WARNING: I actually didn’t realize I was writing this post-game until halftime and after I had taken cold medicine because I felt like total crap. So if I am more incoherent than usual, please forgive me.
After giving Don Nelson and George Karl their 1000th win as coaches, the Toronto Raptors denied Rick Adelman from joining the exclusive club. A club that has fewer members than SNL’s Five Timers Club. It was nice, not only because it prevented the Raptors from being add to list of answers to trivia questions that include, “What team did Don Nelson beat to win 1000 games?”, “What team did George Karl beat to win 1000 games?” and “What team did Kobe Bryant score 81 points against?”. It was also nice because it gave some meaning to what would otherwise be a meaningless game.
Neither the Raptors nor the T-Wolves will make the playoffs, and about the only thing they’re fighting for now is draft seeding. And with the Raptors unlikely to retain their pick, I’m wondering how many Raptor fans even care.
Of course, now the Raptors are riding a two game winning streak, their longest in 20 games. The only danger now is that the Raptors start playing well, giving Bryan Colangelo more of a chance of returning next year to continue mismanaging the team and overpaying players.
But on to the game…
The Minnesota Timberwolves are a peculiar team. They have four point guards on the roster, the only shooting guard has knees worse than mine and who already retired once, their best three point shooter is probably their power forward and their best interior defender is their small forward.
Without a real shooting guard, 6’2 Luke Ridnour has been starting there for most of the season. If you’ve been following the Raptors at all this season, you should know that this pretty much guarantees a big game from DeMar DeRozan, who routinely feasts on undersized defenders.
I’ve been pretty critical of DeRozan over the last couple of seasons, but this year his post-up game has grown by leaps and bounds. And while he takes WAY too many long twos, still has poor ball handling skills and is a below average defenders, what he does do is take advantage of smaller defenders. And that’s exactly what he did against the T-Wolves.
While most of his shots still came from outside of the paint, he hit more than half his shots on the way to 25 points. On the downside, he only got to the line once. Not surprising since he only took took shots at the rim and only four in the paint. While did did score well and when the team needed him to, it was another inefficient night.
Rudy Gay was the team’s leading scorer, with 26 point, his efficiency mirrored that of DeRozan’s, going 12-23 with only one free throw on the night. On the plus side, he seemed more engaged, after the first quarter, and got into the paint more than usual.
Speaking of Gay, I’d like to watch the game again and see what the ratio was of how many times Gay scored and then let his man easily drive by on the very next play. For a guy with his defensive ability, the number of times he let’s this happen is unforgivable.
Of course, the main reason for many of us to watch the game was to see Jonas Valaniunas. Before the game, it was announced that he had won the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for March, which seems like a great honour until you realize that most of the decent rookies are in the West, and the last Raptor that won it was Jamario Moon.
Jonas was going up against possibly the strongest player in the NBA, Nikola Pekovic. Pekovic is an absolute beast and the guy Blake Griffin said was the toughest player in the NBA to play against. I also don’t know if there’s a more underrated player in the league. This is a 7 foot center with pretty decent mobility who weighs in the neighbourhood of 280 lbs, most of which appears to be muscle. And he’s averaging 16.2 ppg and 8.8 rpg for the season. I’d say he’s easily a top ten center this year, yet you never hear anyone talking about him.
Jonas actually played Pekovic pretty well, and was able to score in double digits, yet again, but did have an off night on the boards, only managing 4 in 30 minutes. Still, considering what he was up against, you have to give him credit.
With Pekovic, you knew Aaron Gray was going to make an appearance and he didn’t disappoint. He definitely made an appearance. I was disappointed that I didn’t see his regular reaction whenever he’s called for a foul. I don’t recall another player arguing such obvious foul calls as Gray. Well, maybe Alan “Stink” Anderson, but despite playing in his hometown, Casey didn’t give him very many minutes.
So the Raptors won and are now a half game ahead of Washington for 10th place in the East.
Random thoughts for the game:
– When Andrei Kirilenko goes in to get his haircut, does he ask for the Tom Chambers?
– While the wife of T-Wolves owner, Glen Taylor, isn’t young, she’s quite attractive for her age. Taylor, on the other hand, was definitely not married for his looks.
– I’ve really been intrigued about Derrick Williams as someone who might blossom on another team, and then I watched him slowly jog back on defense, well behind both teams. Twice.