Blowout favor returned to the Wizards. Case closed. Let’s see what Colangelo had to say during his interview at halftime:
Jonas was paid a trip which included a dinner date where the Raptors gauged how his physical and basketball progression was coming along in Europe. Kudos to the Raptors for being proactive on this front, and keeping good relations with the European club, who at this point are solely responsible for his development. The Raptors will send someone later in the month to do a proper examination of Valanciunas to ensure that he’s being prepped properly for life in the NBA. Colangelo referred to him as the future at the five, so there you go Jamaal, sorry to break it to you.
Colangelo was asked to comment on two free-agents – Wilson Chandler and Andrei Kirilenko. Usually these kinds of question result in a very generic compliment that you can’t read much into. However, he had extra praise for Kirilenko, whose defense and activity-level he cited as being very desirable. When asked what positions he’s looking to shore up this summer, the point guard and the small forward were on top of the list. You can do the math and see that Colangelo is going to be interested in someone like Kirilenko – a defense-first player for a defense-first coach in a position that is currently wide open? It adds up.
The looming trade deadline and Leandro Barbosa’s Raptor-status was queried, and Colangelo revealed that as recent as yesterday did he receive calls inquiring about Barbosa. He qualified the comment by saying that he’s not going to make a deal that doesn’t fit in the “plan”, i.e., will not tack on needless salary thus sacrificing cap flexibility. To my ears, it sounded like he wasn’t going to trade him for anything but a pick or a piece that’s going to be part of the future, like, as in the core. In my opinion, a first rounder is good return for Barbosa.
As for the draft, he explicitly suggested that the Raptors would select a player in the draft. This might be surprising to some given the youth on the team, but hey, it’s not like anyone on this roster is close to being untouchable, so it’s not fathomable to think that Colangelo can replace an under-performing “core piece” with someone he drafts with the fifth pick.
There’s also no timeline on Bargnani’s injury, the only thing said was that it’s worse than before and they’re taking a symptomatic approach to things. I don’t know what that means, except that he’s out for at least two weeks.
That folks was really the interesting part of the evening.
The basketball game itself was a 3 on the unwatchable scale of 1 to 10. The Wizards might not be a fundamental team but they’re certainly “fun” to watch when they’re ruining 2-on-1 breaks with absolutely “mental” plays, which was the flavor of the night for them. Both teams struggle to score in the half court, and both tried to make this an up-tempo game in hopes of gaining easy access to points. The Raptors came out winners in the end and in the process broke the 100-point barrier for the first time at home all season. A free slice for everyone and an 8-16 record, life is pretty close to perfect.
The chubbier version of Jason Segel got the start at center (kidding, I love the guy, his nick should be Baby Gray), and was soon backed up by the pride of Canada, Jamaal Magloire. The two combined to bother JaValee McGee just enough for the latter not give a f**k for most of the night. Job done. While DeMar DeRozan continued to blaze his path to scrub-status by changing his mind from shot-to-pass under no pressure, it was Amir Johnson who finally said enough is enough and decided that tonight was going to be the night he’s going to get his first double-double since January 16th. His play was simple, pick ‘n roll with the emphasis on the roll. That got him a huge dunk and a couple scores, add to some cases of being at the right spot at the right time, and you got yourself a 5-5 half with Matt Devlin introducing you as “@IAmAmirJohnson” in the interview.
The other Johnson didn’t fare half-bad either, and he again surprised me with a block the had no business getting. You’re probably heard the phrase Jack of all trades, King of none? I’d say James Johnson is the 8 of clubs of all trades. He’s got it all, it just happens to fall short in every area. The good news is he’s only 24 and maybe with Casey in his ear for another season, and some growth as a player, he can turn into J.R Smith lite for us. Something like that.
The Raptors shot 40% in the first quarter to the Wizards’ 30%, and had 8 offensive rebounds (one of them a sweet Jose tip-in) which had them tied at 22 after the first. The second is when Amir Johnson did his thing, and Leandro Barbosa started trudging his way to his customary 19 points to put the Raptors up 10 at the break. The Raptors converted a lot of semi-transition baskets to scores following poor Washington shot selection and generally stupid shit, I mean, do you really need to fake a layup before attempting a layup when nobody’s around you? As Jack Armstrong said, the Wizards play for Sportscenter, except that Sportscenter ain’t watching. The Raptors had 38 point in the paint at the half, and were +12 on the boards. This was an area you’d think the Wizards would excel, except that Rashard Lewis was as interested in this game as I am in this infomercial about wallpaper I’m watching right now. He did post-up DeRozan a couple times forcing Casey to call on Kleiza; I was a little intrigued as to why Washington doesn’t use his size/quickness a little more. I guess they don’t really put the effort into winning games like they did in the past, you know, shortened season and all.
The Wizards did pull back to a single point with an 8-0 run in the third, courtesy of John Wall. After all, the Raptors offense is liable to go into a drought against any defense, in any arena, on any given night, and so it momentarily did in the third. That’s when Casey pulled out his Ace of Spades in Linas Kleiza (who reminds me of the direwolf from Game of Thrones). The Raptors immediately ran a set play that worked – a nice cut from top by Kleiza found by DeRozan. Soon after, he caught the ball with perfect momentum and positioning at the three-point line on the break and nailed a three. That was part of a key 20-10 run to end the quarter, and go up 11 into the fourth. That shot by Kleiza is the one that made him an NBA player: a spot-up three. After shooting 37.6, 33.9, and 32.6 percent from downtown in Denver, he’s nose-dived to 29% this season. It’s like the one thing he did well has been replaced by three things he does poorly.
The game was sealed early in the fourth when JaValee McGee was spotted hailing a cab to the airport. After a Wizards turnover, Barbosa and Kleiza finished a nice 2-on-1 on the break to give the Raptors a 15 point lead, their largest of the night, thus prompting the ACC crowd to check their iPhones for the location to the nearest Pizza Pizza (participating stores only).
Raptors win, Raptors win. I guess in a losing season all you see is the negatives, and I could go on here about how DeRozan’s scaring the living shit out of me right now, but I won’t. All I’ll say is that the Drew League seems to have ruined him. I hope it’s temporary and he’s in some sort of a “funk” which he’ll snap out of, I don’t know. If Bargnani can do it, everyone has hope, but I can’t take much more of him getting outplayed by Nick Young anymore.
What else…hmm…Casey started Bayless at the shooting guard again after dropping the ball versus the Hawks. Good for him, he’s clocking 29mpg the last four games which is great, let’s see what you got. Last night he had 3 points and 2 assists in 28 minutes while going 1-6. Not good, I can see why Colangelo said that a future PG is on his list of acquisitions this summer. It’s obvious that Bayless isn’t the man, and seriously though, it was only wishful thinking and hope that had me even entertain him being part of the bigger future.
OK then, up next we’re in Miami. I’ll take the Raptors by 5 – DeRozan drops 34 and Ed Davis goes for 16 rebounds.
I have nowhere else in this post to fit this, so here goes: Jan Veseley looked awful.Follow @raptorsrepublic