Amir
Toronto Raptors 106 Final

Recap | Box Score

94 Los Angeles Lakers
Amir Johnson, PF 36 MIN | 14-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 32 PTS | +22The easiest A+ we’ve given out all season. Kind of fell off in the fourth when the team stopped looking for him down low, but he absolutely eviscerated Pau Gasol tonight and turned a lot of the Raps’ more questionable possessions into buckets with some great rebounding. Finally got to play a big part in the Raptor offence and made the most of it.
Landry Fields, SF 31 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +9Got the start in place of the now-departed Mr. Gay and promptly took (and missed) three 3s. The defensive effort was solid, and he was effective on Kobe, but, then again, everyone was effective on Kobe tonight.
Jonas Valanciunas, C 28 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +9Kind of hoped he’d have a big game tonight with Robert Sacre (seriously, WTF?) starting opposite him at center, but, for the most part, he looked lost out there. I was disappointed the second unit didn’t look to feature him more. On the plus side, showed some nice passing and was literally right beside Amir for a few of his put-backs, which would have boosted his stat line a bit.
Kyle Lowry, PG 37 MIN | 8-13 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 23 PTS | +19I won’t give him an A+ out of respect for Amir’s career night, but he was the straw that stirred the drink tonight. Got his hands in the Laker passing lanes over and over again, started the fast break with some excellent outlet passing, and even got in on the offensive rebounding action. Oh, and he only missed one shot from inside the three point line.
DeMar DeRozan, SG 41 MIN | 8-19 FG | 10-11 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 26 PTS | +22Not the best shooting numbers, but he showed he can still succeed with the defence keying on him as the number-one option. Kind of hit a lull in the second and third, but settled down the offence in the fourth when it looked like the Lakers were going to close the gap with some nice floaters in the lane and a bunch of key free throws.
Steve Novak, SF 28 MIN | 1-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -9Steve, I’m sorry. From here on out, you’re getting a grade from me based on your stat line from behind the arc. 1 for 9 gets you an F. Every. Time.
Julyan Stone, SG 11 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -7Much, much better than his effort last time out in Phoenix. Got his assists by looking for Amir Johnson every chance he got, which was an excellent decision tonight, and keyed the only real run the bench had in the fourth quarter with a couple of nice drives (one he finished with a monster dunk in traffic). One of his best games of the year.
Terrence Ross, SG 28 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -5Have a rough game shooting from outside (missing some wide open threes), but he was super-active on the offensive glass – those three boards could have been way more if he got a few bounces his way. Played reasonable D and banked in a half-court 3 at the end of the first for good measure.
Dwane Casey
I almost want to give him an F for the sake of continuity/hilarity, but he gets a pass tonight after one of the most fluid offensive games the Raps have played all season. He had a tough job tonight with a severely depleted lineup due to the trade and Hansbrough being injured, and besides one head-scratcher of a lineup late in the third (Stone/Ross/Fields/Novak/Val) that nearly let the Lakers back in the game, he handled it well.

Four Things We Saw

  1. Full reaction for the Rudy Gay trade tomorrow morning from the RR team (or look here or here), but the proof was in the pudding tonight – the Raptors’ ball movement was as good as it’s been all season, and the pick and roll was highlighted tonight more than we’re used to seeing, especially in the first half. Were it not for some awful-even-for-the-Raps three-point shooting (they went a horrifying 4-26 as a team), this would have been a blowout.
  2. In his return, Kobe Bryant looked more than a step slow – often, his passes looked telegraphed and got picked off numerous times and some of his shots were absolute bricks. That said, it’s great for the NBA that he’s back, and he showed enough of himself tonight that I’m confident he’ll return to some semblance of his old form once he gets his legs back under him. #MambaNation
  3. In his last three games, Amir Johnson has gone for 16 and 10, 22 and 7, and now 32 and 10. If the Rudy trade is the first step towards a tank, expect Masai to bring Amir into his office, and for him to go down with a suspicious injury sooner rather than later. He’s still getting better, which is incredible.
  4. This happened. And it was glorious.