The Raptors shot the lights out and shared the ball beautifully en route to a 23-point rout of the Trail Blazers and an eighth win in nine games.

Raptors 102, Trail Blazers 79

- So about that shooting and passing? The Raptors shot over 53 per cent from the field and finished with 34 assists on 41 made field goals while committing only 11 turnovers. That’s about as good as offence gets in the NBA, and it was simply beautiful to watch.

- Continuing on the selfless ball-moving basketball theme and before I get to individual performances, I have to mention the point guard tandem tonight. Neither of them scored in this game, but Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry combined for 22 assists, only two turnovers (Calderon had 13 assists and zero turnovers) and just three field goal attempts. I don’t know if it’s possible to keep these guys happy while virtually splitting minutes, but if it is, the Raptors will have one of the best point guard duos in the league hands down, maybe second best to Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe.

- Last game I mentioned that the win in Orlando was really the first “cruise control” type victory of the season for the Raptors, but even that game was close for the first six minutes. Tonight against the Blazers, the Raptors jumped out to a 10-0 lead, held Portland to just four points through the game’s first six minutes, and other than a couple of stretches in the second quarter, seemed to be holding a double-digit lead all night. An encouraging sign in these two blowout victories is how the Raptors have been able to keep their intensity up in the fourth quarter despite leads of 20-plus points. A lot of times teams will just begin trading baskets at a certain point, but the Raps have actually been able to increase their already mammoth leads down the stretch in these last two games because they’ve kept to the game plan no matter the score.

- The Blazers looked to have it down to a 13-point deficit heading into halftime, but then Terrence Ross did this:

That circus buzzer-beater was one of six threes on the night from Ross, who finished with an incredible 26 points in only 25 minutes while playing his usual competent defence and chipping in with five rebounds, two assists and two steals. In other words, not a bad night for a rookie. Ross has been sensational during this Raptors run, and his unexpected contributions on both ends of the floor have been instrumental in the Raps getting hot.

- I could praise either of Ed Davis or Amir Johnson’s efforts tonight, or I could just tell you that they combined for 36 points and 14 rebounds on 16-of-24 shooting. Davis, especially, continues to show such encouraging development in his offensive game.

- Speaking of encouraging development, how about DeMar DeRozan? We’ve seen better rebounding, defence and play making from DeRozan in various games this season, but tonight, the story was his improved individual offence. DeMar was hitting his increasingly dependent mid-range jumper, was breaking guys down off the dribble and was scoring in the post. The final result? 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting.

- Considering how easy this game looked for the Raptors, it’s pretty crazy that three of their five starters were held scoreless and that up until late in the fourth quarter, only five Raptors had scored yet (DeRozan, Ross, Davis, Johnson and Fields). Quincy Acy, Alan Anderson and John Lucas III eventually all joined the scoring party in garbage time, as the Raps finished with eight players on the scoreboard. Four Raptors scored at least 17 points, though.

- We’ve all been hard on this team this season, especially during their 4-19 start, and rightfully so. They also remain a team that’s still eight games under .500, so I don’t think anyone suddenly believes they’re world beaters. But considering how bad things were, it’s just fun to watch them play together right now, especially these last two games where they’ve played near flawless basketball.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Terrence Ross – 26 Pts, 8/14 FG, 6/9 3PT, 4/6 FT, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl in 24:53

Trail Blazers Player Of the Game: LaMarcus Aldridge – 14 Pts, 7/12 FG, 10 Reb,  3 Ast, 3 TO in 34:38

Oh, and the 76ers and Celtics both lost tonight, so the Raptors are suddenly just 2.5 games behind eighth in the East.

2.5 games.

Comments (42)

  1. TASTY game. Just delicious. ANDREA!

  2. I know im probably in the minority but I thought lowry played way too passive this game. He is not calderon and doesnt need to play like him. He has more to offer. Luckily, they didnt need his scoring tonight but they will most other nights.

    • Oh Yeah, Otherwise GREAT GAME.

