I fell asleep in the second quarter and just when I was settling into my dream where I was playing a tight game of chess with a unicorn, I was awoken to Matt Devlin and Jack Armstrong strongly suggesting what a great player Leo Rautins would make in “today’s NBA”. Before that dream had started, there was the first quarter which saw Josh McRoberts play point guard, Rudy Gay throw down a massive dunk (and score 11 of the Raps’ 22 points), Kemba Walker torch a disinterested Lowry, Henderson cross DeRozan over hard, the Raptors shoot 53%, and the Bobcats shoot 29%. The amount of effort exerted in writing that first paragraph was greater than the combined effort of both teams all night.

[Related: Reaction: Bobcats 78, Raptors 92]

Rudy Gay had a fine offensive game where his jumper, due to nobody on the Bobcats being tall enough to defend him, had a clear sight of the rim. I still maintain that he gave about 60% offensive effort and 50% defensive. The Raptors had a five point lead after the first quarter, and would have extended it in the second if it weren’t for Charlotte getting 8 offensive rebounds in the second to the Raptors’ zero (11-2 second-chance points for the Bobcats). This amounted to only a six-point halftime lead for the Raptors. I suppose we should talk about some key points in the half.

DeMar DeRozan had Gerald Henderson on him and could neither defend him nor score against him. Same old story, a guard plays DeRozan tight and he can’t dribble his way out of it. On the defensive end, it was all about effort of which DeRozan gave none. Disappointing. I realize these are utterly meaningless games but I expect him to play till the end. Amir Johnson was the story again, specifically on the glass. There were plenty of rebounds to be had with Charlotte shooting 32%, and Johnson collected 21 on the night, including 8 in the first. Bismack Biyombo has absolutely no discipline on the glass, and Johnson was just too wiry for McRoberts.

If you were following this game till halftime, you are either a big time Raptors fan or run a blog about the Raptors, or do both. You might be wondering why the 58% shooting Raptors were only up by 6, and the answer would be 11 turnovers at the half: strips going down the lane, getting tied up because the ball wasn’t protected, dribbling off one’s foot, and this one time an eagle swooped in and took the ball right out of Kyle Lowry’s hand. Amazing. Lowry could not be bothered to fight through a screen in the first, nor did he exert any sort of defensive pressure on a the dribble-challenged Bobcat guards.

So the third started, and the halftime talk had the effect of momentarily waking the Raptors up. The defensive intensity was ever so slightly raised, partially due to DeRozan being evicted by Casey in favor of Anderson just so we had somebody who could stay in front of Henderson (he had 11 in the third). The Raptors had taken a 14-point lead during the third quarter, but Charlotte came storming back as the pressure on the pedal was eased. Why this Raptors team feels entitled to play down to the level of their competition is concerning, and it’s due to the individuals like Gay and DeRozan who are simply not consistent in their throughput, and the sharp drops in collective team defense.

Terrence Ross, who had played almost 12 minutes in the first half and gone 2-2 by showing a drive-first attitude, played zero minutes in the third. No idea why. I really don’t get it and I can’t even be bothered to decipher this pattern. This was the only quarter the Raptors lost, and they went into the fourth up only 1, with the crowd getting a little restless but having complete faith in the Bobcats’ crapiness.

In the fourth, the Raptors got some good play from Telfair, and decided to utilize Gay in the low block for the first time in the game. He either scored or drew the double. Ross went 2-3 including a nice dish and drive, and a key three which extended the lead. The Raptors defensive effort with Ross in there was better and Telfair did well to up the defense as well. The stat of the night is this: the Bobcats went 1-13 in the fourth quarter. They had one field goal. One.

There you have it, guy. The post-game report for a game that bares no meaning and was as barren as the two teams playing it. Raptors win. What this win means, I’m not sure. Make no mistake about the positives from this one, it’s not the win but, 1) Amir’s continued great play, and 2) that Terrence Ross is finally getting some meaningful run and producing. As suggested by Blake on the Rapcast, next year’s potential lineup of Gay-DeRozan-Ross-Lowry could be exciting….oh man, I need to stop. Try to take some pleasure out of the win and even though all these games are pointless, the one on Sunday isn’t. If we win that, this season would actually have some sort of meaning. Like a trivia question and I’ll settle for that, and for breaking The Streak.

  • Duncan

    #BeatTheHeat

  • mountio

    Tough game to watch for sure .. this bobcats team is bad. Surprisingly, the crowd was actually a) pretty full and b) pretty in to it.

    T Ross had another solid game. No surprise to me, because hes GOOD! Just needs minutes, which he is finally getting. After he didnt play in the third, I was convinced that Casey would bench him in the 4th too. Thank god he didnt .. and T Ross played well down the stretch (even though he blew a couple of semi fast break opportunities that he would normally finish.

    Gay was also great tonight. Hit some jumpers (which helps), but more importantly .. took the ball to the hoop. Its sick how good he is when he gets into the lane. Finishes strong with either hand (unlike DD .. uggh) and just overall smooth.
    Ill admit, Im coming around to Bassy Telfair .. he has given us some very good minutes.
    Amir was a beast, but I would have played JV also more down the stretch. Byombo and their other big guys couldnt handle him at all.

    • Nilanka15

      No, no. Ross stinks. Casey was right, this rookie sucks and deserves to be losing minutes to Anderson (a.k.a. the future of the franchise)….

      When in doubt, always trust Casey. He’s the coach, which means he knows best.

  • 511

    Bit of a ramble, forewarned.

