Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

The Raptors and Knicks came together for a truly ugly game of basketball on Wednesday night at The Garden, but Toronto came out on the right side of that slug fest to carry a four-game winning streak into the All-Star break.

Here are some thoughts on the game…

Raptors 92, Knicks 88

- So how ugly was it? Well, the two teams started the game shooting a combined 2-for-18, finished the game shooting a combined 59-of-152, the Knicks shot less than 72 per cent from the free throw line, the teams combined for six technical fouls and Kyle Lowry was ejected in the third quarter for picking up two of those techs. Oh, and the two teams combined for just 24 assists on those 59 made field goals, which gives you an indication of how stagnant both offences were.

- What I found most comical about this painfully slow game is that in the Game Thread, I mentioned that I was looking forward to watching Rudy Gay match up against Carmelo Anthony, Jonas Valanciunas match up against Tyson Chandler and was also looking forward to seeing whether Andrea Bargnani could come close to returning to form in an arena that’s usually been kind to him. Well Gay and Anthony combined for a paltry 23 points on 9-of-45 shooting, Valanciunas and Chandler combined for 10 points and nine fouls (JV was actually held scoreless in 13 minutes), and Andrea Bargnani stunk up the joint with two points, a block and a turnover in less than 12 minutes of action. Basically nothing I was looking forward to monitoring in this game was even slightly entertaining.

- Rudy Gay was obviously awful from the field in shooting an embarrassing 4-of-21, but the effort was there. Rudy definitely took some bad shots, but he also missed a bunch of “gimmes” around the basket, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out four assists and played some solid defence. There was one play in particular that stands out from the fourth quarter where after a Raptors turnover, Gay chased down Anthony the entire length of the court and then contested a shot at the basket without committing a foul.

Again, I’m not excusing his horrible shooting night, but I think I speak for most fans when I say that bad shooting nights from star players are a lot easier to take when said player actually looks like he gives a crap out there and looks to impact the game in other ways. Of course, they’re also a lot easier to take when your teams wins.

- Landry Fields celebrated his engagement with a return to the starting lineup against the small-ball Knicks and gave the Raptors some solid minutes for the second straight night. In addition to his 10 rebounds in less than 24 minutes, Fields’ defence on Anthony is what stood out to me in Landry’s game. You have to wonder if Fields took that match up with his former teammate personally.

The guy who Fields replaced in the starting lineup – Amir Johnson – also did a surprisingly good job defending ‘Melo when given the chance. In the fourth quarter, Amir ended up guarding Anthony on a number of possessions, with Carmelo just unable to beat Johnson off of the dribble. Kudos to RaptorBlog’s very own Oliver Macklem, who was telling me all night that Amir could guard Anthony before the encounter actually happened.

- The personal foul that led to Kyle Lowry’s frustration and subsequent second technical/ejection was a bad call, but Lowry has to be smarter than that when it comes to saying anything to the officials while you’re team is locked in a tight game and you’re already playing with one technical. Luckily, the ejection didn’t cost the Raptors.

- And on that note, how about John Lucas III, who came up clutch in the second half for the third straight game? Most impressive of all though was Alan Anderson, who definitely seems to have found his shooting stroke again with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting Wednesday after his hot fourth quarter on Tuesday night. Much like they have for the last couple of games, Anderson and Lucas hit some big shots for Toronto down the stretch.

- For the second straight game, DeMar DeRozan gave the Raptors a much needed lift. After settling for too many long jumpers in the first quarter, DeRozan attacked the basket the rest of the way and finished with an impressive 20 points on just 11 field goal attempts, thanks to 10-of-10 shooting from the charity stripe. Over his last nine games, DeMar is getting to the line 6.8 times per contest and is converting at an 88.5 per cent rate once there. That’s an encouraging trend as the 23-year-old slowly develops the other areas of his game.

- Terrence Ross played less than four minutes in this game, and yet he was a team-worst -11 while going 0-for-2 from the field and picking up two quick fouls. It was as ugly a performance as we’ve seen from the rookie, as even his defence has slipped recently (he’s biting on every single pump-fake thrown at him). Maybe it’s just a case of a youngster looking past the task at hand and on to the All Star festivities he’ll be taking part in. Whatever the case, let’s hope Ross returns from the All Star break ready to win back some of these lost minutes.

