You thought you had seen everything already with this Raptors team, didn’t you?. Injuries, multiple blown double digit leads in the fourth quarter, triple-overtime losses, etc. Well how about an upset of the Pacers in Indiana despite scoring a franchise low five points in the fourth quarter a night after that aforementioned triple-overtime loss? It makes little sense, but we’ll take it.

Now here are some thoughts on the game:

Raptors 74, Pacers 72

- First and foremost, how about the massive effort from Jose Calderon? Many of us usually pick apart Calderon’s flaws, but he was fantastic out there tonight, recording his first career triple-double of 13 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in a game where the Raptors desperately needed it. Calderon left it all on the court in Indiana, logging 39 minutes less than 24 hours after hitting the 50-minute mark against the Jazz. He committed four turnovers, but even I’ll say that no one in their right mind should be criticizing Calderon’s game tonight.

By the way, who had money on Calderon recording a triple-double before Kyle Lowry this season?

- Speaking about feats of endurance, DeMar DeRozan followed up his ridiculous 60 minutes of action on Monday with another 40 minutes of hard nosed basketball on Tuesday. DeRozan’s statline of 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting and five rebounds won’t raise any eyebrows, but DeMar brought it again tonight and contributed to a grimy victory that the Raptors needed badly. And I don’t care how repetitive I sound – DeRozan deserved at least four extra trips to the free throw line tonight.

He’s going to get these calls eventually, right?

- I bet you can guess who won’t get any credit from me tonight. Andrea Bargnani was nowhere to be found in Indiana, posting just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting to go along with only three rebounds in nearly 30 minutes of floor time. Bargnani has frustrated us for years, but I can honestly say that I can’t remember a more uninspiring stretch of basketball from the guy. It’s been brutal, and I can’t take any more of it, especially when the rest of the bigs on the team are busting their ass out there.

- Speaking of bigs busting their asses, how about Jonas Valanciunas tonight? Nine points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals in just 22 minutes of action that included him thoroughly outplaying Roy Hibbert for long stretches of the game. Once again, Valanciunas’ presence inside played a big part in the Raptors building a somewhat comfortable lead, and yet once again, his efforts weren’t rewarded with adequate playing time. The only thing holding the rookie back from another double-double against the Pacers was Dwane Casey himself, who chose to ride a struggling and lifeless Andrea Bargnani down the stretch with Amir Johnson instead of rolling with Amir and Jonas.

- As much as I don’t understand some of Casey’s rotations or his limited use of a clearly ready Valanciunas, I can honestly say that I don’t think an average NBA coach gets this effort or this victory out of a tired, shorthanded group of players like Casey did tonight. Call it cliche, call it blind faith, call it whatever you want, but I really believe it. The “Casey Effect” still lives.

- The Casey Effect was obviously most noticeable last season on the defensive end, and one of the things that’s worried a lot of us about the Raptors’ start to this season is how much of a step back the defence has taken. Well for one night at least, those worries were put to bed, as the Pacers were held to just 32 per cent shooting from the field. Nowhere was the defensive effort more impressive than in the fourth quarter, where the Raptors scored a pitiful five points on just one made field goal, and yet were still able to hold on for the victory because they held the Pacers to just 14 points in the quarter themselves.

The Raps seemed to be getting most of the bounces tonight, as I lost count of how many Pacers shots bounced in and out. Could you say they got a bit lucky on the defensive end? Sure, but how many of those bounces have gone the other way through the first two weeks of the season? Exactly. Let’s just hope this game was an indication that the bounces will start going Toronto’s way for a while, though I’m not holding my breath.

- Singular plays often get lost in the grand scheme of an entire 48-minute game, but how big was John Lucas III’s three-pointer at the end of the third quarter? The shot, which came with just 1.1 seconds left in the quarter, was the difference between an eight point lead and an 11-point lead heading into the fourth, and if Lucas doesn’t hit it, the Raptors probably end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard again after another fourth quarter collapse.

- Terrence Ross had an impressive offensive stretch in the first half that had Raptors fans giddily peering into the future. The Raptors’ “other rookie” finished with only seven points in about 13 minutes, but he’s slowly beginning to find himself on the offensive end, and that’s certainly encouraging.

