It’s the Raptors vs Rudy Gay. A game that, if it weren’t for the trade, would be a speck on the NBA calendar. It would be the last game shown in the highlight pack on ESPN, and the Fan 590 wouldn’t bother giving the score. As it stands, it’s a game that merits our curiosity if for nothing more than guessing which Rudy Gay will show up: the guy which goes 4-17 and everyone hates, or the guy who goes 4-17, hits the game winner, and everyone tolerates. I jest, of course, but I’m not that far off. He has had a revival in Sacramento where he’s averaging 20.7 pts, 3.2 ast, and shooting 53% since the trade (full comparison).

As Sacramento continues to mire in their misery of losing 9 of 11 (albeit they had a big win in Chicago on Monday – box), they must wonder just how much the trade worked out for them as a franchise. Of course, it worked out for Rudy, perhaps even waking something inside of him that nudged him and said, “Hey man, this is a team sport”.   Enough Rudy talk as he’s a part of the franchise’s dark past, although I’m quite positive he’ll be met with a smattering of boos next time he’s at the ACC for whatever reason.  I’m more curious in this one for Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez, who the Kings gave up on rather quickly. The two have usurped Fields and Buyckstone, respectively, to enter Dwane Casey’s rotation permanently. It’s they who must be chomping at the bits to show the Kings first-hand their bartering oversight.

There’s good news for the Kings who are bolstered by the return of DeMarcus Cousins.  He returned from a six-game outage to play 34 minutes against the Bulls for 25 points and 16 rebounds (he speaks about it here). Cousins is the prototypical player that gives Jonas Valanciunas trouble, i.e., he can shield Valanciunas from the paint, making him a bystander when it comes to rebounding and shot-blocking. They’ve only gone head-to-head once and in that one Cousins at 25 pts/13 rebs, and Valanciunas had 3 pts/3 reb (box). This is exactly the type of matchup that brings to surface the Raptors lack of depth at center, and no doubt Casey will have to rely on Chuck Hayes, Amir Johnson, and perhaps even Austin Daye to neutralize Cousins.

[Watch Jonas Valanciunas dominate the Utah Jazz in this Highlight Compilation]

[DeMar DeRozan: We Fight for the City of Toronto]

Kyle Lowry, who said the injury isn’t serious and was something that was bothering him for a few games, plans to play tonight despite the knee being a little bit sore. Little bit sore? What? I can’t understand why he just doesn’t sit out so the knee becomes un-sore. If he aggravates whatever’s going on down there the Raptors get shot on two accounts – immediately value to the team, and value on the market with February 22 approaching. The opposing PG is Isaiah Thomas who is enjoying another fine season, so Lowry’s help is needed but at what risk?

Matchup-wise, Cousins is the one to worry about and I’m sure we’ll see Rudy Gay being defended by a combination of Terrence Ross and John Salmons. Ross and Gay would have gone up against each other tons of time in practice so you’d think Ross would be the preferred choice, but if there’s one thing about Dwane Casey you can count on, it’s that there are absolutely no guarantees about playing time and everything is performance-driven, as it should be. A true meritocracy.

DeRozan will be matched up against the 6’4″ Marcus Thornton and this could be a chance for him to expand on some of those post-moves we saw against Portland. If you check out his compilation video against the Blazers, you’ll notice he had a couple quick-decision turnaround jumpers over players and displayed some creativity in the post as well. With Lowry nursing an injury, DeRozan’s contribution tonight is made even more critical.

Ahead of his return, Vasquez contrasted his experience in previous stops with Toronto:

“It took me four years to get on a team (like the Raptors). Memphis was kind of like that, we built that bond, that chemistry, New Orleans, we went through a lot of injuries and Sacramento was not good at all. But here, everything’s clicked.”

