Ed Davis, PF25 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -6Continued his nicely-developing chemistry with Jose early on, routinely getting open looks on the elbow and even hitting a couple of them. Had a highlight-reel dunk over Tim Duncan in the 2nd and surprisingly looked alright handling the ball on the perimeter, where the Raptors spent most of their time on the offensive side. Had a couple of ugly turnovers, like the rest of the Raps, but continued his solid play for the most part.
Aaron Gray, C21 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -6Aaron Gray: Made his first start of the season and played up to expectations, which is basically a C grade. He’s an intelligent big who knows his limitations and plays within them, and it says more about the team’s depth right now that he’s starting than anything he’s doing. Was torched by Duncan on D, but it’s, you know, Tim Duncan. Had a decent post-up in the fourth, scored on a sloppy pick and roll in the 3rd, and basically looked like a 12th man getting extended minutes.
Jose Calderon, PG27 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 10 AST | 7 PTS | -7Apart from a couple errant passes (and boy, did we see a lot of those tonight), was his usual heady self, taking his spot as the only Raptor who can consistently produce quality looks for his teammates. Was blown by repeatedly by Parker, but did his best to make things tough for him with active hands and a bulldog attitude. Parker only finished with 13 points, for what it’s worth. His tough shooting night was partly the product of some end-of-the-shot-clock heaves, but he didn’t have a great night shooting the ball, in any case.
Mickael Pietrus, SG12 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | +1Was passable on defense, but his most memorable moment was on a dunk-shank for the ages (followed by the infamous “pretending I got fouled to cover it up” move) in the 3rd quarter. Not a good sign.
DeMar DeRozan, SG27 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -22Only made his presence felt early in the 3rd, where he seemed to be able to take the ball to the hole anytime he felt like it. This was both ironic and frustrating, as the team could have used this assertiveness amidst the Raps’ collectively poor passing out of the lane and missed long jumpers in the first half. Minus 22 while he was on the floor, which is a really ugly number, even though plus/minus is a flawed stat.
Amir Johnson, PF24 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -11Had a very efficient night offensively, bolstered in part by the fact that he went 3 of 4 shooting that long jumper he loves. Was hung out to dry both on D and rebounding offensively late in the game due to the Raptors’ limited number of bigs, but did his best given the circumstances, and was the only Rap with any semblance of a varied offensive game. In any ugly game, he may have been the best we had.
Landry Fields, SF19 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -1Finally making his return to the court, Fields had some issues on defense and wasn’t helped out by the Raptors short-handedness, as he was forced to play the 4 early in the fourth as the Spurs blew the doors off. However, he did show some hustle, contributing a strong effort on the boards (even though he only finished with 2) and hitting a nice floater in the lane in the second quarter. One can only hope this isn’t all we get from him down the line, but I suppose it was his best performance of the season.
Quincy Acy, SF3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -3Got his cup of coffee late in the game and didn’t do anything wrong, I suppose. Lots of hustle, though I don’t know if he’s sure where he’s going. I wish he got a bit more run, especially since the game was essentially out of reach after the 3rd.
Linas Kleiza, SF16 MIN | 1-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -9Was the recipient of a few bad calls and let it get to him as he looked out of sorts and was finally pulled in the fourth quarter. Couldn’t get his shot going off the bench and still took far too many of them – it wasn’t his fault the Raps lost tonight, but he certainly wasn’t helping matters.
John Lucas, PG21 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 11 PTS | -13Like Anderson, a lot of his stats came in garbage minutes in the fourth, but played some solid meaningful minutes as well. Matching up with de Colo (and his unassertiveness on offense) allowed him to hold his own on D and he did an adequate job running the bench during their second quarter surge. Finished with no turnovers, which is significant given the epidemic of them that plagued the Raps tonight.
Alan Anderson, SG20 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -15Most of his points came in garbage time with the game out of reach, but he was the only Raptor on the bench who seemed to be able to find his own shot (and make them) with any success. Like the other Raptor guards on the bench, was forced to play out of position late, but continued his solid-if-not-spectacular bench production.
Terrence Ross, SG26 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS | -8Started out the night with a nice shooting stroke but had some issues handling the ball, making a couple of poor decisions that either led to bad shots or turnovers. He is a rookie and I hesitate to penalize him too much for that on a night when the Raps were terrible on that side of the ball on the whole, but a few of his choices led to some downright ugly possessions. Continued to impress on D, bothering Ginobili with his length and athleticism, though he got a raw deal from the refs on multiple occasions.
Five Things We Saw
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. After the first, the Raptors were able to end the first down just 4 despite the Spurs shooting 58% to the Raps’ 38, and that was largely due to their ability to force San Antonio into errant passes with hard-nosed defence on the wing. Sometimes, though, you live and die by the same sword, and the Raptors’ poor decisions with the ball (leading to 15 turnovers in all) swung the momentum in the second and eventually gave the Spurs the game.
The Raptors settled back into their old selves for stretches during this game, particularly early, where their unwillingness to take the ball inside allowed the Spurs to sit back in a soft man and force Raptor jumpers, which were continually missed. Credit the experienced and intelligent Spurs and their coaching staff for forcing the Raptors into their game plan, as well as the Raptors’ lack of scoring punch inside (Davis and Amir can score, but they’re not exactly “low-on-the-block” kind of guys).
I don’t know about all of you, but it sure seemed like the referees were giving the Spurs’ stars, particularly Duncan and Ginobili, the benefit of several questionable calls during the game. I know it didn’t affect the outcome, and this is what happens when superstar players take on a team of young unknowns and the announcers were continually referencing that fact, but I hate it as an excuse for poor officiating. “He’s Tim Duncan” is not an explanation for a bad call. Rant over.
In a season full of semi-questionable coaching decisions, I was pleased that Casey threw in the towel early in the fourth quarter with the Spurs comfortably ahead (though I do wish we saw a bit more Acy). The Raptor starters have all played big minutes during the streak, and the team can’t afford any more injuries – with four winnable games in a row coming up, it was a good choice to throw in the towel and play for the next week.
Well, the winning streak’s over and the Raptors have come a bit down to Earth, but there are still positives to take from this game. A very shorthanded Raptors squad, playing flawed basketball, was still able to hang with the mighty Spurs for the better part of the game, which is a testament to the newfound toughness demonstrated by the Raps in the past two weeks. The next four games are at New Orleans and Orlando followed by home games against Portland and Sacramento, all winnable, so here’s to the start of a new streak to open the new year.