|Amir Johnson, PF Shot Chart 18 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -3Inconsistent offensively, but his defensive effort sparked the Raptors in the third quarter, where the team quickly followed suit and built a big lead. I love the pick and pop play with him and Ross. Played hard on an injured ankle, and was rightly given more time to sit than usual.|
|Terrence Ross, SF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 7-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +1The Raptors most consistent scorer on the night. Made great decisions with the ball and unleashed a dunk from the seventh level of hell that made Kenneth Faried reconsider his chosen profession (link below). He’s showing some developing chemistry on pick and roll/pop plays with Amir Johnson.|
|Jonas Valanciunas, C Shot Chart 29 MIN | 4-10 FG | 5-6 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +4Had his defensive issues in the first half, but responded nicely in the second. The Raptors fed him the ball constantly up big in the fourth and let him work, which was nice to see – he even hit a 12 footer. Three of those misses are jumpers in the fourth, which I’m willing to forgive, given the score (the Raptors were comfortably up at the time).|
|Kyle Lowry, PG Shot Chart 31 MIN | 5-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | +15He was excellent in the first, but took some questionable transition 3s that led to easy Denver buckets on the other side (11 three-point attempts?). A lot of this game was played on the pick and roll, though, and Lowry did a typically excellent job there.|
|DeMar DeRozan, SG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 6-17 FG | 7-8 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 19 PTS | +5Our newly-minted All-Star returned after missing a couple games due to injury and looked rusty in the first half, where he went 1 for 5, all on long twos, and most of those contested. His fourth quarter was pretty ugly too (0 for 4), but he absolutely exploded in the third, putting the team on his back and staking the Raptors to what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. Not a bad night to work out the kinks. Got to the line pretty regularly, as well, which was where most of his first-half points came.|
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF Shot Chart 13 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +5THIS is why there’s been so many “we could have used Hansbrough tonight” comments over the past few weeks. It’s also why it was so good that he waited until he was 100% before coming back. Was all over the floor on offence and defence, making things tough for Faried and the much larger Mozgov and cleaning up the offensive glass. A very effective 13 minutes.|
|Patrick Patterson, PF Shot Chart 24 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +18Came in masked up and put to rest any doubts that it would affect his shooting right away with 3 jumpers in the first half. His best work came defensively, though, where his mobility was key in putting the Nuggets away. He and Hansbrough were the bigs on the floor for the Raps’ big third-quarter run.|
|Chuck Hayes, PF Shot Chart 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -4Not a great matchup for him with Denver’s mix of mobile bigs and the much larger Mozgov. Did what he could, which wasn’t much. Eh, wasn’t his night.|
|John Salmons, SF Shot Chart 24 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 9 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +16Nine assists! The only reason he doesn’t get an A is because of the hero ball he played in the first half – he took far too many shots and did his best Rudy Gay impersonation for a quarter or so. He was also one of the primary culprits when it came to the lazy wing defence the Raps played in the first half – on one possession, Wilson Chandler went around him like he was standing still. Played a truly excellent second half, though, seeing the floor well and even hitting a couple heat-check shots early in the fourth.|
|Greivis Vasquez, PG Shot Chart 20 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 0 PTS | -7I hesitate to give him an F because the margin of victory was so comfortable, but his defensive shortcomings were really exposed tonight. Casey chose to have Terrence Ross guard Randy Foye and put Vasquez on the much larger Evan Fournier, where he was beaten in pretty much every way imaginable. Moved the ball well on offence and made one particularly nice cross-court pass to Lowry for an open 3, but his D was truly ugly tonight.|
The timeout he called early in the third was the turning point of the game – I don’t know what he said in the huddle, but the difference in defensive intensity was obvious. Had a couple rough moments, though – I particularly question his insistence on having Ross guard Randy Foye and leaving Lowry and Vasquez on Denver’s huge wing players, and you have to attribute some of the weak defence in the first half to him. That said, made the right decisions when it mattered, which led to a comfortable win.
Three Things We Saw
- So, this happened. Enjoy it, share it, watch it over and over again. The bench reaction was almost more entertaining than the dunk.
- This game represented streetball pickup for the first half, with both teams executing pick and roll plays seemingly at will. The Raptors turned up the defensive intensity in the third, which basically put the game away – holding the Nuggets to just 17 points and jumping out to a 22 point lead at one point.
- The Raptors haven’t won in Denver in over 10 years until tonight. Having a full contingent of players was key to that – the Nuggets were banged up and couldn’t hang once the bench contingent came into the game. Quincy Miller and Anthony Randolph: point guards you are not.