    Not hard, watching Rudy use his considerable natural talents – those lightning-quick very long arms grabbing rebounds when he does, is a sight to behold all on its own – to see why a talent-starved GM might have a wet dream or two imagining having Rudy all to himself on his own team. But … the effort level. So often with these high-talented players that we’ve had a few of over the years, it comes down to the effort level. Or lack thereof. Personally, I’m good – in a bad way – at seducing myself into almost believing that when push comes to shove, when things are on the line for a big step forward, be it getting to the playoffs or getting to the next round, that talent – dare I say, ‘elite talent’ – will rise to the occasion.

    I let myself off the hook for that thinking — because I’m a fan and not a GM of an NBA team — when eventually, it becomes clear – for the zillionth time – that consistent effort-level is really a fundamental part of a player’s makeup. Yes, that player — without the consistent effort but with the talent — will come through in the crunch on occasion … but it’s only the very few elites of the league who operate at that high effort level on a day-to-day basis. They may slow down some for short stretches, occasionally feathering the brakes a bit or allowing themselves to be temporarily distracted enough to let the other parts of the machine (players) get extra time to clear out the carbon buildup and get some run. But for them, getting it back up to full speed is just getting things back to normal again.

    We’ve had two or three players over the years with that kind of talent … and we’ve had one with enough burning desire (effort) to be an ‘elite’, that he’s likely – I’d say – considered somewhere around the cusp of being elite (Chris Bosh) … but to this point, that’s been about it, that I can think of.

    To be fair, they are a seriously rare commodity. Other than Vince, who had it all without even having to think about effort level for the handful of years he played as a Raptor (and if he had applied actual effort for his whole career he might’ve surpassed them all, who knows?), we haven’t had the whole package, as yet.

    It’d sure be nice to have one of those guys, one day. The whole damn package.

    While we don’t … the only other way that I can imagine to get anywhere near close enough to think about contending one day, is coaching. Elite, first rate coaching.

    I like Casey a lot, an awful lot. But not quite as much as I did a year ago. Whatever talent we do have on this team, offensively speaking … I see very little of it being used in ways that might be thought of as ‘clever’. Or creative. I see other teams being clever with what they’ve got and I’m not sure that they out-talent us, at all. I don’t know what the answer is; maybe a hotshot offensive coordinator as some have suggested? Again, I dunno. But I sure hope someone near the top is talking about it.

    • Roarque

      Nicely written.
      Has there been an example in the NBA of such innovative coaching? That is, a Head Coach who differs to an offense-minded assistant? I think they call them coordinators in football and I think those coordinators have direct access to the football equivalent to a PG – the QB. Hey, imagine a PG wired to get coaching in his ear while on the court. Like an anchor on network news.
      Back to reality. CB4 is very similar to DDR, a player willing to commit his life 24X7 to becoming a better and better basketball player. Hard to find. I sure don’t have the focus and discipline to do that in any pursuit that I’ve tried in the past. I’m not sure that we should be dissing a talent like Rudy Gay or Andrea Bargnani for their “lack of focus”. I mean what exactly did they sign up for with those humungous contracts? Should they not be able to “have a life” as we all do.
      Please don’t bring up the $$$ again. The CEO of a mid-sized corporation make that kind of money and doesn’t have to put up with public scorn while running around in his underwear.

    • FAQ

      Look at Gay’s body; he’s soft and smooth suggesting that he has not partaken of “the juice”. Compare him to Kobe, who a couple of seasons ago suddenly appeared bulked and chiseled, a departure from his soft and smooth body. Look at “before & after” pics of Amir and Bosh… get the picture?? When recently playing the Lakers, Kobe channeled and focused his roid rage and virtually willed a victory for the aged Lakers.. remember? Amir and Bosh channeled their juiced energy too… but not Gay, Kyle, Bargs, Fields, other smooth bodies… get the picture now??!!! (Stern recently announced, or notified, the players that there would be more stringent testing for juice… (so get it done this summer Jonas and fast! Wonder if Dwight will shrink down to his skinny past!))

      • FAQ

        Oppps… meant to preface my above comment with this: ”

        Not hard, watching Rudy use his considerable natural talents..”. You mean natural “un-juiced” talents”…!!!

      • 511

        I’m not bothered too much about what supplements players choose to use. If I was a professional athlete, I’d probably use whatever I could get away with if it didn’t adversely affect my health.

  • Roarque

    Well done Arse. You wrote a column without once mentioning Jonesy. What was the bet? Breakfast? Beers at lunch?
    We the fans continue to hope for the 35 win plateau and it would be super if that was achieved by a quantum leap in the productivity of Jonesy, TRoss and BTW, when are we bringing Acy back for some big league burn at PF?
    You do have an interesting writers voice – have you considered a novel?

    • Arsenalist

      He got his mention on the reaction post.

    • Nilanka15

      Why would Paul Jones need mentioning?

  • Simon

    Slagging a guy for ‘effort’ when he goes 11-16 returning from a back injury? Hmmmmmm. Ever played with a bad back before?

    • Arsenalist

      Fair enough. But that’s how he’s played since joining the Raptors.

      There are players whose potential is forever locked because they never developed a certain part of their game, or never evolved due to lack of proper coaching, or being in the wrong situation, etc. IMO, Gay is completely different in the sense that his potential is directly related to the effort and intensity he puts into the game. Where as Bargnani might be “flawed” in his dribble-drive or jumper, Gay has the skill to be an All-Star caliber player and I feel that he relies way too much on his sheer skill.

      • Roarque

        The truly great players have forever been accused to taking a play off or dogging it for a shift. I think it’s because they make it look so easy, playing with their brains fully engaged allows them to appear to not be playing at all.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jawid-Afghan/100000886463567 Jawid Afghan

        very remniscent of carter in that sense. Talented bastards.