I Watched The Half They Played

PJ Carlisemo thinks the team just needs to play better defensively.

Raptors 118, Knicks 131 – Box

I just walked in the door from ball hockey at 8:50 (it went late, I had planned to be home by 8:15 and only miss a quarter). Obviously, I have missed the first half. Sadly, I do not have PVR and this doesn’t seem a crcuial enough game to necessitate downloading after the fact and writing a 5am post-game. As it is, I’ll do this post-game in two parts, the first at halftime trying to pull something from the boxscores and Twitter, the second being the generic post-game that, at this point in the year, is really just a post to give you a new message thread to debate GMs and draft picks.

Part 1 – Missing a Half
Holy hell am I glad I missed that first half. 78-54?? Really? REALLY?? The Knicks post two quarters of 39 points, shooting a ridiculous 66% overall while going 12-of-16 from long range. Read that again – 12/16 3FG!! Sorry to overuse the punctuation, but if I knew I was going to miss a game like this, I would have just copy and pasted the Warriors post-game from a few weeks back.

The Knicks have 20 assists on their 27 field goals (likely 12 of which have come on their threes), including seven from Chauncey Billups and five from the corpse of Anthony Carter in just seven minutes of play. Carmelo lead the way with 19 on 11 attempts, while Toney Douglas added 14 on 5/6 (4/5 3FG). Not much else to say about the defense…yikes.

Offensively, hey, at least DeMar has 13 and four rebounds. Jerryd Bayless doesn’t appear to be continuing his streak of strong playe with Jose Calderon out, adding 10 points but little else (one rebound, one assist). Bargnani played just eight minutes and went 0/4, but Ed Davis picked up some slack with 11-and-4 (and Amare has just eight points, so maybe he did something there, too?). Sonny Weems, also back from the dead of late, had eight points.

  • PJ Carlisemo thinks the team just needs to play better defensively.
  • Apparently DeRozan hit a three at the buzzer. So they had momentum into the half.
  • Andrea Bargnani will not return for the second half, being replaced by Ed.
  • Twitter revealed exactly what I thought – I should have kept playing ball hockey instead of coming home for the second half.

Part 2 – Wishing I Missed a Half
Well, it could have been worse. The Raptors at least made it interesting by slowly chipping the lead down to 10 points at the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter, but the lead was never really in danger. The 131-118 final tells the story, a completely defense-free game for both sides, a fast-paced affair that would have been entertaining were it not so completely lacking in fundamental basketball.

In the end, the Knicks shot 58% and rained down 15 threes on just 27 attempts (just 3/11 in the second half though), but the Raptors were alright as well at 49%. Both teams walked to the free throw line in parade fashion, totalling 67 free throw attempts. The big difference came in the type of looks created, as both teams scored 45 field goals, but the Knicks had assists on 31 of them while the Raptors had just 11 dimes.

This is symptomatic of the team at times without Jose Calderon. As much as Bayless has been impressive when starting or playing large minutes, the big knock against him is how he gets teammates involved. While he runs the fastbreak well and creates havoc with his drives (some of his slashing lay-ups are a thing of beauty), at times he fails to identify kick-out opportunities, or attacks out of the sets (or so it seems). In the end he had a respectable 19-3-5 line and averages around seven helpers as a starter, but when you’re used to watching Jose create, five assists from 32 point-guard minutes stands out. Bayless’ improvement has been noticable, but it’s not yet at a point where I’d be comfortable with him as the de facto point guard of the future, especially with a few potential options in the draft.

DeMar DeRozan had another high-scoring night, which we’ve become accustomed to of late. He rode 23 second-half points to a 36 point total, shooting 13/27 and even adding a rare three. More importantly, perhaps, he grabbed 10 rebounds and added 3-1-1 on assists-steals-blocks. A large criticism of DeMar’s improvement is that it has been strictly in the Points Per Game department, and this is just one game, but DeMar will need to find ways to help in other departments for nights when the shot isn’t falling, as we’ve all been saying all year. This was a good sign, but potentially an aberration, so let’s withhold judgment until next season.

As for the rest of the squad, Sonny Weems continued his late-season contract push, scoring 14 points but none of them significant enough to change my opinion that he is an end-of-the-bench player worthy of being paid only as such. Bargnani did not return in the second half (and should probably just be shut down for the year at this point), and Barbosa sat, so I don’t have my usual rant about his game.

I should point out the continued strong play of Ed Davis, too, after hitting a bit of a rookie wall a few weeks back. Davis had 22 points and 13 rebounds on 10/14 shooting, and added a block on a Toney Douglas layup that kept the Knicks from hanging 100 in just three quarters. This was one of his best statistical games of the season, and it passed the eye test as well, even if it was against fairly weak defensive competition. If Bargnani does, in fact, sit down for the rest of the year, Ed should be handed the lion’s share of interior minutes to see if he can get more comfortable with his post moves and mid-range game.

Not much else to say about a fairly usual game, albeit a disgusting defensive effort, so allow me one sidebar.

Braggatory Side Note
I attended last Wednesday’s game against the Bucks while sitting courtside. I was across from the Raptors bench, 2nd row, right near tennis player Milos Raonic (likely didn’t get on TV though due to being on the camera-side and in the corner). Not only was this a great experience I had never had before, but it was also free! For purchasing lower bowl season tickets (valued at $110/seat, for $49/seat, plus a tonne of other benefits), me and the friends I split them with got free courtside seats. While I believe that particular deal has passed, the deals on season tickets are fairly impressive right now. I assume the team is having trouble with season ticket retention and new sales, but we couldn’t resist the opportunity to buy-in at great value and enjoy what, while not an elite team, could be an exciting team with considerable upside (I’m assuming the lottery pick this year will be semi-useful, and the offseason won’t be a disaster…sue me). Anyway, thought I’d share and encourage those willing and able to support the team to have a look.