For the sensible Raptors fan, this was the perfect game. It was a closely-fought, exciting game that was decided by an overtime buzzer-beater by Luol Deng. The Raptors remain fifth-worst in the NBA — a half-game behind Detroit for sixth-worst — which is important because we should root for the franchise to get a top-five pick in this upcoming draft.

As with Wednesday’s game against the Bulls, Derrick Rose sat out to heal his groin injury. Of course, this meant that optimistic Raptors fans couldn’t help but ask the question. But it was not to be on this night — the tank momentum was just too strong.

You might think you can’t afford more than a couple of my thoughts on this game, but you’re in luck tonight because we’ve got a special deal on a half-dozen of them. Don’t consume them all at once!

1. Luol Deng scored the winning bucket on a fluky play at the buzzer when C.J. Watson airballed a fadeaway but Deng was there to push the ball into the hoop. The Raptors all essentially stood around after Watson released his shot, probably assuming there was no point in boxing out. They assumed wrong, and that’s what crappy teams do in those situations. I hope Dwane Casey ripped them some new orifices in the locker room.

2. Let’s count the opportunities that the Raptors had to win this game, but pissed away with style. The Raptors had the final possession of the fourth quarter with the score tied 94-94 after James Johnson was stuffed by Omer Asik on a drive, but the Raptors recovered and had the ball again with 10 seconds to go. The ball went out to Andrea Bargnani, who bricked a 13-footer with six seconds left. Then, Gary Forbes couldn’t convert a tip, but the ball went out of bounds off the Bulls — Raptors ball with 3.6 seconds left. After that, Calderon inbounded to Bargnani, who was camped out behind the arc on the right side and his shot went in-and-out to send the game into OT. But wait, there’s more! James Johnson went to the line with the score tied at 100 with 15 seconds to go in the first overtime, and he only hit one of two. Johnson redeemed himself with a spectacular block on Deng, so Forbes was fouled with six seconds to go. Incredibly, Forbes missed both free throws even though he’s a career 72 percent shooter from the line. You know the rest.

3. You might think Andrea Bargnani had a horrible game with his 4-for-17 shooting line, but he was aggressive at both ends and managed to get to the free throw line 10 times for just the second time in 23 games. We all know he’s a better shooter than this, so it’s OK to overlook that flaw in tonight’s game and admire his effort on getting to the rack and grabbing seven rebounds. I still cringed when Leo Rautins referred to him as “the franchise player”, though.

4. With no DeMar DeRozan or Jerryd Bayless in the Raptors’ lineup tonight, this was Gary Forbes’ opportunity to shine and he didn’t disappoint in a career-high 47 minutes. I knew he was a pretty good rebounder going into this game, but he was a monster on the boards tonight with 12 points and 13 rebounds for his first NBA career double-double. He’s definitely proven to be a good value as a bench contributor at just $1.5 million per season.

5. Everybody thinks of Derrick Rose when the Bulls are mentioned, but I continue to be impressed by their depth, especially in their frontcourt. I complimented Taj Gibson in the recap for Wednesday’s game, but it was backup center Omer Asik that really grabbed my attention in this game. He’s a solid defensive presense, a tremendous rebounder and he’s usually pretty efficient on offense. In 18 minutes on Saturday night, he finished with 10 points on just five field goal attempts, seven rebounds and three blocks.

6. If you’re wondering why I’m so gung-ho about the top of the 2012 draft class and you’ve been watching the NCAA Tournament, check out the latest mock draft by Draft Express. The only guy in the top seven that I wouldn’t be excited to add to this roster is Andre Drummond,

Raptors Player of the Game: James Johnson — 20 Pts, 7-14 FG, 1-1 3Pt, 5-6 FT, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 Blk

Bulls Player of the Game: Luol Deng — 23 Pts, 10-24 FG, 3-5 FT, 10 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Comments (22)

  1. A quick (rhetorical) question: Why is Bargnani still on this team?

    • Didn’t you hear what Leo said? Bargnani’s the franchise player!

      • Too be fair to Bargs, he would step aside in a second to let someone else big the “Franchise Player”.

        • And there lies one of the big problems with Bargnani (along with the poor defense and rebounding).

