(Listen for the guy who who cackles after the game winner)
The game’s aesthetic value lingered around nil for most of the night, to the point where an ennui-soaked beer vendor proved to be the highlight for world-weary press row. (Sample dialogue: “Tall cans. Big and small tall cans. A big selection of two.” Also: “No lineups, none whatsoever: just me talking to myself.) After Casey spent much of his pre-game session with the media complimenting his team’s ball movement, the Raptors went rogue in the first quarter, managing just two assists. The Bobcats, who had zero in the frame, conspired to make them look like the Spurs in comparison.
Sidenote: Matty D called Amir “The Doctor”. That’s worse than “Doctor of Denial”.
Toronto actually came out with some effort, but couldn’t hit a shot early. Once things stabilized, Charlotte went on a furious rally in the third quarter.
One of the main reasons why Toronto stormed past Charlotte in the 2nd quarter was because of how easy it was for them to penetrate to the rim. That fact alone is the reason why Charlotte needs MKG to come back because of how great he is as a perimeter defender.
If I told you Anthony Tolliver was going to shoot 80 percent from the field and score 10 points in a comeback effort, you would have laughed at me. Well, that happened too.
Still, Casey maintains that it’s a give and take with Valanciunas on the floor in these scenarios. Although you have a theoretical advantage offensively with Valanciunas against the smaller Jefferson, it’s understood that you are giving something up on defence. Is one worth the other? Instead, Casey rotated the more experienced, more versatile trio of Amir Johnson, Tyler Hansbrough and Patrick Patterson in the fourth.
As is common with the Raptors, Toronto started off with a play into the post for Jonas Valanciunas and the Raptors young center showed something new by passing out and re-posting deeper. On the pass back, he easily scored over Al Jefferson with a short hook. Valanciunas also putback an offensive board 2 plays later, but points were hard to come by in the first quarter as both teams shot under 32 percent from the field and the Bobcats took an 18-15 lead on a late Kemba Walker three-pointer. Bobcats turning the ball over 5 times to the Raptors 4.
While there’s a certain soul-sucking aspect about wanting your team to lose deliberately when it’s not even Christmas so that it can join the great Eastern Conference conga line to the draft lottery, it has become reality. Even as Lowry nailed a brazen three-pointer with 12.1 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, the Twittersphere exploded with one thought: “Trade him, Masai. Trade Kyle Lowry right now.” Odd, isn’t it, that a player whose character has often been a cause of concern for his coaches has shined even as trade rumours swirl around him? “He is,” head coach Dwane Casey remarked later, “playing at a very high level.”
“Kemba, he lives for those shots,” Jefferson said. “I really think he missed those free throws on purpose so we could be in that situation, because that’s what he lives for. That’s what he does. He’s been doing that his whole life.”
A worthy cause to give to if you so desire.