|Landry Fields, SF 39 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -6
In an effort to counter Carmelo Anthony defensively, Landry has gotten the start against his former team in all 3 match-ups this season. Carmelo scored 37 points as the Knicks beat the Raptors, so that part didn’t go so well. While ‘Melo may have solved his defence, Fields was effective in limited use offensively. It would be criminal though not to celebrate Fields doubling his 3pt fg% on the season tonight, exploding from 7% all the way up to 14%! That’s right folks, Landry is now 2 for 14 on the season. He’s heating up…
|Rudy Gay, SF 14 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -15
Rudy Gay started this game in typical Rudy Gay fashion: shooting every ball he touched. It’s as clear on TV as it is to opposing defences that Rudy wants to make a quick move and then take his shot whenever he gets the balll. The fact that it’s a lot easier to cover a guy who you’re not afraid of passing probably has as much to do with Gay’s career worst fg% as anything else. Gay tweaked his ailing back and left this game early in the first half. Having already missed a handful of recent games with back spasms lately, this injury is starting to become something of a concern moving forward.
|Jonas Valanciunas, C 31 MIN | 5-6 FG | 0-1 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -5
Dwane Casey gave the lion’s share of minutes to Jonas tonight, as the Raptors are now in full development mode. It was a solid game for Valanciunas, who is looking better and better on the offensive end of the floor. The Raptors made an effort to give Valanciunas multiple low post isolations to work his improving hook shot. One block from ‘old man Camby aside, the shot was falling. Jonas also went H.A.M. on ‘Melo for a furious dunk in the 3rd quarter that was a lot of fun. His defensive rotations were not a strong point for Jonas, but the foot work and comfort on that side of the floor will come in time.
|Kyle Lowry, PG 35 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +3
I still don’t know how to feel about Kyle Lowry. There was a play early in the game where Prigioni hit a desperation shot over Lowry as the shot clock expired. Lowry then allowed Prigioni to steal the ball from him off of the inbounds pass, which is frustrating, but not an indictable offence in and of itself. But instead of trying to recover the ball or even cover Prigioni, Lowry just stood by the basket pouting while Prigioni dribbled freely and found a wide open Carmelo for 3. Lowry’s offence in the 3rd quarter was inspiring, but it’s too often that these are the plays from him that I’m left remembering.
|DeMar DeRozan, SG 35 MIN | 7-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -3
DeMar played a solid DeMar DeRozan game. When he slashed to the basket, he was effective; getting to the line and scoring against a Knicks team that didn’t have Tyson Chandler to guard the rim. He continues to draw fouls and hit his free throws too. However, DeMar was less effective when he tried on several possessions to force his left-side baseline fadeaway. I’m sure that he wants that fadeaway to go in, it’s just that that fadeaway isn’t even particularly interested in hitting rim.
|Amir Johnson, PF 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | 0
Amir Johnson saw very limited minutes tonight as the Raps played small ball to match ‘Melo, and are focusing on developing Valanciunas. Amir Johnson still made his value clear, as his 4 pts and 6 reb in 17 minutes had him on path for the reliable Amir Johnson double-double.
|John Lucas, PG 13 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8
John Lucas got all of the minutes at back-up point guard tonight, and he really seized the opportunity with 0 assists and 0 for 5 shooting in 13 forgettable minutes. Sebastian Telfair may not be the long term answer at back-up point, but he does show a contrast in style from Lucas with his comfort in handling the ball in a half court set. Lucas is much more of a spot up shooter, which he has done very well for most of the season. Tonight though, not so much.
|Alan Anderson, SG 36 MIN | 11-18 FG | 7-8 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 35 PTS | +5
There are two Alan Andersons. There is the chucker who goes 1 for 7 from the floor, with all of those shots coming 5 seconds in to the shot clock, gets caught watching on defence and gets reasonably benched after 13 minutes. Then there is the Alan Anderson who explodes for 20 points in a quarter, reigns down fire from three and puts the team on his back. It’s a lot of fun when we get that second guy.
|Terrence Ross, SG 19 MIN | 2-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +2
That spot-up 3 that Terrance Ross loves from the top right side of the arc looks so pretty, I always feel surprised when it doesn’t go in. Ross was 0 for 5 from deep tonight. It might not feel like his numbers back up the sharp-shooting buzz he had coming out of the draft, but keep in mind that his 33% on the season is still better than the 29% Kevin Durant shot as a rookie. And things have worked out pretty well for that guy so far.
It’s good to see Casey not just playing his rookies, but making sure they both get their share of shots too. I’m still longing for Casey to run something like a functional, set offence that doesn’t rely on a DeRozan, Anderson or Gay isolation though. This team uses their point guards on offence as a guy who carries the ball to half, passes it to a wing, and then waits for a spot up 3 if need be. Not a lot of creativity there.
Five Things We Saw
- Landry Fields must look forward to playing his old Knicks team, knowing that it’s one start he can count on. On the downside, he has to cover Carmelo Anthony all game. After Fields shut him down in the first match, ‘Melo has more than figured out how to get his against Landry, with 32 in the last game and 37 tonight.
- Can you believe that ‘Old Man Marcus Camby is still in the league? The Raptors drafted him when I was 10 years old. Marcus Camby in a cartoon dinosaur uniform feels like an awful, awful long time ago.
- Alan Anderson set a career high in points tonight with 35, including 20 points in the 3rd quarter. Anderson hasn’t always been reliable, but the highlight tape of his 4 or 5 best games this season should be more than enough to get him a contract playing somewhere next season. These Alan Anderson explosion games are a ton of fun.
- There is nobody in the league who sets more enthusiastic screens and then rolls to the basket hoping as hard as he can that he’ll get the ball as Jonas Valanciunas. None of the driving wings will ever give him that roll pass though. You can see how bad he wants it though, and the sad look on his face when Gay or Lowry jump towards the basket. It’s the NBA’s version of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.
- The Knicks may have clinched this game by getting buckets every time they needed them down the stretch in the 4th. But they made the lead that they never lost with defence in the first half. The Knicks can get some credit for that, but Toronto’s lack of creativity and, ultimately, their lack of focus on offence is what continued to be the problem tonight.