Pelicans 101, Raptors 108 – Box
This was tough to get through, even on Jamesons. It appeared that the Raptors might put this to bed early and coast for the second half, but the Pelicans made a second quarter run against a Patterson-less Raptors bench to keep the game alive, if only in a vegetative state.  A third quarter surge on the backs of the starters extended the lead to double-digits and it looked like the Raptors were finally in clear waters, until they downshifted in the fourth inviting another Pelicans attack.  In the end, the Holiday and Anderson-less Pelicans couldn’t get key defensive rebounds (credit to Hansbrough and Lowry), and the Raptors rightfully claimed the spoils.

[Read how an armchair quarterback like myself judges great athletes playing competitive sport while I recline in my LazyBoy and spill chips all over my jammys]

First game back from the West is always a coin toss and when the Raptors built up an early advantage, all signs pointed to a welcome rout.  Patrick Patterson replaced the ailing/hurt/not-hurt/playing-through-it/warrior Amir Johnson in the starting lineup as Dwane Casey opted for versatility over grit in passing over Tyler Hansbrough, and it turned out to be an excellent decision.  Patterson brought a dimension to the Raptors starting offense that is generally absent, and the immediate result was a spacious court, balanced outside shooting, two-man games from multiple combinations, and most importantly, a Pelicans defense stretching to keep up.  The 63% shooting handed the Raptors an 11 point lead at the end of the first and the ship looked to be on course.

Casey on 2Pat and PsychoT
“Tyler and Patrick both carried us tonight. [Hansbrough] brings a physicality to the game that we need, gets to the free throw line and Pat was able to stretch the defence a bit and give us an offensive presence but I do think it takes away from the second unit with Patrick in there (as a starter).”

Dwane Casey


Defensive negligence against any opponent is liable to keep the opposition in the game and so it was that the likes of Luke Babbitt, Tyreke Evans, and Anthony Morrow had successful spells against the Raptors perimeter defense, of who DeMar DeRozan was a standout for all the wrong reasons.   Dwane Casey went to Greivis Vasquez in the late first/early second and he ran the offense with the elegance of a 300-pound man figure-skating.  He was unable to administer a single possession effectively, and when Casey compounded the error by having Chuck Hayes in the game instead of Tyler Hansbrough, the Pelicans quite expectantly got back into the game and were kind enough to mail Casey a thank-you card.

It’s not that Hayes is a bad player,  Anthony Davis just isn’t a matchup that is suited to him.  He’s more effective going up against bulkier dudes who he can bother by putting a hand in their face, maintaining his center of gravity, and giving them wedgies when the camera’s pointed the other way.   What made the decision a little perplexing was that Hansbrough was playing quite well, and a frontcourt combination of Patterson/Hansbrough/Valanciunas were doing just fine.   Especially Valanciunas, who stayed with the more mobile Davis effectively.

[Watch Patrick Patterson do things that make Gods tremble]
[Watch Kyle Lowry carve the Pelicans defense open like a hot knife through butter]

Not helping matters was DeMar DeRozan (who BTW is an All-Star, as per Matt Devlin) and his shot selection.  DeRozan (an All-Star) played the kind of defense that makes it to educational videos as examples of what not to do.  Some of his worst moments came against Evans who didn’t even need to use screens to get by DeRozan.  It was so bad that the Raptors help defense was left scratching their heads trying to figure out if the Pelicans were using some sort of teleporting technology where they got by the All-Star DeRozan in a flash.  Also, DeRozan’s an All-Star.

As I said a couple days ago in the road trip review post, I’m open to DeRozan (#AllStar) experimenting with long-twos but you can’t be adopting the “miss till you make, make till you miss” approach, because when you combine his penchant for jumpers with suspect defense he becomes something resembling a Rudy Gay clone, only worse.  So DeMar (#NBABallot), we dodged a bullet here thanks to your mates, but let’s not do that again. I’m also not sure how sustainable it is for the AllStar to play 40 minutes and Lowry to play 39.

With the game tied at the break, Dwane Casey’s halftime speech cultivated the necessary response from a Raptors unit that had gone into the break with their heads hanging.  Patterson, again, supplied the offense showing his range as he comfortably drained two threes.   Kyle Lowry, who I haven’t even mentioned up until now, was the thread that tied it all together for the Raptors.  His line of 19 points, 12 assists, and 7 rebounds (5 offensive) is impressive in itself and what makes it special is that it came in a steadfast, constant and unwavering tone.  Like a mother watching over a baby, only tendering to him when he needed the breast, never otherwise for all boys must grow up on their own, become men and provide.  Yes, a man must provide.  And so Lowry provided, he nurtured the Raptors when they needed him the most.  The Raptors, as if born of Lowry’s womb, suckled on his breast in times of need and the milk flowed.  Oh yes, it flowed all right.

Casey on Heavy Minutes
“[Lowry] played 39 minutes. DeMar played 40 minutes. Over the long haul, that’s just too many minutes so we have to have other people step up and give us something in those minutes where we’re not losing those leads and not closing out quarters.”

