|Amir Johnson, PF Shot Chart 33 MIN | 9-12 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | +5Channing Frye provided some matchup problems with perimeter defense for Amir. Amir’s game is missing the explosiveness that it had before a series of injuries pulled Amir closer to the ground. Miles Plumlee blocking your dunk attempt is not something you want to read about having happened to you. Credit to Amir for adjusting quickly though, scoring with a nifty mid-air adjustment the next time he took it to Plumlee.|
|Terrence Ross, SF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 7-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | -12Terrence’s awesome performance was regularly interrupted by bad turnovers and momentary defensive lapses. If that’s the worst you can say about a 21-year old in his second year, you’re in great shape. He continued to creep out of his perimeter shell and take the ball to the basket a little. His hesitance is still holding back what feels like could be a highlight play every time he goes to the bucket.|
|Jonas Valanciunas, C Shot Chart 32 MIN | 7-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -2Jonas was unstoppable in the first quarter, so naturally the team didn’t give him another offensive touch for the next 12 minutes. Jonas is still working on his defensive timing and focus, as Plumlee twice blew by him when he got caught looking at what the perimeter players were doing. But his confidence is quickly bringing out his talented offensive game. NBA defense takes a lot longer to get the hang of than offence, especially for big men. Patience children, Jonas is right on pace.|
|Kyle Lowry, PG Shot Chart 40 MIN | 9-19 FG | 8-9 FT | 5 REB | 13 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 28 PTS | +5You know by now that whenever the Raptors are down coming out of halftime, Lowry is going to take over the game in the 3rd quarter. His will and intensity is a force of nature. The Raptors couldn’t slow down the Suns enough on defense to make it matter though. It turns out that the secret to slowing down Kyle Lowry is a knee to the face of a downed opponent. How, by the way, is something that gets you disqualified from a mixed martial arts fight not even a foul in the NBA?|
|DeMar DeRozan, SG Shot Chart 39 MIN | 6-16 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | 0DeMar is incredibly frustrating to watch when he isn’t knocking down those ill-advised, long pull-up twos. Getting to the rim and the free throw line needs to be the constant emphasis of DeRozan’s offensive game. DeMar got a technical foul for kicking the ball away from the referee, because he’s a nine-year old. Not the best moment of what was definitely not his best game.|
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF Shot Chart 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -15Hasbrough struggled to be a factor in his limited minutes, which could really be said about the entire Raptor’s bench unit.|
|Chuck Hayes, PF Shot Chart 4 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -4Am I the only one who feels like maybe the ability to jump would be helpful for a massively undersized centre?|
|John Salmons, SF Shot Chart 18 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -20John Salmons’ legs have looked older and older as the season has carried on and his jumper has looked increasingly flat. He’s found ways to keep contributing though, such as a key steal under the basket that lead to the Raptor’s late 4th quarter push.|
|Steve Novak, SF Shot Chart 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -3So, pairing Novak with Chuck Hayes in the frontcourt against two mobile, talented bigs on the other side is going to have some damning defensive consequences. Novak knocked down the spot-up shots he needed to, but he has to add at least one more thing he can bring to the court if he wants to be anything more than an occasional hot hand.|
|Greivis Vasquez, PG Shot Chart 19 MIN | 0-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6General Greivis is getting a little too carried away with his own shot as of late. Vasquez can shoot, but he is not in this league because he’s a shooter. His jumper is inconsistent. But the creativity, control and size that he utilizes in the pick-and-roll game is what makes him so valuable. He would be well served to remember that.|
It’s hard for Casey to come up with lineup solutions when his limited bench choices aren’t playing well. All he could do was play the starters and hope for the best. He held out as long as he could before going small against the Suns spread attack for as long as he could, which I credit him for, but not having Terrence Ross as part of crunch time small ball is a choice that leaves me scratching my head. His yelling at the refs game was on point though.
Four Things We Saw
- The referee’s gave the game a troubling them vs. us vs. us mentality for the Raps. The ref’s were told that the home whistle in Toronto goes to the team wearing purple, unfortunately that note came either 5 years too late or 1 year too soon.
- High pace games make it clear how much this Raptor’s team relies on defense to get it’s wins. They really struggle to match a team shot for shot in a run and gun style.
- PJ Tucker came off of his suspension for attacking Blake Griffin and hit Kyle Lowry with a series of (probably) incidental Muay Thai knees to the face.
- Leo Rautins has stepped up his commentary, and it’s well accentuated by the fact that it means we’re not hearing Jack Armstrong. Not hearing Jack Armstrong is a big win. Hearing relevant, insightful commentary in his absence feels like found money.