Game No. 1: Pacers 90, Raptors 88

In their 2012-13 home opener, the Toronto Raptors looked pretty good for most of the first 43 minutes and 29 seconds as they staked an 86-78 lead. The Pacers closed the game on a 12-2 run wrapped up by a George Hill floater with two seconds left, followed by an Andrea Bargnani airball at the buzzer. This would have been a much more depressing beginning to this season if it wasn’t so predictable.

1. The big news before this game was the announcement that the Raptors signed DeMar DeRozan to a four-year contract extension with a base amount of around $38 million, plus incentives. This news was met with a combination of sarcastic derision and outraged apoplexy on Twitter. For his part, DeRozan finished his first game of the season with 10 points on five-for-14 shooting, five rebounds, an assist and a block in 29 minutes while Paul George thoroughly outplayed him. I’m sure Joseph Casciaro will have some extensive commentary on this contract tomorrow, but my immediate reaction is that this move by Colangelo is ill-advised and yet depressingly unsurprising.

2. Jonas Valanciunas was reportedly extremely nervous going into his first regular season NBA game, but he acquitted himself very well in putting up 12 points and 10 rebounds in just 23 minutes. As expected, he had some trouble guarding the massive Roy Hibbert but his activity around the hoop at both ends was impressive and it’s clear he’ll be a double-double threat every game that he can avoid early foul trouble. We’ve got ourselves an NBA basketball player, here.

3. Andrea Bargnani looked like an All-Star during his 11-point first quarter. He was agile, an active defender, and showed the skills that got Raptors fans excited during his legendary 13-game stretch from last season. Unfortunately, he finished with just 16 points on 4-of-15 shooting, three rebounds, three blocks and one assist in 34 minutes. In the spirit of fairness, I only harp on Bargnani’s rebounding these days when the Raptors get out-rebounded in a losing effort. The Pacers beat the Raptors on the boards 46-42 on this night.

4. Kyle Lowry is the best player on this team, and it’s not even close. He’s an exciting catalyst on offense and he appears to be the best defensive point guard in franchise history. (Sorry, Alvin.) His numbers in his first official game as a Raptor were nothing short of awesome: 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting, eight assists, seven rebounds, five steals (!) and two turnovers.

5. Next time somebody tries to tell me that the NBA is “going small” and true big men are becoming extinct, I’ll point at Roy Hibbert. He finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and five blocks, and it was often apparent that there was nobody on the Raptors roster who could handle him in the post. Let me go out on a particularly thick limb and predict that there will always be a place in the NBA for seven-foot-two guys with Hibbert’s skills.

6. I don’t know if Raptors coach Dwane Casey drew up the final play that resulted in a pathetic Bargnani airball, but any game-deciding Raptors offensive play where the ball doesn’t start in Lowry’s hands this season is almost certainly a mistake. If you’re inbounding the ball from the sidelines in the opponent’s end, there are just two seconds left in the game, and you’re down by two points, why would you give the ball to anybody else on this team?

Raptors Player of the Game: Kyle Lowry — 36 Mins, 21 Pts, 6-11 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 7-7 FT, 7 Reb, 8 Ast, 5 Stl

Pacers Player of the Game: Paul George — 35 Min, 14 Pts, 7-15 FG, 15 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Blk

Comments (35)

  1. I love what Lowry played like. It made the loss bearable, seeing that type of energy from a player in a raptors uniform. Unprecidented really.

    and a very apt description of the derozan signing scott, bang on as per usual

  2. We had couple chances to finish the game off but didn’t execute and that caused us the game.I think Andrea got fatigued towards the end of game because he was slow to react to the West pick and roll jumper that tied the game.Lowry should be taking the last shot every game unless someone else is open.I’m also disappointed that DeRozen got his huge extension which will give him an average of 10m per year which is crazy money considering he’s so inconsistant.i hope we don’t regret this

  3. Good analysis and comments. Pacers were outplayed for most of the 2nd half but the Raptors weren’t able to close the deal defensively. Lowry is a stud though, and this Raptors team looks quite a lot better than last years’ team. The DeRozen deal is puzzling, but Colangelo has a history of deals like that. I also like the rookie big man, V from Lithuania. Lots of hustle, size and skill to go with. Raptors look like a playoff team to me.