- I’m not at all suggesting that the Raptors are better than the Pacers and Knicks simply because they beat those teams, but if there’s one thing the two wins on the road in Indiana and New York should remind us of, it’s that the Eastern Conference really isn’t that great outside of Miami and a fully healthy Chicago. Sure, teams like the Knicks, Pacers, Nets and others are solid, but they really have no business being in contention for a No. 2 seed in a Conference.

Making the jump from lottery fixture to playoff team is tough, but making the jump from mere playoff team to top-four seed is supposed to be a lot tougher, and in the Eastern Conference, I just don’t get the sense that it is.

- The Raptors head into the All-Star break on a four-game winning streak and a 5-2 run in the Rudy Gay Era, which includes home wins over the Clippers, Hornets and Nuggets, impressive road wins over the Pacers and Knicks and losses to the defending champion Heat and a Celtics team that was in the midst of a six-game winning streak. Not to mention, if not for a horribly missed foul on DeMar DeRozan in the dying seconds, the Raptors might have had a shot to beat the Hawks in Atlanta on the night the trade went down. Add it all up, and this team is certainly playing some encouraging ball and entering the break on a serious high.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Alan Anderson – 26 Pts, 10/16 FG, 6/8 3PT, 1 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 TO in 29:46

Knicks Player Of the Game: J.R. Smith – 26 Pts, 8/17 FG, 5/10 3PT, 5/8 FT, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 TO in 33:56

Comments (51)

  1. It was an impressive win, but this had to be the Knicks worst offensive game of the season. I hope these lucky wins even out all the unlucky losses the Raps have suffered through all season. Wow did AB look bad!

  2. Great win to cap off an impressive stretch since the Gay trade.

    The most surprising part of this stretch is that the team is still finding ways to win games or at the very least stay competitive in games even as they try to find that roster cohesion post trade which seems to be a bit of a struggle every night. It feels like things could have gone so wrong with Gay coming in to play alongside DeRozan, a neutered Lowry finally taking over at point guard, Bargnani returning, Lucas being forced into the back-up role his skillset might not be suited for, etc. yet they keep winning.

    And like Blart pointed out, unless you are one of the unluckiest teams in NBA history, the amount of close games the Raptors win should be comparable to the number of close games they lost at the end of the season. They’ve won 3 games by 4 points or less in the last week and they’ll continue to add to that number post All-Star break.

  3. I’m not too clear on the rules I suppose, but how is deliberately elbowing someone in the chest a technical foul and not at least an intentional foul? Maybe the NBA technical foul covers a lot of ground.

    Also, are Raptors games an anomaly, or is officiating this terrible across the whole league?

    • The age of huge screen TVs, high definition broadcasting becoming commonplace, millisecond accurate replay, and freely available video clips have confirmed what was long suspected – sports officiating is questionable at best and hilariously inaccurate on a regular basis.

      This is true across all sports leagues.

      • Good point, but I think basketball is more susceptible than other sports because it so subjective, the rules are relatively complex, and they just can’t call every infraction or it would be unwatchable.

        So on one hand I feel for the refs because it’s a pressure cooker every single night, but on the other hand it would be that much easier to manipulate.

        • I agree, though I’d add that basketball in particular has a tendency to miss calls on role players and call non-fouls on star players, which is such a bunch of crap it’s painful.

          They also make terrible “make-up” calls to compensate for a terrible call on the other end. Really awful stuff.

          Watch March Madness, and observe how the referees tend to call a much more balanced game, and you’ll see that a lot of bad “basketball refereeing” is really just bad NBA refereeing.

          • I hate college reffing. I’ll take the subtexts of NBA reffing philosophy any day of the week, which doesn’t bother me at all.

            The only thing the refs need to be is consistent.

    • Raptors are the most penalized team in the league. Do they seem like dirty players?

      Raptors are used to being awarded half of the calls that their opponents get through three quarters. Happens virtually every game. Seems like the officials try to give the other team a lead without making it too obvious.

