|J. Thompson 24 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | — +/-Hit the 2nd three of his career. Hit another with his foot on the line. Still didn’t get respect from the Nets defense and that cramped spacing. Still, the expected, solid, unspectacular contributions that were advertised.|
|J. Valanciunas 21 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | — +/-Some of Lopez’s big game was just Lopez doing Lopez things and hitting tough shots, but it really wasn’t a good night for Valanciunas. Not awful, necessarily, but not good by any means. A couple nice passes, at least.|
|K. Lowry 42 MIN | 7-16 FG | 4-8 3FG | 5-9 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 23 PTS | — +/-Not sure what else there is to say at this point. The team had NOTHING until Lowry decided they needed to have something, and he became that something. He’s the East MVP. Fight me, Cavs.|
|D. DeRozan 38 MIN | 8-18 FG | 0-1 3FG | 9-9 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 25 PTS | — +/-Pretty poor defense, getting cooked by Bogdanovic and Sloan at times, and that’s becoming harder to ignore. He was really active when it came to loose balls and the transition game in the second half, though. Started getting to the line in the second half, too, even though he was operating in literally no space with the starting group.|
|N. Powell 21 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 3FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | — +/-Tough fit with so few shooters in the starting group and nobody for him to really lock down, but he canned a three and dished a few assists. It was fine, just not his best showcase.|
|P. Patterson 24 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-4 3FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | — +/-Brought a serious defensive intensity off the bench and did a really good job on Young. Cold night from outside but attacked closeouts better than usual.|
|T. Ross 24 MIN | 4-9 FG | 3-5 3FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | — +/-Was really cooking the team’s big comeback run, on a night the team so desperately needed his shooting.|
|B. Biyombo 26 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | — +/-This is a tough one, because Biyombo had a bad enough first half that it seemed Nogueira might get some run. Then he came out of the half setting the tone and bringing a ton of energy, and while Lopez still got his, Biyombo made a really solid effort. I’m leaning more on his second half here, obviously.|
|C. Joseph 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | — +/-Not much from Joseph on a night when there really wasn’t anyone for him to impose his defensive will on. Quiet isn’t always bad, though.|
I guess he gets credit for the change in demeanor at the half? I liked getting Scola rest, though it would have been a good time to go to Patterson with the starters. I know he doesn’t want to shake up that bench grouping, but you just can’t start four guys who can’t shoot together. Offense was really fluid from the midway point of the third quarter onward.
Five Things We Saw
- That first half was complete and utter garbage. I have no idea how a team comes out so flat against a far interior team, and the Raptors would be well-served to, uhh, stop doing this. It’s the 12th time the Raptors have come back from double-digits, which is great, and also bad. I’m in a good mood, so these grades lean heavily on the second half.
- Whatever happened at halftime, I’d like to get it bottled and purchase it. This was a completely different team. The Nets regressed, sure, but there was a ton more energy from the home side out of the break, too.
- Giving up 58 points to the Nets in a half is terrible. Holding them to 41 in the second, and forcing 15 turnovers for 27 points on the night is better. Games like these lend credence to the idea that the defensive slippage since February is entirely mental.
- Biyombo said the ass word on the broadcast. It was hilarious and adorable and entirely justified after he explained why he had to say it. Biyombo is the best interview on the team.
- The Hawks, Heat, and Bulls visit next. You’re not going to get away with a 24-minute game in any of those games. Hopefully this got it out of their system.
I normally wouldn’t do this but I’ve had about enough of the comments calling me a Valanciunas fanboy, a Valanciunas hater, a DeRozan apologist, and a DeRozan hater. Those things can’t all be true together, and I’m growing quite irritated with anything positive or negative I say about any player being made out to be an extremely polarized opinion by certain commenters.
But just in case, I went back through all the Quick Reactions I’ve done in 2016 to see if maybe I am a hater or an apologist. And guess what? Maybe I am, but if I am, I’m on the exact same level for Valanciunas and DeRozan.
Shocking, really, that when you zoom out to a 13-article sample instead of one, the picture doesn’t fit a tidy hater/fanboy explanation.
Maybe, MAYBE, it’s OK to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of players, and it doesn’t mean you love or hate them. Players just have strengths and weaknesses, and the highs and lows are, in reality, never as extreme as people like to think immediately following a game. Also, keep this in mind, which I wrote a while back, which could now seemingly be applied to DeRozan instead of Johnson:
“Before continuing, I feel the need to reflect on something that’s happened this season, as a matter of some introspection. I would venture that, on the whole, I am not a huge Valanciunas fan or a James Johnson hater. I recognize that Valanciunas is a clunky piece to build with and not an ideal pivot for a modern offense or defense, but also believe he’s talented enough to make up for that, even if he’s never an All-Star. He’s also just 23, two to three years before the window of his prime. In the case of Johnson, I think he’s any under-utilized role player, but not one who I think would start on many teams in the NBA and not one who I believe is deserving of 25 minutes a night regardless of matchup. But the sheer volume of anti-Valanciunas and pro-Johnson comments we receive makes it seem as if I’m biased toward each – because I sit somewhere in the middle and try to argue people at the poles back toward the middle, it can sometimes seem like I’m a wild Valanciunas apologist or a student at the Dwane Casey School of James Johnson Management.
Neither of those things are true.”
So please, take your theories and narratives about my opinion or “agenda” elsewhere. I have no vested interest in any individuals, I just want to see the team play well, and analyze what I see the best I can. Occam’s razor, y’all.