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Valanciunas Dominates First Half, But Poor Guard-Play Costs Raptors

Miami 81, Raptors 72 – Box Score :: Live Blog
Jonas Valanciunas asserted his dominance on the pick ‘n roll against Miami in the first half, and had 20 at the break. Quincy Acy had a good defensive showing in the first, and had his moments near the basket with two great dunks as well. He tried some one-on-one play, including a fadeaway that met with failure, but overall he looked sharp. Terrence Ross, playing in Jordan 1s, looked out-of-sorts throughout the game and failed to make any sort of impression against rather undistinguished opponents.

Amonst the rest of the Raptors, Chris Wright had to be the highlight with 10 points, but he went 4-13 from the stripe. Frankly, there’s not much to be had from the summer league roster this year, and the chances of any of the secondary players even getting an invite to training camp are low (at least based on this performance).

The Raptors were up 44-37 at halftime, and the second half was one to forget. Miami adjusted to Valanciunas’ dominance and the Raptors failed to respond. Whereas in the first half Valanciunas had space and time to make moves, in the second he was faced with double-teams, fronting, and a waiting help defender which shut him down completely. He had three points in the second, and it wasn’t exactly his fault.

The Raptors guard play was poor, especially with Tywain Mckee and Jordan Taylor who combined for 2 assist and 4 turnovers, and failed to provide any sort of stability when Miami pressured in the second half. A simple composed pass into the post was unable to be executed. Instead of feeding a waiting Jonas Valanciunas in the block, the guards, including Coby Karl, hoisted long-range jumpers while Valanciunas was left waiting underneath. One-on-one play ensued and the Raptors shot themselves out of the game.

These plays are almost expected in summer league since people are playing for contracts and not the team, but it’s still surprising to see players adopt me-first attitudes when GMs are looking at them as role players.

With Ross misfiring and uninterested in the proceedings, the Raptors offense struggled to score mightily in the second. Miami went on a 23-2 and 11-1 run in the third and fourth quarters, respectively. In a game marred with 78 fouls, it made for painful viewing as the Raptors offense shut down in the face of what seemed moderate pressure.

I know it’s summer league but seeing Terrence Ross float around doing nothing was of concern, this is a league where he needs to dominate, at least in stretches, and he seemed no better than Chris Wright on this night. The Raptors had three NBA players on the roster and the Heat had, well, none that I can think of, and the Raptors still managed to be down by 17 in the fourth quarter. Not good. On the bright side, we saw Jonas Valanciunas have a strong game where he showed a hook shot, excellent pick ‘n roll play, nice pump/head fakes, and some quickness on the drive. He also looked like he had gained a few pounds. I don’t have access to his body-mass index so can’t tell if it’s fat or muscle.

I hoped Quincy Acy would show something that would lend credence to the talk that he might be able to play the small forward next year, but very little of the sort was shown. Other than a few good defensive possessions on the perimeter, Acy showed very few small forward traits. His handle on the drive looked shaky and once he got to the rim on a drive from the wing, his decisions were suspect. His constant movement on defense in the paint is definitely an asset, but if we’re expecting him to make grand leaps next year, well, brace yourselves for disappointment. Micah Downs, a 38% three-point shooter in D-League went 1-6 from downtown, which was quite disappointing because at 6’8″ he could be a situational stretch-four.

Overall, great first half by the Raptors, who failed to handle the adjustments Miami made in the second. Specifically, Miami was able to shut down our Valanciunas-driven points supply-chain, and when the Raptors guards were forced to run a few plays to calm and re-focus the offense, they failed to deliver and look for their break-and-butter: Valanciunas. Coby Karl, son of George Karl, took a few shots, I recall him missing more than making, and I don’t think he’ll be in the NBA next year.

The Raptors did win two of the four quarters (the first half ones), which can come in handy as that’s what’s used as tie-breakers in the standings.

Up next, the other NBA finals team: San Antonio on Sunday at 10:30 PM EST – Follow @RRGameTime for live updates. In case you were wondering where Dwight Buycks was:

On a non-Raptors note, Canadian Myck Kabongo had 2 points in 17 minutes and went 2-6 from the FT. The man plays at one pace: fast. He definitely needs to add a few more speeds to his game which would make defending him harder, because right now it’s quite predictable what he’s going to be doing.

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