Final thought: Isaiah Thomas is a pretty good point point guard that, some have suggested (podcast), could be on the block considering he’s a RFA this summer with a QO of $1.15M and is sure to be getting paid some decent money. With Masai Ujiri failing to net a pick by dangling Lowry thus far, how much sense would it make for the Raptors to go after Thomas in the summer? Keep in mind the reason the Kings traded Vasquez was because they felt quite comfortable handing Thomas the reins, so there’s that.

The Vegas line is the Raptors laying a point, but here are some interesting bets from one of the sites I visit for such nefarious purposes:

  • Rudy Gay Scoring Over/Under: 20.5
  • DeMar DeRozan Scoring Over/Under: 21.5
  • Jonas Valanciunas Scoring Over/Under: 14.5
  • Sacramento Total Points Over/Under: 99.5 (can the Raptors keep them to under 100?)
  • 1st Quarter Points Total Over/Under: 50.5

Enjoy the game.  Blake will be around later with something.

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  • KJ-B

    Could they play like twice today–once around 1 o’clock and then the night cap?! Not sure that 48 minutes is enough time to spill all the bad blood. LET’S GO RAPS!!!!!

    “CAN’T WAIT!!!”

    • asifyouknow

      lol……actually I don’t think there is that much bad blood…well…maybe Rudy after all the talk after him leaving and Toronto winning…lol

      • KJ-B

        lol…did u watch the Super Bowl after the Seahawks talked up Peyton during media week…lol

  • robertparish00

    I have a hard time hating Rudy…he basically gave us our bench. I don’t want the Raps to lose, only because you know some Sac Town diehards still think they got the best of that trade.

    • Danny Tam

      As much as I hate his game, I like him as a professional. Doesn’t have the type of personality that warrants vitriol, but we all know Raptors fans in attendance tend to think differently.

      • raptorstand

        I got nothing against Rudy. I just cant believe the amount of shots he missed.

        • Abused Raptors Fan

          The iso heavy offense we began the year with wasn’t helping anyone. Demar’s shooting percentages weren’t great to start the season either, he just turned it around sooner.

    • Roarque

      What I heard Rudy has always been a good team mate who wants to play for a winner but his individual skill set does not include strategic thinking. He has been so used to solving problems on his own that he doesn’t know how to solve problems together. A victim of poor coaching or tiny brain? I don’t know.

  • raptorstand

    Have been watching a lot of Kings games since the trade. They are a lot like the old Raptors. You don’t know which team is going to show up. Gay and Cousins look good together , then Gay plays black hole ball. Isaiah Thomas can shoot , smaller version of Klye , so the defense is suspect. Cousins is an all star on a bad team. Jonas is going to have to really bring it tonight. They can blow teams out and make them really look bad, or they get frustrated and the defense goes completely out the window. If Cousins gets frustrated at any point in the game we have a good chance. Fun game to watch. I hope Acey has a nice game and Gray misses a couple of 3 footers. Go Raps.

    • webfeat

      “If Cousins gets frustrated at any point in the game we have a good chance.”

      That’s PsychoT’s cue…

      • JayTeam

        Is PsychoT good to go tonight?

  • golden

    Ok, let’s get this obligatory “playing-my-old-team” storyline over with and move on from the Rudy Gay experiment. He did net us a decent bench and a potential steal in 2-Pat, so here’s to Rudy. Will be interesting to see who guards him tonight, but the real challenge will be Cousins. He’s always a handful and kills the Raps. And if Lowry can’t go, then Thomas might just run circles around Vasquez. Not liking the matchups here – could be a long night.

    • asifyouknow

      All this Vasquez bashing gets old, you guys have no clue what the hell you talking about, of course you most know more than the coach, listen to what he said yesterday about Vaz.
      You guys have no clue what this guy does for you.
      By the way get used to it, yesterday coach dropped the hint about Vaz being ready because he is a starting PG already.
      Kyle will be gone soon and Vaz is what you got and the drop-off will be about 3 points. Remember where you heard it.
      The guy is finally healthy he was playing with B-league teammates in NO and was able to put up 14 pts and 9 assists with a bunch of bums (except Davis and Anderson and they were hurt half the year) now he will have 10 times better players. If JV starts hitting those 3 or 4 easy shots Vaz gives him every game he would be averaging 8 assist every night playing 20 minutes.
      When Kyle gets traded this team will keep on winning, you will see what a pick and roll PG is all about, remember where you heard it, but they will need to find a veteran back-up.

