For the first 2 and a half quarters, it seemed as if the Raptors would cruise to victory, as they managed the stretch the lead out to 21 at one point. Dwane Casey had even managed to get Nando De Colo and Landry Fields some burn by that time. If there's one thing we've learned about these Raptors, though, it's that they don't get blown out but don't blow teams out either. The Magic made a frantic run to wipe the lead out completely. The starter had to play more minutes that Casey intended in order to close this one out. Even then, the game ended in the sloppiest of fashions, with both the Magic and the Raptors turning it over in the final minute. With Brooklyn beating Minnesota, and Chicago facing Boston, the Raptors needed this W going into a tough week. At this point in the season, there's no time for moral victories and style points. Just get the job done.
Andrew’s back, so is an old jilted lover and we talk Raptors. James joins us during Part 4 to sprinkle us with his NBA insight. It’s all good as we also tell you how to get playoff tickets
Toronto led by as many as 21 points before having to stave off Orlando’s late charge. Trailing 96-93 with 8.9 seconds to play, the Magic had the ball and an opportunity to tie the game. But coming out of a timeout they failed to inbound the ball, turning it over on a 5-second violation. DeRozan was fouled and hit a pair of free throws to save the win. “They saw the 20-point lead and like any NBA team, they let their guard down,” Casey said. “That’s a development we’ve got to have — to keep the intensity, keep your foot on their neck and keep it down.”
There were no overly-concerning issues in the Raptors’ offensive game tonight. In the first half, the team did a great job of moving the ball and getting looks inside- they outscored the Magic 28-20 in the paint. In the second half, Toronto recovered from its defensive breakdowns with smart shooting. As a whole, the team shot 45.2% from the field and stayed consistent in their shot selection. Valanciunas was integral in the Raptors’ great offensive performance. When he gets into a rhythm down low and stays aggressive, he gives his team a scoring edge that’s hard to match.
“(Valanciunas) did a good job offensively,” said Head Coach Dwane Casey. “Vucevic also had 22 (points) and that’s going to be a battle you are going to see for years. Those are two really good young players that are coming up in the league, so you are going to see those guys a lot going at each other.” Valanciunas scored 20 points on 6-8 shooting to go with 9 boards and Vucevic had 22 points on 10-13 from the field and 10 rebounds. Neither player was very effective stopping the other, but both were a deterrent of sorts defensively.
Yes, it took a bit of cut to Greivis Vasquez’s face for it to happen but Fields dusted himself off, got used to the speed of the game right away and made a significant contribution right away. Now, we can debate Fields vs. Salmons as the third wing until the cows come home (and I don’t know that one’s “better” than the other rather than “different” and I don’t think you can argue with the results) but it says a lot about Fields that when he was pressed into action, he produced.
The Raps built a hefty lead in the first half using an unlikely lineup. Coach Dwane Casey, knowing he’ll need fresh legs tonight against the HEAT, rested his starters early and was rewarded with excellent play by the second unit. Nando De Colo, looking increasingly comfortable in Raptor red, made a couple of buckets, as did Landry Fields (remember him?) and Ever-Ready Steve Novak. Jonas Valanciunas was having the devil of a time guarding Nikola Vucevic, but was scoring himself. The Raps’ lead was 21 at the half, and up to 21 in Q3 before the shots stopped falling. DeMar DeRozan was productive, taking the ball to the hoop to draw fouls again and again. He ended up taking more free throws than the entire Magic squad (16-14), and missed only one. JV hit all 8 of his tries; indeed, without their aggressive takes, this would have been a loss, as Orlando made five more field goals than Toronto.
There were four drunken bros sitting at the baseline, shrieking at him like schoolgirls on Benzedrine. “JONAS!!” they wailed. Valanciunas retreated to the perimeter looking rattled. “JV!!” they screamed again. Valanciunas wandered back to the bench to hide. Every time he touched the ball, they leapt to their feet hooting. They only had eyes for two things — Valanciunas and the courtside beer server. (They were eventually cut off.)
This one took contributions from almost the entire roster. Hell, Landry Fields has seen about as much court time as the injured team mascot has this year, but Fields played a bench-high 17 minutes and contributed four points, a couple of steals and a block in his most impactful game of the 2014 calendar. The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan, who had 28 points, including another solid performance in both getting to and converted at the free throw line. DeRozan was 15-for-16 from the charity stripe. For a half this one looked like it was going to be a cakewalk for the visiting Raptors. The Raptors were getting everything they wanted.
Trailing by three points, with possession and 8.9 seconds to play, Maurice Harkless lined up to inbound the ball for Orlando. Despite getting screens from Nik Vučević and Tobias Harris, Arron Afflalo couldn't get himself free. Harkless tried to signal for the Magic's final timeout, but referee Scott Foster instead whistled him for a five-second violation. "I guess he just didn't acknowledge me," Harkless said. "He said he didn't hear me, but I called timeout a couple of times." The second-year forward said he couldn't hear Foster counting down the time.
"You a rookie," Johnson said to the second-year swingman who has emerged this season as a starter and key contributor for the resurgent Toronto Raptors. "Until you've played the whole 82 games, you're a rookie. That's what the old heads told me." "I've played 82 games," Ross replied with the smile of someone who's had this conversation many times before. Not 10 minutes earlier, Ross told me this was one of Johnson's favorite ways of teasing him. "No you didn't," Johnson answered back. "You don't have 82 games under your belt."
'JV, you're 21-years-old," Bayno responded. "There's no centres in the league your age that are even playing much less averaging 10 points a game. You've had great games [but] when you have a two-point game, going up against a really good, tough [centre], you can't get upset about it." His message, the team's message, has never wavered. "You've got to do the other things to help us win." With that in mind Bayno put pen to paper, drawing up a list of attainable goals for Valanciunas, a cheat sheet consisting of basic fundamentals that can now be found taped to the right side of his locker. Outwork, outrun, sprint [Set] great, legal screens Step to [your] man Block out
- Player Highlights: Jonas Valanciunas vs Orlando Magic (6-8 FG, 20 PTS)
- Raptors Weekly Podcast, March 30 – Jilted Lovers