Game No. 38: Magic 92, Raptors 88

For whatever reason, the Raptors have consistently put up a good fight against the Magic over the past couple of seasons. Tonight was no exception as they lost by just four points even though they went into battle without Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson. When you consider that Bargnani is this team’s MVP and Amir is probably among its top four players, it’s not a stretch to suggest the Raptors might have pulled this one out with a fully-stocked roster.

Since ifs and buts are not, in fact, candied nuts, here are my random observations about this contest.

1. Dwight Howard made 16 of his 20 field goal attempts. The last player to take at least 20 field goal attempts and make at least 80 percent of them was Dwight, just over a year ago.

2. Say what you will about Jerryd Bayless, but he’s crazy fun to watch when he’s in the zone. He had 12 points on 3-for-5 shooting, 4-for-4 from the line, and six rebounds just in the fourth quarter. I’m not convinced he’ll ever get it together consistently enough to land a starting job, but his sixth man potential remains intriguing.

3. Ryan Anderson doesn’t get his numbers just because he plays next to Dwight Howard. He’s a legitimately good player. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not convinced that Andrea Bargnani is significantly better than him. Andrea’s more of an “alpha scorer”, but Anderson is a much better rebounder and they’re probably a wash defensively. It will be very interesting to see if he gets close to “Bargnani money” (around $10 million per season) with his next contract. Under the new CBA, probably not.

4. Another impressive performance from James Johnson, who is looking more and more like a legitimate NBA starter as a sort of poor man’s Shawn Marion. You might not need me to point this out to you, but he’s a more valuable player than DeMar DeRozan right now.

5. Listening to Matt Devlin and Jack Armstrong discuss the limitations of advanced stats at the end of the first quarter was amusing to me. Let me reassure Matt, Jack and anyone who doubts the value of analytics that even a stats nerd like me ignores anyone who only judges players based on numbers. This isn’t an either/or situation.

6. This makes it 15 games in a row that the Raptors have either won the game or lost by seven points or fewer. While I recognize that this isn’t a particularly meaningful stat, it means we’re watching consistently competitive basketball. Did you expect anything more this season?

Raptors Player of the Game: James Johnson — 13 Pts, 5-13 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 7 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Magic Player of the Game: Dwight Howard — 36 Pts, 16-20 FG, 4-14 FT, 13 Reb, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Comments (17)

  1. I just found the last few minutes of the game absolutely hilarious. Not only were the Raptors refusing to foul Howard whenever he touched the ball but the way they angrily disputed every call that stopped the clock and put Howard on the line was one of the most unintentionally funny things I’ve ever seen in 16 years of watching the NBA.

    Were the Raptors and Dwayne Casey even aware of who they were playing tonight?

    • You didn’t get that since those were bad calls, it should have outright fouls going the other way?

    • What are you talking about? The 2 fouls on Calderon should have been on Howard, which would have given us the ball. The fact that it was Howard on the line doesn’t matter, cuz he never should have been there in the first place. And when Magloire was guarding Howard near the end of the game, there was no need to foul. He played him well and kept him away from the basket. Dwight just happened to make some tough shots. (You sure you’ve been watching ball for 16 years? Cuz THAT sounds hilarious.. Seems to me like you’re just here trying to find reasons to trash this team again, like you always are.)

      Not to mention the offensive foul called on Derozan near the end, even though Richardson was grabbing his jersey. I’ve said it before..The reffing against Toronto has been absolutely atrocious this season.

      • Don’t get me wrong, those calls were awful but I’m still surprised that fouling Howard didn’t even seem like an option yet it still worked out for the Raptors in that they were able to waste several Magic possessions (even if it didn’t seem like they even wanted to).

        Not trying to trash this team, there are two stars in this league that opponents always foul to put pressure on them late in games, Griffin and Howard, and I was just a little taken aback by what the Raptors did.

