This rivalry will never get old. The Raptors’ inconsistencies on the other hand, are heading in the opposite direction.
|Amir Johnson, PF 27 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | 0 +/-The Jekyll-and-Hyde ride of contributions continues for Smash Johnson. To be fair, the minutes allotted by Dwane Casey haven’t done him any favours to perform at a consistent rate. His combined 16-21 from the field vs. the Wizards and Nets (while transforming into a pick-and-roll guru in the process), was followed up by a peculiar sub-par effort against the Bucks. Back in somewhat-solid form tonight. Active on both ends of the floor, even if the numbers aren’t there to show for it. It just goes to show the fluctuation in usage of this team’s front-court. A max-effort will almost never come into question, the foreman at the blue-collar factory has practically played hurt all season long.|
|Jonas Valanciunas, C 34 MIN | 3-5 FG | 3-5 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -9 +/-Speaking of usage. JV’s tragic average of just over 26 minutes a game remains the elephant in the room. The proposed reason for this mistreatment, especially in the fourth quarter: the inability to “scramble” when facing quicker lineups. Say what? … Hey, Coach Casey: Ever wonder why this team has to resort to such measures? How about implementing a game-plan that actually includes the low-post. Quit taking what the opposition gives you. The jump-shot routine is getting old. The more “traditional” matchup of Brook Lopez paid dividends. Went over the 30-minute threshold, and progress was shown in both physicality and footwork. The Lithuanian’s kryptonite.|
|Kyle Lowry, PG 36 MIN | 5-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 13 PTS | -7 +/-If Amir is foreman of the clock-punchers, K-Low is owner of the company. Hamstring injury be damned! Came out of the starting gate with a vengeance, halfway towards a triple-double with three minutes left in the first quarter. Snapping out of his recent erratic funk, pushing the pace, creating transition opportunities, and involving everyone on the court. The Raps’ we all know and love were back, at least for the first half. Brooklyn stifled Lowry and the rest of the crew throughout the third and fourth frames. Careless passing needs to be kiboshed. But still, shame on Nicki Minaj for choosing Dwayne Wade as her All-Star selection.|
|Greivis Vasquez, PG 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -21 +/-Up to his usual matador tricks on defense. But the fearlessness on the offensive side commands our respect. Even if one never knows how his floaters in the lane actually find the bottom of the net. The positives outweigh the negativity. Just not on this night.
Feel free to air your Greiv-ances.
|DeMar DeRozan, SG 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -9 +/-Ascendence to elite-status is almost complete. Double-D’s court vision has catapulted from adequate to uncanny. Those six wins in a row gave a cardiac-arrest to us all, but the leap in recent play has been the main cog in taking back the East’s No.2 seed. — Insert a screeching halt, here. The numbers look above-average, but DeRozan set up shop on a deserted island for most of the night.|
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -12 +/-Played a measly seven minutes. Nothing to see here, folks: move along. Actually, wait. I’m not letting Hansbrough get shoved to the side. There might not be another player in the NBA that’s willing to sacrifice himself more than TH. The Charles Oakley of the caucasian persuasion, if you will. In his minimal time on the court, at least hard screens were present. Something that the rest of this squad need to take notice of. He will never amount to what he was during his days at North Carolina, but as for the role Toronto needs him to fill, it’s a perfect fit. The spark he provides off the bench, usually just in time to save the Raps’ stagnant existence, is invaluable. Just do us all a solid Tyler: work on softening up those hands of stone, bro. Come to think of it, Oak did have a mean 15-footer. Can you tell it was a frustrating evening when Hansbrough receives the longest analysis!|
|Patrick Patterson, PF 28 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -12 +/-It’s great to see Patman’s heroics rise to the forefront. The (at times) game-saver played the background for far too long, even in his own backyard. PP’s on the short-list
of most versatile players across the entire league. That’s just the fancy way of saying he was essentially a non-factor, but a film session on Patterson’s help-defense should still take place. Boogie, J-Wall, and Bledsoe aren’t the only Kentucky alumni making noise.
|Terrence Ross, SF 29 MIN | 9-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | 0 +/-In the running for most polarizing Raptor of all time. I’ve never seen such a division in support. On this night, in an interesting turn of events, Ross was the first man in; not Sweet Lou. Then promptly followed it up by making a mockery of the Nets’
perimeter defense. On fire from the outside in the early going. Slowly earning back trust with one of his better games in recent memory. However, we’ve witnessed this act before, brakes need to be pumped until praise can be ultimately shown.
|Louis Williams, SG 21 MIN | 1-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -13 +/-He’s becoming rather predictable, and that doesn’t include his seemingly nightly top-of-the-key isolations. The book was out long ago on that maneuver. This is not the movie Hoosiers. Casey doesn’t own the chops of a Norman Dale, and Lou-Will is damn sure no Jimmy Chitwood. Raps’ fans everywhere are ecstatic this is slowly meeting its demise. Tonight, his pump-fake overkill just wasn’t working. Imagine that.|
When your team is obviously staggering, waiting for the TV timeout while stuck 8-points with 3 minutes to go in the third was not the wisest of decisions. There will be no kudos given to his in-game adjustments. But how about off the court. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Dodging questions in a media scrum only endears you to fans if you’re actually suiting up, not when you’re the Head Coach. After the Bucks’ debacle, Casey sounded like a high-schooler attempting to B.S. his way through an oral presentation. Required reading is part of the job D.C.! Besides, there is only room for one John Gibbons in this city. Lynch is your best goal-line option, and you call pass? Serenity now!!
Three Things We Saw
- 21 minutes. The lowest amount of burn for Vasquez since January 10th. Whether or not his hold on the starting gig persists is up for debate.
- Mo Pete. I’m trying man, I really am. But it’s just getting worse! Perhaps a spot in the mailroom somewhere?
- Since when are fans leaving the game early? Was it that much of a fiasco? Yes, yes it was. I could be mistaken, but I think a few jerseys were tossed on the court.