Andrea Bargnani, C27 MIN | 3-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | -18A game that started out promising for Bargs but completely went off the rails as it went along. His forcing of three-pointers at the start of the shot clock has become a big issue for the Raps – if he’s not hitting his shots, leaving him out there means 3 or 4 fewer possessions a half on offense. His half-decent man D down the stretch is the only thing that saved him from an F.
Jonas Valanciunas, C16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -10Had a great pump fake/dunk move early in the game against Cousins, but that was about it. Rightfully sat in the fourth quarter – he looked lethargic and was bullied by Cousins in the low post. A little bit bad matchup, a little bit fatigue, but not his best game in any case.
Kyle Lowry, PG38 MIN | 9-20 FG | 12-12 FT | 5 REB | 11 AST | 34 PTS | -6Some of his offensive decisions were poor, and he threw away a couple of passes to nobody in particular – but I feel like I’m nitpicking here. The only Raptor (minus Pietrus, who didn’t get any shots down the stretch) who was constantly bringing the ball inside and doing his damndest to get to the line in the fourth, where he made every free throw he took. His superhero routine is occasionally awful to watch, but tonight, it was warranted.
Mickael Pietrus, SG40 MIN | 8-15 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 21 PTS | -11Apparently the jet-lag from France has worn off. Pietrus was excellent offensively tonight, hitting open shots when they were there and taking advantage of match-ups against the diminutive Aaron Brooks by forcing him into the post. Seeing 21 points – and 39 effective minutes – in the box score from our starting 3 is absolutely shocking. That dunk early in the fourth was a thing of beauty. Great performance.
DeMar DeRozan, SG40 MIN | 7-16 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -6I had a hard time picking a grade for DeMar – his shot selection seemed good, and he was mugged by the Kings (and the refs) a few times. That said, he absolutely disappeared down the stretch, when Lowry was looking for someone, anyone, to help carry the load offensively. B- is around the middle of the scale, and that seems about right.
Ed Davis, PF23 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +9Heart and hustle, baby. Had difficulties matching up defensively against Sacramento’s bigs before the team switched to a zone, but made up for it with excellent effort and strong rebounding. A quiet double-double, but he was the Raps best player through the first half.
Amir Johnson, PF31 MIN | 1-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 PTS | +5Had his issues with Cousins, like all the Raptor bigs, but played him tough and was active on the glass, especially late. Rightfully played down the stretch over Jonas, who was getting bullied inside. Unproductive game offensively, but one of the few Raps to stand their ground on defence, and anchored the zone that brought the team back in the 3rd.
Jose Calderon, PG14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 3 PTS | -3Another rough one for Jose, who made some uncharacteristic passes that led to easy Sacramento turnovers (and points) for the second game in a row. Provided little offense, except for a late 3, and had difficulties on D, even against the shoot-only Jimmer Fredette, who he left open on the perimeter for his only made 3 of the night.
Terrence Ross, SG12 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +5Didn’t get many minutes, partly due to Pietrus’ effectiveness, and partly due to his own inability to contribute tonight. A game to forget.
Five Things We Saw
The Kings are a team that thrives on scoring in the paint, and the Raptors let them do that at will in the first half. A combination of forced jumpers and poor passes leading to fast-breaks, aggressive (and poor) help defence, and a strong Sacramento front line were the culprits. You can’t do much about strength with the current roster, but better decisions with the ball and in man defence would have made a difference tonight.
Casey switched the Raptors into a zone early in the 3rd quarter, which allowed the Raptor defenders to help on the Kings’ drives at the expense of giving away the long range shot. The plan worked to a T, the Kings looked lost, and the Raptors got right back into the game – notable because, to my knowledge, this is the first time this year a Raptor zone hasn’t been a complete train-wreck.
Maybe it was just me, but it sure looked like tonight the Raptors could get whatever shot they wanted, whenever they wanted, and yet they still chose to barrage the Kings from long range instead of go for higher percentage shots in the post. Only Lowry, Pietrus (who had some beautiful post-ups) and DeRozan for stretches figured this out. A jump shooting offense is a streaky offense, and you could see the game ride the ebbs and flows of the Raptor shooters – hot in the first, cold in the second, hot in the third, cold in the fourth. It’s a coin-flip offense, and it’s tough to keep seeing it let the team down in close games time after time.
DeMarcus Cousins is a BEAST. Not only did he eat Jonas’ lunch in the first half, he hit an array of impossible shots in the fourth to keep the Kings close before Evans’ clinching 3s. Deceptively quick, and (not deceptively) strong, he was a matchup nightmare for Casey and the Raptor bigs all game long.
Tyreke Evans’ back-to-back threes in the fourth put the game away for the Kings, but you can’t exactly blame the Raps for letting him shoot. He’s at 27% from long-range this year, which is incredibly better than his career average, so the chances of him making two in a row? Roughly 16 to 1…Yep, it’s been that kind of season so far.