Toronto Raptors v Indiana Pacers

I joked a few times that Rudy Gay was destined to be a Raptor after the infamous “Not this guy!” game-winner in Toronto a couple of years ago went viral. Then when he actually was traded to the Raptors, I half-joked that he was destined to hit a game-winner early in his Raps career. Well it all came to fruition on Friday night in Indiana, where in a change of pace from the usual storyline in this frustrating season, the Raptors finally managed to snap victory from the jaws of defeat instead of the other way around.

F*****g Rudy Gay man…s**t.”

Here are some thoughts on the game…

Raptors 100, Pacers 98

- First and foremost, Rudy Gay. The whole “closer” thing in the NBA is a bit of a myth, because fans and plenty of old school media guys simply see a closer as a guy who has hit a few game-winning shots in his career, and therefore is more likely to do it again. In truth, “closing” tight basketball games is as much about taking care of your possessions, playing defence, and solidifying a defensive stop with a rebound as it is about that one shot at the end that will live on in everyone’s mind. But as I mentioned in my analysis of the trade the night it went down, Gay does provide a type of “closer” role that the Raptors have been sorely lacking for years. Not just because he has hit some big shots in his career, but because he has a rare ability as a 6-8 forward (other than the absolute elite players that size) to handle the ball and create for himself in short clock situations. And that’s what he did tonight in Indiana.

Furthermore, you can certainly criticize Gay for shooting 9-of-25 tonight to make it now 17-of-49 over his last two games, including 1-of-9 from three-point range. But if you’re going to criticize those numbers or point to them as a reason the Raptors even needed a game-winning shot in overtime, then you also have to acknowledge the five rebounds, five steals, two assists and two blocks Gay produced in his 44 minutes of hard fought action, which also included him coming up with the game-saving steal at the end of regulation, which led to Amir Johnson’s buzzer-beater to send the game to overtime (Rudy was also the only member of the starting five to register a positive +/- on the night).

Yes, obvious calculations like field goal percentage and other more advanced stats have taught us to look past the simple number of points a player scores, and I’m fully on board that statistical/analytical bandwagon. But those same people who rely more and more on statistics every year – myself included – should therefore also be privy to the fact that if a player can have a bad overall game even though he scores a lot, then he can also have a good all around game even though he shot the ball poorly.

To close this rant that has now consumed this post, I’ll point out that as poorly as Gay was shooting as a Raptor coming into this game (under 43 per cent), his three-game PER as a Raptor coming into tonight was over 20, which usually signifies an All-Star caliber player.

Alright, now can we please just enjoy this win and Gay’s big shot for a little while?

Oh right, more thoughts…

- I mentioned the buzzer-beating, overtime forcing put-back by Amir. Just double checking – I wasn’t the only one who fully expected the basket to be waved off after the officials reviewed it because I’ve become so jaded this season, was I? Seriously though, kudos to Gay for coming up with the steal, and kudos to Amir for sticking with the play and scoring four points to go along with three offensive rebounds in the final 10 seconds of regulation.

- You realize that we just witnessed the most Raptors loss ever, right? It just happened to be the team the Raptors were playing who suffered the very Raptors-esque fate instead of the Raptors themselves. Up four in the final 10 seconds at home, and you allow a bunch of put-back attempts and a turnover on the inbounds to force overtime before eventually losing it on a shot in the final two seconds of overtime?

Tell me you wouldn’t have assumed that’s a Raptors loss someone was describing…exactly.

- As I had mentioned in the Game Thread, the Pacers came in winners of five in a row, winners of 15 straight at home, 31-19 overall, 20-3 at home and favoured in this game by 7.5 points, so I don’t intend to take anything away from the Raptors on this night. In addition, I had also mentioned a couple of times that this was the game I was most looking forward to this week because I wanted to see how the Raptors matched up against such a hot team and a team that can make noise in the Eastern Conference post-season again this Spring. Well the Raps passed the test. If only they had passed more of them before tonight. Sigh.

- Another thing I mentioned in the Game Thread? That I thought this was the perfect game to reinsert Jonas Valanciunas into the starting lineup since he has had success against Hibbert this season. Well Dwane Casey didn’t do that, but I was happy to see Casey pluck Valanciunas off the bench when Amir fouled out rather than going back to Aaron Gray (Raptors fans would have gone APE if Gray finished out the game over JV). When all was said and done, Valanciunas finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in 26 minutes of action.

