After looking like the Knicks might run away with it at one point in the first half, the Raptors turned the tables and ended up cruising to their third straight pre-season win and fourth overall in front of what sounded like an awesome capacity crowd in Montreal.

I maintain, like most of you, that pre-season results mean next to nothing, but this was by far Toronto’s most impressive performance of the exhibition schedule thus far.

Here are some thoughts on the game:

Raptors 107, Knicks 88

- I wasn’t there, but from the sounds of it, the sold out Montreal crowd was energetic and loud, just like they were the last time the Raptors and Knicks met at the Bell Centre in 2010. I realize that the novelty factor comes into effect when discussing non-NBA markets getting pre-season games, but I guarantee you that there are plenty of American cities that wouldn’t be able to get 22,114 fans for an exhibition contest. Bravo, Montreal, bravo. Here’s hoping that somewhere along the line, Montreal and Vancouver will pop up as potential relocation or expansion options.

- I was interested in watching Jonas Valanciunas match up against Tyson Chandler since Chandler is one of the most commonly cited comparisons for Valanciunas, and for the most part, I though Big V handled himself well. He ran into foul trouble early on (though he only deserved two or three of his five fouls) and wasn’t able to get into his rhythm through three quarters, but Valanciunas was impressive in the fourth quarter, and overall, found a way to make an impact despite some adversity. That’s an encouraging sign for Raptors fans, and a sign that the youngster can adapt and adjust to situations quickly.

- What a difference a couple of nights can make. On Wednesday, I commended Andrea Bargnani’s defensive effort but voiced my concern for his offence and his left calf contusion, which forced him to leave the game against Washington early. On Friday night, Bargnani enjoyed his best game of the pre-season on both ends of the floor. He was active on defence, picking up two blocks, and was more aggressive in looking for his offence. His 8/21 shooting performance, which included another tough night from three-point range (2/6), obviously indicates that he still hasn’t found his shot, but this game was a positive step in the right direction for Il Mago with less than two weeks to go until the season opener.

- While Bargnani still hasn’t found his three-point stroke, the Raptors as a team might have, at least for one night. The Raps converted 12 of 26 three-point attempts to put the game away, an especially crucial advantage in a game where the Knicks were a paltry 5-of-27 from behind the arc.

- Sticking with the three-point theme, Landry Fields still can’t buy a three. Again, Fields has been great moving off of the ball to get himself some easier buckets and has been his usual dependent self on the defensive end, but his shooting struggles from long range cannot be denied after missing a couple more wide open threes in this game. On the one hand, Fields is a smart player who won’t be chucking away if he recognizes that his shot isn’t falling (he’s only attempted six three-pointers through five games, making one). But at the same time, the Raptors will need him to rediscover his rookie form from behind the arc at some point.

- The point guard depth continues to be a story. Kyle Lowry looked good in putting up 17 points on just 11 field goal attempts (including going 5-of-6 from deep) and cutting through the defence with his court vision and passing. Jose Calderon was fine off the bench (though porous again defensively) in relief of Lowry, while John Lucas III continues to be the definition of instant offence, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting in just under nine minutes of floor time. In addition, with the Knicks employing a two-point guard lineup that includes Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton, we got a more extended look at some two-PG lineups of our own.

- On the injury front, Ed Davis failed to see any minutes with what seems like a minor issue (Coach Casey had mentioned that Davis had a sore “behind end”), while Terrence Ross returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game with a sore knee, though the rookie only saw five minutes of action.

- As I mentioned above, I put very little stock in pre-season results. In addition, I understand that a veteran team like the Knicks, especially, cannot be judged by how they look in meaningless mid October games. I also understand that Amare Stoudemire had yet to play a game this season before Friday night’s encounter. But having said all of that, I’m not very convinced by this version of the Knickerbockers. They’ll be held back offensively as long as Carmelo Anthony is there, they’re comedically old and fragile, and as good as he is, Tyson Chandler can’t anchor a great defence all by himself.

Sure, they should be a better basketball team than the Raptors this season, and if I absolutely had to put money on it, I would bet that they will be. But they’re also very vulnerable to a complete meltdown and implosion, and I wouldn’t put the Atlantic basement out of the realm of possibility for them either.

- Just two games remain on the pre-season schedule, with the Raptors hosting the Bucks on Monday night before heading to Memphis for the pre-season finale on Friday night. Those final couple of games should give us a good idea of the eight to 10-man rotation Dwane Casey plans to use this season, though if the last five games have taught us anything, it’s that this team might be even deeper than that.

Comments (14)

  1. DeRozan either gets no respect of doesn’t actually deserve any. Strange that the league as a whole doesn’t quite know what to make of him. I figured in Montreal he had a shot with at a call or two with all of his de French de names, but no.

    In related news, trade him ASAP.

  2. Yeah, best performance so far. We knew we were strong at PG and tonight just continues to show it.
    Continue to be impressed by JV – the kid just gets it. Love the emotion he shows on the floor, something this team has always lacked..