      However, then they’ve awarded 28 free throws to the Knicks vs 14 to the Raptors after 3 quarters, well, it is pretty fcuking obvious.

      The only way the Raptors win a game this season is by shooting at a significantly higher completion rate than their opponents. They’ve pulled it off for four games in a row now. Despite the ‘best efforts’ of the officials – imho. All I’m saying is it sure seems like the Raptors are playing 5 vs 8 for large stretches of every game this season. Hopefully this is a one off rarity and they return to the middle of the pack in penalties next season. I’ve never had a problem with the refs in any previous season.

  4. Landry Fields really isn’t terrible, quite a nice basketball player. He’s overpaid, it was a bad move, he still cant shoot. BC knocked on his door with dollars and more minutes, cant hate a guy for that. As far as T-ross goes, been struggling for quite awhile now, maybe since the new year. I’m not worried, but the struggle seems more than just the ‘dunk contest distraction’, certainly doesn’t help though.I think Matt Devlin, for once, showed some bball IQ, he said ‘alan anderson needs to shoot when demar/gay are struggling and when they’re playing decent/well, he needs to play defence, pass and get out of the way’. AA is a strange player, trading or letting him walk probably wouldn’t amount to a better return. However, I think a guy like that cant ‘filter’ his play because deep down he wants to protect his financial future by getting some stats.

    • AA gets some unfair knocks from fans. I see a vet who knows his place and knows when to shoot. And is zero trouble in the locker room. Whats wrong with a 2 yr 2.2 Mil contract? He has saved us in the past 3 games. Keep him around.

      • I think he gets extra criticism because it seems like he doesn’t know his place, when to shoot, or when to adjust his role. Alan can still be seen jacking up ill-advised shots since the addition of Rudy, and especially those of the “make-up” variety — the “I just missed my last shot but I’m going to get one back next possession to make up for it, even if the opportunity isn’t there” type of shot. That’s not his role anymore. Granted, he has saved us when Rudy’s been off. I’d love to extend Alan, as long as he knows that not every night has to be like last night.

        • Maybe an extension would settle him down and help him accept his role. I think he is coachable. I’d take a chance on him.

          • Totally agree, my guess is he saw his new-found career flash before his eyes when Rudy came to town. But he’s getting his minutes and maybe now is settling down. Another couple years on his contract I think would help.

          • Are you serious? I want to see a bigger sample size before locking him up for several years. To hope that a guy becomes less trigger happy due to an extension seems like a terribly risky move.

          • He’s been on the team 2 years now Fat Guy, that’s not enough of a sample size for you Fat Guy?

      • Totally agree. I’m a big AA fan. People don’t give him enough credit. He’s a great 1on1 player. He attacks slower defenders and has been adjusting his game to the raptors new rhythm since the trade. He’s also built like a tank, gets under the skin of other players, and does a lot d great thing defensively. I find that sometimes his numbers are worse than they are as he if often the last person to get the ball with seconds on the shot clock. Lastly he trains with Gay and Lowry in the off season so they know his game and what he’s capable of. Hope his success continues. He should be cheap to sign since he is on the wrong side of 30. I’d keep him.

    • Devlin really needs to start remembering that he is paid by the Raptors, not by the league.

      Stop defending the refs on bad calls Devlin.

      • Really? I’ve been noticing the opposite. While his homerism hasn’t reached Swirsky levels, I find I can sense Devlin’s disappointment in botched calls against the Raptors more and more.

  5. As a Raptors fan, I will take the win however it comes. We have been on the losing side of these types of games for far too long. Not pretty, but it counts just the same. Can this season be over already so we can start fresh?

  6. What’s going in with Tross lately? He’s falling for a lot of pump fakes lately and comes into the game and takes very difficult shots with lots of time on the shot clock. He seems to be forcing. Would like to see him attack the rim with his explosiveness more.

    Also, wow did Bargs suck tonight. I love that his other teammates were not even looking to get him the ball when he was on the floor.

