|Amir Johnson, PF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 7-9 FG | 0-3 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 15 PTS | -8
Amir looked exhausted early on trying to cover Kevin Love. Caught out of position boxing out for boards and out of place trying to stick with Love around the perimeter. Injuries might have brought the mileage down on his motor for the time being, but it hasn’t stopped him from trying. 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting is pretty good for an off night.
|Terrence Ross, SF Shot Chart 25 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -1
I dream of living in a world where Terrence Ross gets full minutes. It’s nice there. Every time Ross was on the court the announcers couldn’t stop gushing over his shooting, transition scoring, gravity defying rebounding potential and sharply improving defence. We’ll get to that world someday.
|Jonas Valanciunas, C Shot Chart 24 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | +3
Jonas got a chance to get involved early, so it was a game where he played engaged basketball. Unfortunately, it’s next to impossible to stop Nik Pekovic from scoring once he’s got position low. So Valanciunas got scored on, a lot. Which had Valanciunas sitting on the bench, a lot. But breaking from habit, Casey gave big Val a chance to get back in the game late and it paid off. Valanciunas was the centre-piece of a key offensive possession late in the game that helped the Raptors break away from the Wolves when he set a high screen, rolled to the rim, drew in both defenders and then hit Amir with a beautiful pass for the easy and 1.
|Kyle Lowry, PG Shot Chart 36 MIN | 5-13 FG | 9-10 FT | 12 REB | 11 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 20 PTS | +5
Kyle Lowry is a monster. on a terrible shooting night he still put up a triple double, dominated the flow and attitude of the game and refused to let the Wolves take this game. Kyle Lowry just plays so much bigger than he is. When you’re standing beside them, there’s hardly a difference in size to notice between Lowry and JJ Barea. But watching on TV, Lowry looks like he’s 6 inches and 60 pounds bigger because of the way he plays.
|DeMar DeRozan, SG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 8-17 FG | 7-9 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 25 PTS | +3
DeMar bailed out a lackluster game and bad opening quarter with a fantastic close to the game, hitting a series of tough and key shots down the stretch. Corey Brewer was making a living off of DeMar carelessly dribbling through the middle of the offensive zone in the early parts of the game. Those turnovers were the only reason that Minnesota stuck around in the first half of the game. It helps make those easier to swallow when you end the game on such a high note though.
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF Shot Chart 7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4
The big effort was not much of a factor in his time on the court. He lacked the size to contain Pekovic (which is to say that he too is human).
|Chuck Hayes, PF Shot Chart 12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +1
Casey put in Hayes to try and contain a dominating Pekovic just as Pekovic came out of the game. Hayes would probably improve his offensive efficiency if he decided to actually aim his shots. Being right beside the basket can be a considerable advantage if you, you know, try to do more than huck the ball in the general direction of the backboard. It’s worth mentioning that Ricky Rubio beat Hayes in a jump ball.
|John Salmons, SF Shot Chart 27 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +5
It’s unclear why Salmons played so many of Ross’ minutes tonight. Shooting 1-for-6 doesn’t exactly explain it.
|Landry Fields, SF Shot Chart 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0
Landry Fields getting subbed in for 8 seconds of defence a game just feels kind of mean. Casey treats Fields playing time like offering he’s offering him a high five and then pulling it away at the last second.
|Steve Novak, SF Shot Chart 20 MIN | 5-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +16
Novak is the basketball equivalent of a really good food vendor cart. Stick with me, because that’s not meant as an insult. Steve Novak only does one thing, but he does it really, really well. Like a dynamite BBQ food vendor that goes to trade shows, concerts, festivals and parks and absolutely kills selling BBQ ribs. It’s not enough to sustain an entire restaurant; it’s only one food option, and it probably doesn’t even have a side. But in the right circumstance, doing that one thing really well gives it a niche to exploit. Novak doesn’t do anything other than shoot 3’s, but damn, he does it really, really well.
|Greivis Vasquez, PG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +12
Tonight we learned that General Greivis hates JJ Barea. He took it right at him with increasing anger every chance he got. It’s an unnatural feeling to have so much fun rooting for the bigger guy whose bullying the little guy. But something about Barea makes me feel OK with that. Has anyone ever gone from universally adored to somewhere between annoying and despised so fast? The journey from the 2011 NBA finals to now has not been a popularity uptick for JJ.
Casey’s minutes allocation continues to be a source of curious frustration. But the defence that he’s been developing with this team over the last few years has finally started to come in to it’s own. It’s tough to complain too much when the team picks up a win on the road, so let’s save our sour grapes for another day.
Three Things We Saw
- The Primo Pasta and Sauce commercial that looks like it predates the Raptor’s organization. Is that where the idea for the 20th anniversary throwback jerseys came from? I’m not ruling it out.
- How careless the Raptors can be with the ball. The lack of discipline and focus that the Raptors had been prone to opening games with has largely been cleaned up on the defensive end of the court. It doesn’t matter how good you are on defence, or how bad your opponent is on defence, if you give up 5 turnovers leading to fastbreak points in a single quarter.
- Nikola Pekovic’s head is the same size as an average male human being’s torso. He’s the size of a Deceptacon. I wouldn’t be that surprised if he transformed into a Trabant and drove himself home from games.