- While we all celebrate an unexpected Raptors road victory, Pacers fans are likely lamenting an unexpected home loss for their team, because make no mistake, this was a bad loss for Indiana. A banged up, tired, inferior team comes into town, they practically hand you the game in the fourth quarter, and you still find a way to come away with the loss. The Pacers are now 3-5 on the season, haven’t looked sharp yet in the handful games I’ve watched them play and will be without Danny Granger until February. They’re talented enough to overcome the adversity, but they’re also looking very capable of having a disastrous down year after being the feel good story of the Eastern Conference last season.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon – 13 Pts, 5/10 FG, 2/2 3PT, 1/1 FT, 10 Reb, 10 Ast, 4 TO in 39:07

Pacers Player of the Game: George Hill – 18 Pts, 8/20 FG, 0/4 3PT, 2/2 FT, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk, 3 TO in 36:55

The term “character win” gets tossed around too lightly in pro sports, but it’s a more than valid description for the Raptors’ second W of the season. Between coming off of Monday’s triple-overtime thriller, still missing Kyle Lowry and being without two other regular rotation guys, the Raps had no business even being in this game, let alone winning it, and if they suddenly start taking a few surprising wins here and there, we’ll all look back at this random Tuesday night in Indiana as the turning point.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this is suddenly a playoff team or that everything’s peachy because of one upset in Indiana, but the difference between grabbing this win as opposed to sitting around at 1-7 for a few days before rolling into Boston on Saturday is huge, or at least it is to me and a boatload of other Raptors fans. We’ve been through a lot in the early stages of this season. Let’s enjoy this one for a few days.

2-6 never felt so good…

Comments (33)

  1. I LIKE TURTLES!

  2. I was wondering why we were seeing so many complaints about the officiating this year, both in your columns and in the comments and I didn’t really put two and two together until tonight’s game.

    It seems like Devlin has been given some sort of mandate from his higher ups to be a bigger homer and harp on every little thing that goes against the Raptors more so than ever before. I certainly don’t remember him being this demonstratively critical of calls in the past, the team of him with Jack is borderline intolerable complaining about a call/non call almost every trip down the court. I’m sure I’m in the minority because with the audience of these broadcasts being 99% Raptor fans, they want to hear a Raptor-centric broadcast but it’s really noticeable this year and really explains some of the comments on this blog. If announcers are going to hit you over the head as much as Devlin/Armstrong did tonight then I guess it’s hard not to parrot the sentiment.

    • Naa – there have been a few games where Raptors just couldn’t get a break on either end. Last two nights stick out to me.

    • I don’t need Matt Devlin to give me an opinion. The Raptors have been on the wrong end of poor officiating this season. That’s my observation.

    • I think Devlin and Armstrong, like the rest of us are fed up with reffing disparity, which is just poor quailty at best and unfair at worst – and possibly corrupt – when it comes to lesser teams.
      That said, the only game I thought the method Donaghy described, where they simply disrupt momentum to keep the spread under control was the Nets game.
      The rest, I thought, was just the usual badness.

    • “If announcers are going to hit you over the head as much as Devlin/Armstrong did tonight then I guess it’s hard not to parrot the sentiment”

      agree.

      The 2 plays that stand out to me were:

      - Hansbrough took a charge from Ed. Jack starts going off about how his feet weren’t set so it should have been a block (completely ignoring Eds head down, out of control approach to the basket). A few plays later, he talks about how the block – charge is the toughest call in basketball when Amir takes an almost identical charge on the other end.

      - Jack calling Hansborough a hack for his aggressive play, but Amir is playing ‘tough’ while swinging his elbows around and was about 3 inches away from knocking Hill out and earning himself a healthy suspension.

      While I’m not going to go down as ever being very fond of the Raptors analysts, they are acting bush league this year.

      • No they aren’t. Watch some games on League Pass (maybe you do) – there are a) worse broadcast teams than Matt and Jack, and b) bigger team homers than Matt and Jack, by far – the Heat duo is terrible and bordering on unlistenable, and the Celtics guys are huge team homers.

        The Knicks announcers are great, and so are the Jazz guys. Those announcers are all about the game. They also talk a lot about the visiting team, which is one thing I wish Matt and Jack would do more of. Quit telling us about how Jose runs the offense – we’ve been watching him for years.

        • I’ve never heard any analysts go off for an entire quarter, on nearly every play, about how the refs are making mistakes.