  7. The funny thing is that this wasn’t even CLOSE to the ugliest game of the night. From what I saw of it, Bulls / Celts set the league back 15 years. Steve Kerr made a joke on Twitter about confusing it with an NCAA score, and I can see why.

  8. will the raps ever get credit i dont know

    • They “will” once they have a winning record and make the playoffs. That’s just how these things work.

  9. Good for Landry Fields. He proposes to his supermodel girlfriend just before the game, then completely shut down Melo and gave us a chance to win this game…with her in attendance of course.

    Also, where are all the Derozan haters???

  10. What do you have planned for the All-Star break, Joseph/Oliver?

    I assume we’ll get some dunk contest coverage because of Ross but can we expect a midseason recap of some sort or will you guys be taking some time off?

    • Do you really need a recap PBI? You’re on here everyday! lol

      • You know me too well, Mr. Sly.

        Good to hear, Joseph, looking forward to any content you guys put out, All-Star weekend is hella boring.

    • No time off. I imagine things here at RB might be a bit slower with no games until Tuesday, but we’ll have something dunk contest related at some point, as well as staying on top of potential news and perhaps even looking ahead to the unofficial second half of the season.

  11. Today I was thinking of how much Scott Carefoot must be enjoying the continued development of Amir “Binkie” Johnson.

    Poor Ed Davis is getting 6 mpg in Memphis. I hope that team doesn’t throw his development off the rails.

  12. This blog totally ripped Anderson and Lucas a new one when they had a few bad shooting nights recently….now everyone loves them. This blog also criticized the Derozan contract….don’t hear anything now. Before and after the Gay trade went down, this blog was all against the trade. Everyone loves the trade now. I also read on this blog a few weeks ago that any discussion about this team and playoffs should end immediately. Sure enough, we will start reading about playoffs in this blog soon.

    • Such is the nature of many (sadly, fickle) raptor fans. They fall in and out of love with their own players REALLY fast and do a bad job at looking at the big picture due to a few good games. Thing is, you cant rip apart jl3 and aa when they have a good game or two. You just cant, it makes no sense. I still think they suck. I still think derozan is an average sg until he proves otherwise for a full season. The gay trade was a good move despite a lot of fans irrationally falling in love with calderon and davis when they are inferior talents. Raps got better talent which is very important in the nba. So I guess im in the minority but I dont care.

      • And to ‘ad’…I see you slowly starting to warm up to DD. I think Gay can have a positive impact on him off the court as well (getting him to have confidence to do the kind of shit he did to mozgov more often). Good to see him getting to the line again as of late. Still think this kid can get better…

    • Good to see I’m not the only one on here who has been supporting Derozan since the beginning of the season. Some people were just mad at the contract, and others have felt the need to nitpick and rip on him for every little thing (or every small slump). Even when we traded for Gay I said I think they could complement each other (Demar would shoulder less of the offensive load and they would both have more room to do their thing) while everyone was saying what a horrible trade it was and that we need to get rid of DD. Where are all the haters now??

    • Anderson and Lucas weren’t just having bad shooting nights. They were hoisting up some insanely foolish/selfish shots at key points in games and it was costing the team. We’ve praised Anderson for his journey from international journeyman and bit player to regular rotation guy this season a lot more than we’ve ripped him, but at the end of the day, I’m not going to hold back criticism of a player when criticism is deserved just because he’s a good story. Just like I won’t deny praise when it is deserved, as it has been with AA and JL3 over the last few games.

      With respect to the Rudy Gay trade, we were adamant that the trade is a talent upgrade in the short-term, but were understandably concerned about the long-term in giving up Ed Davis. The trade looks pretty damn good right now, but I don’t see any of us saying that the Raptors won the trade. In truth, we won’t be able to properly judge it for at least a year, if not more.

      Lastly, on the “playoffs” comments. I never wrote that the team was eliminated from post-season contention or that we could never bring up the “p” word again. What I continually harped on was that talking about a playoff race when the team was 8 games back was ridiculous, especially when those hopes were based on assumptions that the Raptors would beat all the beatable teams left on their schedule, despite previous results to the contrary. And by the way, the Raps are still 6 games back, so I maintain that no one should be talking playoffs yet. IF the team continues to play as well as they have been lately and can get within three or four games with plenty of season remaining, we can get back to that conversation.

