That was some game on Friday; against the Pacers of all teams. Recreating a full 48 minutes of that same level of focus and intensity is going to be a challenge, but something interesting is starting to develop in Toronto: the gap between thinking they are a “good” team and what we actually see being displaying on the court is starting to close.

From the moment DeRozan called out Hollinger on his early season prediction, there was a discrepancy between where the players thought this team was and what we saw on a game-to-game basis. While the team is rallying around Gay, and we finally have a closer that you’d actually want taking clutch shots in late game situations, an underrated benefit of the Gay-trade was moving Calderon and getting closure on the franchises previous chapter. Maybe his handing out drinks at half-time was what really kept this team from reaching the next level. I’m obviously joking…

The Hornets are coming off a rather impressive win over the Hawks where Vasquez put up a triple-double and Gordon/Anderson rained jumpers from the perimeter. I wont lie, I haven’t watched a single Hornets (Pelicans?) game in a few seasons, not even to check out Davis (YouTube is great for that) so the last line was my interpretation of a few boxscores, shot charts and an educated guess. That said, this team has a super young core of nice players you could really get behind (except Rivers; not sure anyone likes him); especially with Davis/Gordon leading the youth movement. If they can add another top-3 draft, and continue to improve, Dale Demps and Monty Williams (who I’m a huge fan of) could have themselves a winner in a few seasons.

Had a change to speak to Jason Calmes from Hornets 247:

It wasn’t too long that the Hornets looks like a franchise in dire straights, but Demps has been able to make a few moves to really turn the fortunes of this team around (he got the Wizards to take Okafor AND Ariza for an expiring Rashard Lewis I believe). At what point does he start to get Buford/Presti type love from the mainstream?

He got the expiring Lewis whose buyout was about 2/3 of his book value, effectively expiring him. That move not only helped out the cap situation next year, it freed up space this year to get Anderson. Then, he turned Jarrett Jack into an improved Robin Lopez using the retiring Brad Miller. At what point does he get credit? When the Hornets make two consecutive respectable runs into the second round. Is that `right’? As far as I’m concerned, I hope all owners but one think Demps is not worth hiring.

Knowing what you know about Davis and Lillard, and seeing the direction the league is moving in with regards to point guards, would you draft Davis over Lillard again given a second chance?

Davis. All day. Every day. Davis is 19 (20 next month). Lillard is 22 (23 in July). Looking at the way Davis is playing in limited minutes, having dealt with injuries, as a growing 19 year old, and in a role that typical peaks later than guards, yeah, I’ll take the guy with the higher WS/48 (0.142 v. the below average 0.097), PER (20.7 v. 16.4), TS% (0.560 v. 0.542), and whose ORtg exceeds his DRtg (110-103 v. 108-110).

Should the Hornets seriously consider trying to move Eric Gordon given his large contract and injury history?

The Hornets should consider offers for Eric Gordon this summer once his veto power expires (until the last year of his deal), as this will expand the trade market. His large salary and injury history could be the right combination for a team looking to dump even more salary to avoid the increased tax burdens that creep up next year with some nice expiring vets. They should use his allure to their advantage, as well. The salary and injury history will server to shrink the value receive in any deal, but given that he’s one of about 35 players making over $13m per year, and that some other team offered him that contract (Phoenix), there just may be enough interest out there to keep teams talking until the right deal can be struck.

How will the Hornets approach the game with the Raptors, and what can we expect out of them?

Both teams are significantly different compared to those that met in late December. The Hornets, in particular, have Eric Gordon back and Anthony Davis is playing better. Both have been limited in minutes for weeks, but that limit may be eroding of late. Their rotations are solidifying, but there is a clear component of player development to them. Thus, some of their rotations will seem illogical at times, such as sitting the hot hand or the defensive keystone. In terms of game plan, the idea will be to get the ball to Eric Gordon or Ryan Anderson, then see what they can do or what that move opened up for others . . . or both.

