Morning Coffee – Fri, Dec 4

22 mins read

Slow start hurts Raptors in loss to Nuggets to start homestand | Toronto Sun

The bench woes that seemed to have somewhat rectified themselves in Atlanta, were back with Terrence Ross hitting just one of his first seven shots. Still, it wasn’t the bench that was getting torched in the first half. That was the Raptors’ starting five, none of whom were in the plus in the first half, the best of a bad bunch being DeRozan’s minus-6. Ross finished the night 1-for-9 and while he earned some minutes for his defence he has to start hitting some shots if that second unit is to become an advantage for the Raps.

Slow starts finally come back to bite Raptors | Sportsnet.ca

This is frustrating stuff for a pertinacious coach like Casey, who’s constantly stressed his team’s need to get off to quick starts and then watched as they’ve finished the first quarter with a lead in just six of their 20 games this year. He may have reached his tipping point as after Thursday’s game he ruminated about potentially altering the starting lineup or his rotations going forward in a search for better beginnings. Informed of this, Raptors guard and emotional essence Kyle Lowry — the last guy you’d consider taking out of the starting lineup — remained unfazed. “He’s the head coach,” Lowry said. “Sometimes you’ve got to mix it up. It’s his call. Teams are coming out aggressive and we’re not matching their intensity. So we’ve got to figure out a way to match other team’s intensity or come out with more intensity ourselves.”

Toronto Raptors drop close contest to Denver Nuggets despite 34-point effort from Demar DeRozan | National Post

“We’re like this,” said the Raptors coach, mimicking a roller-coaster with his hand. “We’ve got to get a level of play that we decide we’re going to play at from the start of the game until the end of the game, we can’t wait until we get our teeth kicked in before we start to play. “That’s been our M.O., whether we change the starting unit. . . just to get that jump-start, we’ve got to do it. It’s just too many games in a row now that we get out and dig ourselves a hole.”

Raptors’ Comeback Effort Falls Short in 106-105 Loss to Nuggets | Raptors HQ

With the undefeated Golden State Warriors on tap for Saturday, some may call Thursday’s effort a trap game. It’s very likely the Raptors could have overlooked the Nuggets, a team that’s scoring just 96.2 points per game this season and was losing by an average of 19 points during its eight-game slide.  But there were plenty of areas of concern, and Lowry can’t put on his Superman cape and save the day like he did against Atlanta every night. Sure comebacks are exciting, but if the Raptors want to even think about getting out of the first round of the playoffs this year they’ll need to snap this habit of digging themselves out of early holes immediately.

 

Grades: Denver Nuggets 106 Toronto Raptors 105 | Roundball Mining Company

Starting for the injured Kenneth Faried, Arthur continued his hot shooting and logged his best all around game in quite some time. The shot was there, as was the perimeter defense. DA could have rebounded better, but he was forced to log big minutes at center due to injuries.

The All-Star jerseys have Toronto/Canada infused designs all over. 🇨🇦 #WeTheNorth

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Recap: Denver Nuggets outlast Toronto Raptors for 106-105 victory | Denver Stiffs

The Nuggets had no answer for DeMar DeRozan who put up 34 points along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists, but had just enough answers for all the other questions as Denver split the duties up by quarters.  Darrell Arthur had a monster first quarter with 12 of his 19 points in the frame, then Will Barton followed with threes and drives to get 12 of his team-high 22 in the second.  Gallinari exploded in the third with 11 of his 21, and then Barton iced the game with clutch free throws down the stretch to take home the victory. Emmanuel Mudiay had 8 assists in the first half as the team passed its way to 30 overall, but was benched down the stretch (along with the other youngsters Joffrey Lauvergne and Nikola Jokic). Lauvergne had a double-double with 14/10 and Jokic netted 8 points and 6 boards in just 14 minutes, but the team needed this win and Malone went exclusively to his veteran unit to close the deal.  If the game had been 20 seconds longer that might have been a mistake, but it all worked out in the end.

Nuggets snap eight-game losing streak with win over Raptors | The Denver Post

At their best, the Nuggets built an 18-point lead. The Raptors cut that lead to two points with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter, but Malone did something shrewd — he stayed with an all-veteran lineup of Jameer Nelson, Randy Foye, Will Barton, Danilo Gallinari and Darrell Arthur to right the ship and see the Nuggets through. Because, some nights, like those when you’re trying to snap a long losing streak, development has to take a back seat to getting a win.