-Dwane Casey


I cannot quite figure out why Dwane Casey tried to go back to Chuck Hayes in the fourth quarter with the Raptors up 12, but he did.  It’s one of those mysteries that has no answer.  Who killed Kennedy? What happened to Jimmy Hoffa? Who was Jack the Ripper? The Shroud of Turin? What happened at Stonehenge? Why did Chuck Hayes play the fourth quarter?  Nobody knows, but we wonder.  Indeed, we wonder.

As if Hayes wasn’t enough, Casey introduced Steve Novak again, presumably in an attempt to confuse everyone into submission.   The lead evaporated expectedly as Luke Babbitt made it a habit of acting like a rabbit and blowing by DeRozan as the crowd yelled dammit.  The necessary substitutions were made, the required offensive rebounds collected by Lowry, the critical pick ‘n rolls finished by Hansbrough, and the Raptors saw this one through.

The Raptors leave this game knowing that they won despite playing only two quarters.  In a way it’s a good sign that this team has enough in them to beat an in-form team without playing well, and the sluggishness could be attributed to their recent travels.  However, this sort of play will not go unpunished against the Hawks on Wednesday, which is set up to be a tilt between two teams jockeying for third.

Drink up.  We’re back to winning ways and we have something like a 99% chance of making the playoffs.  I am quite excited about that.  Also, Tank Nation members, are you watching what’s happening in Cleveland? And that’s with two #1 picks in recent years.

Good bye my love.  And if I die tomorrow, ’twas nice knowing you.

  • OzRapsFan

    Post of the year

  • JakeWing

    nice piece hahah

  • DDayLewis

    TL; DR: Screw you, commentors from the quick reaction post

  • afrocarter

    It’s going to be a challenge getting all that suckling imagery out of my head now. Thanks, Z.

  • Imzz

    LOL…Love that last line about the cavs and tanking!! #GOLDEN

    • DC

      Three #1 picks since 2003. It takes a village.

    • ac1011990

      Obviously makes people feel better thinking about he cavs and tanking. There are actually competent teams that got successful through drafting, picking the cavs and laughing at tank nation is kind of sad.

  • guest

    The best piece of writing on here in quite a while, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Good game insight and magnificent prose, and liberal amounts of humour spread generously over the entire article like cream cheese on a bagel. Oh, and great metaphors as well.

  • StabbyRaccoon

    Now I have some crazy mental imagery going on with Lowry breastfeeding and Luke Babbitt as a rabbit. Fuck. Well that’s what good art aims to do, it affects the audience in powerful and lasting ways. Bravo.

  • The Red Fury

    I’m really sick of Dwayne Casey’s infatuation with Chuck Hayes. We get it. This guy can play above average defense (sometimes), but he gives you nothing on offense. He is the bizzarro world Andrea Bargani. Every time he is on the floor, you might as well be playing 4 on 5 on offense. Now that Tyler is back, Chuck needs to be moved to his role as 10th man, just in front of Novak, Stone, Buycks. Chuck is truly only useful against slow bigs who play in the post. Every time I see him on the floor, I wonder how this guy is even in the NBA. He moves around like the old guys i play ball with in my gym…

    • WhiteVegas

      Hayes is useful, just only against massive centers. He’s great at holding his position and not letting them back him down in the post. Hayes should only be in the game if the opposing center is 250+ lbs.

    • Rick

      Exactly. Play Tyler more min!!!!

  • puffer

    Patterson showed what can happen when you have three guys that can hit from outside. Actually, in the first quarter, I think DeRozan nailed a couple. All starters but JV made at least one three in the 1st, as I recall. that made it a lot easier for JV to operate inside. And Jonas has to start taking (and making) those 15 footers.

  • consmap

    Please… don’t… make me think about the team sucking on Kyle Lowry’s breasts.. it’s very disturbing. :(

  • john

    Did you guys hear? DeRozan is an AllStar.

    • ItsAboutFun

      Yeah well, he has earned it. I don’t see anybody pissing on Paul George’s all star status after he went 4/21 against LAL, 7/19 against Nets, and 5/23 against Portland over the past 12 days, but god forbid one of our own has a bad game in a win.

      • Rick

        Well said! Forget the haters! While were talking how about Melos atrocious percentages. He’s far worst! But some fans like to hate. Actually when they’re hating they’re not fans!

        • Dr.Scooby

          I like DD, but I would be fine if we traded him for value.

        • Steverino

          I can take the low shooting percentage on a given night, but I can’t stand the fact he’s a sub-par dribbler at this stage of his career. If someone’s not knocking the ball away from him, he’s dribbling it off his foot.

          • Abused Raptors Fan

            All true. However, I’m comfortable giving him some time to develop his handles, as he only just added that to his game. Given his willingness and capability to improve, I can’t see him being satisfied with the status quo moving forward.

