Raptors 98, Clippers 73 – Box

It’s just one game.

But what a debut. Oh my, what a debut.

The buzz around the team last night and at the stadium was at this season’s highest, and whether or not you agree philosophically with the acquisition of Rudy Gay for Jose Calderon and Ed Davis, you have to admit it was fun for the night.

Personally, I’ve moved on. The trade is done, and Gay is now a core piece of the franchise. Last night, that certainly looked like a good thing. From the opening moments of his tenure, things looked exciting. Below is his play log for his first few minutes as a Raptor:

5:09 – Enters game
3:54 – Defensive rebound
3:42 – Misses 21-footer
3:19 – Draws shooting foul, splits pair
2:56 – Alley-oop dunk from DeRozan
2:21 – Air ball three-point attempt
1:07 – 17-footer off the dribble falls (DeRozan got an undeserved assist)
0:48 – Alley-oop from DeRozan, house comes down

Of course, in those five minutes we kind of saw the bad with Gay, as he missed a three and a long two, but we also saw the good in the shot creation, dunking, and ability to get to the line.

If you didn’t see the highlights of his 20-point debut yet, “dorell15” put them together on YouTube, which I’ve embedded below. 20 points on 16 field goal attempts isn’t hyper-efficient, but considering he hadn’t, you know, practiced with the team yet, it’s pretty damn impressive.

But Gay actually wasn’t even the most impressive Raptor on the night. Maybe not even the most impressive wing, as DeRozan overcame some poor shot selection to score 19 points. It wasn’t awful shot selection, but when basically all your makes are at the rim and all your misses are from mid-range, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to optimize those shots. He added seven dimes, which is becoming a really nice theme for him of late, and he also played some great defense on Jamal Crawford, who finished five-of-17.

The team as a whole actually played great defense, limiting the Clippers to a season-low 73 points on his 34.7% shooting. It was a team effort, for sure, but a lot of the credit belongs to DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, who struggled to score but distributed well and did a good job staying in front of Eric Bledsoe, and Amir Johnson, who gets an A+++ from me for his performance last night.

Johnson was battling the flu but gutted it out for one of his best games as a pro, posting 19-and-16, the latter of which tied a career high. Johnson also frustrated Blake Griffin, and despite Griffin getting 12 free throw attempts I believe it was a non-Johnson defender with the foul in every instance. One game after firing up way too many mid-range shots, Johnson got back to doing what he does best and putting shots up at the rim.

John Lucas had another good game, hitting five-of-seven from long range and pouring in 17 points in just 19 minutes. THIS is the John Lucas the team needs as it’s back-up point guard, but unfortunately it hasn’t been the Lucas they’ve gotten too often.

Landry Fields finally hit a three, too, if you care. And Terrence Ross did this, per “kietasss”:

I’d say that was a great way to end a great game, but of course Tuff Juice Punk Bitch Juice had to end it like this:

I would have been happy with a one-game Jonas Valanciunas suspension to see a hard foul there. That’s bush league, son. Valanciunas, by the way, registered three boards, five fouls and two turnovers in his 13-minute return, but luckily it didn’t hurt. Hopefully as he gets his legs back under him he’ll return to early-season Jonas.

One final area I want to highlight is some line-ups the Raptors trotted out. Of course, it’s a one-game sample, and I haven’t even mentioned yet that Chris Paul didn’t play. You know, the third best player in the NBA, Chris Paul? That guy sat out, so that certainly helped.

Anyway, even in the small sample, a few notes on the line-up combinations Dwane Casey rolled out:

*The most used lineup was the Lowry-DeRozan-Fields-Johnson-Gray starting unit, deployed for 13 minutes with a Net Rating of 27.9.
*”Small” line-ups, the oens I was most excited to see and for these purposes are defined as any with Gay at the four, were deployed for 17 minutes with a weighted Net Rating of 11.6.
*The best line-up was the Lowry-Lucas-DeRozan-Gay-Johnson line-up, deployed for three minutes with a Net Rating of 120.9.

Again, all tiny samples, and the line-up I’m most interested in seeing play for extended time is the Lowry-DeRozan-Ross-Gay-Johnson/Valanciunas look, which got just two minutes and was neutral on the floor. I’m really excited to see this line-up in extended play, as I mentioned on the podcast this week, as I feel it could be a dynamic unit at both ends, not to mention in transition.

