Gray gets called for not breaking Lebron’s fall

You don’t know what you got until it’s gone, like a decent bench.

The lights went out in the third quarter of the Superbowl, the Raps provided their own outage a few hours earlier. Two of their starters got into foul trouble as Miami quickly erased a 6 point lead and never looked back.

The Clippers game on Friday night undoubtedly raised the expectation level of this team. Granted, a one game sample size is far too small to to make any judgements, but the ease of the way Blake Griffin and Co. were put away was a little impressive.

Then right on the heels of that come the all-powerful Miami Heat, coming off a tough game in Indiana. And everything played out the way it has all year with the Rudy Gay Raptors, like nothing ever happened.

Good/great start against an elite team. Second half rolls around, elite team steps it up and either pulls away, or the game comes down to one possession and the Raptors lose due to a blown call (usually) followed by an NBA apology.

It’s ironic that two previous Raptor strengths, depth at point guard and the power forward positions, would have come in handy on Sunday.

Sure, John Lucas has had his moments this year but against the likes of Lebron and Wade, disappointment is inevitable. Bench players should be able to at least hang with starters in the league so hopefully this situation gets resolved with a move for a legit guard.

The Raptor defense is still one of the weaker defenses in the league. It’s not the worst, not with Andrea Bargnani out of the equation, but it’s still not very good. When you take clearly the best defensive big off the floor, this team cannot stop NBA offenses. It’s really a bit of a miracle that Miami only scored 27 points in that 3rd quarter.

But it was enough for the Heat, as Toronto’s offense cooled down. With really only Rudy Gay as a palpable offensive threat, the offense dried up, scoring a measly 35 points in the second half.

Yes, Jack Armstrong brought attention to this, and the fact that coach Casey didn’t take a calculated risk by keeping at least one of Lowry and Johnson when they hit 4 fouls early in the third quarter was a bad decision. This is the Miami Heat. You need to be at least tied or winning going into the 4th quarter to have any chance of pulling off a win. How many times have we seen the opposing team have a player in foul trouble, usually in the context of “Player X is has 4 fouls, the Raptors should be going after him on defense, but they aren’t”

It’s done all the time. Perhaps when it’s 2 quick fouls early in a game, that’s a clearer decision. People should now know the impact of Amir Johnson on this team, as a great overall defender, rebounder and growing offensive threat. With Ed Davis gone, you have Aaron Gray or Jonas Valunciunas in there. That’s not going to vut it against elite teams. Even Davis would have been been overmatched in a situation like this. So it would have been nice to see Amir stay in the game at this point. While more disciplined this year, he still has games like these where he fouls too much, and leaving him in there might help actually help him along thaty learning curve.

But after all the questionable decisions and adversity, it was still a winnable game down the stretch when Lowry and Johnson returned to the floor. Rudy Gay had been out there a little longer than Casey would have liked and had him sit for a few minutes. Despite his late game heroics against Orltando, it’s pretty clear DeRozan isn’t ready yet to be this team’s closer. That player has to be either Gay or Lowry, but neither was able to put a sizable dent into that Miami lead, and a Lebron steal off an errant pass intended for Gay iced the game for Miami.

There are some positives to take from the game. One is the continued progression of Demar’s game. This was the third consecutive game with at least one three ball, and most are now aware of his sudden spike in assist numbers. Starting to look like an NBA shooting guard with these new elements to his game. He needs to be able to drop a nice dime in crunch time. Even Lebron, Vince back in his heyday, dished it off at times if the defensive pressure was too great. Regardless, a nice little surprise for someone who looked to be plateauing in terms of development. It’s quite clear that these are conscious attempts are rounding out his game.

Rudy Gay. Another bright light. Did you see that defensive sequence against Lebron in the second quarter where he first blocked him and then forced an airball? Or his offensive explosion in the second quarter, combining perimeter shooting with smooth forays to the rim? Forget what John Hollinger says, that’s talent. Perhaps he doesn’t use it the right way, or wasn’t in Memphis, but a motivated Rudy Gay who doesn’t settle for too many perimeter takes and grabs a few more rebounds will definitely upgrade this team. He would be an All-Star. Would a poor man’s Kevin Durant suffice?

