Game No. 50: Magic 117, Raptors 101

I thought Saturday night’s close call loss against the Bulls would be my last RaptorBlog recap for a while, but it turns out Joseph still isn’t back from New York so I got to watch and write about this dog of a game. Well, you don’t get a fancy intro tonight. Before my six thoughts, you get this.

1. At the beginning of the game, the “Ford Key Match Up” (I’m spelling it exactly as it was spelled on the TV graphic. Apparently, “Match Up” is two unhyphenated words now.) was introduced as Andrea Bargnani vs. Ryan Anderson. I found this interesting because I noticed Anderson’s Bargnani-esque qualities (on a much smaller contract) last season and considered him a solid breakout candidate this season. Among many other things, Anderson has struck a blow against people who claim that per-36-minutes numbers are meaningless, because his per-36 numbers have been almost exactly the same as last season while his playing time has increased by nine minutes per game. Aside from that, he completely dominated Bargnani tonight. Naturally, Bargnani’s defenders will claim that he would perform even better than Anderson if he got to play next to Dwight Howard. I’m fairly certain we’ll never have a definite resolution to that debate.

2. I’m going to use this thought on Anderson as well, because I feel like it’s an important one. How does he get so many open looks from deep when he leads the league in three-pointers made and he’s 20th in percentage? Don’t coaches tell the guys who are guarding Anderson that they should stick by him on fast breaks and loose balls because he’ll drop a bomb on them if they don’t? Anderson isn’t unguardable, he just ruthlessly takes advantage of mental lapses by opposing big men.

3. Jameer Nelson looked tonight like the truly dangerous version of himself from the 2008-09 season who could consistently create shots for both himself and his teammates and knock down open looks at will. This isn’t exactly a news flash, but he’s the X Factor to the Magic making it to the Eastern Conference Final and potentially beyond.

4. Gary Forbes set a career-high for rebounds with 13 against the Bulls on Saturday and he notched a new personal best in scoring with 21 points tonight on just 14 shots. I’m not reading too much into a two game sample, but he looks like a keeper. As always, Bryan Colangelo proves adept at finding diamonds in the rough like Forbes. It’s the big-money free agents and lottery-pick players he hasn’t had so much luck with during his Raptors tenure.

5. Jerryd Bayless looked spry and mobile in his return from a hip pointer after missing the Raptors’ previous two games. He finished with six points, four assists and two rebounds in just 10 minutes. Unfortunately, he put his hand on his side and crouched down in obvious pain midway through the second quarter, and that was it for the night. He clearly needs to take some more time to heal up.

6. The Raptors’ D-League call-up from earlier today, Alan Anderson, played four minutes and had two points, a rebound, an assist and a steal. By my “per-minute” logic from the first thought, that means he’ll average 18 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists and 9 steals if he plays 36 minutes per game going forward. Is it too soon to offer him a max contract? Clearly not, according to Turbozone

Raptors Player of the Game: Linas Kleiza — 18 Pts, 7-10 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 1-2 FT, 3 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

Magic Player of the Game: Ryan Anderson — 28 Pts, 9-15 FG, 8-13 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 6 Reb