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 Game No. 46: Knicks 106, Raptors 87

The last time the Raptors lost a stinker to the historically feeble Bobcats, they responded with an energetic home victory over the lottery bound Pistons. Despite reinserting Jose Calderon into the lineup, the Raps were far less impressive in their post-Bobcats loss this time around, essentially letting the rejuvenated Knicks have their way all night.

Now here are some thoughts on the game.

1- The Raptors played the Knicks tough in their first two meetings of the season, which the two teams split, but the Knicks were missing one of Amare Stoudemire or Carmelo Anthony in each of those games. With the clubs sporting full rosters against each other for the first time this season, the Knicks’ advantage in the talent department became painfully clear. Though I will say, considering how nonchalant the Raptors’ effort was in this game and how hard the Knicks seemed to be playing, New York didn’t really dominate Toronto as much as they should have. Sure, the final 19-point spread looks dominating enough, but if you watched this game, you surely noticed that outside of a stretch in the third quarter and a five minute stretch in the fourth quarter where the Raptors shot themselves in the foot, the Knicks really let the Raps hang around for most of the night.

2- I mentioned the Raptors’ nonchalant effort above. Nowhere was that lack of effort more visible than on the boards, where the Knicks out-rebounded Toronto 46-30 and tracked down 16 offensive rebounds compared to the Raptors’ measly four. Something as simple as the rebounding numbers can’t always tell the story of a game, but in this case, those numbers put it perfectly.

3- The hot topic of discussion at RaptorBlog on Monday was whether or not Jerryd Bayless should get the starting nod over Jose Calderon for the remainder of the season. In his return to the lineup on Wednesday night in New York, Calderon finished with 11 points on five-of-nine shooting to go with nine assists, a rebound, a block and three turnovers in 35 minutes of action. Bayless was forced to leave the game in the fourth quarter with what the team is calling a “hip pointer,” but finished with some decent numbers considering he played just 13 minutes – seven points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals, two turnovers. An injury that keeps Bayless out of the lineup obviously effects any point guard battle we were hoping for down the stretch, but in a small sample size tonight, I thought he was at least as good as Calderon.

4- DeMar DeRozan was probably the Raptors best player tonight, but that’s not saying much. DeRozan wasn’t particularly good defensively, but he was good enough on the offensive end when he actually wanted to get a shot off. The problem is that DeRozan ended up with just 13 shots, a testament to how his teammates often forget about him and a bigger testament to how DeMar isn’t nearly aggressive enough with his offence. This was the type of game where the Raps needed someone to get to the hoop and score for them to keep the team in it. DeRozan seemed more than capable in the few instances when he did attack the basket, but never looked serious about building on one good offensive trip with another. If ever there was a game where it would have been okay for DeMar to force the issue on offence, this was it. His reluctance to do that is yet another sign of why the 22-year-old is nowhere near ready to become an elite NBA scorer.

5- So the Knicks are playing some decent ball, huh? Since replacing the overrated Mike D’Antoni with Mike Woodson, New York is 4-0, with those four wins coming by 42, 15, 14 and now 19 points, respectively. If you’re counting, that’s an average margin of victory of 22.5 points. The Knicks have shown flashes like this at various points over the last two seasons, only to eventually fall flat on their faces time and time again. The difference this time is that they’re doing it with defence, holding opponents to just 88.5 points per game during the four game stretch. While they have enough talent to be a contender with the right attitude and the right defensive approach, I just can’t see a Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire-led team playing with this level of defensive intensity for an extended period of time. If Woodson can pull it off though, it’s interesting to note that the Knicks are now just four games behind the slumping 76ers for first place in the Atlantic Division.

If New York can ride a wave of defensive momentum to a division title and home court in the first round, they suddenly become a very dangerous team in the Eastern Conference playoffs. If they don’t continue to lock down on defence though, and end up finishing with the seventh or eighth spot, they’ll be a simple first round tune-up for the Bulls or Heat.

6-While the Raptors looked atrocious in this game, are coming off of a loss to the Bobcats and sit at 15-31 overall, a testament to how Dwane Casey is changing the culture of the team came in MSG Network’s pre-game coverage. I sat and watched in amazement as Clyde Drexler talked about how the Knicks were in for a challenge because the Raptors are now a rough and tumble team that will “hack you and wack you” and generally play competitive basketball. Obviously the Raps failed to live up to Clyde’s words in this one, but the fact that people are actually talking about the Raptors as a team that will fight you tooth and nail and not a team that you can simply look past on your schedule anymore is a step in the right direction, as small a step as that might be.