It’s pretty clear now that Kyle Lowry accepted the backup role after returning from injury because he was assured it was a temporary situation. He has been given the reigns to this team, whether you like it or not. Rudy Gay is close friends with Lowry and in some form has been conveyed that the two are going to do big things, and regardless of how you feel about the Raptor point guard, it might instill a sense of ownership and responsibility in Gay that he may never have had.

Whether this will help him lead this franchise towards success, only time will tell.

  • c_bcm

    “The Clippers game on Friday night undoubtedly raised the expectation level of this team. Granted, a one game sample size is far too small to to make any judgements, but the ease of the way Blake Griffin and Co. were put away was a little impressive.”

    Instead I would say that we took advantage of a team that was missing its best player and potential MVP Chris Paul. Blake Griffin is as over-hyped under-skilled a player as I have ever had the misfortune of watching. He was exploited for what he was. Without CP3 that team isn’t going anywhere, so lets not get too excited about that result.

    • Nilanka15

      I was thinking along the same lines.  Without Chris Paul, the Clippers are the Clippers of old.

      • Gman

        Really?  I don’t know.  There’s lots of really interesting pieces on that team.  I think if they had to play without Paul for an extended period of time they would figure it out.  They are really really deep.

        • Nilanka15

          They’re deep, yes, but I don’t see enough to be a top-4 seed in the West.

          I was exaggerating with my “Clippers of old” remark.  This team without Paul strikes me as a .500 team at best.

    • Tonious35

       CLippers are a plain ol’ beatable 0.500 team without Chris Paul that will just grab the 8th seed in the Western Conference without CP3.  I knew the Gay-Raptors got a fair shake on Friday and one small mistake in the game for the CP3-less Clips and they are toast.

  • ppellico

    gray left the game behind ONLY 3 points.
    This cannnt be put onto his back, although many here seem this is the easiest of all factory preset positions.
    Look…understand your love for amir. but you seem to have, like any decent priest, forgiven him for his past sins and wiped clean his past.
    He does make for bad, bad games and periods.
    The game was close up to 4 minutes. THAT sounds like a tight and intense fun NBA basketball game.
    Fans here sholdn’t be calling for heads to roll after this.
    It was more little things…like taking to AA about keeping his defense up and slowing down his desire to shoot his own game.

  • Dagger

    Rudy’s game is much more effective when he’s the first option in a more up-tempo team, and most importantly when his bigs are mobile enough for him to get into the paint at will. That’s why his scoring will rise sharply with the Raptors. It’s not that he was “dogging it” in Memphis, as the immediate post game suggested, it’s that the offensive system is now much more attuned to his strengths.

    Speaking of Gay: there aren’t many players in the league that can go at Lebron one-on-one and consistently get a stop or score. Rudy is definitely one of them. He has the size, the quickness, the athleticism and the handle. The complexion of the game changed not only when Amir went out with his fourth foul, but when the Heat (led by Lebron) started aggressively fronting Gay and hitting him with a quick double team as soon as he managed to catch the ball. Taking the ball out of his hands actually provided some opportunities for Derozan – who did well – but it made the Raps’ offense much less dynamic, and the Heat gained an important edge. 

    But Gay gives the team a priceless commodity in the NBA: a dynamic wing who can iso effectively when the offense breaks down. That was more than worth what Raptors surrendered for him (in hindsight, not that much). Strengths that have been lost are more easily acquirable than a wing like Gay, and I’m not sure if the lack of a pass-first PG is the most crippling weakness right now. After all, talented wing players that can create have compensated for the lack of elite point guards on most NBA champions over the past decade, and Derozan seems to be improving his passing. A big who can shoot would be nice – giving Derozan/Gay more room to drive – but not at the expense of rebounding or defense (sorry, Bargnani). 

    But the bottom line: some of the reactions to this loss are a little overblown. The Raptors were overpowered down the stretch by the best team in the league. Do they need more pieces to compete with the Heat? Yes, but so do 29 other teams. Gay and Derozan aren’t Lebron and Wade, but they may be shaping into the best one-two punch the Raptors have ever had. That’s reason to be excited.

