Raymond Felton and Amare StoudemireThis one is going up late today because we had some issues getting my videos online but better late than never, I hope. Andrea Bargnani’s career-best performance deserves comment. If Raymond Felton doesn’t make that lucky three-pointer that rattled in with two seconds left in the fourth quarter, the game would have gone into overtime and Bargnani might have pushed for 50.

When considering what Bargnani’s 41-point performance means, it’s important to take into context that he did this against the same team that allowed Kevin Love’s 30-30 performance, a 44-point, 15 rebound game by Blake Griffin and a 36-point performance by Brook Lopez this season. The Knicks’ frontcourt defence is tissue-soft partially from lack of effort by Amar’e Stoudemire and Danilo Gallinari and partially because Stoudemire avoids contact so he can stay out of foul trouble.

On this night, the Knicks tried guarding Bargnani with a variety of players — Stoudemire, Gallinari, Shawne Williams, Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields — but none of them could stop the onslaught. He scored from inside, mid-range, outside, with jumpers, turnarounds, hook shots, you name it. If you watched this game, you saw Bargnani in absolute top form. He took 24 shots, but none of them seemed forced except for the final desperation heave that failed to connect. And when he wasn’t scoring, he was facilitating easy baskets for his teammates — his six assists were one off his career-high.

I compiled 10 of his most impressive plays from last night in this clip. All the points were impressive, of course, but I was even more intrigued by his passing throughout the game which was uncharacteristically Hibbert-esque.

Andrea was certainly a force to be reckoned with in this game but unfortunately for the Raptors, so was Stoudemire. He scored 18 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and 14 of those points came in the last 6:50, as you can see in this video. It’s not really saying much to suggest the Raptors don’t have a defensive answer for Amar’e — pretty much nobody does, these days.

On the three baskets he scored on Bargnani here, Andrea played off him a little and Amar’e simply buried a jumper over him each time. A guy like Bargnani can’t really defend him any other way without getting blown by, so what was he supposed to do? When the $100 million man is clicking like he has over his last six games (scoring at least 31 points in each game), all you can do is lick your wounds and move on to the next game.

Comments (9)

  1. Is it all the more apparent this season that the guy is a natural PF?
    All the “comparisons” to Dirk. Of course they’re unfair. Bargnani has never had the chance to play his natural position. Still hasn’t He’s not the dominant presence in the middle on D(yet not quite as bad as most say it is). Put him beside a solid centre and thats a formidable frontcourt.

    Just a quick kudos’s to the effert being dedicated to this blog(Sponsered by the Score- ye sell-out). Your back among the top regarding reads and the frequency of articles has kept me busy. The new writers are knowledgeable of the game and bring a fresh perspective and are an enjoyable read.

  2. Someone a few weeks ago made a comment on another blog questionning PER ratings and Bargnani.
    If Bargnani was partnered with Bosh and Evans, and both Bosh and Evans were among the higher ranks , is it not odd that Bargnani, on the court with both the majority of their minutes ranks so low?
    Doesn’t that make you think Bosh and Evans were over-rated and Bargnani under-rated? Logic, and watching every game, tells me yes, obviously. What do you think?

  3. This what happens when Raptors don’t box out on defence:

    http://www.nba.com/video/channels/top_plays/2010/12/08/20101208_dotn.nba/?ls=iref:nbahpt2

    [Shake my head]

  4. Do positions really matter that much in the NBA anymore? Of course your not gonna have your big man playing point but is there really a difference between center and power forward anymore? I don’t see how if Bargs is playing PF he would be any better.

  5. Tinman: I appreciate the compliment and I’ll be sure Holly and Joseph read your comment. As for your “overrated/underrated” question, I don’t think there’s really an answer for that. Bosh was a polarizing figure when he was here and so is Bargnani. Evans is who he is, so I think it’s pretty hard to rate him inaccurately.

    David: If Bargnani was playing PF next to a defensive-minded center like Tyson Chandler, his problems with help defence would be lessened significantly.

  6. Is anyone else surprised that even with bigs like Johnson and Davis, and with quicker wing players, and with all the preseason focus on defense, that this team is still so poor defensively? What gives? When will the Raptors stop giving so many completely uncontested dunks and layups in the middle of half-court sets? What needs to change?

  7. Scott I agree that a guy like Chandler would make up for some of Bargs help defence problems but really if you had a defensive minded PF and Bargs stayed at C it would be the same outcome. My point was that it doesnt matter about PF or Center its just the type of players you have at those spots

  8. SR: Bargnani needs to no longer be the starting center on this team, that’s what needs to change.

  9. I dont agree with that. Its not about Bargs per se or that he is the center. As someone said C’s and PF’s are interchangable. Bargs is atleast a decent one-on-one defender inside (he played good D on Amare, when Amare was trying to get inside). The problem is that every team needs atleast one serious blocker. We have none. Bargs could play as a C if we just had the right PF to pair with him. He could still check the big guys under the basket, but the other guy would bring that help defense and blocking.

    Amir is not the guy. He has the athletisim, but just doesnt have the IQ for it (all those silly fouls). And Reggie cant block anyone. Maybe Davis could turn into that guy, but it might take years and might never happen.

    Anyway, Bargs has never played with a good shot blocker. I think that would make it a lot better.

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