The Nets overcame a slow start and pulled away from the Raptors for their seventh straight win and ninth win in 10 games under P.J. Carlesimo.

Here are some thoughts on the game…

Nets 113, Raptors 106

- The obvious storyline from this game if you stayed ’til the end was the return of Kyle Lowry, both literally and figuratively. Lowry sprained his left ankle in the second quarter and it was originally announced that he would not return to the game, but with the Nets up 15 with 8:02 to play in the fourth quarter, Kyle checked back in. The result? Lowry scored 19 of his 21 points in those final eight minutes on 5-of-7 shooting, which included four made three-pointers in five attempts. Here’s hoping that the ankle is okay (Lowry was still slightly limping while shooting the lights out in the fourth) and that Kyle is back to being the Kyle Lowry we’ve been looking for.

Again, I’m not saying the Raptors need him to be a chucker or a ball hog, but they sure as hell need him to be more aggressive than he had been over the last couple of weeks before tonight.

- With 15 points, five assists and three rebounds, Jose Calderon was the best Raptor on the floor in this one until Lowry came alive in the fourth. Calderon sat the entire fourth quarter after appearing to get hurt in an awkward collision with Reggie Evans, but with Lowry already banged up and the Raptors dealing with enough injuries, letting Jose rest during the fourth was probably for the best.

- Though the Raptors actually reclaimed a few one-point leads early in the second half, anyone watching knows that this game turned for the worse when the Nets erased a 10-point second quarter deficit by closing the first half on a 24-10 run in a seven-minute stretch. It was a back-breaking run that the Raptors never fully recovered from.

- Turnovers played a big part in tonight’s result, as the Nets coughed the ball up only six times compared to the Raptors’ 13 turnovers and scored over 20 points off of those 13 Toronto turnovers.

- Another big negative for the Raptors tonight was DeMar DeRozan, who missed three layups in a 5-of-15 performance that saw him score 12 points while going to the free throw line just two times, grabbing two rebounds, recording one assist and committing two turnovers in over 34 minutes of action. DeMar didn’t bring nearly the level of play the Raptors need from him to go into a place like Brooklyn and come out with a win.

- Terrence Ross added a couple of nice highlights to boost the “Let Ross Dunk” campaign and grabbed an impressive nine rebounds in 23 minutes, but the rookie’s in a big time shooting slump right now. With his 2-of-9 performance on Tuesday (his only makes on the night were dunks), Ross is now 6-of-25 from the field over his last five games since his 26-point eruption against the Blazers. He’s 2-of-14 from three-point range during that stretch.

- Dwane Casey’s decision to start Aaron Gray in place of Amir Johnson worked well in the first half, as Gray did a good job of putting a body on Brook Lopez early, getting his hands on rebounds and moving the ball when it did find him before Amir brought some of his usual energy off of the bench. But Gray was nowhere near as effective in the second half, and it’s becoming painfully apparent that the Raptors need some frontcourt relief to help spell Johnson and Ed Davis right now, who have logged a ton of minutes since Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas went down with injuries.

Speaking of Davis, after an impressive 10-point, five-rebound performance in the first half, Ed managed just two points and two rebounds in a disappointing second half.

- In one of the more bizarre Raptors injuries of the season, Alan Anderson lost a tooth on this play and didn’t return to the game. In the nearly nine minutes that he did play, Anderson looked uncomfortable and was trying to force too much offensively, finishing with two points on 0-of-4 shooting.

- I won’t take anything away from how well the Nets are playing right now, but it’s still tough to get a read on them since they’ve been beating up on some pretty weak competition during this 10-game run (I’m aware of their wins over the Thunder and Pacers). They’re obviously a better team than what they were showing during Avery Johnson’s last days, but they’re probably also not as good as they look right now. In short, they’re a legit playoff team that can win a playoff series at their best, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re a threat to make the East Final until we see them beat some heavy hitters.

We should get a good indication of who they are over the next month and a half though, as the Nets are about to begin a stretch of 19 games that will see them play 14 of those games against teams with winning records.

- Here’s a direct quote from my pre-game thread: “The Nets are outscoring teams by an average of about 8.7 points over these last nine games and have beaten the Raptors by six points and seven points in a couple of close games earlier this season, so a line of -7 for Brooklyn looks about right.” As you know by now, the Nets ended up winning by seven, so this just serves as a reminder that Vegas knows what they’re doing.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Kyle Lowry – 21 Pts, 5/7 FG, 4/5 3PT, 7/7 FT, 1 Reb, 2 Ast in 14:49

Nets Player Of the Game: Brook Lopez – 22 Pts, 6/12 FG, 10/10 FT, 9 Reb, 1 Stl, 2 Blk in 28:48

The Raptors will look to avoid losing a third straight game for the first time in over a month when they host the Bulls on Wednesday night, but if you’ve been keeping up with Chicago recently, you’ll know that’s much easier said than done.

With dates at Philly and then home to the Lakers after that, I maintain that a 1-3 week is the most realistic outcome.

Comments (16)

  1. Whether deserved or not, I have a feeling that Derozan is going to be the next Raptor that will be the target of fans’ venom. That is, if he continues to have games like this.

    It won’t be as bad as Bargnani has it. But it could start to get worse than any blow-back Lowry has received up to this point.