    • cdashq

      well said.  couldn’t agree with you more

      • Matt52


        Great post.

    • Roarque

      One other thing. A distributor who can replace Jose’s pass first PG COULD be Landry Fields – a guy who sees the floor well and can anticipate where the ball needs to go next. I could see him playing the three between Gay at the (small) four and DDR at the two. Fields is not a scorer, he is a facilitator. Coach might slip in some plays that put the ball through fields at the elbow.

      Eventually I see big Val filling that role –  the big kid has got some hops to him if Coach can get him involved.

    • Sam Holako

      Very well put.

    • RaptorFan

      “Gay and Derozan aren’t Lebron and Wade, but they may be shaping into the best one-two punch the Raptors have ever had. That’s reason to be excited.”


      This is why i’m excited! 

    • Tonious35

       This team needs depth AGAIN AT PG and PF (if Bargs decides decides to come back an be effective that would change somewhat).  Luck can only bring us a “diamond in the rough” if someone other team’s bench was a neglected stable-talent like Jeremy Lin.


      Raps PR must love you.

      Look at those rebounding number for the leading scorers and get a clue on where the problem is.

      We have officially arrived at the “rebounds and defense being a distant third on the agenda” point, but continue to dilute yourself in the one two punch of excitement to treadmill status.

      It is absolutely no wonder BC is loved by MLSE.

      • onemanweave

         Hey Flaq, good to see you back. Your alter ego was becoming overworked in the nasty-six-year-old-seeking-attention role. You and Fax are irreplaceable on this site. Keep up the good work.

        • FLUXLAND

          Heyy stalkerbuddy!

          Thanks for the usual delusional diagnosis, seems like you wanna share with us some of the things you are learing about yourself in therapy. Tell you what, save it for someone who cares and whenever you’re ready to join us in Raptors related discussion, feel free.  And in the meantime, just remember: meds are good! Mmmm, yummy meds for onemanclownshow, yesss good meds.

          • onemanweave

            Hey, Flaxbuddy. Good to hear from you. Discussions about Raps are a good thing. Sorry I confused you with with Fluq. He can be a bit negative, rude, dismissive …. on second thought forget it. Meds can be a good thing. Remember that.

  • drizz

    It might just be me, but it has been a trend for Raptors coaches to pull players who are getting in foul trouble, BUT not letting them foul out.  This has been going on for as long as I can remember.  I can count on both hands the times that I remember TO players fouling out in the last couple of years.  I wonder what’s up with that, seeing that we have had multiple coaches who display the same pattern.

    • Gman

      All coaches do that.

    • Roarque

      Best solution is to pull Amir for 2-3 minutes, let him take a breath and to understand he needs to be careful out there and then slip him back in. You leave him out there and he’ll foul again.

      BUT that 4th foul on Sunday was chickenshit tht any real Ref would have ignored.

    • Tonious35

       With the gambling refs at the ACC and the Miami Heat players, the raps starters will foul out in the 2nd quarter.


      Have you ever heard of agents and contracts?

      When will Raptors fans stop taking the high school approach to basketball? 

  • ByeByeBargs
    • cdashq

      and this is the trade we should be making. Add in Kleiza and Dante Cunnigham and call it a 7th seed…

    • gradgrind101

      I don’t think Minnesota does this deal…

      However, Sacramento are entertaining deals for Cousins and might be willing to package him with Salmons (2+ years left on his contract) and Garcia (expiring contract) or Outlaw (2 + years left)

      I’d be willing to give up a combination that includes Bargnani, Anderson and Ross plus cash. Having said that I’d hate to see Ross go but I would have no problems with it if we get Cousins back. 

      • KJ-B

        DeMarcus Cousins is not a winning player for all the reasons that -7 is not!  He can ball, and get dirty in the paint BUT has the WORST Attitude I have seen in the NBA since….I dunno and been watching since early 80’s!

