The Raptors scored their first win of the season on Sunday night as the backcourt of Lowry and DeRozan proved too much for Minnesota to handle. For the second straight game, the pair combined to score over 40 points and tonight they complemented that with a combined 14 rebounds and 6 steals. Andrea Bargnani had a brutal game and he will need to make more of a contribution if Toronto is going to hang with Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.

Raptors 105, Timberwolves 86

-Terrence Ross sighting! Ross was the first player off the bench after getting the dreaded DNPCD in last night’s game against the Nets. He had one assist on an unselfish swing pass and he showed a little bit of ball-handling in the 2nd quarter, which was a pleasant surprise. It’s still not a good sign that the 8th overall pick is getting so few minutes (7 tonight) on a team that plays with such a deep rotation.

-DeMar DeRozan’s jump shot continues to shine. As I talked about in my post on DD’s offence, expect his jumper to revert back to the above-average form of 2010. He faces looser defence and gets more open looks as a result of being the 2nd/3rd option behind Lowry and Bargnani. He also isn’t being forced to take difficult jumpers at the end of the shot clock, as he was last year when Bargs was out. DeMar still brought his usual aggressive approach to the offensive end, finishing the game with 6 free throw attempts. He spent a lot of time hanging around the basket looking for rebounds tonight, which will make Raptor fans happy. He appears to have a renewed commitment to the glass this year and hopefully it continues. Through three games, DD is averaging 5 rpg. Be sure to tune in to Monday’s RaptorBlog Radio podcast, as I’m sure there will be a heated debate regarding DeRozan’s contract.

-I can’t say enough good things about Kyle Lowry. He communicates, he’s a leader and he’s a flat out baller. He plays a very physical style at both ends of the floor, which leads to free throws on offence and steals/deflections on defence. His jump shot appears to have improved from last year, as he is shooting a fantastic 8-of-16 from downtown. I don’t see any significant weakness in his game.

- I’m beginning to get scared that Lowry will lead this team in rebounding. If there continues to be a 5-man frontcourt rotation, nobody up there will post big rebounding numbers. So far this season, Lowry has been admirably filling some of the rebounding void left by Bargnani and others. However, if the starting point guard leads the team in rebounds, the entire organization should be embarrassed. Lowry’s 7.3 rpg are unfortunately leading the team right now.

-Andrea Bargnani hasn’t found his stroke yet this season. The worst part about Bargs struggling from the field is he allows it to affect the other parts of his game. It seems as if he becomes more interested in defence and rebounding when his jumper is falling. As a result, he finished tonight with a disgusting line of 10 pts on 4-16 shooting and one rebound. Dwane Casey might have sent Andrea a message by limiting him to 24 minutes.

-Landry Fields continued to struggle on Sunday and I’m beginning to wonder how long the leash is for Fields as a starter. He is 3-for-14 from the field this season and he isn’t looking for his shot consistently. He made a nice baseline cut early in the 4th quarter and followed that up with a confident pass to Amir on the pick-and-roll. However, there needs to be more than a handful of assists and rebounds each night, if he wants to stay in the starting lineup.

-I like Alan Anderson because he always provides a consistent effort and he has a very well-rounded game. He is a professional scorer and can defend wing players as well as anyone on this roster. Tonight, Anderson scored 18 points in 31 minutes while Fields had just 5 in the 21 minutes he logged. Anderson has a better jump shot than Fields and the other aspects of his game aren’t far behind – if they are behind at all. Anderson may be the guy to displace Fields, if things continue on their current course.

-Jose Calderon is a fantastic offensive complement on the perimeter, but he does the Raptors no good if they can’t find a scrub on the other team for Jose to guard. He is a neutral impact if every bucket he produces is cancelled out by one he gives up on defence. In the first half he was exposed by JJ Barea and Alexey Shved.

-Amir Johnson is one of the best roll-men in the NBA. Last year, Johnson ranked in the top 10 of the league in points per possession as the roll-man.

-Valanciunas was schooled several times tonight by the 295-pound Nikola Pekovic. Jonas was called for a couple ticky-tack fouls early in the 3rd quarter, but it was clear he was unable to defend Pek one-on-one. JV remains very raw on both ends of the floor. It would be nice to see him get more playing time in order to expedite his learning curve, considering the fouls haven’t been a huge issue.

-Toronto’s bench had a significant impact on this game. The bench produced 42 points tonight as Dwane Casey went with an 11-man rotation. Casey said his rotation will vary night-to-night but it certainly is a luxury to be able to go 11 or 12 deep, when necessary.

