Quick Reaction

Quick Reaction: Raptors 116, Nuggets 102

Lowry, Williams, and Hansbrough (?!?) shine in a gutty road win.

Toronto Raptors 116 Final

Recap | Box Score

102 Denver Nuggets
Amir Johnson, PF 26 MIN | 5-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +2Looked sluggish on the second half of a back to back, and was part of the reason why Kenneth Faried put up such an impressive stat line. The effort is always there, but his feet just weren’t moving tonight, and he got taken to task on the perimeter a few times. He stepped it up late, though, finishing the fourth quarter strong.

James Johnson, PF 19 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -2A generally nondescript performance – with Lou Williams going off and Denver not having an elite perimeter scorer, he spent crunch time on the bench and played sparingly in the second half. That said, had a few impressive moments, including a couple blocked perimeter shots. He’s incredibly quick off the dribble for his size, and used that to his advantage in the first quarter.

Terrence Ross, SF 35 MIN | 3-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +6I really like the effort on the boards (he had 8), but I LOVE the assertiveness in taking the ball to the hoop on multiple occasions, which led to free throws and finishes on multiple possessions. He stopped shooting in the second half with Lou Williams literally bursting into flames, but you had the feeling that he could have been a bigger part of the team’s offence tonight if need be. He’s really finding his stride with DeRozan out, and I think it’s going to do wonders for his development.

Jonas Valanciunas, C 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -15Saddled with early foul trouble following some slow/sloppy rotations, he had a difficult time getting into the flow of the game, ending up a team-worst minus 15. I understand that he was playing on tired legs in the altitude, but this wasn’t a good performance, plain and simple. It happens – he’ll bounce back.

Kyle Lowry, PG 38 MIN | 12-20 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 11 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 30 PTS | +5Every time it seemed like Denver went on a run and threatened to push past the Raptors, it was Lowry who came up with the clutch bucket, steal, or charge taken. The Nuggets tried putting larger wings on him in an attempt to slow his outside shot, and he responded by blowing past them to the basket and finishing over larger players. Extremely impressive individual effort after playing big minutes the day before.

Patrick Patterson, PF 27 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +20We’ve touched on the strides he’s made on defence in this space before, but man, BOX OUT!!! Seemed to just give Kenneth Faried boards at times and looked tired defensively, like all the Raptor bigs besides Hansbrough. Still functioned as an effective floor-spacer on offense, hitting his 3s and dragging Denver’s rim protectors out to the perimeter.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 20 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +19We’ve come to expect a lot of energy and not a lot of results from him, but tonight the difference between his effort level and those of his frontcourt mates was extremely stark. Played his butt off, running up and down the floor, blocking shots, and finishing off in traffic layups, dunks, and even a mid-range jumper. By far his best game of the season, and perhaps his best as a Raptor, on a night the team desperately needed a lift.

Chuck Hayes, C 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2Got a couple minutes in the first half and was generally there. Got his points after being fouled trying to finish off a high pick and roll with Lowry.

Greivis Vasquez, PG 18 MIN | 1-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +15That 1 for 10 line sure is ugly, but it’s a bit unfair to judge his performance tonight solely based on that. You would have liked to have seen it a bit earlier, but he did stop shooting eventually (just 2 attempts in the second half) and worked on setting up his teammates as part of the unit that eventually put this game away early in the fourth. His decision-making was really suspect at times, though, especially early.

Louis Williams, SG 34 MIN | 11-18 FG | 5-9 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 31 PTS | +18Some of the things this guy does defy analysis – he makes shots he shouldn’t make, gets fouled when he shouldn’t get fouled, and can, like tonight, pull your team through to the finish line in a game they didn’t play particularly well in for the majority. He had me yelling at my TV a few times, but all the shots went in – it’s not what you want from a wing player, but how can you critique with that line?

Dwane Casey
Managed the rotations reasonably well on the second half of a back-to-back, particularly early in the game, pulling the starters quicker than usual and riding a hot bench. That said, Lowry, Williams, and Ross all played 34 minutes plus, including a few unneccessary ones in the fourth. I liked the move to keep Hansbrough in late, seeing as he was the guy driving the team’s effort bus. It’d also be nice to see a bit more of an expanded playbook, especially out of timeouts – the team’s sets are becoming awful predictable. That said, when Lowry and Lou are hitting everything in sight, maybe there’s something to be said for predictability.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Watching this game, you felt like the Raptors were clearly the better team and should have pulled away earlier. They were “undone,” though, by two key numbers. The first is free throw shooting – the Raptors finished 20 of 32 from the line, but were just 13 of 25 through 3 quarters. The second is on the glass, where Kenneth Faried took advantage of a tired Raptor frontcourt and beasted his way to 19 individual boards and a plus-5 team advantage.
  2. The crowd at the Pepsi centre seemed awfully quiet, didn’t it? Leo offhandedly mentioned the possibility of everyone being high (“you know what’s legal here, right?”), which both made me laugh and may have somewhat explained the Raptors’ troubles at the free throw line.
  3. No, this wasn’t the prettiest game, but ultimately, it’s a road back-to-back sweep with the second game in high-altitude settings. The Raptors’ bench has them set up to have a chance to win these games, but it’s really rewarding when it actually results in a comfortable win, particularly when the team isn’t playing their best ball.
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