    • There’s something to be said for making adjustments based on needs in a given game. The Raps had a few hot hands tonight. It’s hard to fault Lowry for recognizing that and feeding them.

    • Not only did Lowry make adjustments but his turnovers were down which is what you like to see. IMO they keep Jose and use him to groom Lowry for the future. You could tell that Lowry had never played with another PG with the basketball IQ that Jose has. People ragging on Bargs will be in for a pleasant surprise when he returns because I believe that Lowry’s get mine attitude was killing the team. That was on Casey who kept putting him out there and a tribute to Calderon for not getting PO’d and demanding a trade.

      • Its hard to read your comments – your insight is based on your man love for Jose and that is so not how to evaluate the teams play. For you ton say that its was Lowry who made the team bad before is laughable. I swear the more and more I read your comments, you are Doug Smith from the Star commenting under a different name – wouldn’t surprise me! you both say the same BS things

    • great point AD – I too was thinking the same thing. YES, Lowry needed to start playing a more “team” oriented style – BUT, he shouldn’t swing too far over to other side. That is not Lowry’s total game. Jose plays the way he does, because he has too! He has no defense, no foot speed, cannot create is own shot, can’t break his defender off the dribble and cannot hit contested shots consistently – therefore he is forced to play at a high IQ, pass first type of play. Lowry can run the floor, and do all those things Jose can’t at a close to an all-star level. That doesn’t mean Lowry should own the floor but it doesn’t also mean Lowry should hide his skills so much either. It worked tonight, but against New Orleans the other night, when Calderon was missing and the team looked stagnant at time on offense, Lowry took over. Again….great point boss!

      • Wow, I couldn’t disagree more. I thought he did exactly what he had to do in this game and what a good, team first point guard is supposed to do. Ross, Demar, and Davis were all on fire and were destroying the Blazers, the team was moving the ball beautifully, and it was killing the Blazers. Lowry kept feeding them and kept the ball moving. Had the rest of the team started clanging shots, it would have been on Lowry to step up and take the offence into his hands a bit. But they stayed hot, the ball kept moving, and he played it exactly right. Great sign, IMO. The last thing we need is for him to turn into Mike James just so that he can display his skills or whatever.

        • I would have to agree. If your team mates are making their shots, just keep feeding them. It didn’t seem that Portland was playing Lowry tight, so he clearly could have been looking for his own shot much more. But when DD, Ross, Ed Davis and Amir were all hitting theirs, Lowry looking for his own wasn’t necessary. I’m glad he recognized this.

          As for the way they played Jose, rather tight for some reason, Jose just kept making these desperation circus passes, one after another.

          All credit to Jose and Lowry. They successfully accomplished what they needed to do in the game. Well done.

          My one complaint was that DD fell in love with his midrange jumper last night. Yes, you were hitting them at a high rate DD, but your game is getting free throws. You only got two freebies last night. Keep taking it to the rack.

          BC, Andrea needs to keep his ass stapled to the bench, and JV needs to come back and replace Gray. It looked like the refs were trying to jump on Gray for a bunch of early BS calls so that LA could have a ‘star’ game. I’m glad the rest of the team didn’t let it happen. We didn’t need to out muscle LA, we just needed to out hustle him. And they did.

          Well done Raptors!

        • Fair enough. I just dont want to see lowry’s passive play continue when derozan’s, ross’s, and davis’s shots arent falling.

          • I hear you, and I’m actually with you on him probably being the better option long term, but I thought it was a great sign overall, and for him as a player, that he was willing to take a back seat when that was what was best for the team.

  3. It’s going to be really interesting to see where this team is at the end of this homestand. At this point, would it really be that surprising if they end up 16-21 or 15-22?

    What a confounding season, I can’t recall a Raptors team looking so bad and so good within a three week period. Not only that, but the players look more energetic, the bench is seemingly standing the entire game and no matter who goes down with an injury, they just seem to plug in someone else and keep rolling. Landry Fields is coming off back to back games where he played very well, LANDRY FIELDS!

