|Amir Johnson, PF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +2Showed some signs of breaking out of his recent funk, particularly early in the fourth, where he ran a couple nice give and gos with Lowry. For the most part, though, he still looked a step slow out there – he missed the catch on two well-run pick and roll plays, which stood out the most to me. That’s his bread-and-butter on most nights. Pierce was a tough matchup for him defensively and he had trouble following him around the perimeter all night.|
|Steve Novak, SF Shot Chart 22 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +6Got the start in place of DeRozan in order to keep some stability on the bench unit, and proceeded to contribute nothing. It’s not on him that he’s getting more minutes than a player of his caliber should. It is on him when his one above-average NBA skill is 3-point shooting and he goes 0 for 5, and four of those could reasonably have been called “open looks.”|
|Terrence Ross, SF Shot Chart 33 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +1He had a tough act to follow after his 51-point explosion Saturday, and early on, it looked like the good times were going to continue to roll. After a hot first few minutes, though, he cooled off from the field. However, he contributed in other ways: particularly defensively on Joe Johnson, whom he did an excellent job on for most of the game (Johnson finished with 12). It’s also great to see the effort he makes on the glass – if he could time those crazy jumps he makes from the wing to grab loose boards consistently, oh my.|
|Jonas Valanciunas, C Shot Chart 32 MIN | 9-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | -2After the first quarter, in which he was neutralized by an ancient Kevin Garnett and dunked on by Andray Blatche, you may have thought he was in for a rough evening. Nope. The following three corners were efficient, effective, and generally excellent. Lowry was the MVP of the game, and Patterson was the last-second hero, but Jonas was the key cog in the fourth – he cleaned up the glass after some questionable Raptor possessions, and scored in a variety of ways. Also showed some ‘tude after the game got chippy. I loved watching him stand up to Garnett.|
|Kyle Lowry, PG Shot Chart 35 MIN | 10-18 FG | 7-8 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 31 PTS | +1If this man doesn’t go to New Orleans, it’s a travesty. Absolutely eviscerated Shaun Livingston all game and went toe to toe with Deron Williams, drew 3 charges (should have been four) and played through foul trouble to help will the Raptors to a victory tonight. I realize that it’s beyond ridiculous to put him in the MVP discussion, and I’m not doing that at all here, but tonight was an MVP-type performance.|
|Chuck Hayes, PF Shot Chart 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -5Turns out Andray Blatche is his kryptonite. Matchup-wise, he was in tough – he just couldn’t deal with the length and athleticism of Blatche, and got victimized on both ends, particularly in the third quarter. Possibly his roughest outing as a Raptor. He’ll bounce back.|
|Patrick Patterson, PF Shot Chart 21 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +5Looked like the mask was bothering him early (a couple air balls), so what does he do? He ditches it and proceeds to go Elaine Alden-hot for the rest of the game. The last-second steal and score: CAJONES, my friends. Cajones.|
|John Salmons, SF Shot Chart 28 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -10Generally ineffective offensively (took some questionable shots), but played well defensively and didn’t take too many possessions. Came in late for Ross, which I think was the right decision with Lowry, Jonas and Patterson carrying the offence.|
|Greivis Vasquez, PG Shot Chart 26 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 12 PTS | +7God, that floater he throws up drives me bananas. That said, tonight was one of his better efforts defensively – he managed to earn his minutes in the crunch time fourth quarter lineup by not being a liability. Ran some great pick and rolls, hit some open 3s, and could have had a couple more assists if not for some muffed catches.|
One complaint: The four Kings + Novak lineup we saw late in the first quarter. Besides that, I thought he was excellent, tactically. Found ways to attack a Nets lineup full of tough defenders, made the correct matchup decisions, and crucially chose to not pressure the inbounder on the Raps final possession – a decision that directly led to the Patterson’s steal and crucial hoop. Well done.
Three Things We Saw
- This game had a playoff-type atmosphere. Three technical fouls were called in the third quarter – one an extremely questionable one on Lowry. The Raptors, to their credit, didn’t back down. It’s great to see this team fired up on a regular basis – pretty refreshing for long-time Raptor fans.
- The reason the Nets stayed in this one so late, incredibly, was Paul Pierce, who had 7 three-pointers and basically scored at will in the fourth to bring the Nets ahead. It was a vintage performance for Pierce, but the Raptors could have really used some more options on D – Amir was too slow, and Ross couldn’t guard Pierce and Johnson. I would have liked to have seen the Ross/Salmons tandem used more – it was largely abandoned after the first half.
- I can not overstate how impressive Kyle Lowry was this game. Shredding the defence, taking charges, knocking down open 3s: the guy did it all tonight. Quite possibly his best performance in a Raptor uniform, in a key game, with the team’s leading scorer injured. Make the man an All-Star, already.