  4. Win or lose, that was a great game and the Raptors will be a lot of fun to watch this year. I’m stoked!

  5. BARGS AT P/F IS LAUGHABLE HE GOT DESTROYED BY A STRONGER P/F WHICH WILL HAPPEN ALL SEASON…AND HIS SHOT SELECTION WAS GARBAGE… TO MANY FORCED SHOTS…HOPEFULLY HE ALLOWS THE GAME TO COME TO HIM OR ELSE IT WILL BE ANOTHER LONG SEASON OF INCONSISTENT PLAY FROM OUR #1 PICK(LOL!)

  6. Jonas “acquitted” himself (not “equipped”).

  7. I’m sorry but with out a doubt the player of the game for the Pacers should be West. He went off in the fourth quarter.

  8. I didn’t get a chance to watch the game out here in Argentina .. how did Landry Fields do? His stat line is very disappointing: 0 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 24 minutes. I was just wondering if maybe he did stuff that didn’t get into the stat sheet. I have high expectations for him with the Raptors, I hope he doesn’t disappoint.

  9. The Raps won the rebounding battle in this one. 15/52 on the offensive end and 27/36 on the defensive end – not great defensive rebounding but that’s a tremendous performance in Pacer territory, led by JV with 6 offensive boards. You’re better than using total rebounds, Scott…

    • So does that mean I should be OK with Bargnani’s three rebounds in 34 minutes? If he grabs two or three more boards, the Raptors probably win this game.

      • Of course not, but you said that the Raptors got out rebounded in a losing effort and that the Pacers “beat the Raptors on the boards.” The Raps won the rebounding battle. It makes Bargnani’s failures on the offensive end even more egregious.

      • WAY TO DROP SCIENCE ON THIS FOOL SCOTT!

  10. Reffing was horrible that game. Derozan should have had at least a couple more trips to the free throw line. Contract isn’t too bad since right now I’d compare Derozan to a Maggette (prime – best case) or Desmond Mason (prime in Milwaukee – worst case). It is the market price for a sg/sf who can’t shoot but can get to the ft line.

  11. DeRozan contract? lol What makes it more funny is that this is the same reaction fans should have had (and should still consider imo) with Andrea’s contract extension as well.

    Millions of dollars for 2 “hollow” inefficient scorers that don’t do anything outside of the box score than shooting 44% from the field. lol

    And you wonder why we are often no where near being a playoff team let alone a championship contender? Colangelo needs to be brought to task by everyone on this including the basketball media that never challenge his illogical decisions.

    As for the game last night, Andrea and his “no rebounding, I only box out now” is not the issue. Watch the last 2 minutes of that game and notice how Indiana attacks him in the pick and roll and got the shots they wanted every time. He doesn’t understand the nuances on the defensive end of the floor and it was embarrasing to watch. If you are going to hedge hard, you better hustle back to your man. You can’t stand there hoping someone will help you. For a so called defensive team to be dissected the way they were its a testament to lack of defensive adjustments by Casey and the poor roster construction by a GM who’s record in Toronto would have got anyone else in that position fired a long time ago.

    • Completely agree. This team is turning into more of a laughingstock and they’ve ONLY played 1 game. The derozan contract is inexcusable. They could have had max cap space this summer to improve the team. BC should lose his job over this. My only reason for this is BC thought he would not be able to get anybody better to come to Toronto so he resigned derozan as a way of saying thank you for wanting to stay here. OR BC wanted to show the league players will stay here (If you vastly overpay). Either way, this team is completely fucked and Ive never wanted BC to lose his job as much as I do now. He might not even be here past this year and hes saddling the team with his stupid decisions.

