Archive for the ‘Gary Forbes’ Category

Kyle Lowry

As reported by multiple sources, the Raptors have traded reserve swingman Gary Forbes and a protected future first round pick (protection to be determined) to the Rockets for point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry played in 47 games last season, averaging 32.1 minutes, 14.3 points, 6.6 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals while shooting 40.9 percent from the field and 37.4 percent beyond the arc.

As a fall-back plan after Bryan Colangelo was unable to sign Steve Nash, Kyle Lowry will do quite nicely, thank you very much. He’s 26 years old, has a reasonable contract (two years, $12 million, second year is a team option), and he has a very good all-around game for his position. Continuing with the Raptors’ trend of acquiring strong defensive players, Lowry is one of the better defensive point guards in the league — which is probably one of the reasons Raptors coach Dwane Casey is reportedly a big fan of his.

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Game No. 51: Raptors 105, Nuggets 96

The Raptors followed up their home stinker against the Magic on Monday with a much more competitive game against the Nuggets on Wednesday. What the injury-riddled Raps lacked in the talent and man power departments, they more than made up for with a commendable effort against Denver, resulting in the Raptors’ first victory over the Nuggets in five full years.

Now here are some thoughts on the game.

1- For a while, this didn’t look like the type of game the Raptors could come away with. In fact, it looked like the prototypical “Tank Nation” game. The Raps were playing pretty well, were playing hard, were taking care of the ball and were hitting a barrage of threes in the first half. The Nuggets, on the other hand, didn’t look sharp at all and missed nine straight shots at one point in the first quarter. And yet through all of that, Toronto was never able to open up a big lead, holding on to just a two point advantage at the half. It just seemed like the Nuggets were one big run away from taking control and running with it. But credit the Raptors for hanging tough, bending without breaking, and ultimately using a 17-2 run, which included the Nuggets misfiring on 12 straight possessions, to win their 17th game of the season and snap a nine-game losing streak against Denver.

2- Andrea Bargnani had by far his best game since his return to the lineup, putting up 26 points on 50 per cent shooting while getting to the line 12 times in 36 minutes. Bargnani brought it from start to finish in this one, attacking the basket from his first touch of the game and staying aggressive throughout. What was encouraging to see was the return of his quickness and burst off of his first step, which was noticeably missing over the last couple of weeks. For his effort, Bargs was rewarded with a minor milestone, as the 26-year-old eclipsed the 6000 career points mark in the second quarter. We’d all like to see more rebounds fall into Andrea’s hands, but you can’t say a lack of effort was the reason he only grabbed five tonight.

3- Nowhere was the Raptors’ workmanlike effort more noticeable than in the rebounding department, as the Raps out-rebounded the Nuggets 49-43. On the surface, a rebounding advantage of six doesn’t seem like much to write home about, but it’s impressive when you consider that the Nuggets sit third in the NBA in rebounding differential, and when you consider that the Raptors were actually out-rebounded 14-5 in the first quarter. Whatever was said in the huddle between the first and second quarters obviously worked, because the Raptors definitely had a fire under them while crashing the boards in quarters two to four.

4- So I tell you the Raptors dominated the boards down the stretch and grabbed 49 total rebounds, and you’d probably assume Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Aaron Gray did most of the dirty work. Nope, six-foot-seven Gary Forbes led the rebounding charge for the Raptors, cleaning the glass to finish with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds against his former team, which must have felt great for Gary (You see him stare down the Nuggets bench after his fourth quarter three-ball?), especially since the solid performance came in a win. It was Forbes’ second double-double in the last three games, as Gary is proving he is more than just a bench scorer, grabbing 31 rebounds combined over his last four contests. We’ve already seen flashes of Forbes’ passing ability in spurts this season and we know he can score, so if he can become a consistent rebounder off of the bench too, the Raptors will have a very solid and very cheap option to call upon off the pine for the next couple of seasons.