  2. Those two “fouls” on Calderon against Howard were some of the worst I’ve seen in more than 25 years of watching basketball. Especially the second one, where Calderon simply braces himself for Howard running him over, and then gets called for a foul. The only thing worse would have been if Howard had hauled off and sucker punched Calderon.

    I agree about Ryan Anderson. The proof is that he still plays well even when Howard is off the court. And I’d say he’s actually decent defensively.

  3. if you think Anderson and Bargniani are comparable, you shouldn’t be writing about basketball. Bargniani can create his own offence. Anderson is a role player. Could not be more different. Anderson can’t dribble more than twice. Andrea can take his man off the bounce and set up his teammeates. You can’t just look at stats and say players are the same. That’s really simple minded thinking.

    • Anderson isn’t a role player. He’s one of the leading candidates for most improved, and was getting all star consideration.

      Whens the last time Bargnani got 7 offensive rebounds in a single game?

      I think Anderson is a much more complete player than Bargnani.

      • So role players can’t be all stars or grab lots of boards?
        I didn’t say who was the better player. I simply said they are very different players, so the comparison is ill conceived.
        My point is that Bargniani is an offensive star. He can score 20 ppg on any given night without someone spoon feeding him. He creates his own offence.
        Anderson is a nice piece, he may even be a better player. But his skill set is not comparable. That’s all.

        • ….and looking at your post that seems to be exactly what you stated. No more commenting before my morning coffee. Criticism withdrawn…

          • Your bring up a fair point about the comparison. But when you say Anderson is a “role player”, it sounds like your saying he isn’t that good of a player.

            About the offensive comparison though, I think if you were to switch places with Anderson and Bargnani, I think Anderson would show similar scoring numbers. He plays off of Howard, so he’s usually a 2nd or 3rd option, where as Bargnani is the #1 in Toronto.

            But ya, I wouldn’t compare Bargnani and Anderson. I’d personally compare Ryan Anderson to more like a Kevin Love type player. Except, no where near Love’s skill set, obviously.

  4. Raptors beat Golden State by 8, the streak of games by 7 or less already ended. But still close games

  5. I am simply confused by the last 8 minutes game management.

    And there seems to be some sort of confusion as to why this happened.
    Gray was doing very well against Howard, considering a lot of his positioning was what Casey demanded. Casey wanted Gray to leave Howard at times and comne out…this was not Gray’s plan…it was da coach.
    But to allow Howard to dunk at will the last 6 minutes with Gray on the bench was…well, stupid.
    Casey says it was because Gray was cashed.
    Gray smiles and says he does what ever coach tells him. And he has complete confidence in his teammates to finish a game.
    He had 2 more fouls to give and was having a very nice game!

    So….what was the reason you sit Gray the entire 4th?
    Because Mags is your future?
    Gray was cashed?

    Um…somebody help me out…..

    • The post-game interviews/sound I heard talked about how Gray was supposedly gassed.

      • well…when Gray was asked that. he grinned and said he just does what the coach says.
        This sounds like Casey covering his ass.
        Gray will have no part in casing a rift between himself and any coach.
        He simply says he trust his teammates to play well.

        Gassed is a horrible thing to call a guy when he often gets put in much more weary than last night.

        That remark by casey is damned wrong.

  6. There is no way in hell that Anderson was getting all-star consideration!

    • I don’t know how serious the consideration was, but he is currently averaging 16.3 ppg and 7.5 rpg while shooting 43% from beyond the arc. Roy Hibbert made the All Star team while averaging 13 and 9, and Luol Deng while averaging 16 and 7.

      Had Orlando’s record been a bit better, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had made it.

      • In that context where would Andrea’s 24/7 put him? I have grown a bit tired of Raptors upporters talking themselves into mediocrity like “if we have it it must be mediocre” attitude. There are a few youtube files on the two facing each others and reality is they do not belong to the same league, see it for yourself. Go and Ask if orlamdo would do the swap, actually in your perspective the raptors gain as Anderon is cheaper…

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