    • YOU ARE RIGHT ANYONE ELSE WOULD BE FIRED, BUT COLANGELO IS UNTOUCHABLE BECAUSE OF HIS DADDY. WHAT MAKES ANDREA’S CONTRACT WORSE IS THE FACT THAT WE HAVE #1 PICK BESIDE HIS NAME 7FT AND CAN’T REBOUND OR PLAY DEFENSE WE ARE SCREWED!

    • You’re very off base with Bargs – the man was playing with the flu all evening – stop the hating and show a little respect – he played himself into exhaustion. Blame the coach but not an ill players admirable effort.

      • CAN’T REBOUND…CAN’T PLAY D…NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FLU OR THE COACH….PLAY THE GAME IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE GAME!

  12. I think it’s defensible to give the ball to Bargnani in that situation. With his height he’s probably the best bet to get off a clean shot with only 2 seconds on the clock. The bigger problem was Calderon and Lowry chucking up shots early in the clock with no rebounders underneath in the last two minutes. They really looked like they lost their heads at the end.

    It sucks to lose like that, but the commenters (and writers, hello Damien Cox) writing these guys off for last night’s game is ridiculous. They played really well for most of the game against the likely 2 or 3 seed in the East, then stunk it up for 4 minutes and had the Pacers make a bunch of clutch plays on them. It happens. Get a grip.

    • It’s funny how people will blame the last play of the game as the reason why they lost. Like you said the stunk for the last 4 minutes (and Scott even said they played well for 43). It was their’s to win, and the team lost it, not the final play (and how did the Pacers score with 2 seconds left?)

      1 official game with a bunch of new guys, some people need to get a grip. Heck, look at the Lakers, who acquired two of the best players at their position, and see how they are doing (0-2 regular season, 0-8 pre-season).

      • And naturally, George Hill scored at the end because of Andrea!
        And if Bargs takes more rebounds, the Raptors don’t go 1 on 9 on their last shots!
        And Kyle Lowry for president!

        • I disagree. I don’t think it is defensible to give the ball to Andrea in that situation.

          He was 4-16 shooting on the night, and has NEVER hit a buzzer-beating, game-tying/winning basket in his entire career.

          You give the ball to Lowry, it’s not even a question. This team was dead last in the league last year at shooting attempts at the end of a game. Give it to the new kid that has the swagger and confidence to make the big shot!

  13. Wow. New Regime and ad, you need to to get a grip. Great assessment after ONE GAME! Can we at least take a quarter of a season before making thess grand pronouncements. Raps lose a game that, if the refs had of acturally taken the whistle out of their pockets and had the courage to change a call that the replay proved they should have, this could have easily gone the other way. This Indiana team team will be a top 4 team in the East this year. Raps are a team that have 3 new starters getting used to playing with each other. So if thats your definition of embarrassment, then your as unrealistically negative as any fan I have read. this is a team that will take some time to jell defensively and understand it roles offensively. One game is not enough to make the wide, sweeping conlusion that you have made. In the preseason DD showed a lot of improvement in different areas of his game. Lets give it a little time before we through stones at the new contract extension By the way, lovely elequont choice of language.

  14. Echo gordo’s comments.one game is not enough to make any wide jugements.
    I actually like the fact that we take this loose as curve in order to figure out what went wrong for 0-6 shooting in the final 4 mins

  15. Andrea Bargnani is the worst defender in the entire league. He continued to show on pick and rolls despite the pacers never attacking the lane in the 4th. David West was going off and Bargnani had no idea. He had more air balls then makes this game as well and seems to be in mid season form when it comes to making everyone around him worse. I look forward to the day he retires.

  16. BARGS IS GOING TO BE GREAT THIS SEASON, ALL-STAR. BOOK IT CAPS FULL STOP.

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