many around teh league and even have been many with the raps over the years). Reason being, you often need to balance the starting line up with a guy or two who dont need the ball. Down the stretch, its totally different .. lots of back and forth, tighter D and a struggle for hoops. You NEED guys like Bosa playing these minutes who can either create their own shot or hit open shots if someone gets doubled.
        Bosa is the best scorer on this team (other than AB) .. he should be playing minutes down the stretch .. period 

  • tonious35

    Raptors down 6, during a time-out: *Ring *Ring, Casey picks up a cellphone call, Colangelo tells Casey to execute tank order 66, Casey subs out Barbosa, Bayless…

    • What the


      • CaseyDaMan

        More of let’s find something, to use our incredible psychic power on, to bash BC.

    • Pizzaman

      I don’t believe at all that happened, but yet last night was the first time I could not believe Casey’s decision to put DD and Jose out there that long when Bayless was playing his best game yet, and DD was shitting his pants.

  • j bean

    Calderone -22  Bayless +7

    Calderone 3-15  Bayless 7-10

    There was a noticeable difference in team play on both ends of the court with Bayless in there. Too bad their minutes played wasn’t switched.

  • RapsFan

    “Is Amir, one of the only Raptors who consistently goes out and gives every ounce of effort at his disposal, really the Raptor you want to make an example of”

    Enough with this BS about giving it all and … The guy is simply not producing so if he is giving it all, then he has NO TALENT !! Look at his numbers for last few games and you see why his ASS is nailed to the bench. 

    He might be tired or hurt and if thee are the cases, then sit out games and get your head into it. Right now, he is fouling in a an astonishing rate and producing like a guy who should due 10-11 person off the bench.

  • Rpsfan95

    Bayless hasn’t played much and they are in the thin air of Denver with another game on Sunday, makes total sense

  • Jamie

    “Second, I’m beginning to hope that the Raptors lose by 40 to 50 points real soon.”

    What kind of fan hopes for the Raptors to get blown out by 40-50 points?

  • RapsM

    TSN2 and SN1 suck.

    • Copywryter

      So do the Raptors.

      • Rob

        But not as much as TSN2 and SN1.

  • Interesting rumor about Calderon. Calderon for pick, for expiring contract…..evidently we are to strong and we need lose some pieces. lol

  • O D

    Barbosa will start, and then get his ass traded to a contender for a playoff run… only move beside Mike James on a 10 day contract coming for these boys..If we got a good price for Barbosa on a resign I would keep him and trade Bayless.. The latter seems less plausible than the former

  • Slamdunk

    Sometimes all an effective centre must contribute to winning, given teammates who make up for lack of scoring, is to clog up the key on D and rip down boards; to not allow being pushed around for positioning: to hit open teammates with good passes, and to be the fourth option in halfcourt O with at least one reliable move. Aaron Grey does all of the above well. I agree his athleticism does not match Amirs, but what I see is Grey improving his team’s plus-minus point differential, the only stat that really matters.