|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 23 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -15 +/-Apparently he missed the memo that Amir Johnson was on limited minutes and thought he’d lost his starting spot, because he reverted back to being that lovably invisibly Hansbrough we saw for the first 2/3 of the season. I can’t remember anything that he did, save inexplicably being part of the team’s crunch time lineup (we’ll get to that, don’t worry).|
|Terrence Ross, SF 28 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -11 +/-Took the ball to the rim early with DeMar sitting, but looked like a baby deer in headlights when he got into the lane, and eventually migrated back out to the outside. His line isn’t too bad, but he just looked uncomfortable on the offensive end. Like the 2 steals and 2 blocks, though.|
|Jonas Valanciunas, C 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 10 PTS | -7 +/-Unfairly singled out by the refs, who didn’t seem to want to call anything on anyone but him. There was a particularly egregious sequence in the third quarter where he blocked two shots, secured the rebound, and then got called for a foul on a bogus “elbow” while bringing the ball up. That said, he was tentative defensively (partial blame to the refs, I guess), and gave up his fair share of boards when he had position. Looked good offensively for the most part, though I don’t like to see 4 turnovers from a centre.|
|Kyle Lowry, PG 35 MIN | 6-20 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -12 +/-This is a legacy C+ as much as anything. I realize that he’s trying to shoot himself back into form, and totally understand that’s much more important than a win, but he was taking shots that he no business taking at 100 per cent, much less making. Still did all the little things, fighting hard for rebounds and making smart passes in the lane, when he got in there. Had a couple key drives late that gave the Raptors a chance.|
|Greivis Vasquez, PG 32 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +11 +/-I had no idea he had a line like that in him. I’m done harping on his defence – it’s been done to death, and we all know what to expect on that end. Tonight, though, he played the role of distributor to perfection, driving the lane and finding teammates for open shots on the perimeter. The ball movement was infinitely better with him as the lead ball handler, Hit a couple nice floaters in the lane, and only finished with one turnover. Good stuff.|
|James Johnson, PF 19 MIN | 5-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +7 +/-Hey, Dwane! Remember this guy? Oh, you’re still going to sub in Terrence Ross for a late defensive stop? Ah, ok.
Coaching issues and one ill-attempted 3 pointer aside, this was the kind of game we’d come to expect from James Johnson, with solid defence, smart offence consisting of drives on mismatches, and one big dunk on a goofy looking white guy.
|Patrick Patterson, PF 27 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +2 +/-I’ve been lauding the fact that Patterson looks to make the extra pass on the perimeter, but sometimes I just wish he’d take the open look, and he finally did so in the fourth quarter, with a couple key 3 pointers. He still needs to force himself to be a factor on the defensive glass, but he’s playing within himself on offence, and the team was much better with him and Amir on the floor than it was with Jonas and Hansbrough.|
|Amir Johnson, PF 16 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +12 +/-Welcome back, Amir. The ankles didn’t look like an issue tonight in limited minutes, as he played within himself, protected the rim well (2 blocks, both without leaving his feet), and used solid, smart positioning on both ends of the floor to put up a nice stat line. Excellent return performance that showed just how valuable he’ll be to this team come playoff time.|
|Louis Williams, SG 31 MIN | 3-13 FG | 10-11 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | +3 +/-That shooting line hurts my eyes, but he made up for it by getting to the free throw line with his typical aplomb. Seemed more agressive than usual grabbing weak side rebounds, which might have something to do with Boston’s hyper agressive guards. My only critique tonight is his shot selection, and what else is new?|
Oh, man. Where to begin. Let’s start with the positives: sitting DeMar was the right decision, as his long term effectiveness is far more valuable than a win tonight. With that said, if you’re managing your players with the playoffs in mind, why play a recovering Lowry (playing poorly) so many minutes, and then ON TOP OF THAT, limit a recovering Amir (playing well) so much? I mean, if he was consistent with this stuff, I could at least evaluate it properly.
On top of that, it took him way too long to realize that the JJ/Patterson/Amir/Vasquez/Williams or Lowry combo was the best thing the Raptors had going (when it CLEARLY was), and then, after seemingly figuring it out and playing them down the stretch in the fourth, subs in a Lowry/Vasquez/Williams/Hansbrough/Patterson fivesome with a minute left. THEN, with a key defensive possession coming up, he subs out Vasquez (hey! Nice!) for Terrence Ross (wait, what?) when James Johnson was just sitting right there. Of course, Evan Turner hit the shot over Ross, putting the Celtics in front. You can’t blame him for Crowder’s ridiculous shot to end the game, or the poor reffing job, but man, this stuff just seems so simple. Maybe we are stealthily tanking?
Four Things We Saw
- The #questfor50 ends tonight, sadly, but the Raptors can still reach a franchise record in wins tomorrow night against Charlotte. This game, obviously, has major implications for playoff seeding – the Raps will need a win and a Bulls loss (they’re home to the Hawks) in order to grab the 3rd seed. Otherwise, they’ll finish fourth. Which outcome you’re rooting for is a matter of personal preference.
- The refs were gross tonight, basically letting everything go, which favoured a very physical Celtics team, but the Raptors did themselves no favours by committing 18 turnovers, plenty of the unforced variety. The team will need to clean that up in the playoffs, particularly against a veteran team like the Wizards.
- As frustrated as I am right now, it’s important to keep things in perspective. The Raptor bench played extremely well tonight, which is probably a better sign than the starters playing well and the bench struggling (you’d expect the starters to be more likely to bounce back). As ugly as this one was, it’s a win with DeMar, and Boston is hot right now.
- One more game to go, and a chance for a franchise record in wins. I’d imagine that’s very important to this squad. I’d like to see it to – it’s a tangible way to point out improvement over last year, and cap off what’s been an odd, but very memorable season. Hopefully the Raps can pull it all together against Charlotte in easy fashion like they did last week.