Jonas and Amir actually combined for 28 points on 13-of-22 shooting to go with 27 rebounds and four blocks. Anyone have a problem with starting these guys together (Amir can play the four) and logging them starter’s minutes together? Good, now make it happen, Dwane.

- Speaking of minute allocation, I was happy to see Terrence Ross log 18 minutes despite struggling with his shot while Alan Anderson only logged a handful. Ross and Valanciunas are the two most promising young players on the roster, not to mention the fact that with the team capped out for the next little while, Ross’ and Valanciunas’ development is likely the key to a higher ceiling for this group. In addition, you’re really not giving anything up by playing them over guys like Anderson and Gray, and even if you were, this team isn’t in a playoff race anymore, so there’s no reason to limit their minutes on behalf of veteran bit players, with all due respect to Alan and Aaron.

- As for Andrea Bargnani off of the bench…I’m not letting my guard down when it comes to Bargnani and I’m certainly not thinking about keeping him around long-term, but I will say this -  If you’ve been reduced to a bench scorer’s role because you don’t rebound or defend well enough to justify starter’s minutes, then you better go about producing that offence as smartly and efficiently as you can, and to his credit, Andrea did that tonight, scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 29 minutes without forcing anything. In two games back from injury off the bench, Bargnani has scored 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting in about 53 total minutes. He still isn’t rebounding, but he’s playing better defence and doing his job right now, and that’s simply to score when his name is called off the pine. Let’s keep it that way.

- On Tyler Hansbrough’s cheap take down of Valanciunas, which sent the big rookie to the floor awkwardly on his recovering hand, I obviously wasn’t impressed, but I’m not that surprised. Indiana has a few of the “fake tough guy” types if you ask me, and Psycho T is up there in that regard (remember him backing away from Haslem in the playoffs?), no matter his reputation as a ‘legitimate’ tough guy. It’s not the first time I’ve seen him take a cheap shot, and it probably won’t be the last. I hope the league reviews it and punishes Hansbrough in some way.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Rudy Gay – 23 Pts, 9/25 FG, 0/2 3PT, 5/6 FT, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 5 Stl, 2 Blk, 1 TO in 43:49

Pacers Player Of the Game: Paul George – 26 Pts, 8/19 FG, 5/10 3PT, 5/6 FT, 14 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO in 47:14

Comments (37)

  1. Nice recap, Joseph.

    To have a guy who can handle the ball, create and get his shot off down the stretch of games is such a strange feeling. I can’t remember the last time we had a crunch time possession before tonight that wasn’t horribly executed or completely botched from the get go (even the DeRozan game winner felt like an atrocious shot that just happened to go in). I’ll live with Gay’s current inefficiency as long as he’s contributing across the board and I expect him to come around in that department as he gets more comfortable with his teammates.

    Very impressive game from Val as well, outside of the sweet hook shot he made right after he entered the game, it almost felt like he double doubled on pure hustle tonight. Like you said, his somewhat extended playing time was probably more match up based to battle with Hibbert but it just shows you what he might be capable of when he’s allowed to play through his mistakes and develop a bit more. It’s too bad our coach is who he is.

    Another depressing game from Lowry tonight, I doubt a guy putting up a 20 PER has ever bummed out so many fans as Lowry has. Just that whole situation with Calderon where he tried to play through injuries only to be unfairly demonized has had him walking on egg shells since and even now, when it’s unquestionably his team, he seems unsure of himself at times and seems to be deferring too much. It’s incredible that his shot attempts per game have almost been cut in half when you look at his numbers from the first half of games he played this season. The way the organization basically tried to weed out the ability to create for himself from their best player is still hard to believe and bordering on self sabotage.

    Hopefully, Hansbrough is disciplined by the league but what can you really do if he isn’t? They’ve been the dirtiest team in the league over the last couple of years, every one knows it and the same people who criticize him in the comments will be rooting for him as he tries to claw out Wade’s eyes again in the playoffs. I just wished someone did something but that was probably wishful thinking, it took a ton of horrible non-calls before Casey finally decided to part with 25K so expecting someone to lay out Hansbrough wasn’t realistic at all.

