How nice is it to have a real power forward? Ibaka was great again tonight, especially on the defensive end. His ability to guard smaller players at the perimeter is a thing of beauty and he completely changed John Wall’s last second three to close the fourth. He tried to create his own shoot a few too many times that resulted in a poor shooting night, but you’ll take it with how well he guards that position.
Don’t let the 26 minutes fool you. Caroll started the game but couldn’t be found during the second half and was benched in favour of Powell to close out a tight game. His hustle was there all night, but the production wasn’t and the inconsistencies continue with Swag Daddy. He’ll need to start getting buckets from the starter’s spot if the Raptors want to survive without Lowry.
Oh No. JV turned in a brutal performance and the way he’s being used must be starting to mess with the big man. He was a ghost again in the second half of the game and didn’t see the court in the 4th. No surprises there but his lack of production and involvement was startling. Two points. That is all.
CoJo played his role tonight. His 15 points were what you expect out of the position and he was afforded a little more rest with Delon Wright’s strong play. He still has trouble breaking down the defence and looks stuck eating up the clock when the Raptors get into their half-court offence. Still got the job done though.
What more can you say? DeRozan was brilliant tonight as he’s been in almost every game during Lowry’s absence (or any game this season) and embodied “shooters gunna shoot”. He hit three 3’s for the first time this season and didn’t miss from deep. His late three in the fourth was reminiscent of his dagger against the Knicks and he’s starting to become Mr.Clutch
Pat Pat: C
PatPat started off hot…and then fell off a cliff. He looked like he banged up his knee at one point as well and we’re just glad he stayed on the court. He was still as active as ever on defence but took some questionable shots once he started to get comfortable and it ended up in him riding the bench.
A grade this high may seem like a lot for a guy who scored 6 points but PJ Mother Tucker is a bad man. He grabbed a huge rebound in the 4th that eventually led to a tech on Morris and altered the entire momentum of the game. He’s solidified himself as a closer for this team and it’s a full-blown joy watching him play defence.
We The Norm. Powell took this game over and outside of DeRozan was the best Raptor on the court tonight. He did airball two threes…but we’ll chalk that up to some rust after sitting for so long to start the game. He finished tying his career high of 21 and put Gortat on a poster. His 14 points in the 4th quarter were the difference between a win and a loss for the Raps.
The Kid has arrived. Wright was unbelievable tonight and could do nothing wrong…other than shoot his shot. He passed up some golden opportunities for himself including a wide open layup late in the game that morphed into a turnover. As his confidence goes his game will too but he was so active on defence tonight the possibilities are endless. Four blocks! He’s so long, man.
Casey rode the lineup of CoJo, Delon, Norm, PJ and Pat for long stretches and his commitment to small ball paid off in the end. There was a weird and early hook on DeMar in the third quarter but that was remedied quickly. It appears his faith in Valanciunas is at an all-time low however and he’s going to need to figure out how to fill the void left by the team’s leading rebounder.
Five things we saw:
- Turnovers. Turnovers everywhere. The Raptors turned over the ball 17 times and dropped just 16 assists and without Kyle on the court the offence looks disjointed. This game should have been over way earlier but the lack of care for the rock made it close.
- The Bench. After being dominated by the Wizards on Wednesday the Raptors’ bench came to ball tonight and outscored the Wiz 44-14 on the night. Norm was the main driving force but Delon Wright was excellent as well and they’re going to need to rely on their depth down the stretch.
- A fast start. It feels like the Raps have struggled all season to get out of the gate but they dropped 35 points with 8 assists in the first quarter. That’s a trend we’d like to see continue.
- What to do with JV? We touched on it earlier but this is getting ugly. He scored two points and played 13 minutes and was essentially a healthy scratch. His rebounding was sorely missed with the Wiz grabbing so many second chance points but his defence is inexcusable for a team trying to grind out wins.
- DeMar DeRozan. Hats off to the guy who just became the Raptors’ all time leader in 20+ point games with 274. He’s so underrated and needs more love around the league.