    Yes, the schedule has gotten much easier and yes, they are playing more home games now but they were playing similar caliber teams early on and struggling to beat them or flat out losing to them. Now, they are running those teams out of the building.

    I don’t know what else to say.

    • Looking at the rest of the homestand, the Raps of the past two weeks have to be favoured against the Kings and Bobcats. They’ll have 2 nights rest against the 76ers who will be coming off playing the Nets the night before. That leaves the Thunder, who’ll probable take care of business, and the Bucks, a tough road team, but one who’s record is probably a game or two better than their play might suggest. So, yeah, 16-21 could happen. It’s crazy that they’d still be 5 games under .500 after going 12-2, but it’d still be pretty fun to have seen them go 12-2.

      Plus, just imagine how good they’ll be when…. I can’t do it.

    • “I can’t recall a Raptors team looking so bad and so good within a three week period. ”

      I can – remember the year that Vince got hurt and they wound up losing to the Pistons in the playoffs when Childs (I think) forgot the score?

      This team reminds me a LOT of that one in the way they swung their game due to a combination of a weak schedule and the sudden departure of their “star.”

      (VC was a star. Andrea isn’t, but we’ll go with it for the argument.)

  4. …Primo Ballerina is traded. Time for BC to suck it up and smell the coffee. Just wondering how Barfgnani fared in his psychological tests to make a GM believe that he can be the cornerstone of a franchise?

    • A lot of confidence percolating through this club atm. Time to see if they can hold home court(something that has not been the Raptor’s strength in recent years) and make their fans believers again. So far this year, this team has let some wins slip away against good teams in the ACC. Very interesting stretch.

  5. I’ve been watching this team constantly with no other sports going on and I’m happy with what I’m seeing. Like Joseph said, if there is a way to keep both PGs happy with minutes and have them playing well, this could be a great start back to .500. Trading Barney for anything would make me happy. Draft picks, bangers inside, another energy guy? Doesn’t really matter who, I’m just afraid of what will happen if he ever comes back. Great defence right now and smooth offence. Fun to watch.

  6. 64% chance of making the playoffs, 6.6% chance of making the finals. This reminds me of that carter era team that won out to make the playoffs. http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/playoffodds

  7. Ross has rounded into form faster than anyone could have predicted but I really like how when DeRozen, Ross and others interviewed point to team mates. Ross’ “I didn’t think Jose saw me. He has eyes in the back of his head.” comment is exactly what you are looking for as a coach. That is an area Lowry has to improve upon as well. besides the turnovers that is. I’m not concerned about Bargs returning at all. There was some concern that Lowry would upset the chemistry upon his return but he showed that he is not stupid and bought into team victory instead of personal glory. Sort of like that Jose feller. Great ball to watch.

    • I don’t know, I’m having a hard time figuring out how they’ll be able to work Primo in without disrupting things. You’d think their best lineup would be JV, Davis, Fields (man, does he ever look like he has his mojo back), Demar and Jose or Lowry starting, with Amir, Ross, Lowry and Anderson rotating in and basically playing as much as the starters. I think anything more than a 9 man rotations just doesn’t work. I know there’s an argument on paper for a floor-spacing big man like Primo alongside your banger (JV) and your glue guy (Fields) but how did that work out for us? They really need to trade his sorry ass.

  8. My overall impression from watching the game in the arena was that Ed Davis has quietly turned into a player that’d start on a lot of NBA teams. He had a LOT of nice little touches to his game last night – I loved that little jumper he hit a couple of times, which the Blazers seemed befuddled by.

    Biggest difference with the team from the last time I saw them live (Spurs double-OT loss) was that they were pressing on the defensive end a lot more, which caused a lot of early turnovers and made sure the game wasn’t really in doubt. That’s exactly how you wipe out a visitor that’s playing back-to-backs.

    • Really impressed by Ed. Just would have been nice to see him get this opportunity earlier on in his career.

