“I think obviously there’s a lot of emotion involved. I think this will be a little bit different than some of the other former Raptors,” said Pistons coach, and former Nets coach, Lawrence Frank. “I was around when Vince [Carter] came back, and [the same thing happened with] Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh. This will be, hopefully, the complete opposite.” It was.
They said Rudy Gay was inefficient, he shoots 72% from the floor! They said he was a poor three point shooter, he makes all four of his three-point tries! Forget his struggles this season, Gay for MVP!
DeMar DeRozan may have had a good basic stats night (15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals), but he shot the ball horribly (7-of-17), held the rock for way too long at times and had his lack of ball handling skills brutally exposed by the Pistons in the fourth quarter. For as much as DeRozan has improved his court vision and play making abilities in terms of creating for others, he still lacks the necessary ball handling ability to get to the next level as a wing player in the NBA. More than anything else (yes, even more than he needs to add a dependable three-point shot), DeMar has to come back next season with a tighter handle.
Gay, deservedly, has a reputation as an inefficient shooter, but he didn’t live up to it tonight. Gay had scored this much (34 points) six times before, but he’d always needed at least four more shots to get there than the 18 he took tonight.
For those keeping score, it’s now five years in a row without the playoffs, the longest stretch in Raptors history. “It hurts,’’ said head coach Dwane Casey of not making it into the post-season. “Our goal was to knock on the door and get into the playoffs. “A couple of weeks ago, we saw that light, but it faded when we could not take care of games against Washington, Cleveland and Milwaukee. Unfortunately, it is now over. It hurts.” Toronto’s depleted bench was outscored 51-17.
“It’s just a different feeling,’’ began Calderon, whose return to the Air Canada Centre drew an unusually high amount of media members. “It’s just weird. So many feelings, so many memories. Next to my home (back in Spain), this is the place where I’ve spent most of my time.” When he addressed the media, Calderon had no clue how he’d react to the response, to the moment, to the stage, where he was basically leading man on a night featuring two teams heading into a long off-season.
You won’t be surprised in the least to learn that Jose Calderon was brilliant for the Pistons. He needed only 12 shots to pour in 19 points, and dished out 9 assists against 1 turnover. Greg Monroe, the only Piston who looks like a rising star, was a load in this game. He displayed excellent moves close to the bucket, and a more-than-respectable jumper, on his way to leading his team with 24.