Tale of the Tape

O-Rating: Raptors 106.1 (12th) vs Hornets 104.7 (14th)
D-Rating: Raptors 108.1 (26th) vs Hornets 109.2 ( 28th)
Pace: Raptors 90.0 (25th) vs Hornets 88.9 (29th)

The Picks

Vegas: Raptors -4
Sam: Raptors by 6

  • Dex613

    Really interested to see how Jonas will stack up against Anthony Davis. I remember leading up to the draft many people were saying how if Jonas was picked in the most recent draft he would be picked right after Davis. So it’ll be a really good measuring stick game for Jonas because I really think he can go toe to toe with Davis. What do you guys think ?

    • EmarErozan

      They’re very different players. If Jonas gets Davis on him he should be able to exploit him on the block.

      As mobile as Valenciunas is, Davis is a cheetah by comparison. Jonas will need to work hard to keep up with Davis in all facets of the game (but give thaat Jonas is a 5 and Davis is a 4 they may not go head to head often).

      • Dex613

        great points, i have to agree with the part about exploiting Davis on the block, and how Davis seems to have an advantage on Jonas in the quickness category. I doubt Jonas will be matched up on Davis but  last game Casey had Jonas guarding West for a significant amount of time, so u never know. It’s going to be interesting though, well see.

      • BCBargnaniFieldsCaseyGots2Go!

        Don’t forget ADavis was a 6’3 combo guard in HS before his growth spurt to 6’10 and he has retained all of that mobility and skill set as a big man.

        Btw 4s & 5s match up alot on the court during the course of games due to transition pick up and switches in half court.

  • Adriiian

    Lets Go RAPTORS! Love this team, love the NBA.

  • Daniel

    Sam, you’ll eat your words soon about closing the chapter on Jose. I’d rather be Detroit with Monroe, Drummond and $25 million of cap space than Toronto with Derozan, Gay and capped out. I’m looking forward to the next 3 Detroit-Raptors meetings. 

    • jacobdrichards4

       Im sure Detroit has a fan page.

      • nate

        Seriously, does this guy know what site he’s on right now?

        • Destro

          That means you cant make a comment on THIS team ?
          Ive never understood that notion that if you critique THIS team hard (well deserved btw)
          You musnt be a fan and should look for a new team or page to make comments ??

          What kinda of emotional bitchassness is that ?

    • unknown_guest

      You gotta let it go. I like Jose, but I support the team. Jose is gone. You gotta move on.

      Now either you’re still with the team, or you can go to PistonPowered, and you can b1tch out all those posters who are angry at the Jose trade and don’t think he’s quality.

      • Destro

        Who cares if hes gone ? We didnt draft Drummond doesnt mean we cant talk about it….

    • Sam Holako

      I’m not so sure, Daniel; Detroit has had the same problems Toronto has in attracting talent. Who’s the last marquee free agent they signed? They landed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva for ungodly sums of cash; that’s not a real coup. That said, their core of Monroe/Drummond/Knight is looking to be nice if Knight can learn how to facilitate.

      I still prefer DeRozan/Ross/Gay money be damned…

      • Matt52

         …. and JV.

      • Nilanka15

        Knight isn’t a PG.  Never will be.  The Pistons aren’t anywhere close to “competing”.

        The Raptors, on the other hand, are basically a .500 team (sans Bargnani).

    • Jerry

      Then go follow the Pistons idiot!!!

    • BCBargnaniFieldsCaseyGots2Go!

      I like Det’s situation going forward better than the Raptors (depending on if AB is traded and what comes back) with their cap space and ability to attract players who like pgs that are pass 1st (if Jose resigns).

      If Jose resigns in Det ADrummond is going to develop quickly as is Monroe. Charlie V will even be reliable playing with Jose. And RStuckey should go back to his form when he played next to Billups. Even BKnight will benefit playing off of the ball while watching how Jose runs the team on a daily basis.

      Plus Det has their 2013 lottery draft pick to use as they see fit.

      • Sig

         Yeah, but, we have Rudy Gay. Next !