One final note: You guys KILLED it with those Rapid Reacts last night. Really awesome job stepping up for the RR team and getting your opinions out there. It was a fun experiment and we’ll try to roll it out again in the future or find some way to crowd-source “average” grades or something like that. Great job, and thanks for the awesome response.

Enjoy your Saturdays folks, and be sure to check the highlights or replay of this game if you didn’t catch it, as it was a lot of fun. The chances of Sunday being as fun, when the Raptors host the Heat, are probably not as strong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/linhau89 Andrew Nguyen

    I am excited, yet I am not sure if we can beat teams that have “true” big men (true big man = offensive and defensive threat)

    Spurs, Grizzles, Lakers (they are on a roll), Detroit, and so forth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.read.37 Chris Read

    C Butler, come on man

  • mobchester

    Must See DD and RD and TR

    • EmarErozan

      RD?

      • mobchester

        Rudy gay I meant to say

  • Jamesmto

    Now that Rudyyyyy is here I want to see how Priomo’s game will be. If he is stuck back into the starting line up will he succeed again with the the defensive pressure focused less on him? If not, he should accept his role coming off the bench, it’s not like he’s is a superstar to complain.

  • WhiteVegas

    Bargs may be back for the Heat game. Hopefully he will play out of his mind and up his trade value so we can sell high once again. Gay looked awesome. It’s great to finally have a shot creator who can take their man off the dribble. Rudy’s instant chemistry with Demar was exciting, this just became a completely different team.

  • KJ-B

    I prefer Jurassic Park 2013…

    • KJ-B

      Lob City North–meh…

      • BlakeMurphy

        New Lob City?

      • BCBargnaniFieldsCaseyGots2Go!

        Biting is illegal come up with something fresh no need to piggy back on the LAC’s ‘Lob City’ fame……..

        • BlakeMurphy

          Well that was the point…they beat up the Clippers and had a bunch of alley-oops, so I was stealing their name…wasn’t suggesting it as a full-time name.

  • Mopola

    Hope to see Bargnani tomorrow. If he accepts playing of the bench and plays well, I say we don’t need Gasol or anybody else. When Valanciunas gets in shape, starting lineup could be Lowry-DeRozan-Gay-Amir-Valanciunas (or Gray, if playing against stronger C’s) so we have Bargnani, Ross, Fields, Anderson, Lucas and Gray off the bench and Lucas and AA doesn’t need to shott all the shots while second unit on the floor.

  • http://peterd.mp Beagle17

    Why is everyone so pissed about Butler’s steal? I think it was funny. The game was obviously over, thus I think it was just a bit of slapstick put on for the sheer fun of it. To insult Butler over it seems very immature to me. It is, after all, a game. He got JV’s goat. Isn’t that the right thing to do with rookies? People are too uptight.

    • The Truth

       If the Raptors had gone for the basket instead of holding it and the crowd erupted for free pizza then Butler would’ve been one of the first guys spewing about it being unsportsmanlike.

      • hyperdouche

        Fair point

  • FAQ

    QUESTION:  “Why is Gay so happy being traded to a non-playoff team undergoing painful redeevelopment?  What does he see in the deficient Ratpors that we don’t???”

    • FLUXLAND

      How are you, of all people, asking this?

      Let’s see…

      Instant HeroLegendCan’tDoNoWrong status bestowed before crossing border, opportunity to be treated/adored as franchise player no.1, given enough minutes to adjust numbers for future contract, zero potential criticism or blowback from the L since any failure will be attributed to surrounding cast as he joined a “developing” team not a contender,…etc.. where is the lose here for him again, exactly?

      Plus, he’s only 26, right? He will be primed for a chip runner, talking about rep T-Dot til they bury me while here and the regime coffers full of thf dollars.  Win, win, win for all involved no?   

      Or, “Effin Rudy Gay, man!!” – that’s why.

      #FarmTeamLivesOn     

      • WhiteVegas

        Gay is also best friends with Lowry, and apparently pretty tight with Demar too since they played pickup during the summer. He also just came from Memphis, and Toronto shits all over Memphis as a city.

        • FLUXLAND

          Bosh and Cptn Jack were “tight” so whatever? I guess, and DD playing pick up with RG makes me hope it wasn’t at a YMCA with Sonny.  Not arguing his original location, comparing cities or know what the rest means, since locations are never really an issue when everything else is in place.