      It really proves that you don’t need a stretch 4 in the NBA, which was a ridiculous argument to begin with.

      • agreed ive been an ed davis fan since he first seen him play for unc. love his defensive intensity, redounding and how he blocks/alters shots, his 10-15 ft jimmy is only going to improve not to mention he his really improving on the pick n rolls and pick n pops, we should with out a doubt trade bargs for a legit 5 one who can challenge JV but also help with his development, i cant stand watching aron gray out there we desperately need someone else out there

  9. just completely thrilled they stayed the course with casey, rather than firing him in a rush (cf. lakers & nets)

  10. Hilarious moment of the morning: buoyed by their rise to #12 in Hollinger’s power rankings, the Raps now have a 1% chance of winning the NBA championship in his latest playoff odds.

    I think it might be a good time for Hollinger to move on to the Grizz, since if this team somehow wound up winning the title in one out of every one hundred of his simulations it’s time to examine the PER system on a deep, fundamental level since something’s obviously screwed up.

    • His rankings place a high value on margin of victory. I suspect the two recent blowouts will have swung them a fair bit. I didn’t think they’d be all the way up to 12 though!

    • This might be news to you, but 1% is pretty damn low.

      Converted to odds, the Raptors have a 100-1 chance of winning the title.

      • Yes… except 100-1 is still several orders of magnitude better than I would personally put their chances at this point. That 100-1 is better than the Nets, (five times) better than the Lakers, etc. It’s a statistical quirk.

        The problem is that, as noted, the power rankings system gives a lot of credit to teams that win big and lose small. Because of that, their artificially high rating turns them into a much better team than they are. The Hawks are a team that have a realistic 1% chance of winning the NBA title. The Raps? Give me 5,000-1 odds and we might start to have a conversation.

  11. T ross is a stud! people are saying to put him in the dunk comp, shit why dont we put him in the 3 point comp!..jose should be in the skills comp too the man has some serious passing skills and can hit that jimmy allll day, still dont have a raptor to play in the game but it looks like demar or ross or JV could be there in the future!

  12. Some weird splits for Davis based on starting vs coming off the bench. He’s played 324 minutes in each situation, so there’s an easy comparison in terms of per minute stats. They may also reflect improvement since the start of the year, since the starts have mostly come more recently. But still. The difference in rebounds is striking – maybe indicates fatigue from playing more minutes? He’s also been much more efficient offensively as a starter, and is fouling way less.

    G / MP / FG / FGA / FT / FTA / ORB / TRB / AST / STL / BLK / TOV / PF / PTS / FG% / FT%
    11 / 324 / 59 / 99 / 16 / 23 / 19 / 77 / 18 / 9 / 10 / 13 / 25 / 134 / .596 / .696
    21 / 324 / 49 / 93 / 30 / 42 / 43 / 116 / 14 / 11 / 14 / 13 / 47 / 128 / .527 / .714

  13. which line is which^

    • Sorry — first line of stats is as a starter. 11 games started, 21 games coming off the bench.

  14. Great game! To dominate a team which have over. 500 record is really we haven’t seen so far this season. Applause to Casey and all players …

    However I still haven’t feel some relief from the Jan’s schedule as Jose do…even we play 10 of the 15 at home but there are at least
    10 teams have over. 500 record in this stretch.and that being said we haven’t really best any elite team in our current 8-1 run, to say a 8-7 record at the end of January is really a realistic goal

  15. How much does barny look dumb now . Talking shjt about the team on the radio and how bad the team is and the seconed he goes down they turn the ship right around . Lets drop a dingy in the water and leave barny and bc in the dust . How do you say defence in italian ?

  16. Leo: “Big-to-big action!”

    Stop it Leo.

  17. When is the podcast coming back?

    It would be nice to get a recap of a stretch like this.

    • We’ll be back early next week, most likely Monday. We weren’t around during the Holidays, but we’re itching to get back in the studio.

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