  3. Did any one else notice the cheap shots that were handed out to JV. He must really get under the opposing teams skin. Both Kurt Thomas and Tyson Chandler were handing out some hefty elbows.

  4. Scott Carefoot ‘hating’ the John Lucas signing in his podcast. Good one Scott.

    The guy has been the most consistent raptor on the floor so far and coming in back to back games giving the team the lift to win the game.

    Pre-season or not, this was a great pickup.

  5. Didn’t get around to watching the game until this morning. Must say, I was very disappointed. Very. Not in the Raptors (aside from Jose) but in every other aspect of it.

    The refs were atrocious. I’d accuse them of being on the take, but this being pre-season and all, that just wouldn’t make any sense. It was just brutal to see some of their calls. You are absolutely correct that JV should have had 2 fouls, not 5. Melo should have had at least 6 by my count, but that isn’t the part that bothers me about Melo. It is all of the total BS calls he gets from the refs against out players. His 4 step travel and drop the shoulder into Jose’s chest, when Jose was planted for at least half a second, and somehow Jose committed the foul. Total BS. Perfect example of a ‘Melo’ call. Or, as I like to think of it, scoring a LeBron.

    Even the BS three in the key call against JV. He clearly stepped outside of the key 4 times in the 3 seconds he was supposedly in the key. Of course, it had to come in the last 10 minutes of the game when the refs were hilariously trying to get the Knicks back in the game. Just too damn bad that it started raining Raptor threes eh refs?

    TSN was also equally horrible. They REALLY need to figure out that we want to watch the game while it is on. We don’t need to see interviews with Bball relics while the game is being played. We don’t need to see static shots of Casey’s face while our players are shooting free throws. When the game is on, show the damn game!!!

    As for the announcers, nobody cares what you ate for breakfast, what color your tie is, or that you want to go out partying after the game. STFU about all of that crapola and stick to commenting on the game. In fact, I heard CSI NY is going to air an episode with no dialogue – just Green Day playing their new music. I’m not a huge Green Day fan or anything, but even that would be preferable to hearing Jack and Devlin warble on about nothing during the game.

    TSN, get your sheet together and move the score box to the bottom of the screen and out to a corner. You don’t need to have the score box blocking the action during the game.

    Sorry everyone, just had to vent about the non-game BS that hasn’t been fixed yet. Back to game talk now…

    I’m not at all worried about Fields and his 1/6 three shooting this pre-season. He is doing everything else just about perfectly. Very happy to see this glue guy performing so well.

    Lowry. Damn glad you are on the team. Ditto for what I’ve seen from JL so far. Jose, not so much. Yes, his play in the 4th was good, but the first two times he came into the game our 5 and 6 point leads evaporated. His D was awful. Amir, not as money as he was the previous game, but still one of the best players on the court. JV, much better than I thought he would be at this point. I’d hoped he would be this good by the end of the season. Definitely one of the top 3 key players for this team’s future. Much like Chandler is for the Knicks now. I still can’t believe we almost got him for Jose. Damn you MJ! Bargs, didn’t look great, but was definitely putting in his best effort so far this season – and filled the stat sheet nicely with points AND rebounds as well. Really liked the JV to Bargs in and out play in the 4th. IF those 7 footers can perfect it, watch out league! Back to Lowry and JLIII. So creative. The Anti-Joses. Exactly what this team needed. An injection of hard work, creativity and excitement. Thank you BBall gods (and some credit to BC) for providing us with these two players to entertain us this season (and hopefully many more).

    Also, nice shooting Alan Anderson. Nice to see someone who only shoots after he has created space for himself – unlike Kleiza. DD and Ross will have to step it up or you will be taking minutes from them for sure. I wasn’t thrilled with your signing, but you are proving me wrong. Well done.

    Can’t forget DD. I’m still firmly in the trade ya camp, but if you keep working hard on D and stick to shooting around the rim, then I just might change my mind. Props though for making one of the many threes in the game. Now, knock that crap off. Focus on developing your slashing game.

    • hey do you know who that announcer was back in the day during the VC days that always said “onions baby onions.” He was a good announcer. I agree I’m a little bit disappointed with the announcing and I have been or a while now but I love my raptors and I am really excited about this years team…..

  6. I should throw in a PS to Alan Anderson.

    I wasn’t thrilled with your signing, because I figure you cost the team a few spots in the draft. Petty, I know. You almost single handedly killed the tank last season (that BC seemed to have wanted – as did I) and I was pissed about that. I’ll probably stay pissed about that in the future if I see Lillard, Beal, MKG and Barnes playing well for the next decade. But I still must commend you on what you are able to provide to the Raptors every time Casey calls your name. You aren’t a superstar, but you are a good shooting glue guy who knows his role – more or less.


  8. 20 points on 21 shots, Bargnani is back.

    • At least 4 of those were late clock dumps that came as a result of poor ball movement for about 22 seconds. He took a few terrible shots as well. But I thought he played very well on D.

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