Toronto improves to 31-25 after trouncing an injury-depleted Magic squad.

Sometimes, a competition is so fierce, scribes are not needed, and the legends write themselves. Sometimes, a mere smidgen of war-paint leaves the deepest of impressions. Sometimes, the fight is so compelling that the battle-scars themselves make paintings and poems redundant. Sometimes, when the fortunes of man are propped upon the outcome of battles, the story need not be told, they are simply understood.

However, none of the above applied to last night’s game between the Raptors and Magicians.

As an aside, I will be referring to Orlando’s professional basketball team as the Magicians because calling them the “Magic” sounds dumb. A team implies multiple teammates, and according to Merrian-Webster, (kids, look away if you’re reading this), “magics” don’t exist (okay now you can look again). So, Magicians.

Tipping-off was a mere formality — a tally was recorded in the W column for the Raptors before the game even started. That’s not to overstate the ability of this Raptors team, nor am I dismissing the validity of an NBA franchise. I’m simply pointing out that the scales were heavily tipped in the Raptors’ favor. The Magicians were on the road — where they are 3-26 on the season — and they were missing their their top scorer in Afflalo due to injury. Like most other days of the week that end in the suffix “-day”, it wasn’t going to be the Magicians’ night.

To their credit, the Magicians gave it their best punch. While the Raptors resembled a legions of sleepy-eyed Canadian hockey nationalists zombies fans, the Magicians came out wands ablazing, stupefying and winggardium leviosaing (when you’re dropping HP references, it’s time to go to bed, Will) in the first quarter. Tobias Harris, having been newly freed from the shackles of playing behind Big Baby in the depth chart, dropped 10 points in the first quarter by curling around screens and stretching the defense.

Meanwhile, the Raptors tried to capitalize on a weakened opponent by featuring Jonas Valanaciunas in the post, which netted less-than-satisfactory results on offense. Jonas failed to secure decent post position against Nikola Vucevic, and failed to create permissible angles for post-entry passes. This lopped off significant portions off the shot clock, and forced the Raptors into settling for a myriad of lazy jumpshots. The Raptors ended the first quarter shooting 7 of 20 from the field, with 9 of their attempts coming from the midrange area (16-24 feet). This resulted in the shot-chart below:

first

As he is wont to do, Dwane Casey elected to go to his bench unit to start the second quarter, but the changing of the guard did little to alter the outcome. The offense continued to be sloppy, and in addition to turning the ball over, the jumpers continued to rain — and miss — from the dreaded midrange area.

The lone exceptions to the Raptors’ general malaise in the first half were play of Terrence Ross and Amir Johnson. Trey Rosay was active on defense, disrupting passing lanes and running shooters off their sweet spots. He also tacked on a pair of three pointers for good measure. Amir Johnson did his part by pouring in 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting, scoring on easy putbacks and an assortment of hook-shots.

However, despite their best efforts, the Raptors’ lead tallied a mere 3 points going into the half thanks to poor shooting from Derozan, Lowry and Patterson. To be fair, none of them really forced their shots — the exception being Demar launching long jumpers in the first quarter, but that’s his game — they simply missed intentionally manufactured shots within the flow of the offense.

The trend reversed itself in the third quarter. The Raptors played with more urgency, and despite running largely the same sets — minus the sheer insistence of posting up Jonas — their shots were falling to the tune of 86% in the third quarter. Yes, that’s correct, the Raptors shot 12-for-14 from the field in the third quarter, including 5-of-5 from deep. They also shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the line. Please take a moment out of your day to graze upon the green in the shot chart below:

third

Kyle Lowry’s efforts in the third quarter were nothing short of magical (see what I did there?) As he did in their previous match-up, Lowry blew the doors off the game with a barrage of three-pointers. A visibly fired-up Lowry took matters into his own hands, and sunk all five of his field goal attempts, including four three pointers. He also cleverly drew a foul on a three-point attempt, and sunk his three free-throws. He did record five turnovers in the quarter, but he was the key to R.Kelly’s ignition, and his efforts helped his team win the third by a decisive 36-24 point margin.

From there, the Raptors simply rode their lead to the finish line. Tobias Harris continued to dominate, scoring a game-high 28 points (get him back into your fantasy lineups), including 11 in the final frame. The two teams played to a standstill in the quarter, and the large lead permitted the Raptors’ depth-chart bench members to briefly see the light of day. New acquisition Nando de Colo managed a five-minute stint, and chipped in with some rebounds and an assist. Greivis Vasquez played out the entirety of the fourth, and steered the team steadily towards an easy 105-90 point victory.

The only blemish in the game came in the middle of the third quarter, when Amir left the game with a sprained right ankle. Zarar gratuitously giffed the incident here, so you can see the injury for yourself. Unfortunately, this is the same ankle that Amir tweaked earlier in the season. His injury significantly hampered his performance and forced him to miss a pair of games. Ironically, the injury occurred the last time the Magicians were in town.

