Raptors 95, Hornets 84 – Box

In a battle of the #2 and #4 ranked team in the lottery odds table, #4 prevailed, thus suffering a blow in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, if you can call them that. Unlike against Houston, the Raptors were able to turn the recovery from their usual slow start into a win, thanks mostly in part due to Kleiza’s hot outside shooting and some inspired fourth quarter play from Jerryd Bayless. In a season of ups, downs, downs, downs, an up, and more downs, Kleiza has actually looked fairly decent. I’m not sure if that’s because the team is really bad and any mediocre play is magnified accordingly, or whether he’s improved as a player. I can’t even be cared to give it a second thought because the amnesty axe is hanging over his head like the Greatsword over Ned Stark. Still though, good showing.

After the customary Raptors slow start caused by lethargic play and Chris Kaman’s Kamanesque play, Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza (21 pts, 7-13 FG, 5-7 3FG) fired the Raptors back with some hot outside shooting, and at the end of the first the Raptors were firing at 63%, leading 29-25. The next two quarters were downright unwatchable, where it was crystal clear that these were two of the NBA’s basest products. The Raptors in the second and third quarter shot 26%, and would’ve actually played the Hornets even if it weren’t for some late third quarter Marco Belinelli shooting.

The only thing worth watching in the two middle frames was a “small” Raptors lineup of Bayless, Barbosa, J. Johnson, Kleiza, and Davis, which appeared early in the second. This was the most movement-heavy lineup the Raptors had all night, and was something nice to behold. What wasn’t so nice was DeRozan’s play in this stretch. He had a nice statistical game of 21/6/4, and yet managed to leave the viewer with a feeling that all isn’t right.

It’s his drives. I feel like if he doesn’t get a step on the defender on those curls Casey runs for him, there is nothing to be had for him going to the rim. The finishing is astonishingly poor, and we should stop equating him with dunks or any “high flying”, because when he’s contested, his finishing is one of the worst in the league for a starting two guard, thus making it critical for his jumper to be consistent. If he’s going to be a consistent, reliable, scorer in this league, it’ll be on the basis of his jumper and not his drive.

So yeah, halftime came and went, and the third continued with Jarrett Jack reminding us how silly we were in thinking he could ever be a meaningful part of a team that isn’t bottom five in the NBA. The Raptors were bricking things from all angles, with the Hornets doing the same. The apex of the excitement had to be Jose Calderon’s three point attempt getting stuck between rim and backboard, allowing the crowd to momentarily catch their breath. As mentioned, Belinelli got things going for them by hitting a couple deep bombs which prompted the arena staff to stroll out Italian flags in the crowd (not joking, like three massive flags came out).

The Raptors were down five heading into the fourth quarter, and started it with a 17-3 run. Full credit to Jerryd Bayless for injecting the game with desperately needed energy. He had two crucial assists, one on a nice drive ‘n kick to DeRozan, and the other in transition to Barbosa. That got the Raptors going and Kleiza chimed in with a couple threes, before Bayless added one of his own. This game was rescued from the jaws of defeat, because at the end of the third, momentum was squarely on the side of the Hornets after Belinelli’s theatrics, and it took something special in those first five minutes of the fourth to bring it back.

DeRozan had seven in the fourth, and played the full quarter (kissed and made up with Casey, I guess). Granted, the reason he got benched wasn’t because of his often-sputtering offense but because of his defense, and Belinelli isn’t exactly one to exploit in one-on-one situations, so life on defense wasn’t as hard for DeMar as on other days. Barbosa had his 15 points, and was crucial in the fourth as well. All in all, a tame road win on a night where both team were on a back-to-back. We’ll take the W and match our road win total from last year.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter. If you look at this team in terms of talent and group it in terms of hi, medium and low, pretty much everyone but Bargnani is in medium or low. That should indicate if there are any pieces here worth carrying over to next season. My current feeling is that I don’t think I’ll be heartbroken if any of the current crop of players (save Bargnani if he’s going to play like has this year) is moved along.

Let’s wait till the end of the season to have that discussion, for now though, all we can conclude is that this Raptor team seems to give a lot more shit about things than the last three. That’s progress. Small progress, but progress.

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  • Milesboyer

    It is really unfortunate that DeRozan has a hard time beating people off the dribble but I disagree with his finishing or at least the potential to be a good finisher.  His greatest strength is hanging in the air and that gives him the opportunity to “go at” people, especially bigs and either draw the foul or hang long enough to get his shot off.  He’s not always successful but he’s still pretty good when he gets there.  The problem is that he has a long stride and generally slow foot speed so the “getting there” can be the hard part.  It’s even more compounded when he lacks aggressiveness which is more often than it should be.

    • Brian B

       He may have the ability to “go at” bigs – he showed flashes of it in prior seasons- but as Leo even call him on, he doesn’t use it. Instead, he shies away from contact around the rim. when the big moves over to help, instead of steering into him for a blocking foul or an “and one”, DD veers away, leaving himself an off balance falling backwards layup .

      • Nilanka15

        Completely agree.  Relying on hangtime while floating away from the defender is a much tougher shot than going straight at the defender.