          And I also cringed when Leo called Bargnani their franchise player. The franchise player of a bottom 5 team is like being coolest guy at a comic book convention.

    • Because without him, that would’ve meant we lose this game by 15.

      Or more.

      • You could say the same for James Johnson, or Jose Calderon, or Amir Johnson, or Gary Forbes. Of those five Raptors, I would say Bargnani was the lest valuable in that game.

    • why is Bargnani still on this team?

      why is Bargnani still a starter?

      why is Bargnani the ‘franchise player’?

      all those questions are easily answered – Bryan Colangelo.

      Worst part? 3 more years at 10, 11 and 12 million.

  2. lol u write like something is always up ur @**.

  3. Why don’t you like Drummond? I think he’s going to be the 2nd best NBA player from this draft class.

    He had an average year, maybe. But look who he had to play with.. Napier and Lamb who are both shoot first guards.

    • Drummond is very physically gifted, but is incredibly raw offensively and lacks aggressiveness. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Michael Olowokandi. Take that how you want.

      • He does lack the offensive game and agressiveness right now. But I think the main reason that hurt him developing those offensive skills was due to playing with Lamb, Napier, Boatwright, neither of whom are pass first guards.

        Instead of using him offensively, they would just keep shooting, and of course, no one likes playing with other players who don’t pass. And that’s one of the big reasons UConn was so bad this year, because their offense was just terrible.

        They were probably one of the best teams talent wise, but so poorly executed. It was almost like watching the Knicks early on this season when they had that terrible start. No ball movement, no chemistry, just players shooting every time up the floor.

        He’s got a lot of room to grow, being just 18 years old, and I think he can still be a great NBA player. But his defense is what I’d be more interested in, but the offense will come soon enough.

        • Probably an even bigger red flag for Drummond than his lack of offensive polish, is his seeming lack of desire. Apparently his love for the game is being widely questioned. Not a good sign at all (probably the biggest difference maker between two guys with similar physical skills is which one actually loves the game).

          Plus, he doesn’t seem to have a high basketball IQ.

          For all those reasons, Drummond is looking more like the next Patrick O’Bryant, rather than the next Shaq.

          • Well, to be fair, people had said the same thing about Kevin Durant coming out of highschool. Not a lot of desire, passive at times, not agressively attacking the net…

            He obviously had a much better season at Texas than Drummond had at UConn, but again I think it comes down to the situation with style of play, team mates, etc.

            Drummond was often the 3rd or even 4th option offensively, where he should have been the first, or 2nd. Again, I wouldn’t want to play with team mates like he had, and I’m sure he felt that way too as the season progressed.

            I still think the right NBA coach, as well as the increased competition level of the NBA will bring out the beast that lives within him.

          • Do the Raptors really need another high maintenance player who “just needs the right coach” in order to get the most out of him? It’s my experience that you want to stay away from these types of players. They are more of a headache than anything.

          • “high maintenance”, “headache” ?

            You make it sound like Drummond is the type of player with a bad me-first attitude in a team environment.

            Those types of words are more suited for the big ego players in the league like Cousins, Melo, Jackson, McGee, JR Smith, Iverson, etc.

          • I certainly don’t think he’d be a problem player, like a Cousins, but does he have the motivation and desire to take advantage of his physical skills? Everything I’ve seen and read about him tells me no. So I’d let someone else take a gamble on him.

  4. I cant wait for Bargianni to make you people eat every word you spew. This guy can play and with this scheme and this coach knowing what he has in Bargianni is going to win and win big. Its all there, Davis is going to be a monster ,weight room and earning his minutes in the coaches eyes he is going to be very fun to watch. If the offence is run through Bargianni Derozen is a great second option being coached to attack. James Johnson is really fun to watch , but the coach has to teach him more basketball game sense and he could be as fluid as a Scotty Pippen if everything flows right. Teaching , support , and just playing together with a good Draft and our player from last years draft in this sheme and Toronto is going to go on a tear that the city of Toronto has never ever seen in its basketball team . It all starts with Defence, and all evidence shows that the players are learning it and will win with it.

  5. Bargs porked Tim W’s gf


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