          Home announcers are almost always homers. I don’t have a problem with that – its what they get paid to do. I have no problems with calling occasional plays questionable, or from time to time pointing out the refs missed a call. But its the level and degree to which these two in particular have been placing the onus on the refs and it peaked in particularily pitiful display last night

          The Boston duo may wear the biggest blinders in the league… but I have never heard them go off on the refs anything like Jack and Matt did in last nights 4th quarter.

  3. If a win was ever needed ……..
    Casey summed it up in the post game – they had every reason to lose
    An unexpected win, makes up for one of our bitter losses.

    Five more minutes a night, Jonas would be averaging a DD,

  4. The Raptors are averaging 5 more foul calls per game than their opponents this year. Third worst in the league. Last year the averaged 6 more foul calls than their opponents, worst in the league and if I remember right it was about 2-3 worse than the 2nd worst team.

    There are only 2 ways to interpret this. Either the Raptors play a foul happy style of D and don’t attack the rim … or they can’t buy a call. It might be a little of the first, but if you watch Demar crash into people night after night you’ve gotta know its a lot of the second. If he got Dwayne Wade 2006 calls he would average 25 a game easy.

    Its BS, but there’s nothing we can do about it and unless we get an NBA start the league gives a damn about (which is hard, because to be a star you kinda have to get calls) its not going to change.

  5. Calderons rebounds were really soft defensive rebounds. If he 50% in offensive rebounds then it would be impressive. He gave away some bad turnovers again which to his luck didnt appoint to many buckets. Bargs again showed a horrible shooting night. At least he knows to pass the ball now.

    • You’re complaining that most of the 10 rebounds the 6’2 point guard got on his way to a triple double were “really soft defensive rebounds”? And are you aware that when PGs go after offensive rebounds they are usually out of position defensively to prevent fast breaks? That’s why it’s generally not recommended.

    • What is a really soft defensive rebound, considering he’s a point guard?

      Also, it’s funny that you want him to get 50% offensive rebounds. Considering he got 10 last night, I’m happy if a point guard gets 5 total rebounds in a game. But 5 offensive rebounds for a point guard just isn’t going to happen even if they tried. Most skilled big men can’t even do that regularily.

      • I didn’t state that I wanted him to get 50% offensive rebounds. To me a soft rebound is when the ball gets to you uncontested. The triple double he had was just an inflated number. If you see how Davis plays how he attacks rebounds when there is only his own players around him just to get the stat. Its funny to see. We all love Lowry for getting rebounds particularly in the offensive side as well. (look at his injury)
        Its funny that people are hyped over this triple double when the numbers really mean nothing. Sure he was in the right spot at the right time. But I’d take 5 hard fought rebounds over just a lazy 10 soft rebounds anyday.

        • Who’s hyped? It seems to me you’re just looking for a reason to criticize. Calderon played well last night, but no one is talking about an All Star game, or anything.

          And your comment about fans loving when Lowry gets offensive rebounds, who cares? As I said earlier, PGs should NOT be going after a lot of offensive rebounds because it puts them out of position defensively.

        • I see what you’re saying, but there’s no such thing as a “lazy rebound” unless you lose control of it afterwards, or turn it over, etc. A rebound is a rebound regardless and every rebound a team gets is important no matter how hard it was to get.

          Also, being at the right place at the right time isn’t always luck. Shots can easily be anticipated and good players can position themselves to it accordingly.

  6. “Many of us usually pick apart Calderon’s flaws…”

    Yes, you do. And I’ve said it many times that you’re way, way too hard on Calderon and don’t give him nearly enough credit. While his play was far from perfect, he was a big reason the Raptors were in it till the end against Utah and why they won tonight.

    • IMO – I don’t think he (Joe) is hard on Calderon. Yes, JC was a beast last night and in Utah, but was non existent in Philly and OKC. Having these games like last night (especially @ a 10+mill a year clip) is expected almost every game….JC will now turn in 2-3 stinkers in a row, if history has anything to do with it. I hope he doesn’t, we need him right now to keep this play up.
      And – as good as he did play last night…..With 4 minutes remaining in the game, Hill scored 8pts, count ‘em- Eight pts in JC’s face – 4 straight shots. Hill accounted for 8 of Indy’s 14 pts in that quarter. Now, in JC’s defense, he was spent by then and rightly so, but still gotta play D at that crucial time and lock Hill down – if the Raps would have lost, those 8 pts in 5 minutes would be magnified this morning!