Toronto Raptors comeback not enough as they fall to Nuggets | Raptors Cage

A late run in the final quarter masks what was a poor shooting performance and a lackluster overall display. Firstly just 19 points in the opening frame put the Raptors in a hole they never got out of. The Raptors were unable to get back in the game, missing multiple chances to do so and continuing to attempt isolation drive plays instead of moving the ball. It was also a shooting display to forget as Lowry and DeMarre Carroll combined to shoot 7-28 from the field.  DeMar DeRozan put in 34 points and early on seemed to be doing all the Raptors scoring. DeRozan was for the most parts efficient shooting a decent 14-26 from the field. 3 point shooting was dismal however as the team shot only 29.6% and simply could not find their range. On the plus side the Raptors only gave up 5 turnovers.

Raptors’ Bismack Biyombo remains a player in progress | Toronto Star

Truthfully, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri didn’t bring Biyombo here for offence. DeMarre Carroll is the face of this team’s defensive rebrand this season, but Biyombo is showing that he’s a key part of what Ujiri and Casey were after this summer, when their offensively-driven team flamed out in the playoffs. Still, if Biyombo could turn half of those bobbled passes into buckets, or even get fouled on the play — he’s shooting a career-best 68.4 per cent from the line and focused on improving — those are points for a team that’s still finding its way on offence. Dikembe Mutombo arches his back and laughs when Biyombo’s hands are brought up. “You know, I’m his big brother,” Mutombo, also Congolese-born, said on Nov. 15, when he was in Toronto doing promotional work with the NBA for this year’s all-star game. “He’s going to be good. He didn’t get a chance to play college, he went straight to the NBA (after playing three seasons in Spain). I think we should give him a chance to develop and he will get there.”

Another game and another shit performance from Terrence Ross | Reddit

1/9 ffs he’s so bad idk anyone who can justify his contract extension.

Ujiri sees value in Ross deal, despite struggles | Sportsnet.ca

“When you do them [contracts] at first, it doesn’t look good, players react a little bit, there’s anxiety and they have to settle down a little bit,” Ujiri told Bob McCown and Ken Reid on Sportsnet 590 the FAN’s Prime Time Sports Thursday. “When we did [the] Jonas [Valanciunas deal] everybody said, ‘Why are you signing Jonas for that money. Why don’t you wait until the end?’ Well, if we waited until the end, Jonas costs more money. When we signed Cory Joseph everyone was like, ‘What? Third point guard? Why? Is he really worth that?’ “Right or wrong, [the Ross deal] could be a bad contract, we’re not going to get every single one right, but all I’m saying is these are sometimes the risks we have to take, this is sometimes the vision we have to have. That’s why we’re in the place to do this job.”

Lucas Nogueira steps up, but Raptors lose to Denver Nuggets 106-105 | The Globe and Mail

Nogueira had been assigned to the 905 on Nov. 13 and played four game there, averaging nine points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 22.0 minutes. His best showing was 13 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and four blocks in 27 minutes versus the Maine Red Claws. The Raptors recalled him on Nov. 21. He played six minutes last week versus the Philadelphia 76ers, and then surprised many with his performance in Atlanta. The guy on the end of the bench was suddenly the one being called for Wednesday’s on-court live television interview, and being surrounded at his locker back home before Thursday’s game. “I feel great, and I feel more excited to keep working and try to help the team,” said the talkative youngster on Thursday. “I think it’s a time to be more humble and keep paying attention.”

Raptors’ Nogueira taking Bebe steps | Toronto Sun

After playing only four minutes all season with the Raptors, Nogueira showed some flashes Sunday in six minutes against the Phoenix Suns. Then, on Wednesday in Atlanta, he came out of nowhere to become a key factor in the biggest comeback in recent team history (it was the first second-half rally from down 15 points in 109 games). Nogueira played the entire fourth quarter, grabbing five rebounds, blocking a shot, changing others and throwing down a couple of alley-oops. He was a game-high plus-22 an was jubilant afterward. “I’m so happy, because you have to stay ready. The league is so long, injuries happen, people (getting) sick happens, a lot of things happen in this game,” Nogueira said.