      • voy

        yeah, but you liking detroit going forward probably has little to do with a 32 year old calderon and more to do with monroe, drummond and their draft position this year.

        daniel is making it sound like toronto is going to look back at the jose/gay trade 5 years from now as the pivotal mark as to when the wheels fell off the bus for toronto.

        • Nilanka15

          Don’t forget that Daniel lives in an alternate universe where up is down, left is right, and day is night.

    • j bean

      I’m betting you wish the Raptors would have flopped after the trade with Lowry being the culprit in their losses.
      Unfortunately for you the loss of Calderon hasn’t make the team worse. The team is better.
      Detroit is also better with the addition of Jose so I like you am looking forward to watching them play the Raptors.  

  • Dan Perco

    Looking forward to seeing the Raps put two solid back-to-back games together. That is the sign of  good team, even an improving team, is consistency of effort and not playing down to the competition.

    • HeGotBrain

      Detroit’s in an enviable position down low but I wouldn’t take any of their guards over ours – excect Jose
      Go Raps

  • KJ-B

    “Pound The Rock.”

  • Tonious35

    Thank gawd there is no Chris Smoove helping their team at PG  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSQotgpMpQU … we shall reign the CHEESE on them!!

  • cdashq

    I think this will be a great game for Kyle Lowry to show that he’s still an above average starting point guard in this league. Since being pushed into the starting line up after the trade he has been very inconsistent and hesitant on offense, seemingly trying too much to let Rudy Gay get comfortable with the team. Its time for Kyle to step up and assert himself and playing against a scrappy PG like Vasquez is the perfect opponent to do it to. He has already shown that he is not a facilitator at the same efficiency level of Jose, but he can be effective when he confidently makes a concerted effort to impose his will on the game. Anything less than 18pts, 7asts, 5rbs, 2stls, and 3 3pts would be a disappointment to me today for him. 

    We certainly have the talent to beat this Hornets team, but it will take everyone’s best effort to prevent a meltdown. I predict a win, but more importantly, I predict this is the game where everyone will start to appreciate what Kyle Lowry brings to the team and start feeling like how they did when we acquired him last summer. 

    • CJT

      I hope youre right so far he has been a bust.  He really hasn’t shown much this season. 

    • DanPerco

      I’m with you on Lowry. There’s been a couple of games now to get acclimated with Rudy onboard. Casey even sent Lowry a message vs. Pacers by sitting him for a looooong time there in the 4th. Presuming he doesn’t have some sort of injury we don’t know about, it’s high time Lowry “establishes” himself as the starting PG of the new-look Raps. I hope it happens tonight, couldn’t come a game sooner.

  • JHP

    Watching the Lakers game and I’m kind of glad Nash is in LA. 

    Wish I could see the game but will follow as best I can.

  • voy

    – we got to get t.ross away fro playing with lucas and anderson.

    – jeezus, those new orleans jerseys…

    • BCBargnaniFieldsCaseyGots2Go!

      I just hope BC doesn’t trade TRoss……

  • BCBargnaniFieldsCaseyGots2Go!

    Looks like AA & Fields are both ahead of TRoss in the rotation……wow….BC must have been sniffing glue when he signed his glue guy (in a bid to block NY from signing Nash(who signed with LAL) to that fucked up contract- what was the NBA lockout about again BRI or GMs handing out ridiculous contracts to questionable players?

    • jacobdrichards4

       There not ahead of Ross in the rotation, Ross came in the same time AA did in this game. But Terrence just didn’t have it tonight, his defense was a step slow all night. You just cant leave him on the floor if he is going to be a liability on defense.

    • voy

      waaaay to short a leash on t.ross.  its crazy. 

      • mountio

        totally crazy. AA with a typical performance .. 4 for 12. Sure, Ross wasnt exactly lighting the place on fire .. but you gotta give the guy more than 8 mins to get some rhythm. 
        None the less .. good win for the Raps. JL3 absolutely on fire. Not that I love the guy, but hes totally fine as a backup PG .. if  every once in a while you get a game like this out of him, thats gravy