      • Of course Joe is hard on Calderon. GO back and read some of the things hes written about him. I tend not to look at the author, but after reading something overly critical about Calderon in articles, 9 times out of 10 it’s written by Joe.

        Now, I’m not suggesting he’s worth his contract. Not by a long shot. But he’s a better player than Joe (and others) give him credit for, suggesting his not a starting quality PG. He is. The fact that he and Amir have been the only two Raptors to consistently have a positive impact on the court, the last three+ years should tell you a lot.

        As for not being able to “shut down” Hill, that’s simply not a realistic complaint. Now, Calderon is certainly not a good defender, and that’s always been a big issue with him, but 95% of the PGs in the league can’t shut down their opposing player. NBA rules make it nearly impossible by design. That’s why you NEED big men who are good help defenders.

        Hill took 20 shots to score his 18 points, and had more turnovers than assists. I’d be happy with that.

  7. The reason DeRozan doesn’t get many calls is because on way too many of his drives he is blatantly going for the call, not the basket. Too often he moves into traffic and does not/cannot elevate over traffic, so is looking to the officials to bail him out. If he showed the officials he could make the shots, then he would get the calls.

    Yeah, great game for Calderon. But he’s always been a warrior. His main problem is that he just doesn’t have the physical ability to defend much of the NBA. But I’ve never seen him quit, no matter how badly he may be getting torched.

    Really excited about Ross’s development and potential.

  8. Scoot, now calderon is a warrior?

    Are u crazy???

  9. I have a theory that opposing coaches are telling thier players to hack away. ” hack em any chance you get, refs are not calling shit”….thats the game plan….

    proof is in the pudding folks….last two games did you ever see a raptor drive to the net uncontested? nope, foul every time….I dont need the commentators to tell me, you can see it for yourself.

    I think Demar is getting fed up, but he has heart and keep going at em….I wish refs were more accountable for their decisions…

    • “proof is in the pudding folks….last two games did you ever see a raptor drive to the net uncontested? nope, foul every time”

      foul EVERY TIME? Yep, the proof IS in the fan boys pudding.

  10. I was actually more impressed with Terrence Ross on D last night than his offence. There was one posession where he got stuck guarding Hibbert and he actually managed to push Hibbert further away from the hoop before help came. He’s skinny up top but I think he’s deceptively strong. I saw some of that in his college highlights where he pushes people around underneath the basket. He was also moving his feet well and contesting shots…good to see. I’d like to see him get more PT, even if he or DeMar has to play some minutes at the 3.

    Really tired of Bargs getting the differential “star” treatment and it’s making me go sour on Casey. Two games in a row where he’s contributing nothing and he’s on the floor the whole time late in games. I don’t know where that energy came from to start last season but it looks dead and buried. Play JV and Amir together if you have to in the 4th Q.

    The reffing is bad but Matt and Jack were harping on it way too much. I don’t actually think DeMar deserves that many more calls just because he falls down a lot when he drives the lane. He flails around too much in there but hopefully he’ll learn. His post game has been a freaking revelation. The calls that bother me are the BS rookie calls on JV and the ticky tack shit they call on some Raps players that they would never whistle more established players for.

    • Agreed on the Ross D. His defence was noticeable on quite a few possessions. If he can continue to bring even average defence at the wing while also slowly establishing himself as a shooting weapon on offence, Casey will HAVE to find minutes for him.

  11. Joseph, did you notice Demar’s improved handles?

    Would you agree that he is also a better passer this year?

    • Without question. His passing and overall court vision when the ball is in his hands is still inconsistent (his assist totals in his last four games are 7, 0, 6 and 0), but his ball handling is vastly improved, as he’s almost at the point where he’s regularly creating his own shot. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from him offensively so far.

  12. Why is Jonas not out there more? Thirty minutes of Bargs?

    Swear to God, if I see Bargnani out and about in Toronto, I’m hitting him with my car.

  13. I don’t understand why Casey has bargnani on the floor on the late defensive possessions. Would it not make sense to have Gray, Davis, or Jonas on the floor to gaurd and grab a defensive rebound? I mean Casey puts in McGuire for defensive possessions after time outs but leaves bargnani out there? Doesn’t make any sense.

  14. I mean it worked out for the raps but only cause Indiana missed repeatedly and we couldn’t grab a board to save our lives. Anyone agree?

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