With Kyle Lowry back in the lineup, the Raptors look to get back on track and start a new streak in New Orleans.

Start time: 8:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN

Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Mickael Pietrus, Ed Davis, Aaron Gray
New Orleans: Greivis Vasquez, Austin Rivers, Lance Thomas, Anthony Davis, Robin Lopez

Injury report
Toronto: Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas are out
New Orleans: Eric Gordon is still out, while Jason Smith is questionable

Random Thoughts:

  • The story of the day is obviously Kyle Lowry’s return to the court. Lowry will come off the bench just as he did in his first game back from injury earlier this season, but you get the feeling that this isn’t the same situation. When Lowry returned from the ankle injury in November, he came off the bench to ease back into things and was starting again by the next night. This time around, it seems he’ll have to legitimately win back his starting spot from Jose Calderon. Of course, what matters is who finishes games, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of both Lowry and Calderon on the floor together in crunch time.
  • While everyone speculates about how Lowry will handle coming off the bench, I’m just as curious about how Calderon will handle starting now that there is competition around again. Remember, Jose’s best stretches this season and in his career have come when filling in for an injured point guard ahead of him on the depth chart, but he’s yet to consistently outplay Lowry with Kyle actually healthy. The Raptors need Calderon to play at the same level he’s been at recently, not revert back to the point guard that always leaves fans wanting someone else.
  • I wonder how much longer Mickael Pietrus will remain a starter for this team. He’s playing well defensively, but he’s not bringing enough to the table right now, and it shows in his dwindling minutes (less than 18 minutes per game over last six games). The next logical step would seem to be to replace Pietrus in the starting five, especially with the Raptors finally having their full wing rotation healthy.
  • We won’t get to see him on the floor at the same time as Jonas Valanciuans, but tonight will still mark the first meeting between the Raptors and Anthony Davis. He’s struggled through some injury woes to start his NBA career, but when he has been healthy, the results have been there for the Kentucky product. He’s averaging 14.5 points (on over 49% shooting), 8.5 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals in 31.4 minutes per game while sporting a PER of 21.26. Not bad for a 19-year-old rookie big man.
  • Before the five-game winning streak, I constantly harped on my opinion that no game on the schedule should be seen as “winnable” with the way the Raptors had been playing, especially on the road. But the streak changed things a bit, and the Spurs game notwithstanding, I think most people believe this Raps team is better than the 4-19 squad that opened the season. How they perform on the road tonight in New Orleans and tomorrow night in Orlando should give us some indication as to whether those people are right, because as I mentioned on Wednesday, the 4-19 team loses these next two games, while the team that took care of lesser opponents to reel off five straight wins before the holidays takes at least one of two, if not both. So, which team shows up?

Comments (15)

  1. A must win game for the Raptors. It’s too bad we won’t get to see Jonas go up against Davis, it would have been a good test for him.

    As for replacing Pietrus in the starting line-up, it doesn’t really matter who starts, it’s the minutes that really count. Landry Fields has been disappointing so far (I still have hope in him!) and Terrence Ross is still in the learning phase. So no one has really stepped up to prove that they deserve that starting spot, with the exception of Alan Anderson. However, I’d rather see him continue to come off the bench and be a second unit scorer.

    • Agreed, raps need 2nd unit scoring and i like Anderson in this spot, i also dont want him trying too hard like some players do to prove he deserves a starting job, hes done more then enough to prove to me hes a valuable player, keep that energy off the bench,

  2. Has anyone else noticed that this team has lost over twice as many games as its won?

    • We’ve all noticed that you idiot. Although after a 4-19 start, a five game winning streak, and a much better schedule, things are looking up. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here PBI.

      • Well, that’s slightly uncalled for.

        I just didn’t realize their record was THAT bad until this last week where they’ve had some time off and we’ve all had a chance to digest the first 30 games or so.

        What a disaster.

        • not to be rude, but anyone who can do math can realize this lol

        • You’re a disaster. If you just started following the team now, then you have no idea what’s going on with this team.

          • This blog sure is frequented by a lot of rude people.

          • @Sly your antagonism is totally uncalled for. Personal attacks against posters on a Raptors blog? Come on, I can only hope you’re better than that. PBI’s been *commenting* on Raptorblog for at least 8 years (given that his name references Rafael Araujo), and I can only imagine following the team far longer.

            @PBI, I think I commented on another post about the record. Having them require a 5 game winning streak to get 10 games under .500 only 30 games in really clarifies how terrible they’ve been.

            Apropos of nothing, tomorrow is the 13th anniversary of Hoffa’s best career game, by game score. He had his two best games of the season (statistically) on 12/28/04 and 12/29/04, with (pts/rebs/blks/stl) 8/10/0/3 against the Lakers and 13/8/1/1 at Golden State. Oy vey.

  3. A bit off topic but I was watching the OKC-Mavs game last night and it got me thinking. For the amount of money we are spending on Amir Johnson and Landry Fields, we could have Chris Kaman and OJ Mayo instead, who both signed as free agents with the Mavs in the summer. Mayo is making just $4.1M and, in the right situation, I think he has the talent to be a Top 25 player in the NBA!

    • I think in both those cases, the Mavs got a discount by virtue of who they are. Mayo was holding out for a better deal IIRC, and signed late with the Mavs. It’s unlikely the Raps could have gotten either quite so cheap, though you’re probably right that they could still have been better values than Fields, even if they cost more. Though…. I think C and SG are perhaps not where they needed to bring people in.

    • A big reason for signing Fields was because it would have helped the Raptors get Steve Nash.

      Adding a guy like Mayo would have done nothing to help Colangelo’s terrible plan of adding Nash.

  4. The Toronto market must not be an attractive market for talent.

  5. Encouraging win. Solid performance by Derozan, Lowry seems to be back for real.

    Since I can’t stand to hope they suck balls for the rest of the year, I’m hoping they can get back into contention for the 8th spot. 5.5 games back right now, though I have to believe the Celts and Nets will improve, so the Raps may be aiming at a target that’s moving away.

    Might be a nice motivator that their next opponent is also the team above them in the standings.

    10-20 baby!

  6. I noticed the Raps have won exactly half the amount of games they lost

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