        Any team that wants a guy who’s gonna bag other players in the nuts, physically confront coaches and create bonehead play after bonehead play–go ahead and set your franchise back 10 years! 

        Also the diva that is Cousins cannot tolerate anyone else stealing his shine, whether he does it above (see: Raptor domination) or below (see: OJ Mayo) board… Just ask Tyreke Evans how it feels to be thrown off a Hall of Fame career because of the “Great DeMarcus Cousins”…

        If Toronto trades -7 for that: expect -77!!! ((Y’all ain’t serious))

        • gradgrind101

          Get real a deal for Cousins would never set the Raptors back 10 years…
          Players do settle down in the right situations. Look at Dennis Rodman, Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest. They have settled down and contribute. Playing on bad team sucks. Playing and contributing for a contender tends to bring the best out of players. And some players are always asses…Take Bill Lambeer…He was hated for a reason but not by his teammates…Before Rodman came to Chicago, Jackson held a closed meeting with the core of his team (Jordan, Pippin et al) and Jordan spoke up for the team and said they absolutely wanted Rodman. I believe if TO with open arms accepts Cousins and respects him for the talent he is…Then you may have quite team…And if he is as much a problem as public perception indicates then we won’t need to give up Ross. If it doesn’t work out then you trade him quickly or amnesty him.

  • sleepz

    A poor man’s Durant?

    I think not.

  • Theswirsky

    The Raptors lost this game in the final 4 or 5 minutes of the 4th quarter.  Miami stopped dinking around and put the game to bed.

    Gay had a great 2nd quarter?  Well isn’t that fantastic.  Where was he down the stretch in the 4th?  Or even the entire 2nd half where shot something like 3 for 11 with 2 boards.   I thought that was supposed to be his MO.  Big time clutch player,  the guy this team needs down the stretch in close games.  Instead Miami walked all over Toronto down the stretch with Gay giving the team 1 whole dunk, which was answered by Bosh with an and-1 of his own over Gay. 

    The Raps shouldn’t be expected to beat Miami, and Gay having a bad half doesn’t make or break him as a player.  But lets be real here.  Gay was very good for a period of time but not for the game, and the first opportunity he had to prove he’s that guy Toronto needed he disappeared.   

    • Eggs

      Please. You’re right that they lost the game in the last 5 minutes, but you can’t put that on Gay. The whole team just tightened up on offence and stopped moving the ball, Ross chucked up two airballs and Lowry had a brutal turnover. Meanwhile,  on the other end, Lebron and Bosh had a ridiculous last few minutes. It beats me how you could possibly have watched the last two games and be that down on Gay.

      • Theswirsky

        “Please”, I’m not putting it on Gay.  There was alot more than Gay’s poor play that led to the result.  But lets not pretend he went out and did what he was brought in to do.  Both offensively, and as you point out, although not intentionally I’m sure (Gay’s checks during the game had a ridiculous last few minutes), defensively.

      • Destro

        Point is fans are expecting him to be that guy that he isnt….

    • morons

      another overreacting moron that didnt watch the game and makes a conclusion on one game vs the defending NBA champs.

      • Destro

        Whats overreacting about stating facts…He was nice in the first half,when the game was slipping away he was invisible and taking some bad shots to go with it….thats just what happened…

        • morons

          says the retard who once said and I quote “A basket in the first quarter is worth same as in the last 5 mins of a game…”

          • Destro

            No the retard is the one who argues it and tries to type like an intellect by using quotes to make a non point,congrats retard…

            • morons

              the dumbass retarded hypocrite still doesn’t get it.

          • FLUXLAND

            He only says that when we’re talking about his boy DeBunk, but applies the opposite very well when he’s spitting on Bargs or any other Caucasian player.

            • Destro

              Funny but DeMar scored 7 pts in the 4th against Miami and hit a GW against Orlando…same rules apply i just have no reason to apply them to barn yawnee since he doesnt score after halftime…

              • FLUXLAND

                “Doesn’t score after halftime”… funnier!   You must be forgetting the nights DeCasper chucks ’em in the 1st and then goes MIA for 3 quarters.