Nogueira seizes opportunity in Raptors’ rotation | TSN

While Kyle Lowry was spectacular down the stretch and fellow reserves, Cory Joseph and Patrick Patterson, stepped up, that win does not come to fruition without Nogueira. Toronto, down by as many as 17 points in the second half, outscored the Hawks by 22 points in the 16 minutes Nogueira played. He set hard screens, altered shots at the rim with his 7-foot-6 wingspan, grabbed seven rebounds and made both of his field goal attempts – both alley-oops from Lowry. Just like that, Nogueira had a new lease on life. “[Wednesday] night [God] showed me he’s here with me, supporting me,” he said ahead of Thursday’s game. “So I just keep believing in him and keep doing my work but again, it’s so hard because you never know. I didn’t expect [Valanciunas] to get hurt, nobody expected JV to get hurt and you never know who is going to have foul trouble in the game. So you have to stay ready. Doesn’t matter if you play zero minutes, you’ve got to go in there and do your best.”

THE BEBE ERA HAS BEGUN!!! | Reddit

Bebe’s screens are lightning quick, and cover good distance due to not only his lankiness, but he’s able to spread his feet apart better than everyone else. He’s quick to challenge shots; a fair bit faster than Biyombo. He has incredible court awareness, considering what we’ve seen (oop reads) and things we have yet to see (his passing vision is really good). I like that he prioritizes the boxout out before going for the rebound. Our transition game could be incredible offensively with this kid.

James Johnson Watch Week 6: Somehow both great and not | Raptors HQ

So, as it turns out, Moodgate wasn’t as disastrous an affair, minutes-wise, for Johnson as I’d originally predicted. In fact, my line of 7.5 minutes was set far too low. Johnson played more than double that this week–just over 16 minutes–in only two games. (He sat last night in the Raps’ comeback win over Atlanta.) It really is impossible to guess at where Johnson’s head could be at these days. The game in which he played the most (11+ minutes at home against the Suns) was the lone game the Raptors lost this week. Johnson had some nice finishes in traffic and was +7 for the game, but to what end? Meanwhile, the two thrilling Raps wins this past week saw him just barely get on the court or rack up a cruel DNP-CD.

Toronto Raptors Setting Records Early This Season | Pro Bball Report

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Raptors had lost 109 consecutive games when trailing by 15+ points in the third quarter, a streak that ended in Atlanta on Wednesday night when they came back from 17 down to win 96-86 on the back of a 39 point fourth quarter. In that same game against Atlanta, Kyle Lowry set a franchise record for points in a quarter when he scored 22 points in the fourth quarter by going 7-8 from the field and 7-8 from the free throw line. The record is even more improbable as Lowry had run off the court in the second quarter with flu-like symptoms. He scored 31 points in the game. Lowry is currently leading the NBA with 2.58 steals per game and is just the fourth player in the last decade with 49 or more steals through the first 19 games. Surprisingly, Lowry is performing his thievery with the blessing of head coach Dwane Casey who insists those steals are not coming at the expense of playing solid positional defense or are the result of taking chances.

It’s time Denver Nuggets fans forget about Masai Ujiri | Mile High Sports

But, with all that said, it’s time Nuggets fans stop blaming the team’s fall from grace on the decision to let Ujiri leave for Toronto. Yes, Ujiri is a great GM and he deserves every ounce of credit his gotten, but he’s not the end all be all. In fact, the guy the Nuggets tabbed to replace him is pretty good himself. Everybody looks towards the hiring of Brian Shaw as a major black mark on Connelly’s resume, and there’s no denying that it was a failed decision, but what about Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic and Emmanuel Mudiay? You couldn’t have walked away from the last two drafts with a much better haul than that.

Michael Malone’s family ties to Toronto Raptors run deep | Denver Post

“The other story I tell people is basketball was new up here,” he said. “Usually at your home games they hand out balloons and things to wave at the opposing team’s basket. They handed the balloons out. So (Raptors forward) Tracy Murray is shooting free throws and the home fans are waving at him. So there is an education process. I think a lot of the fans were looking for a blue line out in the floor.” Eh, it was the fans’ first season, too. Now, they get the thunder sticks right. And the Raptors are no longer beginners. Far from it. They are one of the NBA’s best teams now, but Malone remembers that first night. “My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, was up here,” Malone said. “My mother, my father, we went out. I think the name of the restaurant was Grappa, if I remember correctly. It was a special night for my father and for all of us. “It was a long time ago.”

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