    • Yes PBI – I totally agree with your Lowry assessment.

    • I wish someone in the media would ask lowey what the deal is. Because hes better than this. You dont put up a 20 per by playing like this, thats for sure.

    • Don’t say At Home like it means anything. It certainly hasn’t meant anything at all to the refs who have been working the Raptors home games all season.

      I know people like to point to the 4 games we lost by one final blown call and that those will be the ones people remember after the season is done.

      However, I’d like to express my opinion that this was one of the top 3 Anti-Raptor Full On biased refereed games this season. The calls against were horrible. Some of the stuff Indiana was getting away with was literally disgusting – and the non-calls! Amazing.
      Look at the replay of Tyler’s takedown on JV. The fcuking ref is 10 feet away and staring right at the whole time. Muthafcuker lets it go. I could go on and on AND ON, but I don’t need to get worked up about a meaningless result. Yes, nice to get the win. Very nice actually. However, wins and losses are meaningless at this point.

      We will NOT make the playoffs. There just aren’t enough games left to be won.

      We will NOT have a draft pick, unless BC is trying to save his job.

      Therefore, the only reasonable course of action to be undertaken for the remainder of THIS season is to get our rookies as experienced as possible. I don’t know why the F Casey doesn’t seem to get this. And if it is really BC making the ‘play for wins’ call, then he should be fired immediately for wasting this experience opportunity for our rookies. Heck, it isn’t even just JV and Ross. Acey and Fields should be out there as much as possible the rest of the season. Lets see what we have with these players.

      • I don’t think you’d find too many people who believe the Raptors are going to make the playoffs, but you can be interested in the team’s fortunes nonetheless.

    • No, you’ve obviously got that wrong PBI.

      The Raptors are the dirtiest team in the league. You can tell because we are the most penalized team in the league. By a large margin I’d add.

      (or so the refs say)

  2. Exciting game. Ross had one of the best 1-5 games I can recall. He constantly pushed through screens and defended well. And Amir? Wow, what a way to end the 4th quarter.

  3. One thing I would add about Bargnani – you have to admit, he looks engaged this time around! He looks like he is playing hard; looks like he finally cares. It’s only been two games since he has been back , but I like his touch of the bench…at least what he has shown so far.

    The second unit NEEDS an upgrade at the PG position at the PF position – mostly PG, that was obvious last night. Lowry was off (it happens) and it was “pins and needles” watching JL3 do his thing! He just got the job done, we need better. ….Ridnour, Berea, Bynum, just to mention a few names that could help and be available! Another PF who is bigger and bangs so that Johnson can get more of a breather would be ideal!

  4. is there any of those “experts” who critized Amir’s contract talking now!??! – 6.5 is a steal for this guy!….He has become my fav Raptor right now. Plays tough, is consistent, plays through being hurt, brings his lunch pale, low maintain and you can count on him.

  5. I see the trade Bargnani bandwagon is growing, he still remains the Raptors 2nd or best player. Gay gets points but his shooting percentage is awful. If Bargnani was playing the same amount of minutes he’d be averaging the same number of points as Gay.

    Still remains, if you trade Bargnani, being one of your two top players you need to bring top level talent back. Not sure that this trade will happen.

    • Turned it off when they were down by 4. Wow

      • Me too. Glad I was wrong though.

      • Bargnani has had plenty of minutes over his career to show what he can do. Unfortunately, he has shown us more of what he can’t do… Keep bringing him off of the bench for the time being. He is finally being useful on both ends of the court even if he can’t (won’t?) rebound.

    • Bargs is the raptors 4th best player. You obviously don’t know anything about ball. Scoring is not everything bud.

      • Raptors win and people still complain about who Casey is giving minutes to. Relax Joseph, we all know JV will be the starting center for this team, the guy is coming off a broken hand, which is a pretty significant injury last time I checked. I love how nobody is criticizing the Gay deal anymore.

    • @Sam
      Bargnani (IMO) is not as good as Gay – AB is not a finisher, doesn’t play as hard, doesn’t even rebound better, isn’t as active on defense and can’t hit a last second contested shot which he has proven more then once this year. Gay’s shooting percentage in 4 games with Raps come against these teams…Clippers, Heat, Celtics and Pacers – 3 out of those 4 teams are in the top best 5 defensive teams in the NBA!
      Bargnani hasn’t sucked as bad as people say since his return, lets leave it at that for now!

