The Raptors finally broke out of their 0-for-showing with Bargnani injured this season, and got a win with the franchise on the sidelines. Individual plays and levels of effort aside, you have to appreciate this one; the Raptors never lost a quarter, and dictated the flow and tempo throughout. In fact, had it not been for early solid free-throw shooting in the first half, and some above average offensive rebounding by the Nets, this would have been one of those games where a Nets blogger’s post-game would have been a picture of tightly curled turd on the Nets logo.

An aside to the win, the Raptors managed 94 points without Bargnani and Barbosa. Granted some of that has to do with Jersey’s lack of…everything, but the Raptors did as good a good as job as possible with defensive rotations and assignments that you could expect. I mean, Deron Williams dropped 24 points, but it took him 20 shots (3-10 3FG), and some heroic off the ball movement to get good looks at the rim.

Case in point, in the 2nd quarter, Williams started at the top of the arc, ran around the low block, brushed past two low screens, came around to the top of the arc, caught and shot the ball with Bayless on his ass. He hit the three (without as much space as you’d think), but the point is he wasn’t blowing by pylons to get his baskets. He’s the type of player that can make those kind of plays happen, the rest of the team couldn’t and caved to the Raptor defense.

I like Calderon and Bayless starting in the back-court together. As much as Bayless offends me with his decision making, when he doesn’t have to be the floor general, he makes things happen. He also takes pressure off Jose to cover the likes of Deron Williams. I’d like to explore a lineup of Calderon, Bayless, JJ, Bargnani and Amir with DeRozan, Kleiza and Davis as the first three off the bench for a few games. Bayless attacks the paint off the bounce as much as possible, something DeRozan and his new-found love for the jumper should be doing. It gives a bit more balance, which takes me to DeMar…

…I wasn’t that impressed with DeRozan’s game last night. Sure, 27pts on 8-12FG 11-16FT looks great on the boxscore, but it didn’t sit right with me. Three times in the first half, DeRozan pulled up on the break and popped (missed) a jumper when he could have made a move to the basket and either converted or drew a foul. His 27 should have been at least 30. The second problem I had was 17 of 27 came in the second half with the Nets thinking about dinner and watching Californication.

The saving grace of his second half “dominance” was that he got to the line 12 times and hit 9 of them. Had they all been jumpers, I guarantee we would have been watching him shoot jumpers at an even more alarming rate for the rest of the season. Not sure if it’s just me or is his development looking a bit like VC’s? He doesn’t have the same finish Carter had at this stage of his career, but we watched VC go from a guy who wanted to break the backboard, to the POS jump shooter he became. I’m way to lazy to pull stats on this (maybe Liston can put something for statophile), but I’ve noticed myself sighing with more regularity that he’s shooting instead of driving. I can live with the shooting if it continues to improve, but only if he gets to the line more; 4 times a game is half of what of what he should be doing.

Photo Credit: James Herbert via Twitter

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