    • 2damkule

      ‘hanging in the air’ is only a benefit if you know what to do when you’re up there. 

      i’ve mentioned this at other times, but i really feel that a big part of his difficulty finishing in traffic is that he’s a one-footed leaper…and the opportunities to finish when taking off one-footed are rare (usually on a break, or in the houston game when there was a defensive breakdown & the key opened wide).  more often than not, he gets into the key moving at a rate of speed that necessitates jumping off two feet, and he (IMO) simply lacks explosiveness when doing so. 

      his other primary issue (again, IMO) when it comes to finishing in traffic is that he has yet to develop an understanding of how to either use change-of-pace (i.e. hesitation dribble) to create space…i don’t recall him ever using a hard dribble & step-back, which would seem ideal for his style of game…i assume part of that is a general lack of confidence when ball-handling.  he also has yet to develop a consistent ‘in-between’ game (basically, the ability to pull up for a floater before he gets to the rim where defenders are waiting).

  • 511

    After getting in line to crap on Bayless the day before, it was curious to see him drive towards the basket and THEN, turn and fling it back to an outside shooter. If I had to guess, I’d say someone had a chat with him to remind him of the responsibilities of the position that he plays. Can I go back to hoping that, even yet, he might ‘get it’? History suggests no but … just another of the subplots that roll along this year while I wait for next year. 

  • 511

    Every win and/or loss gently twists my guts one way and/or then another. It really sucks. I can’t wait for next year to get back to good old-fashioned non-conflicted cheering for this team to win. 

  • Nilanka15

    It seems like we’ve won more 2nd games of B2B’s this year, than in the last 3 years combined.  At least we’re not using travel/tiredness as excuses anymore.

    • cesco

       Because of a better defense , the team is being blown out only rarely and they see they have a fighting chance of winning a game even if tired . In previous years the defense wasn’t there and they depended too much on the duos  CB4/AB and then AB/DD to outscore the opposition and when tired the scoring suffer .

      • mountio

        We also go 10 deep regularily and a fairly, so we should be fresh relative to most teams (and it seems to be playing out) ..

  • Akash_singh

    at least derozan is finally moving better without the ball, I can live with him taking a while to figure out how to finish at the rim.

    • What the

      No way guy,thats what he was bench for the other night just sanding there doing his J MARIOMOOOON thing causing me to do some NILANKA (one DDmensional no bb IQ /trade the bum) sh** at my tv, but thankfully the coach saw it and made him sit in the 4th and guess what he was doing the same thing again against NO last night,and he could use a little help from his pont guard telling to cut to the basket or something .      

  • What the

    What BC has to do now is make a deal with the Jazz, Devin Harris and a 1st round pick and then you have going to the Jazz Speedy and whatever/Gray . I think that  Harris can be that cheap J Lin ,Mello,Rudy Gay,Parker,Rondo,Kobe (smile),Ray Allen, Paul P. and AI, a guy that can win you those close games when the raptor have the last shot/going for the tie or win and with a better defensive team around him I think he is a good fit, he was also drafted to play with Dirk so maybe he can work with Dirk 2.0/Primo, Cuban was in win now mode back when he traded him and now he’s ready and i can’t leave out S.Curry and M.Ellis all in one clutch,closer,last min ball is in his hands and you just have that feeling that he can make something happen a the Raptors need a player like that . DALLAS DRAFTED HIM TO PLAY WITH DIRK so let him play with DIRK 2.0/PRIMO

    • Raps4Ever

      Waste of time for anybody to respond to the many dumb specifics. You’re either humourous, dumb, or playing games. The lack of literacy would indicate the first doesn’t make sense, so a toss between dumb and playing games. I’m guessing both. Sad.

      • What the

        bud you’ll see this happening just to show you how good i am the trade deadline is coming soon so you don’t have to wait very long,instead of me wishing that DH was HERE i’ll make it happen watch this you will RememberME4Ever

        • Lorenzo

          Get help.

          • Steve

            He and Gots2Go are one of the same. He is going on one of his schizophrenic trips lolol.

      • What the

        oh and no disrespect but you did respond …do you know who he got traded for two times Kidd and DW and there is nothing wrong with an Andre Miller type of player i’m going to stop so that i can tell YOU something, bud this is the internet and if YOU are reading something and YOU don’t understand it YOU have a mouse and YOU have a keyboard scroll down/move on YOU fucking fool ,first YOU read the post and found it was a waste of time YOU then decide to waste more to respond that seems DUMB to me and also YOU don’t know where people are from in the world YOU dumb fuck arrow down

        • Brezec4Prezec

          I clicked on Like just because of all the times YOU used capital letters to type YOU.


      BC has received your comment and he’s booking a flight to recruit Lin 2.0:

      “clutch,closer,last min ball is in his hands and you just have that
      feeling that he can make something happen”

      “a guy that can win you those close games when the raptor have the last
      shot/going for the tie or win”


    • Steve

      Lolol, Devin Harris a cheap J Lin. You are out to lunch lol. Funny.

    • CJT

      Doesn’t Harris make the same amount of money that Jose does?  I am confused by your cheap comment. 

      • Raps4Ever

        To say nothing of being the guy he wants taking the last shot, with lower shooting percentages across the board (FG%, 3P%, FT%) than Jose, never mind lower assist avg, and higher TO avg.

        • CJT

          But other than that he is the better player.  Jesus, how does this dickweed even operate a computer?

  • Scottbbaird

    Our hopes for Bayless to turn out mediocre in the league prove that we haven’t learned from our mistakes… It parallels the hope we had for Jack.

    • Bendit

      Scouting smarts?

  • Fk

    Wait what? One of the worst finishing 2 guards in the league is quite a stretch. 
    He went 5-7 for layups yesterday. If you want to see botched drives at the rim you should go see Bayless.