      • golden

        Dude, chill. That wasn’t a shot at ‘Vaz’. Thomas runs circles around everybody, but with ‘Vaz’ foot speed being not as good as Lowry, I’m not too thrilled about the matchup tonite. Relax, man.

        • asifyouknow

          No need to relax that is just an opinion no more or less valid than yours. No big deal, I’m not mad or anything, just an opinion.
          That is my tone, that is how I write my articles. So is all good. lol
          There is too much bashing of all players going on by fans that really have no clue to what’s going on, most “commenting” fans have one measuring stick for players, if they don’t look good in their fantasy league stats the guy is a bum…lol
          Vaz could work out great for Toronto because of the kind of game they play. Keep Vaz as a -starter transitional -player until you get that stud PG trained and them Vaz becomes a hell of a back-up, that would be smart for this team. If they keep playing with the pass first gig of course.

          • Abused Raptors Fan

            The biggest problem most of us have with him is his ineffective defense. Sure, his shot hasn’t been falling with as much consistency as wed like, but that happens to a lot of players. Regardless, even if his shot is falling, he gives back most of what he gets you on the defensive end.

      • j bean

        asifyouknow doesn’t know Lowry will be gone soon. Kyle is enjoying the best ball of his career and will have a hard time finding a team where he fits better than here. He is the straw that stirs the drink on offence and plays very tough D compared to Vaz.
        If GV can accept that he plays an important part on a winning team and is willing to do whatever is asked of him, he is a great addition to a team on the rise. Hopefully they can work together to be part of something special.

  • Tanks-a-lot

    Nobody can honestly fault Rudy Gay for his performance in a Raptors uniform. It’s just the player he is and the contract that someone else gave him.. I don’t see any pointed booing of Rudy Gay in the future.

  • Marz

    Gay’s Scoring: Over
    DeRozan’s Scoring: Over
    Jonas’s Scoring: Under
    Sacramento Total Points: Under
    1st Quarter Total Points: Under

  • Deadallus

    I was just thinking myself of how the fans will react when Rudy returns. If he gets booed it will be another blemish that this franchise and fan base can do without. Please, for the love of all things sacred, do not boo this guy. Sure he didn’t play very well in a Raps uniform, but he didn’t dog it, or try to force his way out. he just didn’t fit. I don’t think anyone would boo Nash and he CHOSE NOT to sign in T.O., AND
    we got stuck with Landry who’s signing was made as a strategic ploy to
    land Nash.

    Lets stop looking back and start looking forward as a fan base.

    • Abused Raptors Fan

      Someone from the team and organization has to step up and address this issue with the fanbase as a whole or it will keep happening and hurt the franchise

      • Sprit

        That might actually backfire. Remember when the Warriors traded Ellis for Bogut and the fans booed the owner as he gave a public address? A former player (a hall of famer.. can’t remember who exactly) took the mic and pleaded for the fans to be patient. The boos rained down harder.

        Warrior fans aren’t complaining now, though. Maybe the only way to stop the incessant booing is for the Raps to field a team so good that the fans no longer give a shit what former players are doing/did.

      • Tee

        Who cares!?

        Trust me no one not even rudy cares if you boo.

        He makes 17million a year!!!
        Nobody from golden state or Boston cares if we boo rudy.
        You are over thinking this.

      • raptorstand

        I was at the game when Tmac came back after signing elsewhere. The fans went absolutely nuts before the game in warm up , they booed everytime he touched the ball . Tmac went off , couldn’t stop him , he looked like he was having a ball. I had total respect for Tmac after that performance. Players don’t care , the good ones love it.

