Huge comeback from 23 down.
|Amir Johnson, PF 26 MIN | 5-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +13 +/-
Slow start, strong rest of game. Like everyone else, came out a step slow but got energized playing alongside Patterson as part of the second unit which got the Raps back in it. Was having no luck with Griffin early, and was thankful the other Johnson took that weight off of him. Good finishing around the rim, as usual.
|Jonas Valanciunas, C 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -1 +/-
Looked bad to start for two reasons, 1) Jordan was beating him down the floor, 2) He got no help whatsoever when he stepped up to meet the drive. Got benched, and then got surprisingly re-inserted for a better showing. This game is a tax write-off.
|Kyle Lowry, PG 38 MIN | 6-9 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | +9 +/-
Used and abused early on defense, and had to wait till the third quarter to make his mark playing off of DeRozan’a ball-handling. Did hit some huge shots that extended the Raptors lead to double-digits in the third, so you could say he showed up at a critical time in the game.
|Greivis Vasquez, PG 23 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -2 +/-
Checking Chris Paul early which didn’t work, obviously. Got outplayed by Austin Rivers, which has known to get a player’s NBA credentials revoked. Offsetting all of that was some shot-making, most of the no-no-no-yesss variety, and on a night like this you’ll take it. Still, though, the YOLO count was low and he knows that he’s got to defer to DeRozan, which can only be good.
|DeMar DeRozan, SG 32 MIN | 6-16 FG | 12-13 FT | 9 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 24 PTS | +11 +/-
Another poor shooting game, another awesome game overall. He’s the new point-forward for this team, and I love how he’s taking over end-of-quarter responsibilities for Lou Williams, because now that he’s added the pass to his already solid drive, the game has opened up for him and everyone else. Tons of trips to the FT line, tons of assists, and it doesn’t even matter what he shoots. That injury might’ve been the best thing to happen for his growth. He can’t push off that leg like he’s used to, which is partially the reason for the low FG%, but that’ll fix soon enough.
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4 +/-
His hands are made of feet.
|James Johnson, PF 19 MIN | 7-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +15 +/-
HELLO! Shut down Blake Griffin as soon as he came in, and then got his against the Clipper PF. Immediately, he negated the need to double Griffin which solidified the Raptors defense. Brough the swagger which energized the team, and the crowd. Offensively, the movement was exceptional and the decision-making supreme. No bad shots, just an overall awesome two-way game for super-sub. Wonder how many of those games we lost we could’ve won if Casey had just gone with him in key stretches (pre-injury, I’m talking about)
|Patrick Patterson, PF 28 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +13 +/-
Changed the dynamic of this game by hitting his threes which pulled Griffin and Jordan out, and opened up lanes for him and others. The floor was quite congested with the starters and his shot-making was the key for Lou Williams, Vasquez, and DeRozan finally finding enough space to operate going to the rim. The effort, again, was top-notch. Well done.
|Terrence Ross, SF 20 MIN | 0-4 FG | 1-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 1 PTS | +9 +/-
No D, no O. I get not being able to cover Jamaal Crawford, but could you at least make him sweat a little on defense? When he did try to drive the ball a couple times, there was a feeling of inevitability that it wouldn’t go anywhere. And it didn’t. He’s got to find one thing that he does well other than three-point shooting, and he’s struggling to find what that is.
|Greg Stiemsma, C 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4 +/-
The Raptors version of the human victory cigar.
|Louis Williams, SG 28 MIN | 4-9 FG | 7-9 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +25 +/-
A lot more aggressive off the bounce than he has been. His ball-handling was a big reason the second-unit brought the Raptors back in it after being down 23. No ridiculous pull-up threes in transition, and a much more fundamentally sound game.
|Landry Fields, SG 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4 +/-
Yes, this was a blowout in the end.
Props for putting James Johnson in the game (though he should be ridiculed for misusing him the last few weeks), job well done of starting the fourth with Lowry which was an adjustment over sticking with the second unit which blows the lead. Playing small worked out in the second, kudos. And job well done of putting James Johnson on Chris Paul in the fourth. The only negative is the way the team came out, but that was soon corrected.
Five Things We Saw
- The Raptors were down 30-7 in this game, which is when the second-unit stepped up and provided a huge lift, namely Patrick Patterson and Lou Williams. Patterson’s drive-game has been big recently, still taking a lot of threes but the threat to drive is there much more.
- DeMar DeRozan’s playmaking is what will make the Raptors win a playoff round this year. His survey of the floor is becoming better and better, and even against good defenders he’s finding his seams and managing to create. When a player makes others around him better, he has reached the next level of stardom and DeRozan, if this persists, is on his way to that.
- Small ball worked! Maybe it was the Clippers tired legs that caught up to them, whatever the case, the combo of Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson out-matched Jordan and Griffin. The latter’s face-up drive-game was completely eliminated by James Johnson, which meant that the Raptors bigs were in much better rebounding position since they didn’t have to contend with as many drives.
- The defense is still leaky, no doubt, and there are plays from this game that’ll make you cringe. Most notably, how easily the Raptors concede mismatches early in the shot-clock. That needs to be corrected.
- We start that 8-game stretch with a win! Spurs up next, rejoice. This game was on ESPN (hence the 7pm start), that one is on NBATV.