The Toronto Raptors keep finding new lows. Despite going 0-20 from three-point range and having two starters out of the lineup, the Portland Trail Blazers pulled off a 92-74 victory over Toronto on Monday. Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry exited with injuries, while Amir Johnson left the game due to an ejection.
- Let’s get the positives out the way quickly, because there weren’t many. DeMar DeRozan had another excellent game (20 pts, 4 reb). His mid-range jumper was on point and he got to the free throw line six times. His handle and passing ability improve every night due to the demands being placed on him at the offensive end. He should be praised for improving these skills without committing a lot of turnovers (1.7 TO/game).
- Ed Davis continued to make a case for more playing time with an excellent effort at both ends of the floor. His off-season work is obviously paying dividends, as he went 8-8 from the free-throw line tonight. Davis is the best rebounder on this team right now and it isn’t close. He leads this team with a total rebound rate of 27% (the percentage of total rebounds grabbed by a player during his time on court). Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas stand at 17% and 18% respectively, while Andrea Bargnani is getting by with 12%.
- Jonas Valanciunas had a very respectable game (8 pts, 10 reb, 3 blk). His teammates rarely look for him on offence, but he continues to bring excellent effort every night. Moving him to the bench would be a huge mistake in my mind. There is no reason not to give him as many minutes as he can handle.
- It was nice to see some emotion on the court. Amir Johnson got ejected in the third quarter after a bizarre incident under the basket where he tried to take the ball away from an official between free throws. The two wrestled over the ball, leading to Amir’s ejection. This team has lacked emotion and I didn’t have any problem with Amir unleashing some frustration. As he was being pulled away, Amir tossed his mouth-guard at the official, which will likely cost him a one-game suspension. The display of emotion was refreshing, but the mouth-guard toss was a bit childish. Amir had this to say after the game…
RT @blazersedge: Raptors F Amir Johnson said struggle over the ball w/ the referee was “childish” on both their parts and he apologized for the mouthpiece toss
— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) December 11, 2012
- Kyle Lowry played through a triceps injury for two quarters before taking a seat less than a minute into the third. He didn’t appear to be in too much discomfort as he was chatting with Landry Fields on the bench, so I wouldn’t expect him to miss much (if any) time.
- For my thoughts on Andrea Bargnani’s future in this franchise, check out this piece on why trading Bargnani is Bryan Colangelo’s only option. Andrea made it through eight minutes of game-time tonight before crashing to the ground (seen above) on an attempted poster-dunk. X-Rays came up negative…
Casey on Andrea: “Landed on his elbow, lost feeling in his hand…he had no feeling in his hand. We’ll have to wait and see tomorrow.”
— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) December 11, 2012
- Tonight, Jose Calderon showed why it is difficult to give him consistent minutes. The expected defensive problems showed their face – he was
beaten torched off the dribble by Damian Lillard, Sasha Pavlovic and Nolan Smith in the first half. But in the second half, Kyle Lowry’s departure exposed Calderon’s offensive weaknesses. He operates solely out of the pick-and-roll and teams know when they trap him, Toronto struggles to get good shots. If the proper rotations are made, DeRozan or one of the bigs are forced to throw up a contested shot.
- Mickael Pietrus has a bad habit of holding onto the ball for too long. It allows the defence to set up in perfect position and kills the rhythm of a possession. He needs to make quicker, more decisive moves with the ball.
- Toronto’s play-call coming out of a timeout with six minutes left in the game as they trailed by nine points was brutal. John Lucas tried to run his man off two poorly set screens and hoisted a contested three-pointer. Play-calling has been an issue all season long. Individual sets don’t appear to have many layers to them and the Raptors don’t manufacture many easy buckets off of set-plays or coming out of timeouts.
Raptors’ player of the game: Ed Davis – 14 Pts, 3/7 FG, 8/8 FT, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 1 TO in 24:00
Trail Blazers’ player of the game: LaMarcus Aldridge – 30 Pts, 11/19 FG, 8-8 FT, 12 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 Blk, 1 TO in 39:00
Home sweet home for the Raptors, who are 3-4 at the ACC this season (yes, that is sweet). Brooklyn, Dallas & Houston all make trips to Toronto this week and the health of Lowry in particular, will be crucial if Toronto is going to make these games interesting.