“It was weird. Kyle got stripped, like, three times looking at the clock,” Gay said with a laugh. “My old AAU coach used to tell me: ’If you put two rims up in the kitchen, we’ll play you.’ So it don’t matter.”
With teams unable to send a second defender at both of the high scoring wings, one or the other was able to operate against overmatched single coverage, just as the Raptors had hoped when they acquired Gay from Memphis late last month. And with Kyle Lowry adding 11 points and 10 assists, it was the kind of effective offensive night they have come to expect. Defensively, the Raptors held Washington to less than 40 per cent shooting and point guard John Wall to just nine points. Bradley Beal had 25 to lead the Wizards.
They are also 6-2 since Gay arrived last month from the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team trade, and point guard Lowry is finding a simple formula for keeping both of his top scorers happy. “Get out of the way, give them the ball and move. ‘Hey, good shot, DeMar.’ ‘Good shot, Rudy.’ Those guys are easy to play with,” Lowry said.
Frankly, against most other NBA teams tonight, I doubt this would have been a Raptors’ win. The team was good in stretches, but awful in others, including to end the game, where they made some bizarre and lackadaisical decisions with the ball, allowing the Wizards to hang around.
Speaking of things I hope you’ve seen, how about Jonas Valanciunas taking Nene to school in the game’s opening minutes? Valanciunas really made his presence known and felt in the paint early in this game, finishing with seven points, eight rebounds, an assist and a block in just 20:43 of action.
@mattdevlinraps watch ur mouth
— Wale Folarin(@Wale) February 20, 2013
Rather than continue rising up the point guard chain, Wall played like he’d learned nothing in his first two-plus seasons in the NBA. The Raptors did a great job packing the paint and taking away the skip pass to the corner three-point shooter, but Wall has to adjust better than he did. His jumper continues to shows no development from his rookie season, and his high dribble made it impossible to manipulate space for his benefit. Toronto’s defensive gameplan was excellent, but Wall simply has to be better.
“We’re playing gritty, I like that, that’s what we have to do,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “Play with that type of grit, especially on the defensive end and that’s what I’m most impressed with. We’ve still got to get a better rhythm offensively, spacing, moving the ball a little bit more and pushing the ball a little bit more. But defensively, I like the way we approached the game tonight.”
I said in the preview that John Wall would be the focal point of the Wizard offense, and it’s not surprising the Raptors came out on top given Wall’s play. The third-year guard out of Kentucky shot just 1-of-12 from the floor and committed 7 turnovers. The Wizards as a team shot just 38.5 percent.
This wasn’t how Randy Wittman envisioned starting the second half of the season. The Wizards entered the All-Star break playing their best ball of the season but this loss was a step in the wrong direction. Washington isn’t talented enough to overcome rough outings by both Wall and Nene.
The 6’8″ small forward has only played eight games in the red and black, yet Gay’s impact is undeniable. He’s averaging 21.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, but is shooting just 38.3 percent from the field. While it would be biased to remove statistics to see a certain outcome, Gay’s awful 4-of-21 shooting performance against the Knicks prior to the All-Star break plays a factor. He shot 19 percent for the game, and that number tips the scale negatively when reviewing his accuracy. Gay shoots 41 percent once that subtraction is made, and proves his scoring isn’t all that bad. He’s had 20 points or more in six games with Toronto and has been a major factor in their current win streak.
Currently Telfair is averaging about 17 minutes per game in backing up Goran Dragic in Phoenix and the move would ultimately mean that they’re ready to start giving some minutes to UNC rookie Kendall Marshall. The Suns are already a mess this year, so it’s hard to know exactly what they would look for in a trade other than a draft pick. Linas Kleiza perhaps? With Kleiza’s tremendous ability to stay off the court this season, Raptors fans certainly hope so.
While the Toronto Raptors are filled with players who can make three-pointers, only John Lucas and Kyle Lowry can make them at a high percentage. Toronto needs a forward who can space the floor for when Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan drive to the basket, making Novak a perfect fit.
Since the arrival of Rudy Gay, something has made me think about how Devlin does his play by play. I don’t think it’s on purpose. I think it’s something that just happens and remember, he was the voice of the Memphis Grizzlies prior to his gig in Toronto and saw a lot of Gay. Devlin never, almost 90 percent of the time, will ever say the word Gay. He has always been a last name type of guy when doing the play by play and when describing what he sees. It’s always been “Lowry with a bounce pass to Derozan who misses the shot and Valanciunas is there for the rebound and put back.” With Gay on the team, it’s become “Lowry with a bounce pass to Rudy who misses the shot and Valanciunas is there for the rebound and put back.”
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