                Hit a GW?  Son, that was an answered prayer, there was no skill involved.  4 years in the L, one GW  – clearly the makings of an AS.

                • KJ-B

                  Hey, at least he wasn’t injured and not playing like others Raptor “stars” in January!  

                  He obviously was worn down for a couple weeks from being overplayed earlier in the season by Casey…

                  -7 had no such excuses for showing up to camp 20 lbs overweight–however, I will warn some detractors on here, starting with myself that  Primo is looking leaner + meaner from what I’ve seen and might shock the bleepers outta the Republic starting as early as Wednesday night!

    • mountio

      Im glad to see that you just hate on whoever happens to be our best player at the time. As long as your consistent, I guess Im ok with that cause I can take everything you say with a grain of salt .. 

      • Theswirsky

        glad to see one can’t be critical of player without the fanboys jumping the gun, who can’t even read what another writes with the slightest objectivity or willingness to understand, let alone watch a game as such.

        The more things change the more they stay the same.

        • DumbassKicker

          “The more things change the more they stay the same.”

          Well said, in reference to yourself. Have you ever been anything but critical here? Really, no matter what happens, it’s whine, whine, whine.

          Courtesy of someone over at Urban Dictionary:

          A critic is a low-life creature that lacks any
          talent or ability to contribute anything, yet chooses to verbally attack
          and put down the works of others. Through usage of long words and
          general pretenciousness, they pretend to show intelligence and also to
          appear human like the rest of us, hiding their true parasite form.”

          • Theswirsky

            I rest my case

            • morons

              if you’re case is you being a bitch, sure.

  • 511

    Not to be too conspiracy-minded — or, said at the risk of sounding exactly that — but … anyone else see the ticky-tack fouls that started quickly on Amir and Lowry as signs of a (possible) agenda to slow us down as much as might be necessary later on in the game? I mean, some of those fouls … c’mon. 

    Even a popular local ‘grunt’ reporter was talking about how it looks these days, that other than a handful of old pro experienced refs, the rest seem to be in ‘over their heads’. As in, they don’t quite know what they’re doing. 

    I would respectfully suggest that maybe they know exactly what they’re doing. 

    Yes, by the end of the game, it was clear that our new best player’s legs were heavy and tired – and can’t blame him for that after the few days HE had just had … and that the Raps were up against a juggernaut of a team, but still. Nobody knew, in the first half of the game, how everybody’d be looking by the last quarter. 


  • Junior Maurice

    caron butler really infected the raptors with his virus, lol i saw Rudy gay did the exact same thing to lebron

  • guest

    and gay was just as much of an immature person as butler for doing it

  • Gman

    Wow, totally reactionary article.  C’mon, we still have a decent bench.  Just like Friday, it was one game.  And it was a game where we held with the NBA Champs for most of the game.  

    We seriously as a fanbase need to get on our meds and stop being so bipolar.  We know both Anderson and JL3 are streaky shooters.  And on nights where they both go cold we’re kind of dead in the water.  Can we address that issue?  Absolutely, but to all of a sudden come out and say that we don’t have a decent bench anymore is a little harsh.  We’re also talking a team that is mired down after suffering another ridiculously serious injury bug…so just a modicum of perspective.  

    A quick question…if we had a chance to add another marquee player to the starting lineup or shoring up our bench…which would you rather do?

  • Valit

    When  last year ended, most basketball gurus ( plus some armchair GMs from RR)  argued  what this team needs in order to move forward:
    1. A star SF who will become our main guy
    2. A back-up PG who should be mentored by Jose
    3. A veteran , back up , mobile C who can be a mentor for JV

    I dont think anything changed regarding these ideas, now that we are in the second half of the season. We have the first piece – probably a tad late to salvage the season- ;  I do not pretend to know all the behind the doors conversations that Colangelo had this summer, but I think it would have been nice if he would have tried to accomplish our major weaknesses first rather than overpay Fields and give up a first rounder for KL

    • Alvin Trilliams

      Talking about armchair GMs

  • vino

    A few unrelated comments:

    1. Reference Friday’s podcast – one thing came to
    mind while listening: no, the Raps do not necessarily need players for AB after
    the Rudy Gay trade. Pick(s) are still welcomed. Of course, it would be nice to
    obtain a Gasol type low post player (straight up, without DeRozan); however, I’d
    take anything of value in return for AB. Raps may be in win-now mode competing
    for this year’s playoffs but in reality they are at least a few years away from
    challenging for the home court advantage with the development of Valanciunas.
    Ross may be ready to step up as early as next season but Jonas needs more time.
    To think the Raps may obtain the necessary talent to compete right away with AB
    alone is a long stretch.