  • Roarque

    So, the Raptors are quite a different team without Amir.
    So, the bench unit is quite different without 2Pat.
    So, the Raptors perimeter defense is quite different without DDR. ( All-Star )

  • Dr.Scooby

    Hell if Tanking brought an Anthony Davis-type player, I wouldn’t think twice; playoff bound or otherwise.

    • Will

      And what if it brings an Anthony Bennett type player?

      • Nilanka15

        Then your GM needs to be fired ASAP.

      • Dr.Scooby

        Is that a question or a statement?

        Are you asking if I were a smart GM (Ujiri) and had a herd of really good scouts, would I sit in a dark room biting my nails fearing that I would fail at my job on draft day?

        So I would let this fear of not doing my job well dictate whether I took chances at making my team better?

      • Reed

        Thats Clevelands fault not Anthony Bennetts. I would think the Raptors with Masai would be better than whoever leads in Cleveland

        • Will

          My point is, losing won’t guarantee the top pick so while NO was lucky to get Davis, how are all the other lottery teams doing with their picks. Also, even with the top pick, GM’s can make mistakes. Lastly, even if you make the right pick, you can still get unlucky a la Portland with Oden and Brandon Roy to a lesser extent.

          • Reed

            Yet tanking is why the Portland Trailblazers are where they are now…. Alridge with the #2 pick and Lillard with the #6 pick. Sure they chose wrong with Oden instead of Durant and Brandon Roy was bad luck but it still has paid off.

            Drafting IMO involves always choosing the best available player regardless of your teams needs. The Cavs shoulve drafted Oladipo.

            • Will

              Actually, Portland didn’t tank to get either Aldridge or Lillard. Aldridge was a draft day trade and the pick used to select Lillard was also traded for. I’m all for trading to get a pick but I would never hope to lose in order to better my own pick.

              • Abused Raptors Fan

                What’s more, look how long its taken them to get this far. And they’re fortunate that they’re experiencing success this year, as Aldridge was basically on his way out this summer.

      • Reed

        Also, ppl chastising the Cavs for choosing bad picks like TT, Waiters and Bennett, how about the Thunder??

        Westbrook, Harden, Durant, Green were all good picks done by tanking.
        The Heat tanked and picked up Wade.
        The Spurs tanked and got Duncan.

        Raptors fans are the worst and think Tanking is the devil. I know if the Raps had chosen Aldridge over Bargs most ppl here would think otherwise.

        • Steverino

          But consider that tanking, if that’s what you want to call it, also led to the Sonics moving to OKC. If fans stop coming out for a few years, owners have more of a case that the city won’t support your team and thus it’s fair game to move them. Be careful what you wish for.

        • Abused Raptors Fan

          All of it depends on luck and timing. Luck as far as the lottery is concerned, consistently getting high draft picks in consecutive drafts that have elite talent available at your draft position. Would OKC be in the same position if Portland had taken Durant instead? Maybe they would have if the Raptors went with Roy instead, creating a hole at the wings. If it were as easy as tanking for a few years for high picks,there wouldn’t be so many bottom dwellers in the league today.

    • Mexiballer

      Its way to late to tank.

  • Will

    Nice recap. As someone mentioned in the quick reaction article, Casey must have been asked by Ujiri to showcase Novak and Hayes whenever they got a double digit lead. If nothing happens at the trade deadline and Casey is still pulling this stuff, he needs his head shaken. I really hope we can get a decent backup centre for one or both of those guys.

    • Dr.Scooby

      Agreed. If we are bound for playoffs, we would benefit from having an Aaron Gray sized backup at Centre

    • Reed

      We already have Hans who can play at the C. Blame Casey and not Masai.

      • Will

        Hansbrough can only play centre against really small centres. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a great backup power forward but he’s just too small to guard taller or bulkier centres.

  • Dr.Scooby

    Re-post from Morning Coffee comments.

    Re: Trading Lowry: (Matt Moore, CBS Sports)

    ” Which, again, makes it weird that Toronto’s not going to trade him. He holds so much value and teams want him now. I know the recent winning by Toronto is nice and all, but they’re not actually going anywhere. Why waste the potential windfall from a deal just so you can get obliterated in the second round?

    Or maybe they’ll make a magical run to the championship and there will be movies made about them and they’ll have to get a huge star to play Kyle Lowry.”

    Food for thought.

    • ItsAboutFun

      “holds so much value”, “potential windfall”

      Me thinks Matt Moore needs better “thinking food” before he writes such drivel. What team is going to offer a “windfall” for a soon to be UFA? Any suggestions? Ugh, Moore must be catching on to what other internet bball writers have discovered years ago: write something about the Raptors, as foolish as it may be, and hits will happen.

      • Dr.Scooby

        For me it was the jab at Raptor fans who are committed to the idea of a playoff berth this season…regardless of how quickly it ends.

      • Mexiballer

        Exactly. The Raptors have him for as long as anyone else would if they traded for him….until the end of the season. So well keep him and make whatever run we can. Obliterated? I dont think so.

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