    • Roarque

      I will be surprised if the fan in the ACC boo Rudy Gay on his return. He was traded and the Raps got fair value and he now plays for a last place team with the lowest assist numbers in the league. Just desserts. Listening to the pundits explain how both ‘sides’ won the trade is interesting. On one hand they explain how the raptors numbers as a team have improved and on the other hand they explain how Rudy’s individual numbers have improved .This isn’t tennis or golf guys, this is basketball – only team stats matter.

  • Sheptor

    Austin Daye vs Demarcus Cousins…can’t wait for that match-up

  • Roarque

    Cousins told ’em he wanted a third star on the team but they argued PatPat would be the guy who would relieve the pressure. Cousins said no – get another star or I walk. So the GM went looking and found out Rudy was available from his old friend Uliri but his old friend had a shopping list. The only hold up with the trade was Masai’s demand for 2Pat. They must have agonized over that one. In their minds it was 2Pat and Grievez for Gay. The other two were throw ins who proved they were way more than that.
    Expect the four Kings to kick ass tonight when it’s bench versus bench.
    Expect Rudy to rise but watch DDR show him up on the score sheet
    Raps by 20

  • A. Finol

    I have been watching Vaz playing for a long time, yes he has his moments and a really horrible defense, but his commitment compensate a lot of that. He will proof his value to the team and the fans… mainly cause he wants to be here.

  • A. Finol

    JV still a work in progress and don’t get me wrong I’m his fan, but as I’ve said before we need a experience C coming from the bench to help us go to the next level.

    • webfeat

      Hopefully Hayes having practiced with Cousins and knowing his game inside out will be a plus not a minus.

  • Louvens Remy

    “Put it on the board. Yahhhhh”– that is Hawk Harrelson’s signature slogan anytime a Chicago White Sox player hits a homerun. I am using it for today because, the Raps are going to put another win on the board. Rapz by 100. #GoRapz

  • A. Finol

    Rudy is the in past and really I’m very happy he is gone for good. That was the breaking point for this team and I’m really glad that happened. Tonight we are going to put on a great game to keep converting the skeptics around…

    On our coach, DC… sorry but, for me is not the coach we need, honestly…

  • Dr,Scooby

    Here is a basic (albeit flawed) account of the Raps payroll/roster next season (which is looking okay), if we maintain the current roster including:
    resigning Lowry, Patterson & Vasquez to higher salaries and keep Salmons (approx. 9, 5.5. 3 & 7 respectively = + 6 million to team salary compared with 13/14)

    Richardson (1.4) & Augustine (1.3) & Camby’s remaining salary drops 2.1 M for a savings of aprox 4.8 million next season.

    Ujiri then needs to decide whether to waive Salmons, Stone, Daye, Hansborough & Buycks for up to (aprox. 8 million savings)

    If not traded, I think Hansborough would be kept and maybe Stone as 3rd sting PG. Arguably the key loss being Salmons who can be waived for only a 1m cap hit. So a savings of maybe 5m next season

    Next season’s cap is to be 62.1 and the tax at 75,7. so the Raps will still be above the salary cap, but well below the luxury tax. To me this means that there is some room for change (trades, MLE, draft picks), but mostly it will be the same team minus Salmons)

    Did I miss anything?

    Are fans okay with this?

    • raptorstand

      Can we amnesty Fields contract ?

    • DDayLewis

      Your estimates of salaries are a bit high. 2Pat is a nice player, but he’d be hard pressed to get 5.5 million in this current CBA

      • Dr,Scooby

        depending on term, but you’re probably right. Still he’s getting 3.1 now, has been performing quite well of late…Jason Thompson is making 5.6…

  • GetLicks

    Austin Daye to neutralize Cousins? Zarar, you been smokin’ that legal sh*t? 😉

  • rudy straight

    embarrassing so far

  • Chris Read

    I turned the game off after the 3rd…and even though the team has come back: WHAT A FCKING DISGRACE! It’s embarrassing to call myself a Raps fan tonight.