Landry Fields, SF23 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +4That jumper still looks ugly as ever, but he played some great D on Carmelo early in the game, and it was only foul trouble that kept him from rightfully closing out the night. Once Ross matures, it’s hard to see a place for him on this team going forward, but he’s great situationally and won’t ever kill your team on either end of the floor – a solid performance tonight.
Rudy Gay, SF41 MIN | 11-23 FG | 9-11 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 32 PTS | +10I can’t give him an A+ after the litany of momentum-killing 3s he threw up in the first half (all unsuccessful), but tonight was his night from the 3rd quarter on. When his shot is falling, he’s borderline unstoppable, and rightfully put the Raps on his back and carried them across the finish line at the end of the game. There’s a different feel to this team in close games with him on the floor.
Jonas Valanciunas, C21 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +11A really gutty effort tonight. Matched up with the larger Tyson Chandler, he didn’t back down, giving as good as he got, blocking a couple shots and showing some confidence in his post-up game. Didn’t play at all in the fourth, which was a shame – he was the Raptors’ best big tonight for long stretches.
Kyle Lowry, PG34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +15Was pretty invisible in the second half offensively due to the emergence of Rudy and DeMar, but kept the team in the game early with some hot shooting and hit an incredible floater late in the fourth over Tyson Chandler to put the Raps up 2 with 28 seconds left. I know there are some dissenters, but I love when he’s uber-aggressive on offense – it opens up the rest of the floor for his shooters and he’s extremely tough to stop.
DeMar DeRozan, SG39 MIN | 6-13 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +8Fought through a difficult first half to end up with a reasonable stat line after some excellent decision-making in the 3rd. In the first half, though, he seemed to give up the ball every time he touched it. A very Jekyll and Hyde-esque performance, but 18 points on 13 field goals isn’t too shabby.
Amir Johnson, PF32 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -9Was strong down the stretch and went toe-to-toe with Amar’e for a couple plays, but his defensive effort seemed to be lacking at times, particularly during the Knicks’ early fourth quarter run. That said, the hustle plays he brings to the Raps can’t be overlooked in their recent success – I’m more impressed with the improvement he’s made this season than any other Raptor.
Andrea Bargnani, C13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2Was unfairly booed by the home crowd, but his string of woeful performances continued tonight – he looked listless on defense and wasn’t even close on his two shot attempts (to be fair, one was extremely late in the shot clock). That all being said, I felt bad for him after the reaction he was getting from the fans – he’s an emotional guy and it clearly affected him. Fan etiquette rule number 1: If the guy’s on your team and he’s not doing something incredibly stupid, don’t boo him.
John Lucas, PG14 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -13Triggered the offense when he was in, as he’s been doing with aplomb the last few games, but made some poor decisions with the ball to start the fourth that helped trigger a Knicks run. I’m really happy with the way he’s been playing lately, but it was still evident from tonight why the Raps felt they needed to add a point guard.
Alan Anderson, SG22 MIN | 1-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -14If they go in, he gets an A. If he misses, he gets a D. Simple as that. Particularly egregious tonight was his attempt to go one-on-one with Carmelo in the fourth when Rudy was so hot his shoes were melting.
Dwane CaseyOne of the more well-coached games this year – Casey managed his rotations excellently (I could have gone with more Jonas in the fourth and letting Fields play over Anderson, but that’s nitpicking), came up with some nifty offensive set plays out of timeouts, and clearly lit a fire under the team at halftime that changed the course of the game.
Three Things We Saw
Save for Fields’ individual effort on Carmelo, defence was nowhere to be seen in the first quarter. The teams ended the stanza tied at 32 – their combined total after 1 in their matchup 9 days ago.
The third quarter tonight was the first time we’ve seen Rudy truly approach that “unstoppable” status that everyone’s been secretly hoping for – he went 7 for 9 in the frame and seemed to take (and make) whatever he wanted. He’s clearly not that player any given night, but the fact that he has the potential is more than the vast majority of players can say in this league – and it’s also something the Raptors haven’t had since Bosh.
How great was the crowd tonight? I haven’t seen the ACC that amped for a game in a long time, and it clearly galvanized the team late. Despite the Bargnani booing, the best home crowd of the season for one of the best games of the year.