      • FAQ

        Okay… than answer me this… “who is the team leader”… and “where is the veteran presence” … on the Ratpors… answer me that..??!!!

        • FLUXLAND

          Are we really doing this?

          “team leader” will the leading box score filler on any given night; when’s the last time they fronted a leader, and don’t give me that Jose stuff, if we’re talking taking over the game leader- not efficiently racking up stats in losses and blaming remaining cast.

          “veteran presence” uhh, well I’m guessing that’s DC, since they are thin on playoff games experience in the 1-5.

          I guess you’re asking who knows how to win @ the NBA level, and I assume you know the answers. But now you’ve got They Don’t Want Them In Their City Gay, Lowry (both tied by Memphis too) and Fields on the team, with No One Wants To Sign Him MP, as the new faces.  Maybe they can find a unique bond in being castaways in the North Gulag, and run and gun to the playoff …umm.. “experience”, one pizza game at a time?   *honk, honk*

        • FLUXLAND

          Oddly enough, (to some I suppose) I voted No in the poll. I’m not trading Jose and Ed for Rudy, but it’s such a BC headline splash move, how can one be surprised.  I just don’t get why we have to continually facilitate and entertain seemingly bad contracts for the L, from an operational and ball sense, it  makes no sense as an approach. 

    • Jay Semilla

      Because Rudy is always ‘gay’?

  • Nate

    RG and DD = Must see TV

  • ppellico

    Murphy…you are the most blatantly and obvious anti Gray guy there is.
    To not even mention him in your entire recap and give the glory to Amir and even Jonas for his limited contribution is sickening.
    It boils yoyr whole writing down to just feelings…not basketball analysis.
    It was actually Gray who started the attitude of the game with solid defense inside.
    Did you even pay attention?
    If you had, you would have seen it was GRay who had the stats for the first qtr…not Amir.
    He was having the leads in every important category.
    I mean…how do you get your job?

    • arsenalist

      I don’t think Gray is a significant enough player to have someone be
      anti or pro him. He just exists in his own domain, devoid of feeling,
      thought, or care.

    • FLUXLAND

       Blake is likely working for his “media grunt” credentials; in that regard, this was a complete masterpiece. 

      • BlakeMurphy

        Naw, people working for their media creds wouldn’t tell you to suck my dick.

        • FLUXLAND

          Meh. I wasn’t knocking the hustle, do your thing.   Also, I don’t bang on your work in any frequency, so I don’t get your sentiment, but again… do your thing.  

          • Blake Murphy

            Sorry, silly overreaction. Just get worn out by the negativity of RR commenters at times. You’re right, you’re my even nearly among the worst, my apologies.

            • FLUXLAND

              Sarcasm..or?  Either way, I’m good, no worries. 

              And not to argue, I’d say RR gets a good mix of  positive (hopeful) and negative (critical, really) commenter doses, and I think it’s when the team’s play and results are negative some of the positive(hopeful) turn critical, rendering the entire community sour, on an average night (sorry, I can’t confirm this statistically : ) ).

              Err.. I dunno, blame the team? I’m sure we all agree that if the team was performing, everyone would be throwing around confetti and praises.

              • BlakeMurphy

                I more so meant the negativity towards us writers than towards the team….everyone has the right to their opinion about the team, but we all do this in our spare time for no cash, so I get a little riled up when commenters attack personally because I didn’t mention Aaron freakin Gray.

                And no it wasn’t sarcasm, it was unprofessional of me to chirp you and a total overreaction. It’s a legitimate apology.

                • FLUXLAND

                  Thanks, I appreciate it. In a roundabout way I was trying to tell PP to pipe it down (wasn’t a slight against you), as I, for one, agree – the stuff you guys catch on here is of the lame, for sure.
                   
                  I may not agree on every single thing you guys write, but I appreciate the efforts and work, and refrain from being uber critical. While I’m here, word up on the Rucker bite, I didn’t have much positive to say after hearing it so I zipped it, but props for bringing that to the RR lines, no question.  

                  Cheers.

    • BlakeMurphy

      Lol, obviously not a twitter follower or a DDLer where I give Gray plenty of love. It was a brief post-game, the quick react is for player-by-player analysis. Regardless, if you don’t like my work, don’t read it.

