The Raptors have had the toughest schedule in the Eastern Conference so far, which means things will lighten up the rest of the way. Toronto has just six games remaining against the best 11 teams in the league — the top nine in the West, plus Miami and Indiana — and five of them are at home. As well, despite minor, nagging injuries to DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson, the Raptors have been one of the healthiest teams in the league this season.
Hansbrough was asked if he felt he had to earn his way back into the rotation after such a long layoff. “I don’t know, that’s a tough question,” he said. “I think things were going pretty well for the team so (coach Casey) might have been a little hesitant to switch that up, but in a way, yeah, you do. Once you come back from an injury coaches want to see a little bit in practice and want to see you moving, especially in the middle of the season when there’s not a lot of practice time to be had.” Hansbrough signed in Toronto as a free agent because he saw the opportunity to play a bigger role here than what he would have had if he had returned to Indiana, the team that originally drafted him. In that regard sitting around waiting one’s turn once he did get healthy was a little frustrating. “Every player wants to be on the floor playing,” Hansbrough said. “So yeah it is a little frustrating for me personally but I understand where everything is coming from so I’m still working hard and doing whatever I can to improve so I can help the team.”
While coaches often say they don’t like to see players lose minutes because of injuries, it isn’t easy for Casey to ignore the contributions of Patterson and Hayes in Hansbrough’s absence. For the moment, Toronto has too many big men and not enough minutes to go around. When he does get in the game, Hansbrough has to become an instant warrior off the bench and he is trying to embrace the role.
“Right now it is kind of what I have to do,” Hansbrough said. “Obviously I am not playing larger minutes, so when I get on the court and opportunity presents itself, I just have to be ready to help the team. That is the way I am looking at it, so when I go in that is what I am doing.” Coach Casey still acknowledges his impact. “He brings the physicality to the game that we need,” Casey said. “I have never lost that (physicality),” Hansbrough said. “That’s one thing I have always had. Even if I am a little injured, I’ll always have a little fight like that.”
Not only are they attempting to convince the Denver Nuggets to trade them power forward Kenneth Faried in exchange for guard Iman Shumpert, but now they are revisiting a scenario from earlier in the season.
The Knicks are in fact interested in Toronto’s Kyle Lowry. Classic Knicks. Could have had him two months ago, backed out now want him again.
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) February 11, 2014
Lowry has had an excellent season and the Knicks have been desperate for a point guard, so a deal does make sense… for the Knicks.
With Toronto poised to win the Atlantic how can management trade the point guard who has been the Raptors best player?
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) February 11, 2014
Isola is exactly right.
The Warriors have been looking to add another point guard in their roster all-season long with sources saying that Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors and Kirk Hinrich of the Chicago Bulls remain as their top targets. However, as noted by Grantland, the Warriors have no more draft picks to boot before the deadline after trading it away during the deal that sent Jordan Crawford to the Bay Area.
Despite dropping three of five games on the road last week, the Raptors have an opportunity to go into the five-day layoff with some momentum, coming off a 108-101 win over the Pelicans at home Monday. Meanwhile, the Hawks are backing into the break having lost four straight, most recently falling 100-85 to the Bulls, who leapfrogged them for fourth place with the win. Atlanta has failed to break 90 points in three of its last three games, scoring 86.5 over that stretch after averaging 116.5 in the previous four contests, winning three. “They’re definitely a team of runs, that can get real streaky on you fast,” said DeRozan, who scored 31 points in Toronto’s 102-95 road loss to the Hawks on Nov. 1, the second game of the season. “So we’ve got to take all that out the game from the start and not give them (any) hope and take care of business from the get go.”
“There’s no one on this team that’s not focused. There’s no one on this team that’s not ready to play,’ said Patterson, who may start again Wednesday with Johnson nursing an ankle injury. “We have to go into (the game against Atlanta) with the same mentality that we had (Monday). “Nobody can focus on the All-Star break, no one can focus on getting away and being with family. We have to handle what we have here and get things done.”
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