Box – Raptors 99, Bobcats 78

Now that was a nice “W.” For the second game in a row, the Raptors left no doubt playing against a weaker (or in Philly’s case, just struggling) opponent, beating the Bobcats from bell to bell.

After opening up a 29-16 lead through one quarter, the Raptors managed to play 36 more inspired minutes, spreading the playing time and the touches around to 11 players and never taking their foot off the gas.

The lead stayed right around 20 points for the entirety of the game. Basically, the Raptors starters built up a big lead and the reserves brought it home. Complete. Team. Effort.

The 78 points is the second straight game (the Sixers scored 72 on Wednesday) where the Raptors played good-not-great defense but ran into an ice cold team. The Bobcats shot 37%, thanks in large part to Ben Gordon trying to mid-range the team back into the game and Ramon Sessions inexplicably going one-for-six in the paint. Credit the Raptor guards with keeping two high-volatility scorers in check like that, and credit the bigs for helping keep the paint dangerous without fouling too much (Kemba Walker also went just three-of-seven in the paint).

Offensively, the game was about what you’d expect of late, except for the continued struggles of DeMar DeRozan (two-for-eight, only two free throw attempts), who has really only had one good game in his last four. Not sure if it’s fatigue from the heavy workload or just a cold stretch, but the team will need him firing when the schedule turns.

Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon were visibly cheering each other on, with Lowry even caught calling Jose “Amigo” at one point when checking in. As long as the wins are coming, there’s no controversy here. In 48 minutes the pair combined for 24 points on just 15 field goal attempts with 12 dimes and only a pair of turnovers. Beautiful.

Amir Johnson and Boss Davis continued their quest to become the Tag Team Champions, feeding off of each other in the early going. Johnson fed Davis for a bucket early, and their chemistry is obvious in the fact that 16 of Amir’s 48 assists on the season have been to Davis (33%) despite him only playing with Boss 45% of the time. The pairing had nearly identical 12-and-8 and 13-and-8 lines and just really went to work on the overmatched Bobcat defense. For the season, all lineups involving Amir and Boss together (“Ahmed Johnson” if you’ll recall) have a net rating of +5.2. Compare that with the team’s overall -1.5 rating, and you can see playing those two together is a huge boon to the team. (Of course, net rating isn’t adjusted for quality of competition, so some of this has to do with the friendly change in schedule, but not all of it.)

On the wing, Landry Fields continued to struggle with his shot but hit the boards hard, going two-of-eight but also adding 11 rebounds. Arse mentioned on the podcast that if he doesn’t eventually space the floor, the rebounds don’t matter. That’s true, but it’s still nice to see a player work so hard when the shots aren’t falling. Six of those boards were offensive, though I believe some were off his own misses in the paint.

Acy Slater got 18 minutes of run and had six-and-six and Terrence Ross looked alright in short minutes the first night back from injury. Just thought it was worth noting.

The big thing I wanted to discuss iss Alan Anderson. The comments on the Quick React were mostly about his shooting volume and whether or not he’s efficient (though I don’t think anybody cited PRIMO, sigh). Let’s have a look at some numbers.

FGA/36min: 15.5 (3rd on the team behind only Bargnani and John Lucas)
FG%/3FG%: 38%, 36%
TS%: 52.5%
PER: 14.3

So basically, Anderson is a pretty high volume shooter who, despite not hitting at a great clip overall, uses threes to bring his efficiency near a league-average level. Now, you definitely don’t want a “league average” player taking the most shots on your team, but it’s not as if Double-A has been wholly terrible.

Last night, his shot chart showed four-of-nine from three, 0-for-three in the paint and two-of-five in the mid range. On the season, he’s taken 53 shots within 10-feet, another 106 threes and 39 mid-range shots. It’s actually a pretty good breakdown of where you want your guys taking shots from, with the issue being that he hits at a terrible clip on the mid-range jumpers he does take (around 30%).

The other complaint you could throw out there is that Anderson tends to “call his own number” and shoot off the dribble rather than taking set shots. 53 of his 75 field goals have been assisted which is a completely acceptable percentage, but there’s not a way (that I know of) to break missed field goals down by “would-have-been-assisted” which is probably what we care about most. I went back and re-watched all of his attempts and only counted three bad shots, the rest coming in the flow of the offense or with him relatively open. I also counted that nine of his 17 attempts would have been assisted, which is probably too low but forgivable in a blow-out against the Bobcats (get yours, homie).

So yeah, Anderson should shoot less, but he’s not killing the offense with his volume.

In fact, the team’s offensive efficiency has climbed all the way to 12th in the NBA, and the defense has inched back up to 23rd. Last year, the defense was 14th and the offense was 29th. So, huge gains offensively and a step back defensively. Of course, the team’s strength of schedule has gotten so easy they’re now 25th in terms of opponent quality, but let’s take what we can get.

14-22, 10-3 in the past 13 and inexplicably just 4.5 games out of a playoff spot. I’d like the team to be in a playoff race for the experience, but making the playoffs (and thus not surrendering a low-lottery pick) is probably counter to the long term plans. Still, if you’re one hoping for the playoffs, tomorrow is the first of three games remaining against the Bucks, who currently hold the eighth seed.