      • Joseph – We won the trade. Calderon was done at the end of the year, raps had no interest in retaining him as the backup, he had no interest in being the backup, he’s gonna get more money and more minutes from Detroit or somebody else. I love Jose and hope his jersey hangs from the ACC one day, but his time here was up.

        I love Ed Davis. But there are 60 Ed Davis’ in the NBA. Literally. Every team has 2 big guys that are as good as or better. Again, I looooove Ed Davis, but we saw the best he’ll ever be during his run as a starter, his trade value would’ve never been higher. Was a no-brainer trade.

        Barring Gay suffering a career ending injury this season, we already won the trade. I couldn’t believe we got Gay for Calderon/Davis and no picks involved. Simply because we have rich owners who are willing to pay… A steal if you ask me. We won the deal as far as the Raps are concerned. The beauty of this trade though, is that it looks like it helps all 3 teams involved, 3 winners to be honest.

      • Thanks for replying Joseph. I was in a bad mood yesterday, I hope I didn’t come across too harshly. lol I really enjoy the blog, keep up the great work. GO ROSS!!!!! :)

    • Are you just going to troll people for the next week based on this small sample of success? I’m not even mad at you because we haven’t gotten too many chances to stick out our collective chests as a fan base but what’s the point of taking it out on your fellow fans who are just as excited about the recent success as you are?

      It’s not like the sentiments about Colangelo’s tenure, DeRozan’s contract, Bargnani, Anderson, Lucas, etc. didn’t have credence to them.

      Let’s all enjoy this, friend, without the “I told you so!” machismo.

      • anderson, lucas… these guys haven’t really made it yet and they aren’t exactly young. so if casey plays them, they will shoot. shoot shoot shoot. and yeah sure, ride the hot hand… they have basically won us the last couple of games. lucas in particular looks unconsious out there sometimes. and its fun. BUT at the same time, I don’t think that fans who want to see the young guys who are under contract for multiple years (Fields, Ross) get crunch time minutes are in the wrong. like, string together a few wins and all of a sudden we are in win-now mode on our way to an NBA championship? not so fast man.

        and for the record, i’d say the majority of this blog (and the writers) considered the rudy gay trade a major upgrade… and everyone wants derozan on the team, just not with a blind leap of faith contract extension that could also take place during the offseason with less risk. thats all, no need to get bent out of shape…

      • PBI – I’ve had so many rude comments thrown my way on this blog. I am not here to offend anyone, I’m just having fun. Grow up.

        • Well, try to make it more clear that you are “just having fun” in the future because most of your posts can’t be interpreted any other way (in text form) than obvious baiting and trolling.

          All you do is post ridiculous shit (like you are doing now while pointlessly lambasting fellow fans and Joseph for having a well thought out opinion on the state of this team while you try to rub a 7 game sample in their faces) and then say you’re joking or tell people to “grow up” when you get called on it.

  13. Is anyone going to give Colangelo credit for the team that we have? Soon enough I’m sure. Say what you want about him, he drafted pretty well with Derozan, Valanciunas, and Ross. Now if he can trade Bargnani for a useful player before the deadline, he’s a genius in my eyes.

    • I don’t view Colangelo as harshly as some others. But. I can’t fathom that even with a Bargs trade netting a good return, any GM with a team 10+ games under .500 warrants the genius label. There’s a short list of GM’s that good in the league, and GM’s get on it when their teams succeed. The Raps are playing great, and I’m enjoying it, but genius? Not quite.

      • My genius comment was more about getting something of value for Bargnani. The guy looks terrible right now. What team watching would want him right now?

    • Genius? I never realised that the word has lost its value.

      Gee, let me see. Since 07-08 to last season, the Raptors are 159-235.

      Not really the mark of a GM who is a genius, is it?

      Granted he has done some good things, but really, the dude doesn’t know how to build a roster. It’s as if he’s making it up as he goes along. No way will the man ever build an NBA championship anywhere because he either a. can’t find the last few pieces of the puzzle or b. overpays for second tier talent.

