In fact, the Raptors trading Jose Calderon and his expensive expiring contract for a dynamic wing player such as Gay would have been an ideal scenario heading into the year. It was, as Colangelo likes to say, part of the plan. So, where does that leave Colangelo? In lieu of a franchise superstar — and Gay is not at that level — the person in charge of moulding the roster is arguably the most integral man in any basketball organization. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will have three options: pick up the third-year option on Colangelo’s contract; offer Colangelo an extension beyond next year; or decline to pick up the option, effectively firing him.
DeMar was very aggressive from the getgo, creating his own shot at will, and the jumpers were falling. He scored 25 points, going 9-17 from the field, and 7-9 from the line. He also chipped in with four rebounds, an area of his game he’s been working to improve. DeMar’s performance is made even more impressive when putting in consideration the extent the rest of the team struggled offensively. Which brings us to the stat of the night…
Rudy Gay was terrible tonight. I know the Raptors have been succeeding despite his problems, but it’s hard to see what he really adds to a team besides clanking mid-range jumpers. He can’t explode to the rim consistently despite his frame and he’s not much of a spot-up shooter. I guess he takes the primary defender away from DeRozan, but soon teams will learn to switch their assignments. I think the Wizards dodged a bullet.
Rudy Gay had a nonchalant attitude in this game from the opening whistle. He wasn’t looking for his own shot, he only turned the corner on one screen in the entire first half (resulted in free throws), he threw very lazy passes and he didn’t look focused at all on defence. One play that really irritated me happened midway through the second quarter – Rudy turned over the ball and started jogging back towards his own basket. Amir Johnson was a good 5 feet behind Rudy when both turned to get back on defence. When Amir reached Toronto’s basket, Rudy was 10 feet behind him. Trevor Ariza (Rudy’s check) finished the play with a layup. Only turning it on for the 2nd half/4th quarter, is not a recipe for becoming a great NBA player. Rudy’s lone field goal – a dunk early in the fourth quarter – just served as a reminder of how easy the game CAN be for him.
It all came crashing to a halt, for now at least, courtesy of a Wizards team with nothing to lose that came into Toronto having won all of three games on the road all season but made it four with a 90-84 win. Of course the Washington effort was aided by a Toronto team that played extremely loose with the basketball, turning it over 14 times, 12 of those coming in the first half when the game was at its worst, but more importantly showed very little of the timely and efficient scoring that has been a hallmark of this last little run of solid basketball by the Raps.
Sebastian Telfair is in his ninth year in the NBA and with his eighth team, but as well-travelled as he might be, coming to a new team is always an adjustment. “You don’t get used to it, definitely not in the middle of the season,” Telfair said in his first availability with Toronto media, a date that was pushed back a day as Telfair battled a flu bug. “But basketball is a team sport so you need that time to jel with your team,” he said. “You need to go to training camp with your guys and work hard and kind of build something.”
Coming off a season-best 32-point performance in Friday’s win over the Knicks, Gay was a non-factor against his hometown team Monday. The Baltimore-native was blanketed by active defenders early and often as the Wizards forced him to be a play-maker and hit tough shots. His first and only field goal came one minute into the fourth quarter en route to a 1-for-11 night at the office. The Raptors’ leading scorer finished with just seven points and five turnovers, routinely looking flustered and out of place on both ends of the court.
But Gay acknowledges that part of his challenge is being spoiled by choice. As the Raptors undisputed go-to scorer he’s received a green light while facing more defensive attention than he might have while with Memphis. Couple that with the knowledge that his length and ball-handling ability allow him to get a plausible shot off in almost any circumstance, making the right choice isn’t always so simple. “It can be confusing,” he says. “As I’ve gotten older and grown I’ve learned when to take that shot. Knowing you can get it whenever, you have to know when to take it and when to set your teammates up and I’m learning that now and I think I’m getting better at it.”
Washington, other than dandy rookie Bradley Beal, wasn’t good, but was good enough. They also were the beneficiary of the requisite refereeing blunder, when Alan Anderson was charged with a foul for tripping the Wiz’ Garrett Temple, even though the replay showed clearly Temple tripped over his own feet. While the Raps would have had to score 5 points in 7 seconds to force overtime, some hope is better than none, particularly since the ball was rolling out of bounds when Temple was (not) fouled. The Raps are off to Cleveland, no doubt in a foul mood.
If you’re among the fortunate few that survived watching this game and retaining your sanity, I applaud you. That was not easy to the eyes and I may have gotten a little blind. The Raptors in their race to make the playoffs had one of the worst team performances this fan has ever seen in franchise history. Ever. No lie, it was that bad. When Bargnani played bad, and he was one of the better players out there with 8 points on 4-11 shooting, it’s bad.
t was an excruciating night of basketball, especially on behalf of the Raptors, who seemed to be listless participants playing without any sense of urgency. “Why we wouldn’t have that at this time of year, and for what we’re fighting for and scratching for and what we’ve been through is shocking to me,” an upset Casey said afterward. Toronto had defeated Washington 96-88 last week, but was flat during a tepid opening half, as the Wizards opened up a 40-32 lead.
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