|Luis Scola, PF 18 MIN | 2-9 FG | 1-4 3FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -16 +/-Despite the fact Scola looked like his feet were stuck in quick sand when Wiggins flew by him he gets kudos for his veteran savvy. Case in point he drew 2 quick fouls on the man whose initials acronym (KAT) belies his on court agility. Then when Biyombo exited following that hold your breath fall it was Scola who scored in the first offensive possession and rebounded on the first defensive possession. Does he merit high marks … NO, but the plays I outlined above punctuate how valuable his veteran experience is to the team. That said, he needs to be coming off the bench or only remaining on the court when he’s having one of his early scoring rampages.|
|Jonas Valanciunas, C 24 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 3FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -10 +/-Towns drew him into 2 quick fouls. JV vacillated between playing aggressive and falling back into his hesitation mode. Towns had a career night highlighting how much trouble JV has facing agile centers!
Was bothered repeatedly by his right thumb constantly grabbing at his hand which again had me holding my breath praying he hadn’t sustained another hand injury.
|Kyle Lowry, PG 39 MIN | 4-15 FG | 1-7 3FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -6 +/-It’s been a pleasure watching Lowry during this winning phase. I find myself constantly focusing on him watching his decision making, his pivotal and timely defensive plays and ever present sixth sense at knowing when to score to stop opposing runs.
Tonight he had some issues with fouls and his shot wasn’t quite there, but hey I’m just happy he’s entering the final 30 games looking relatively fresh.
|DeMar DeRozan, SG 37 MIN | 11-19 FG | 3-3 3FG | 10-13 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 35 PTS | -9 +/-Like Lowry its obvious the game has slowed down for him as he calmly waits for players to jump at him, run past him or double team him eliciting a pass to an awaiting open teammate. Wiggins exposed him defensively, but he was the Raptors offense for the most part tonight.|
|Norman Powell, SG 12 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -11 +/-Scored on the games first possession and mid 1Q ran a Biz block (one his 4 in the half) basket to basket for a lay-in. Oddly with him feeling his oats on both ends Casey removed him after 5 minutes (granted he had 2 fouls). He continued to score when he returned to the court and at pivotal moments in the game no less. He’s raw and needs experience, but it was a positive to see him producing on both ends finally.|
|Patrick Patterson, PF 30 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-5 3FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +11 +/-The T-Wolves agile bigs (KAT/Dieng) are difficult assignments for Scola and JV, so the combo of Biyombo & Patterson proved highly successful in the first half. With the Raptors trailing 102-104 he made a huge play to force Rubio into a travel. If we win this game his contribution of 8 points, 5 rebounds, team high plus 11 and efforts to limit the Wolves front court would have been touted as the x factor. Instead we lose and are left with people likely calling for him to be traded.|
|Terrence Ross, SF 27 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-7 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +9 +/-Want to know how much Ross has grown and how confident he is? When TWolves took lead in 3Q it was Ross staring down Lowry for the pass and keeping his hand hoisted KNOWING the ball is going in. Sure he still makes some poor decisions and has some defensive gaps occasionally, but on a whole Ross appears to have past the threshold where we can feel confident in him consistently scoring in double digits.
Like Patterson though I wonder if he’ll still be a Raptor after the 18th as his trade value may be at an all time high.
|Lucas Nogueira, C 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1 +/-We got to see both sides of his repertoire first with an air ball followed by a beautiful screen and roll scoring play with DeRozan. Not enough playing time to properly assess a grade.|
|Bismack Biyombo, C 20 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 6 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +6 +/-3 times in the first half I held my breath praying the Raptors would just notch the victory and get out of this game without any injuries. When Biyombo fell hard to the court it looked like the type of fall where bones get broken. So, it was a pleasant surprise he returned in the second half . Obviously he wasn’t playing with quite the same aggression though he had a huge block on Shabazz. And this also points to the fact while it’s great they have him defending at the rim the team should be stopping more of those drives.|
|Delon Wright, PG 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3 +/-Difficult to judge 3 minutes though it does seem he is suffering from the same over thinking, rushing mind set Powell initially displayed. Hey they are rookies, it’s expected especially when they get so little playing time.|
|Cory Joseph, PG 27 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-3 3FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +5 +/-Made big plays on both ends of the court and continues to instill (at least from my perspective) a belief that the Raptors bench is going to be a factor in the final 30 games of the season and more importantly in the post season. His percentage wasn’t ideal tonight (though I felt he drew 2 or 3 fouls that he didn’t get the benefit of) but his 5 rebounds, 4 assists plus +5 and zero turnovers WAS impressive.|
With the team headed to the All-Star break it’s hard to question Casey’s rotations. Also you can’t blame him for the way the game was called which also limited the Raptors ability to aggressively defend. He enters the All-Star break with time to work on strategizing for the final 30 regular season games INSTEAD of what many felt he should be doing which is coaching the All-Star game!
Five Things We Saw
- The Timberwolves are my NBA League Pass guilty pleasure. I’ve watched more than half their games including their sweep of the Hawks and Bulls and easy victory over the Clippers that the zebras made closer than it really was. They were my dark horse team at season start and though they’ve failed to make the leap this season for that 8 seed (barring a huge winning streak post All-Star break) it’s a certainty they are close to becoming the next OKC or GSW in the coming season or two. The loss isn’t as startling as it may seem as this young team has been in more games than their record indicates.
- For those hoping for a trade at the deadline Masai Ujiri all but came out and said it won’t happen on his appearance tonight on The Starters citing the need for franchises to exercise patience as their core grows. Then again Kevin Love got injured tonight so…….. does that push Ujiri’s hand?
- I often get in debates with the BBoyz about Wiggins as some believe him to not be driven. I disagree believing he’s a patient team oriented player who rises to the occasion when required. Just go check his performance on League Pass in those wins I noted above.
- With 5 minutes remaining in the game the zebras had issued 4 fouls each to Lowry DeRozan and Joseph as well as 5 to Ross. Perhaps coincidentally 3 of those 4 players were the top Raptor offensive performers. On the opposite side only Wiggins had 4 fouls. The T-Wolves played hard deserving their calls the problem for the Raptors was DeRozan and Lowry felt they weren’t getting the same consideration. At game end the T-Wolves shot 53 free throws to the Raptors 32 a pretty major disparity. The Wolves and Raptors shoot the 4th and 3rd most free throws per game on the season.
- For those wondering about the scoring I gave Patterson, Joseph and Ross all B+ and Biyombo an A- as the Raptor bench out scored the T-Wolves 35 to 10 and in my opinion played at or above their average. It felt more like Scola and Valanciunas inability to stop Towns and Dieng was the deciding factor in the game.