In a measure of that new found competitiveness, this was only the third time in their past 23 games that the Raptors have suffered a double-digit loss, despite the fact that they’re 8-15 during that stretch. For the most part, the last two months have gone pretty much to script for the diehard Tank Nation supporters. Let’s just hope that the team can rebound from this performance, or lack thereof, and show up on Wednesday night against the Bulls, because in case you haven’t been paying attention, that Bulls team will flat out destroy a team that played the way the Raptors did at The Garden on Tuesday.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 37 Min, 17 Pts, 7-13 FG, 3-3 FT, 5 Reb, 1 TO

Knicks Player of the Game: Amare Stoudemire – 34 Min, 22 Pts, 8-13 FG, 6-7 FT, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO (Jeremy Lin’s double-double of 18 points and 10 assists is worth mentioning here too)

Comments (11)

  1. Anyone going to mention how bad Bargnani looks or are we still watching the first 13 games of the season on a running loop?

    • mention how bad Bargnani looks? Have you ever expected anyone the media to call him out?

      The same media that was calling him an ‘all-star’ earlier this year?

    • Ya.. shooting 35% since coming back, 13 PTS, 5REB. Not only that, he’s barely getting to the line.

      Even if he’s coming back from an injury, that’s just terrible considering the teams they’ve played since he’s returned.

  2. Anyone going to mention how Bargnani had two consecutive injuries that sat him out for weeks, and can’t jump at all right now, but people are still ready to jump on him for this, as for anything else? Bias and hatred are always ready to spit out, against guys like him or Calderon, dear readers.
    And, maybe Joseph, you could easily make the case that some Knicks – like the infamous Carmelo, for instance – really played against their own coach before, wanting to kick Mike D’Antoni out of town for egoistic and personal reasons, and now trying the usual trick to make people think “Wow, these guys look much better, under Woodson! They just needed the proper coach!” We’ve seen this so many times, it’s not even funny people still can’t get it.

    • If Bargnani is still injured enough that he can’t jump at all, why on earth is he playing? He certainly has looked like he’s been able to jump. He just appears to look like he’s playing similarly to previous years.

      And why are you lumping Calderon and Bargnani together? I don’t see anyone else doing that.

      As for the Knicks, D’Antoni is a good coach, but he’s inflexible and, in my opinion, doesn’t focus on defense enough to be anything more than simply a good coach and won’t ever coach a Championship team. D’Antoni wanted the players to fit his system rather than the other way around. I’ve never been a big fan of Carmelo, but D’Antoni should have figured out a way to utilize him better rather than expect Carmelo to adapt to his system.

  3. Perhaps this is BC’s take on the PG controversy.

    Jose is under contract for next year. Bayless isn’t. Perhaps if Bayless was to extend there would be lots of incentive to give him the majority of the PG minutes for the rest of the season.

    Of course, I have no idea if an extension before the end of the season COULD even be offered. Not clear on the rules.

    Either way, if Bayless isn’t going to be around next season, it makes more sense to play Jose and possibly up his trade value, or at least show confidence that he is our number one PG.

    I’d love to see Bayless signed for $20M/4yrs or so.

    • That seems like a reasonable price for Bayless. But I’m sure you could get it down to $16Mil/4 years.

      I’m not exactly sure, but since Bayless is just coming off of his rookie contract, the Raptors should be able to give him a qualifying offer in order to restrict him and be able to match any contract he signs with another team.

      So, if they really want to keep him for next year, they still could if they wanted to.

      • Yes, qualifying offer and match… but if you make him into a star by playing him max minutes for the rest of the season, the offer they have to match will just be that much higher.

        Keep playing Jose, keep whatever value he has ‘up’ and then sign Bayless for whatever the rest of the league thinks is fair. Don’t let BC go all cockeyed and sign him for $35/5 or some other BS contract.

        • Well, possibly. But I don’t think anyone, especially in a new CBA will give Bayless an unreasonable contract, even if he starts the rest of the year. Of course, if that’s the case, you don’t match the offer and overpay the guy to be the backup in Toronto, you would just let him walk.

          But I think the BEST offer he would get from any team, would be somewhere around $25Mil/5 years. Which could be in the range where it’s a lot of money, but you’re not necessarily overpaying him if you were to match it.

          But again, that’s the highest I think it would go. Four months from now, it may be where we said, at $20Mil/5 years or $16Mil/4 years, which should be matched.

  4. I’d argue that that the lockout threat made teams cut back on spending a year earlier, and that this summer there is extra cash to be thrown around for free agents. Someone might overpay hoping the raptors don’t match. Over exposing him now will just encourage this sort of behavior from other GMs.

    If BC likes him and wants to resign him, his minutes should be about 14 per game. If BC doesn’t want to resign him, his minutes should still be about 14 per game, just to keep Jose’s value up, but not damage him either. Either way, win-win by keeping his minutes where they are.

    I think he is worth $4M/yr or so, but will accept Jarret Jack money for him going forward. Is he as good a starter as JJ was? Most nights, as good or better. Is he as good a backup as JJ was? Rarely to be honest. That is the dilemma with Bayless. If you pay him, he’d better be a starter in the near future.

  5. Demar was beaten on defence worse then Chris Brown’s last date.
    The notion that he should be starting on any NBA team in the league is ridiculous at best.
    I cringed everytime he hoisted up another brick..clang…clang…clang
    He was an open door to Landry Fields. Hardly player of the game in my books.
    His touches should go to King Bargs.

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