    Overall, good, healthy ball discussion –
    you guys are doing a great job! Thanks for running this.


    Last2. Last game against the Heat – two plays stood out
    more than anything to me:

    Gay’s block on James –this was a huge play! An
    iso with no help and a perfectly timed jump. Not too many players can defend
    Lebron one-on-one. I jumped when I saw that! Gay followed up with another solid
    defensive sequence forcing an air ball from Lebron but it wasn’t as spectacular…

    Valanciunas jump shot – yes, it may have been
    his only bucket, but at least it shows his wrist/finger is OK (typically, older
    players’ similar injury to a shooting hand has bad consequences) and he has
    fully recovered. Timing and game shape is a matter of a few practices – he should
    be fine by Wednesday. Great to be 20 years old!

    3. I may just go out and get myself a pair of
    Jordan’s :) better than a Gay jersey…


  • FAQ

    “There are some positives to take from the game. One is the continued progression of Demar’s game.”

    JEEEEZ… the guy will be getting $10 mil annually for the next 4 seasons!!!  Is this justifiable for a still deeveloping player who is not a closer yet??!!!

    • CJT

      isn’t Chris Humphries making 12 million a year?  I don’t think you can easily put a lable on a guy based on his salary.  Chris Humphies is not a closer, hell he is not even a starter on most teams.  So not sure that your point has much validity based on other players’ salaries.

      • FLUXLAND

        Sweet mother of… for crying out loud… the man bleeping rebounds.  You entire comparison has zero validity.


       How is it not justifiable on a farm team?  

    • DumbassKicker

      For the record, it’s $9.5M, not 10. Aside from that, it’s pretty clear that he’s working hard on expanding his skills and game, so don’t you think it’s only valid to judge him on earning his $9.5M when he’s actually making it? He’s only making $3.3M at the moment, and with the balance of the season, summer time work, and another training camp, for all you know he could be a bargain next year.

  • DanPerco

    The Raps should really be looking for a big combo guard to back-up Lowry. I’d target someone like Iman Shumpert w the Knicks, someone big and strong who can handle the ball and play D. That would do immediate wonders for this rotation. Not sure what it would take trade-wise to get him, but he’s the type of guard I think we need off the bench.

    As far as bigs, I’d be looking at a guy like DeMarcus Cousins or Derrick Favors, again, someone big & strong to provide some muscle up front.

    Imo our core moving forward:

    C Grey
    C/PF Valanciunas
    PF Amir
    SF Gay
    SG DD
    SG Ross
    PG Lowry

    I’d be comfortable with moving any – or all – of the other guys.

    • Roarque

      Airron is not an important piece for the future.

      Landry Fields is. You need smart guys to win.

      I’m with you on the others though.

    • mountio

      Favors deal not happening .. maybe if Ross was included, but otherwise no way for AB .. same with Cousins (only worse in terms of how much we would have to give .. )

  • Destro

    For once cant get this shitty team ever beat one of there ex colleagues for ONCE….We got ethered by Vince over and over in our building and now its happening with Bosh JEEBUS….I read a scathing article today on espn about how Bosh shat on this team and has been ever since he won a ring last year and it ended with Bosh shitting on the organization after beating them yesterday..FOR ONCE cant this faggot ass team beat one of these ex girlfriends for the cot damn fans to savor is that too much to ask ?

    Can Amir Johnson if he isnt going to do shit in the stat column at LEAST not let Bosh continually take his soul on the defensive end and if you cant stop him Amir can you at least foul his ass hard to give the fans SOMETHING…

    faggot ass organization…smh