      Still, I don’t want to detract from how much more fun the team is to watch with Rudy Gay in the fold. I wasn’t too crazy about the trade initially due to the cost considerations of picking up such a bloated contract, but what the hell, it is the GM’s/ownership’s problem, not mine.

      • He doesn’t know how to build a roster? I like a starting five of Lowry, Gay, Derozan, Valanciunas and Johnson. And who knows what happens before the deadline. Anyone who can trrade Bargnani with 2 years left at 10 mil is a genius, the word hasn’t lost it’s value at all.

  14. plus picks to ATL…..not sure if this is realistic or not but what do think?

  15. A decent Bargs trade,one free agent signing, dev from our rookies and hmmmmmmm maybe we have a decent team.

    Gotta like AA. Does what I tell my grade 10′s “Attack the basket”

    It was gut check time and the Raps came through. Ugly, but one of their best wins.

  16. Consider this a reply to multiple posts.

    My feelings about the state of the Raptors since summer.

    Part 1

    I, like many other Raptor fans scratched my head at the Terrence Ross pick. I saw him as a solid NBA player, but questioned his ceiling at that. I thought that Jared Sullinger was the best player available talent-wise, but was expecting a guard to be our pick whether it was Austin Rivers, Jeremy Lamb, Damian Lillard, or Dion Waiters.

    I like the acquisition of Kyle Lowry from a talent standpoint. He’s not young like Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, or Ricky Rubio, but is significantly younger than Jose Calderon, whose age in my opinion made him no longer a viable fit with the direction of this team. Don’t get me wrong, I liked what Calderon brought to the table each game, he made others around him better, but he was a nice guy-type player at the end of the day. Lowry now is more of a take charge, win-at-all costs type of character, which was lacking in the Raptors over the past few seasons. And he’s a better defender, at least better than anything we could ask of Calderon. I just didn’t agree with a rebuilding team trading away first-round picks anytime soon to try and win now. I will be fair and say that it was at least better than going for Steve Nash, which I was very happy to see fall through.

  17. Part 2

    I liked getting Landry Fields, he’s the type of role player every team would love to have. I did not like how we got him. Not so much for how much he signed for, but that signing him was meant to steal New York’s trading piece for the Steve Nash sweepstakes. Having said that, it’s odd that he’s getting paid so much since he came off a down year rather than career year like guys such as former teammate Jeremy Lin, Roy Hibbert (predictably due to his all-star appearance last season), or previous free-agent busts like Jason Kapono and Hedo Turkoglu, who was a factor in the Orlando Magic’s championship run. Anyway, I still think he’ll prove his signing to be better than Kapono and Turkoglu’s.

    P.S. I forgot to mention in Part One that I was glad the Raptors didn’t draft Andre Drummond because I didn’t see him as someone that wanted to be great or was willing to make the most of his opportunity. I also didn’t want Meyers Leonard, John Henson, or Tyler Zeller. I saw each of them as rotation players with starter upside, no real upgrade over players we already have or Ed Davis.

  18. Part 3

    I thought that extending DeMar DeRozan was a poor move. However, he has since shown better decision making and has passed and rebounded more. Not as much as anyone should like, but better than anything I expected. He’s clearly shown that he really wants to be a better player, which I doubt was evident in past stars like Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter since the game came way easier to them.

    Then there’s the recent acquisition of Rudy Gay. Not only did it cost the team two valuable assets (three if you value the second-round pick in the upcoming draft) for an overpaying contract, but he was a likely poor fit with a similar player in DeMar. I did believe that Rudy was instantly the team’s best player at a position of long-time need upon completion of the trade, but I’ve been surprised at the ability of our two starting wings to play together. What’s more, is his clutch performance and will to take the last shot, the winning attitude that he brings may have changed the culture of the team in more ways than we’ve already seen. With due respect to Jose Calderon and Ed Davis, they were arguably our two best players, but Rudy Gay has played a large part in winning games that would have been lost prior to his arrival.

    When minor moves to address starting holes don’t work out, I guess you have to make a risky deal where you give up value to get the sure thing.

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