Anyhow, the Raptors walked away with an easy victory, and as Jay-Z would say, it’s on to the next one for the Raptors, who now sit 1.5 games up on the fourth place Chicago Bulls.

  • Statement

    You are a good writer, but your nicknaming ability is the drizzling shits.

    Terrence Ross is not Trey Rosay.

    Otherwise, keep up the goodwork.

    • Tweed8

      Gotta agree, Trey Rosay as a nickname is just terrible.

      • Abused Raptors Fan

        Tr3y R3x FTW!!!

    • afrocarter

      He didn’t make it up, so don’t knock him for it. I think the blame falls upon the shoulders of the Talking Raptors…?

      • DDayLewis

        The credit falls upon the Talking Raps guys because the nickname is a winner!

        • Bendit

          Maybe the detractors have a problem with the spelling bastardization. Tré Rosé it the next time. :)

          • Steverino

            Or, more accurately, Très Rosé… Or maybe not since that means ‘very pink’. So maybe it’s Trey Rosé. Still, that ‘three pink’. I think pink stinks.

        • afrocarter

          haha fair enough

        • jjdynomite

          Will, “Trey Rosey” doesn’t work for Ross because it has an effeminate resonance and/or refers to pinkish cream pasta sauce or wine. The nick may have been apropos if applied to a certain ex-Raptor #1 overall pick (well, if he could’ve hit 3-pointers with some semblance of consistency), but definitely not for Ross and his violent dunks (his slam over Faried is currently my desktop background image). Try again Talking Raps guys.

    • j bean

      I guess the Leafs have to change the Leaves.

    • DDayLewis

      Thanks! Appreciate the kind words!

    • RaptorsInThisB****

      Terrences’ nickname should be…”TRoss… Skinny N***a big balls!!” – Tyga voice from the Motto

  • Jonasbrotha

    Was browsing through the quick reaction and I was kinda astonished to see some of the negative comments towards val. Chill. Running this uptempo, jumpshot heavy iso offense is okay against sub .500 teams but come playoffs the raptors are going to be in for a surprise. Val had two shot attempts last night. TWO! If Casey thinks this demar led offense can be efficient in a seven game series he’s out of his mind. Establish the low post game from the start! Give your young big the ball! How’s Val supposed to be motivated on the defensive end if he isn’t being rewarded, let alone looked at on the offensive end. All the guy is doing is setting screens and crashing boards on that side of the ball. Even in garbage time dude isn’t seeing the ball.They gotta mix it up a bit, the raptors offense at times is predictable. However, love that Lowry took over in the third, he needs to be aggressive from the start and establish himself immediately. As for the win, they did what they were supposed to do, should be interesting to see how they fare in Cleveland.

    • MoPeteRules

      I remember watching two of the post-ups Jonas had last night. The first one, he pump faked to no avail, then began backing up Vucevic who clearly read Jonas’ scouting report and forecasted his methodical post-up dribbles, and forced a turnover on Jonas. Then again, a little later in the game, the same sequence occurred, and it felt like a deja vu. He had 6 turnovers in the game. So his 2 shots were not from a the lack of post-ups, it was that Jonas was turning the ball over in the low block. Bottom line is, Jonas is 21 years old and will continue to have games like this for the foreseeable future, but it doesn’t diminish his value. I just don’t see anyone could advocate Jonas getting more touches when he was consistently getting out defended by Vucevic.

      • ItsAboutFun

        Bingo!

      • Roarque

        How about a $1000 bonus in cash to JV every time he makes a jumper from the post to the elbow WITHOUT the pump fake.
        or
        JV doesn’t get to leave practice until he makes 10 consecutive jump shots from the elbow.
        The guy can do it but it’s in his head that he can’t – he’s still playing with a fragile psyche out there.

    • He needs more practice

      Maybe when Val can hold his positioning and keep the ball high and play some help defense he can get more touches yeah?!

      • robertparish00

        Harris scored 28 pts mostly in the paint. Val had Vucevic to deal with. Is he supposed to guard 2 guys at once? Maybe we should be toasting the guy who was supposed to stop Harris.

      • morgan c

        Right, maybe Val can not make the same mistakes over and over, and turn it over six times?

        The dude is consistently outplayed in the post (last time he really won that battle was against Kanter on Jazz, I guess against Cleveland but they have ZERO center of quality playing). What is more concerning, is his lack of effort in this first half and his lackadaisical approach in the Bulls’ game. He is regressing, not improving. I blame the coaching as much as him, but if you can name 20 centers better than him, that’s a huge concern. 21 or not. He’s bee playing professionally for 5 years and he’s not a rookie anymore. (He gets outplayed by guys around his age, see last night.)

    • afrocarter

      I think he only had two shot attempts because whenever he got the ball in the post he’d immediately turn it over. Didn’t think the Raptors would want to continue to waste possessions down low. That being said, JV will be better.

    • Steverino

      Well, he had more than two attempts if you want to nitpick, but it’s true he should see the ball a bit more. Since a shot attempt isn’t counted when you’re fouled, and he took 7 free throws, that means he had three other attempts. Still, a total of five attempts is still low.

