|Amir Johnson, PF Shot Chart 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -10
Amir enjoyed the freedom of a (relatively) meaningless game to uncharacteristically freelance at will on defense in the 1st quarter. He pushed Amare out of the low post, which was nice to see after Stoudemire eviscerated the Raps down low last week. And then Amir sat down.
|Terrence Ross, SF Shot Chart 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -9
A year ago, how many of us were still angry about the Warriors tanking one spot ahead of the Raptors to snag Harrison Barnes one spot ahead of the Raptors grabbing Ross. A year later, who would rather have Barnes than Ross heading into this year’s playoffs and the next five years? Let’s see what kind of a leap Ross can make on Saturday in a game that actually matters.
|Jonas Valanciunas, C Shot Chart 16 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -7
Jonas had a low post possession against Amare 2 minutes into the game from the right side of the block. Jonas has taken very few post-ops from that side of the hoop and not looked comfortable (or successful) on the occasions when he has. But Jonas looked strong and confortable faking Stoudemire inside before spinning baseline and dropping in a pretty off-hand hook shot. This guy can play. A slow-paced, physical series against the Nets is going to feature a lot of Valanciunas.
|Kyle Lowry, PG Shot Chart 26 MIN | 8-15 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 22 PTS | -10
The Bargnani deal was a train robbery, but the best thing James Dolan may have done for the Raptors this season was kai-bosh the Lowry trade. I don’t know why so many Knicks fans tear their hair out over James Dolan. I happen to think he’s one of the most kind, thoughtful and generous men on the planet. Unlike Kyle Lowry, who is a badmotherdude. Lowry put up a very respectable full game stat line in just 26 minutes of play.
|DeMar DeRozan, SG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -11
DeMar was sloppy early on with turnovers. But I couldn’t care less, because he was attacking and looking to get to the hoop. The Raptors have been putting up almost a basket a game running DeMar around a pair of perimeter screens to hammer home a weak-side alley-oop. Love it. If that’s the game he brings to the playoffs (and limits the turnovers) then get ready to start hearing some TV analysts who’ve hardly mentioned the Raptors all season start getting excited about DeMar like they’ve just discovered something great that nobody knows about.
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF Shot Chart 28 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-5 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +5
Hansbrough really enjoyed playing with De Colo, who made a point of consistently looking for the Big Effort near the basket. Hansbrough could have had a few more baskets if he wasn’t surprised by a) someone actually rewarding him with a pass, and b) said pass coming from out of nowhere.
|Patrick Patterson, PF Shot Chart 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +14
Patterson is starting to look like his shot is back in rhythm, but he’s still missing the aggression that he was playing with before getting hurt. Granted, this game wouldn’t have been the wisest place for him to unleash it. He’s going to match up this weekend with Garnett and Teletovic in the all pick-and-pop all the time power forward showdown.
|Chuck Hayes, PF Shot Chart 13 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -6
Boxing out Cole Aldrich once would have helped his grade a bit here. Not passing the ball to the wrong team to effectively end the game would have been even more helpful.
|Steve Novak, SF Shot Chart 9 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -2
Steve Novak airballed an open 3 with 4 minutes left in the game. He then politely ushered JR Smith to the basket for a transition slam with 2 minutes left. It’s cool though, because he made up for it with another airball 10 seconds later, prompting some courtside trolling from Spike Lee. Not his best MSG performance of all time.
|Dwight Buycks, PG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 2 PTS | -1
Dwight hasn’t seen the court in a while and boy, did he want to make up for that. Buycks threw the ball away a few times when he got excited and tried to do too much. Why not, they were almost definitely his last minutes of the season. At least we can rest easy knowing that we didn’t foolishly bench a lights-out jump shooter all season.
|Greivis Vasquez, PG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +16
General Grievis always gets carried away with one or two extra heat-check shots, but the man does get buckets. And like the great Bill Russell says, this game always has been, and always will be, about buckets. How many backup point guards are there in the playoffs on Vasquez’ level? 3, maybe 4? You can make a case for Darren Collison, Patty Mills, CJ Watson and Jeremy Lin. I’m happy to have Vasquez out of that list.
|Nando de Colo, PG Shot Chart 26 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +6
Nando De Colo plays basketball exactly like a San Antonio Spur. I really can’t think of a better way to compliment a player. De Colo could have easily had double-digit assists in the 4th quarter alone if he was passing to San Antonio Spurs instead of Buycks, Hansbrough, Hayes and Steve Novak.
It’s important to keep in mind that this game was completely irrelevant. Nobody got hurt, so it’s a win, regardless. Casey played General Grievis, Nando Calrissian, Dwight Buycks, Patrick Patterson and the The Big Effort as a five-man unit for a stretch through the 2nd quarter. Three point guards, two power forwards. Why? Because tonight, Dwayne Casey was the honey badger. And it was awesome. At least it was in the first half. It hurt to watch the end of the bench unit (sorry Landry Fields, but whatever it is you did, Casey still ain’t having none of you.) refuse to help Nando De Colo play functional basketball down the stretch, but they’ve earned those minutes.
Four Things We Saw
- I’ve never watched a New York City game so quiet that you could hear individual fans voices like you could in the first half. The Madison Square Garden crowd could not possibly have given less effs about this game. JR Smith and the Knicks are now one.
- Raptors playoff tickets are most expensive in the entire NBA. It’s official; the Raptors are the new Maple Leafs.
- I’m pretty sure that @cornersniper’s head exploded with excitement in the perfect moment that was Nando De Colo hitting Tyler Hansbrough with a between his legs pass for a slam dunk.
- Either the Raptors backup bigmen weren’t putting up their best effort, or Cole Aldrich is a $12 million dollar a year player. Joe Dumars just got resigned, but isn’t Isiah Thomas the perfect person to replace him in Detroit to sign Aldrich? That frontcourt badly needs another overpaid C/PF.
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- We The North – Storm
- Playoff Schedule Released, First Game on Saturday at 12:30 PM EST