      • BlakeMurphy

        Also, where did I give Jonas “love” in there? I mentioned he looked bad in his first game back but hopefully he’d get back to his earlier form quickly.

      • Ppellico

        look..you wrote the entire friggin piece and he wasn’t even mentioned.

        Good God, kid…how invisible is he? I again refer back to the stats…he
        lead everybody perhaps the entire first half.

        Think he had more assist than some had points.

        and I already read the quick recap…

        And you simply forgot him in your hurry?

        Well…ok.

        I can see this. He is small.

        I read because I am a sucker for information. But get irritated with such
        obvious anit stuff.

        And, um…no…not gonna start twitter let alone following you.

        • BlakeMurphy

          I never said I was in a hurry. In my mind, he wasn’t a key storyline to the game. I chose to highlight Gay’s debut, strong games from DeMar and Amir, and Jonas returning to the line-up.

          I don’t know what an “obvious anit stuff” is.

          He’s not invisible, I just chose not to highlight him in my post-game. WordPress is free, you’re more than welcome to start your own Raptors sight and just drool over his “accomplishments.” He’s the fourth big, fifth on a good team, get over it.

    • Jerry

      stfu about Gray you fanboy clown.

  • Beam

    Gay wants the love, to be the man and show the Raptors they should had picked him first overall, which is why we keep Barg’s.  Unless he’s lost his magic cahones , as a man and a competitor – must and will step it up. Championsips are won with talent and chemistry.  If he hasn’t given up on the team,  is now exicited again as all the Raptor’s seem to be, let him loose against second unit guys and bring him in crunch time.  Also, bout time they started playin Gray- he eats rebounds like couch potatos  eat chips, better resign him! All the naysayers about the trade- Calderon-who I loved was our best player, would never have brought the team together like Gay did in his first night and all the players know it. Put it this way he held the players together, Gay has already inspired the players to believe they can win and they didn’t even practice yet!! Finally, my suggestion to the Mr.Casey, if pizza is on the line, like last night, considering all the close games lost this year, missed calls and Butler’s betrayl- NO MERCY- shot clock/game clock, or not- buzzer to buzzer WERE GOING HARD- no appologies/new standard/enough taking crap from other teams/offical’s- time to step up and take what we all want- A CHAMPIONSHIP.

  • Beam

    Oh BTW the best play of the night wasn’t Ross’s slam or Gay’s 3’s but was Gray’s drive to the net when he sacked Blake!!! Like I said enough crap – WERE GOING HARD- If Barg’s just leveled one guy going to the net AKA Gray from last night-to set an example – like if  you really want to stand there – oh well- chu chu all aboard- we could see somethin really special outta him. BTW Barg’s one knee up :)

  • raptorspoo

    Is it just me or did Val look bulkier than I saw him last?

    • BlakeMurphy

      Probably is…a couple of weeks where he would have been pretty limited in terms of exercise, and then another building his way back to game-shape. Wouldn’t be surprised if he put on 5lbs or so.

  • Trigga-happy

    I do have to admit I was anti trade given Davis’ progress and Calderone’s steady hand, one game is all we can go on but it looked promising. I’m just a bit worried of KL smarts when it get’s into a half court game, we need a back up. It would be nice to grab a point guard for cheap but that’s the third move, the second move is to grab someone for limp noodle, hate that guy, no heart or hussle, I don’t want him as our power forward. If we can snag Milsap, Gasol, anyone who can grab boards to help out Amir, then we good. You guys are all gonna hate me for suggesting this but I’m thinking a backup pg who’s available and would give us some crazy, no pun intended, attitude which all teams need, that one imbalanced guy, Delonte West, but I doubt he’s getting across the border. That would be amazing to watch Delonte…..I would buy tickets.

    • Banging Lebrons Momma

      Yeah I totally agree with your post, and can u imagine if we sign west and make 8th seed then we play the heat and delonte bangs lebrons mom again and he goes insane and punches out west game 1, gets suspended for the playoffs. That would be amazing.

  • FAQ

    Gay… Gray… Pray…  GO RATPORS, GO!!!!

  • thatpeterguy

    Bargnani for Biyombo and Sessions. We get a raw back up PF with big time defensive potential and one of the more solid backup PG’s in the league. Salaries match too. This needs to be done.  

    • BlakeMurphy

      No way the Bobcats do that. Biyombo was their lottery pick last year and they have a poor man’s Bargs in BJ Mullens already.