  2. He’s a good guy. But the way you seem him react offensively when it’s clear that the opposing team is specifically keying in on him makes it more and more likely that the ceiling for him as player is probably Rudy Gay at best. How ironic is that. :S

  3. And I think you already wrote a piece on that Rudy Gay comparison earlier, Joseph. If DeMar does turn out to be a Rudy Gay then his contract will look like a bit of a bargain when compared to how much Rudy Gay is actually making right now.

    Looking at it from that perspective, perhaps we can’t expect more from DeMar. It’s seeming more and more likely that the harsh truth is that DeMar is ONLY as good as he is right now BECAUSE he puts in so much work in the offseason. He just doesn’t have that eye-catching talent that T. Ross already does as a rookie.

    • Yeah, I mentioned that DeRozan’s season is comparable to Rudy Gay’s fourth season at 23-years-old (at the time I wrote that, their fourth season per-36 minute stats in PPG, RPG, APG, SPG, BPG, TO and PF were all within 0.8 of each other), and that even though Gay is more naturally talented, DeRozan might still be in line for the same type of career because of the off-court work. And if he can even get close to Rudy’s level, which it looks like he can, the contract will be more than fair.

      As for Ross, I’ve been saying since Draft night that he has more pure basketball talent than DeRozan had coming into the league and is just as athletic as DeMar was/is, so you can definitely make the argument that Ross has the higher NBA ceiling.

  4. “DeMar didn’t bring nearly the level of play the Raptors need from him to go into a place like Brooklyn and come out with a win”.

    Its not a matter of did he bring. Is he capable of consistently performing at a high level? I dont think so. He is what he is. A very good bench scorer on a good team. He is misplaced on the raptors and fans expect more but he is just not good enough. The stupid extension BC gave him doesnt help him either.

    Regarding tonight, raptors simply got overmatched on talent. Nothing surprising about that in todays NBA. Lowry on one leg is still the most talented raptor. Sad, but true.

  5. i was in the building tonight, and couldn’t help but notice the raptors’ tendency to over-react to small runs by the nets. the raptors would abandon their defensive sets and smother the ballhandler, leading to a open corner 3 opportunities on the weak side for the nets. this is symptomatic of a young/inexperienced team, but i’d like to see casey do a better job of keeping them confident after their opponent makes a couple of buckets rather than frazzling (and perhaps in the near future this means being quicker on the whistle).

    regarding derozan – the guy’s a shooter (whether he’ll achieve reliable distance on that shot is another matter) and one of the biggest assets a shooter needs is other threats on the floor to draw attention and create the half-second hesitations that lead to open looks. with ross and anderson cold and the other injuries, calderon was the only other raptor that commanded any attention outside of the paint, hindering the kid’s game.

    • The defensive break downs after a couple of bad possessions was a big factor in some of their frustrating early season losses, whereas during their run at the end of December and early January, they were able to stay consistently locked in on the defensive end, albeit against some much weaker competition. Now again over the last couple of games, they’re reverting back to some bad tendencies.

      As for DeRozan, he’s developed a solid mid-range game but is still at his best when he’s attacking the basket. He didn’t do it enough tonight, and when he did, he was blowing layups. He also wasn’t a presence on the glass or on the defensive end, two areas that he’s at least slightly improved in this season. All in all, he just didn’t seem to be as involved in this game as the Raptors needed him to be.

  6. People have dud games. It happens.

    *shrugs*

    Don’t really get this on-going algorithm with Demar.

    Good game: I declare the contract….valid!

    Bad Game: He’s a disgrace.

    Not singling out blog admin for this. Just a general gripe against posters on various boards.

  7. It’s hard to win against good teams when your franchise player, and your most talented player is out. Say what you want about Bargnani, we need him.

    • Demar hates it when Bargnani’s out, and last night was a good example.

    • Bargnani isn’t a franchise player.

      Bargnani isn’t the most talented player.

      The team doesn’t need him.

      • JV was the franchise player I was refering to. Bargnani is one of the most talented player in the league. Now talent and performance are two totally different things. This team needs more talent, they would be happy to have him back. He is the only one being blamed for their horrid start, when in fact their were so many other factors. Let him come back and establish himself, he is a good player.

        • Talent without performance is meaningless.

          And Bargnani’s level of ‘talent’ is highly overstated by fans. Its not that high.

          • He made the NBA, was drafted first overall, and has been in the league 7 years, the guy definetely has talent. He has been on a terrible team his whole career, and he’s had to be a number one option when that’s not who he is as a player.

  8. I thought the guys with the whistles turned a close game in to a walk away. Williams got breathed on and got to the line. Lopez was stopped straight up during the Anderson injury but got the foul and on and on. Seriously where else can you watch a sport where the announcers say to the public, the paying public, well when you have his experience, talent, reputation, good looks or the size of his family your going to get that call. Really? Really???

    • Oh most definitely. Someone should make another youtube video about the horrible refs in this game. The two fouls on Fields were … well, I’d say someone was ‘bought’ but that doesn’t happen anymore does it? Not since Timmy D right? The replays clearly showed Fields not touching the player at all, and clearly showed the ref who made the call with no angle to actually see anything. If you can’t see the foul, why are you calling one? bet/bribe/bozo choose one.

      And yes, it is infuriating when the announcers immediately prattle on about the player getting the benefit of the doubt because he is a star, or a ‘max’ player. Just call a crap call, a crap call already. Don’t try to justify bad refereeing all the time! That just encourages this crap!

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