Raptors player of the game: Kyle Lowry – 22 pts (8-10 FG), 7 reb, 5 ast, 3 stl & 2 TO

Timberwolves player of the game: Andrei Kirilenko – 17 pts (6-7 FG), 6 reb, 3 ast, 3 blk & 2 TO

The Raptors travel to Oklahoma City for a game on Tuesday night. The Thunder are still figuring out their rotation without James Harden, but they are likely going to continue playing with a chip on their shoulder as the whole league fawns over Harden. We may see a lot of Dominic McGuire, as I’m concerned Landry Fields doesn’t have the length necessary to bother Kevin Durant’s jumper.

Toronto heads to Dallas on Wednesday night, before returning home for games against Philadelphia and Utah.

Comments (16)

  1. solid recap…

    both lowry and derozan with almost identical lines (22/7/5/3 vs 22/7/2/3). not that we should be counting on them for 7 rebounds a piece, but nice to see, especially from derozan who has traditionally not really filled the stat sheet. if he starts to get a bit more of a chip on his shoulder that way, and hits a few threes now and again, he’ll probably turn the doubters around pretty quick.

  2. I wonder if playing with Kyle has helped DeRozan? He seems way more aggressive – maybe KL’s influence is being felt? Somebody to get after him on the floor, every play. I see some good chemistry between the two of them, and I hope it continues.

    • I was just thinking this as I read the article.

      Really wishing that summer spending binge had landed us Kirilenko instead of Fields. Really glad we landed Lowry and not Nash as well. Man, I hope Kyle extends for Jose cash next summer.

  3. Great game recap, touched on pretty much everything of note.

    I hope you guys spend at least 10 minutes talking about how awesome Kyle Lowry is on the podcast. I’d love for him to lead the team in rebounds, not only to show what an incredibly versatile player he is but to show how one dimensional everyone else on the team is.

    I’m sure there will come a point where Casey will shorten the rotation a bit, we are already seeing some signs of it with Anderson working his way up to that first backup swingman role but it is fun to see how many options he has on a nightly basis and how we have guys like Johnson, Davis, Gray, Anderson, etc. to offset the lingering inconsistency of Val, Ross and maybe even DeRozan/Bargnani for some stretches.

  4. My bruised Raptors psyche really needed that win. I agree that Lowry seems to be a good influence on DeRozan. Not only is DD scoring better, but he seems a lot more interested in participating off the ball. If only Bargnani would be so inspired… Davis missed a lot of close stuff tonight; I hope that was just bad luck, because I thought he usually has decent hands.

  5. Individual stat Leaders (through first 3 games)

    Pts Kyle Lowry 23.7
    Reb Kyle Lowry 7.3
    Ast Kyle Lowry 7.0
    FG% Kyle Lowry 57.5
    FT% Kyle Lowry 94.4
    3PT% Kyle Lowry 50.0
    Blk Jonas Valanciunas 1.3
    Stl Kyle Lowry 3.7

    Hard to figure how this team will fare when KL is out with an injury.

    • Lowry’s a good 3pt shooter but his 2pt fg% isn’t very good (in past seasons) and I doubt he leads in rebounds either. He’s been insane the first three games and I’d love to see it continue but a lot of these numbers, especially the shooting %s, will come down.

      Having said that, Lowry’s an incredible acquisition and I was super happy when they got him instead of Nash, so I’m not trying to shit on the guy here or anything.