  • ItsAboutFun

    Dumb, iyo, or not, it’s their nickname. Heats/Heat Seekers, Jazzes/Jazz Musicians, Thunders/Thunder Claps now too?

    You make it sound like it was all Lowry in the 3rd. Before he scored a point, DeMar and Ross racked up 17 straight points (9/8 respectively) to stake the team to a 10 point lead before Kyle did his thing to lift them 5 more. Not to take anything away from his shooting, but he also created 5 TOs during that “barrage”, which hardly makes his 3rd qtr “magical” imo. Not trying to dump on him at all, but just saying that the 3rd qtr was a lot more than him.

  • MoPeteRules

    I disagree, calling them ‘The Magic’ sounds completely fine to me. And yeah, Trey Rosay is a brutal nickname. I like plain old T-Ross. I find a striking similarity between nicknames, and painkilling medication Advil. Because in both cases, “One is often enough”.

    • Roarque

      TRoss is as lazy a nickname as MoPete. A nickname should encompass a physical characteristic of the person such as height or girth or it should describe a skill set of the person in a humorous fashion. How does TRoss do either of those things?
      MoPete was a sharpshooter who could play tough D and add the glue needed for team spirit. ThreePete would have been a cooler nickname.
      Pistol Pete was taken by Pete Maravich, Wilt the Stilt was a superb name for Wilt Chamberlin. Trey Rosay beats the heck out of TRoss.

      • SR

        A lot of nicknames that come to mind are for all time greats (Wilt Chamberlain or Pistol Pete Mr. Ross is not). Many of the best players in the league still have well known nicknames, so I’m not sure that the “nicknaming is dead” narrative actually has much traction – a bit, but not much. I think the only drop off in nicknaming has to do with the fact that nobody wants to be called “Stilt” or “Pistol” anymore. Now it has to be “King James” or “The Black Mamba.”

        • Steverino

          You can’t count “The Black Mamba” because Kobe gave himself that nickname. A nickname is something that cannot be applied to oneself; it’s something bestowed on you by others.

      • MoPeteRules

        I won’t disagree that they’re lazy nicknames, but I will disagree that there exists a criteria for a nickname. I think the only thing that can distinguish a good nickname is a collective agreement between players and fans. Like “The King”, no one really doubts that. Big Baby, because he has a baby face and he cried that one time. The Red Rocket. White Mamba. They just all feel right, and Trey Rosay just doesn’t feel right to me.

  • Roarque

    Arse, your write up was way more exciting than the event. And IMO the good news about Amir is that he didn’t listen to his oversized heart, i.e. attempt to “shake it off” when his ankle was rolled but took the advice being sent from his brain to get off the court.

    • DDayLewis

      But…I’m William, not Arse?

      • Roarque

        Oops – sorry Daniel Day Lewis. Writers get no respect.

        • DDayLewis

          We also always comment under pseudonyms, apparently. We’re a weird bunch.

  • Pong

    “he was the key to R.Kelly’s ignition”

    Gold

  • The Red Fury

    I know that Amir did not roll his ankle but that it got kicked. But don’t know why players with ankle problems don’t wear an ankle brace? I play with a brace when my ankle feels weak and not only does it prevent it from rolling, it actually makes it feel better than normal and gives me more confidence in my first step.

    • SR

      You ever see a slow mo of these guys stopping and popping? The angles their ankles bend at when they plant their feet are insane. They could never play at this level with an ankle brace – they need that flexibility.

      • The Red Fury

        Not true. Stephen Curry wears braces on both his ankles. And I know for a fact numerous players tape their ankles under their socks as well. Amir obviously doesn’t do that otherwise he would not be rolling his ankles…

        • Ghotte

          The way they tape their ankles doesn’t inhibit their mobility or ability to cut or plant. A brace *does* affect your mobility.

          • The Red Fury

            Not true. Especially for a post player like Amir, it shouldn’t matter. He isn’t a ball-handler constantly making cross-overs, cutting at high speeds.

      • MoPeteRules
        • GLF

          Who is that?

          • The Red Fury

            Steph Curry’s ankles.

  • johnn_19_2000

    Someone forgot to remind Lowry and DeRozan that the game was starting at 6pm and not 7pm.
    Once they got the message they went to work, and game over.

  • alvintrilliams

    Merriam

  • asifyouknow

    Some stats after Vasquez said that we would see a different Vaz after the break.
    On 21 minutes average per night:
    10 points a game with 3 assist a couple rebounds and avg 1 TO per game.
    9-15 from 3 point land, that is 60% from the 3 line. He is shooting 51% in the last 5 games folks.
    I know most fans hate him shooting, I believe Casey made this guy a 35% shooter buy handcuffing him when he missed a few (Casey is a bit paranoid..lol) now he is healthy and will get back to his lifetime 43% shooting.
    Casey needs to get this guy at least 10 shots a game.
    Looking forward to comments from the Vaz hater club…lol

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