The Raptors lose in New York and the most disappointing aspect of it wasn’t the lack of defense or intensity, better known as defensive intensity, but that we didn’t get to see Jeremy Lin and Jerryd Bayless go at each other for 36 minutes. Instead, Jose Calderon got the start and Bayless was left to play HORSE with Mike Bibby. That’s no fun, and is probably the reason Bayless had to leave the game with a back problem.
The first was played evenly, the second is when the Knicks’ tempo was too high for Raptors and resulted in a 9 point halftime lead, the third is where the Knicks should have blown us out, and the fourth is when they finally did. Surprised?
Right off the bat you noticed that we were playing in New York. Once that reality settled in it was time to watch the game and that’s what I did. I saw that the Raptors had serious issues covering the pick ‘n roll with Jeremy Lin. Jose Calderon’s knees must’ve pissed off Lin in some other life, because his hesitation moves and constant probing of the Raptors paint area at the expense of Calderon was overwhelming. To make matters even worse, Stoudemire was going at Bargnani, leaving Gray to provide help and no Raptor seemed to know how to pick up Chandler in this sequence. On the other end, with no Mike D’Antoni around and defense now legal to play in New York, the Knicks were pressing hard to disrupt the Raptors offense, which on this night was taking a step-back jumper.
Quick comment on DeMar DeRozan’s 7-13 FG for 17 points – Piss off. Seriously man, they were all inconsequential points scored in a manner and timing that made no difference. It would’ve meant something if that scoring came in a time of need, like late in the second when we needed to get the momentum back, or early in the fourth where the Raptors needed to sound a signal of intent. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but it just felt like he chooses to score when the defense doesn’t care if he scores. Does that make sense? I don’t know, probably not. Bottom line is that he hasn’t made the strides he was supposed to make this season and I’m tired of trying to explain why that hasn’t happened, last night he was up against Landry Fields and took 13 shots in 37 minutes. This is in New York, a game every player circles on their calendar as a chance to announce themselves.
So at the end of the first the Knicks are shooting 63% and are up only three. Cool, the highlight of the quarter is the Bargnani dunk which faked ‘Melo out, and Kleiza’s three at the buzzer which pulled a lot of the hard-earned Knick momentum back. The second started off harmlessly enough with Ed Davis, the biggest guy on the floor due to small lineups, running the floor, rebounding, and even scoring. The Raptors tied it two minutes in after Bayless punched in a jumper, lending me a thought that the perfect counter to Lin would be somebody who can keep up with him for quickness. Casey didn’t think so. After Bayless’ made jumper, two horrible early shots by Bayless and Kleiza resulted in two breaks, which was packed into a 7-0 run, a lead the Knicks never relinquished.
The other theme of the game was offensive rebounds, the Knicks were up 28-16 overall at halftime, and 11-2 on the offensive glass (it finished 16-4). The PnR defense was bad throughout, and the rotations were messed up due to their 3/4 players starting two-man action, often times you saw a guard rotating underneath to check a big which meant poor rebounding position. Casey didn’t quite adjust to this, he probably should’ve put in Rasual Butler to help….haha…I’m just joking.
Oh yes, I was going to end the first half thoughts by saying that if it weren’t for a couple fouls that were called on the Knicks which led to FTs and quelled the game’s tempo, this would’ve been over at halftime instead of being just an 11 point deficit.
In his halftime interview Casey said that the Raptors needed to go inside and that they were settling for too many outside looks. The vehicle for that proved to be Bargnani, who was rather quiet until now other than that first quarter dunk. The Raptors got Bargnani the touches he needed and it got him into a rhythm of sorts, a rhythm that had him go 5-15 FG for 15 points and 2 rebounds in 33 minutes. Wait a minute! That’s not a rhythm at all, that’s the equivalent of wanking on dial-up with the video buffering every four seconds.
It didn’t matter how the Raptors were scoring anymore, this became an issue of whether they had it in them to get some stops, and the play that answered that question in the negative came from DeMar DeRozan. He let Landry Fields blow by him at the wing on a simple dribble, leaving Aaron Gray to pick up the foul for an And1. Two technical ensued for Gray, one for arguing the call and the other for arguing it some more. It was a play indicative of the Raptors’ defensive technique on the night, where the coach and players just didn’t have it. The Knicks’ +16 rebounding advantage and 50 points in the paint is a testament to just how out of whack the Raptors’ positioning was. Of course, Jeremy Lin had his say with 9 points and 2 assists in the third, and was the main reason the Knicks had a 16 point lead at one point before it was eroded to 11 courtesy of a DeRozan three point play and some Bayless FTs. A late Raptors mini-run providing a ray of sunshine.
Jose Calderon started off the fourth with a couple scores, before the Knicks deployed Imam Shumpert on him. This time around the matchup wasn’t under the microscope like it was in Toronto, mainly because Calderon had been a beast upto that point in the game in Toronto, whereas today he was being outplayed by Lin. The Raptors never did manage to make that little run that all NBA teams seem to make in the fourth, Bargnani missed an open three, DeRozan a wing jumper, all shots that if they had gone in, would’ve given the Knicks a little pause and the visitors some lift. Once it was clear that the run wasn’t coming, the goal now became to keep the lead around 11ish to make the final scoreline respectable, but that wasn’t to be as the Stoudemire played the full fourth and kept the scoreboard ticking with 8 in the quarter. The final margin was 19 points and the blowout status of this game was confirmed when one Solomon Alabi’s name was announced.
I’d like to give Ed Davis some credit for approaching the game as if it were a competitive affair in which one tried their best to come out the victor. For much of the season he’s made me wonder whether he’s in fact just a zombie who randomly flails his arms whenever he senses heat, or is in fact a lottery pick out of North Carolina. Last night he had a 9/9 performance going up against a pretty talented, albeit defensively maligned, Knicks frontline, which at the very least confirms that he’s capable of showing up to the arena. In fairness, he’s had a few good games of late and it looks like he’s “turned the corner”, I’m still not sure if what’s around the corner is more inconsistency, or as Jack said, if it’s Davis finding the motivation to get stronger and make something of himself. The good news is that he’s only 22 and things will get better, but that’s probably what someone told Brian Scalabrine as well.
Raptors lose. No worries, though, we got Jonas coming and lots of cap room to get the right players in.