  6. Nice re-cap.
    An item of significant interest is the line of medium bigs with one ball handler that Dwane inserted and stuck with at the end of the game. At first anchored by Jose and then Lowry, with Fields/Demar, Davis, Amir and Anderson (I think that was the essence of the line-up). I was skeptical at first, but it ended up presenting a bunch of match-up issues for the other team. It also kept JV and Andrea on the bench all the way until the end. I understand that this experiment and subsequent win was against a weak Wolves team to begin with, further weakened by the loss of Barea and the reliance on Roy as their always-hobbled #1 option, but any confidence builder for a team with a bunch of high ceiling new parts and the need to gel is a good sign.
    The depth is such a breath of fresh air for a Raps franchise that has lacked any depth for sooo long. I don’t mind if Anderson develops and replaces Fields’ minutes. It will take the pressure off Fields and allow him to become the under-the-radar pleasant surprise he was when Spike was wearing Landry shirts. We are far from the ‘Super Raptor’ wearing Fields shirts in our front row, but if we can expect less of Fields, he may turn into the REALISTIC over-priced piece in a deep team that we need. re. even if McGuire ends up logging some minutes, I’m fine with that.
    I’m also excited by the prospects of Davis and Amir working out together on the front line. I think that Dwane and the coaching staff have been working on fundamentals on both ends and it is showing (less bobbled balls, late-in-the-shot-clock heaves (and if it was late in the shot clock, the right guy was taking the shot – re. Lowry or Anderson, not Amir!) missed assignments and not knowing where you are supposed to be on the court – and great pick and rolls. There is just less panic on the court.) They seem to have found some chemistry and flow together and that makes up for Andrea’s lack lustre start to the season, although not quite as bad as some are suggesting. Andrea has rarely boarded, has always let his defense be affected when his stroke is not flowing and should only be a 18-22 point scorer if we are to have a successful season with the type of line-ups and depth of team that Dwane is tooling with. If Andrea can find that 17-game form from last year where he was awesome for 35 games this year and pull a 4-5 games out the hat by scoring 30-40, that should be enough for a 35-40 win season and that’s, I think, the best that we can expect from this developing team. And I don’t think this is so bad for Raptor land. You would think that Andrea is at that point of just wanting to win. Andrea, if you are not helping us win by making clutch shots or cannot be trusted on ‘d’ towards the end of the game and we/you want to win games, than you will have to resign yourself to a coach that will make you earn every minute you play. ‘Cus he and his stud point guard want to win every game. Sorry, Il Mago – it’s time to consistently find that magic. This is your fence year (s^&t or get off the pot).
    LOWRY is the man! Let’s appreciate his game, his leadership and his hustle for as long as we can. Did anybody see his interview on NBA TV. NBA folks (Brent Barry and Steve Smith) are gaga over this guy and so happy he has found a spot to truly shine in star starved TO. A perfect fit for a hockey town. He just goes out and gets it done and really could care less if he gets recognition or not from the media. #lunchpail #bluecollar (I know I am not tweeting, but hash tags seemed appropriate here.) Can you say ‘perfect fit’. Congrats Kyle – you deserve everything you get.
    With Dwane and Kyle together for every game, we always have a chance. That’s more than we can say about many past Raps teams! Go Raps!!!

  7. As a Knicks fan (Raptors #2), what you see is what you get with Fields. He will never be a consistent scorer. His totals were inflated by D’Antoni’s speedball offense.

    You guys need to judge him beyond the boxscore. He holds value on the court.

    • > His totals were inflated by D’Antoni’s speedball offense.

      I don’t know about that. All of Fields’ advanced stats were significantly better his rookie year compared to year 2. It was not just more pace or playing time.

  8. @ Marc G,

    Thanks for your balanced perspective(and Oliver). I am one of those super optimistic fans to the bitter end. I am always willing to defend the Raptors in debates with other ball fans, and your view sums all the good and bad of this year’s team. To add to your overview, I have been really excited to see the work(and physique) that Ed Davis is putting in. He looks confident, and continues to earn his minutes. With JV in the development stage I like him starting, but knowing the hustle that the back-up bigs bring, I am fine with him getting fewer minutes later in the game. Lowry has been everything I was hoping, and more. DD’s game has been better, and I really liked his aggressive post-ups. I know that the playoffs are a slim chance this year, but just seeing the team compete every night makes me excited to tune in.

  9. I agree with both @sausage and @Noah … Fields’ stats were likely inflated and he provides intangibles that we have not been deep in for a few years – re. since Garbo and Antony (the ’06 Euro/Colangelo quasi-successful recipe), but we need to expect more for his contract – especially wide open threes and boarding.

    @saskraps … thanks for the note back. Agreed with your added comments!

    ps. sorry for the novel – I guess that was more than a comment … just needed to get that all off my chest.

  10. Can we all STFU on DeRozan’s contract for now? The kid has stepped up so far this year and think the discussion should turn to more important issues. Bargnani’s play, or lack thereof, should be at the top of that list.

    • Yes, those two games have proven that DeRozan is worth his contract!

      • Never said 2 games dictated whether or not he deserved his contract, so your sarcasm is unnecessary.

        But a lot of fans on here have been slamming Derozan for a contract that he didn’t write. Plus, how can you sh*t on a guy who has drastically improved his game since receiving said contract? Whether it’s been 2 games or not is irrelevant because all he did was sign it…wouldn’t you?

  11. “Dwane Casey might have sent Andrea a message by limiting him to 24 minutes.”

    To put things in perspective, Casey rewarded Amir’s great play against Minnesota by playing him 23 minutes. One less than Bargnani.

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