    • Bargnani is not even a top 5 player on this team. I like him off the bench but he’s not a top 2 player on this team.

  6. Your hate for DD is ridiculous your just a writer who doesnt support his home team your just a person who jumped on the bandwagon now that we got rudy gay demar had a very efficient game and shot the ball well stop your hate

  7. Raps battled last night. JV did not backdown he fought for some very impressive rebounds. Casey was questionable cause he played lucas for most of the 4th quarter.
    On a sidenote: I think bargs for boozer is a horrible trade for raps if they are gunna take on his contract that runs into 2015. Unless fields is not traded and raps do not get another player in return such as teague or butler it is not worth taking on boozers contract for a playoff run or two in the next two years.

  8. This was a great game by the Raps but the Pacers played 4 games in 5 nights so lets not go overboard with this one. Sure it had an exciting finish and as a Raps fan I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome, but I’d still say we need more time to judge the acquisition of Rudy Gay. Also I’m a little pissed off no one on the team stuck up for the rookie JV when Hansbrough chucked him to the ground. It was like the Caron Butler thing; some one needs to step up for the rookie, maybe Amir or someone; I just don’t know. But I’d like to see a little more fight from these guys, at least make it seem like they care.

    • @AJ,

      someone did step up for him – Vogel! He immediate removed TH after that throw down…but still, I know what you mean, it’s gotta be one of his team mates. IMO last nights game is a perfect Acy type of floor time game. Casey doesn’t use him enough!

    • bring back reggie evans!!

  9. Not a good game for anyone really outside of JV in my opinion. But they stuck with it against one of the better teams in the East and on the road road which was nice to see.

    Hansbrough is a turd.

  10. anyone notice derozan taking out west on the amir’s last put-back?

  11. DD had a great game – he played tough, kept attacking the basket, and kept getting to the line even thought he was being hacked constantly. Sometimes he shies away from that and reverts to shooting long twos.

    A big part of Gay’s poor shooting was all the contact. Many more fouls could have been called, and he was really distracted by not getting the calls in the first 3 quarters. It seemed like he finally dealt with it (mentally) in the 4th quarter and just started attacking without expecting the refs to bail him out.

    Great, great game by so many Raptors. Could they please bring that intensity every night?

    Pacers are 20-4 at home and 2 of those losses are against Toronto! Highlight of the season for us?

    They really need a guy like Bargs on the bench. They need his scoring and his 7-foot man defense.

  12. rudy gay will be an all star next year

  13. Weird, no mention of our Deron Williams-like PG in the post game review, what a SHOCKER .. but I guess even Joe can’t pull off a positive spin about a 2 point, 6 assist, 1 rebound and 2 turnovers in 34 minutes performance

    • @Tony Starks,

      Lowry’s line last night was a typical Calderon line – you seem to find good things to say about JC games when he consistently posted those numbers….like: great game controller, good floor general, team leader – but, you just can’t seem to find the same attitude with other PG’s in a T.O uni!

      • Nice try but that’s a lie and we both know it. Find me one example where I said that about Calderon after he had a bad game. When he struggled I was the first to admit it. My problem was that he got absolutely no credit when he played well and would get ripped when he struggled (which is fair) .. but the same would never apply to Lowry. The writers of this blog, especially Joe, would always find a way to put a positive spin on his struggles, and they’d have orgasms when he played well.

        Anyways, stats aside, Lowry just hasn’t convinced me that he can be relied upon to consistently run the Raptors offence, he just makes way too many bad decisions. Not promising for a guy turning 27 next month.

    • Lowry Blows. But wait he is better then Deron Williams right? The nets should be dying to steal Lowry away from us after his magical game last night

    • I thought Lowry was effective. He didn’t screw up possessions, played good defence, didn’t force anything. Yeah his statline wasn’t impressive, but numbers ain’t everything.

  14. Does anyone know what DeMar’s PER has been since the trade? Google isn’t helping me.

  15. Enough with the “not this guy” already. Are you going to use it in every post that discusses Rudy Gay? It was funny when first brought up, it’s now time to move on.

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