5- It’s not ideal in terms of the core development, but the Raptors’ two 10-day guys played a part in this W. Alan Anderson and Ben Uzoh combined for 12 points on four-of-nine shooting to go along with two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 26 minutes between the two of them. That’s obviously a small contribution, but it’s a lot more than most teams receive from a couple of 10-day players down the stretch of a lost season. I was surprised to see them get 13 minutes of burn a piece, but they both deserved it, and could continue to see consistent minutes if the Raptors don’t get healthy any time soon.

6- By eclipsing the 100-point mark, the Raptors gave the 15,867 in attendance a free slice of Pizza Pizza pizza to cheer about. If you’re a frequenter of RaptorBlog, you know all about our stance on the silly gimmick. But at least on Wednesday night, the promotion had a fun, lovable vibe to it, as fans roared for pizza while also cheering as the home team pulled away for a rare home victory. Since I never really contributed my two cents on the matter, I’ll point out that I don’t have a problem with teams adding the potential for an extra benefit for their paying fans in attendance, even if it’s something as cheap as a slice of pizza. It’s just that I think there should be a much simpler formula: If the Raptors win, fans get pizza, regardless of the amount of points scored. If the home team loses, we all lose, again, regardless of the point total. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned to Scott, this seems like one of those suggestions that makes too much sense to ever really be considered.

***

You didn’t honestly think I would get through this post without showing you this did you? “Little man, don’t take a charge in there!”

As usual though, someone else had the last laugh when facing JaVale McGee.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 36 Min, 26 Pts, 7-14 FG, 2-4 3PT, 10-12 FT, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO

Nuggets Player of the Game: Ty Lawson – 39 Min, 26 Pts, 9-19 FG, 2-7 3PT, 6-6 FT, 4 Reb, 9 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 TO

He just wanted it more

Game No. 44: Raptors 114, Grizzlies 110 (OT)

After a nasty second half showing in New Jersey on Wednesday night, the Raptors had to put up with the playoff-bound Grizzlies in Memphis, who were welcoming Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay back to the lineup on Friday night. Throw in the fact that the Raps were still without Jose Calderon and were obviously without the recently traded Leandro Barbosa, and the odds were stacked against them.

As you can see, things didn’t exactly go according to script.

Here are some thoughts on the game.

1- The Raptors responded to one of their worst halves of the season (second half against the Nets on Wednesday) with what was easily one of the their most complete efforts of the year in Memphis. The Raps set the tone early, hit the Grizzlies first, continued to hit back after the Grizz responded and continued to fight for every possession, every loose ball, and seemingly every single point. It was an inspiring effort from the young Raptors, especially from Jerryd Bayless and Gary Forbes, and even though the team made some costly mistakes down the stretch, you have to give them credit for finding a way to eek this one out given the circumstances. Imagine how emotionally draining and uplifting this game would have been in the thick of a meaningful playoff race?

2- Jerryd Bayless has had games where he’s scored more than the 28 he poured in against the Grizzlies on Friday, but as far as I’m concerned, that was the best all around game I’ve ever seen the young guard play. 28 points on over 50 per cent shooting, nine assists, six rebounds, nine free throw attempts, and he was without question, the engine that pushed this team forward towards a scrappy road W. The defensive intensity and dribble-penetration dynamic that Bayless brings to the point guard position is a welcomed sight for Raptors fans, and a must in today’s NBA if you want to be a successful team. I’m not suggesting that Jerryd Bayless is a better point guard than Jose Calderon, because he’s not, but for all the praise heaped on Calderon, Bayless brings a lot to the table that Jose simply does not. As I tweeted during the game, while Bayless makes his fair share of questionable decisions playing the point, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a guy who wants it as bad as he does.

And about those questionable in-game decisions Bayless is known for, he’s actually recorded 32 assists to just nine turnovers in the four games he’s started in place of Calderon. That’s a 3.55 assist-to-turnover ratio.

3- Jerryd Bayless definitely deserves praise for his performance, but we have to acknowledge the work Gary Forbes put in as well. We all talked about the opportunity that Barbosa’s trade opened up for Forbes, and on Friday night in Memphis, Gary made good on his end of the bargain with a career-high 20 points on an incredibly efficient nine shots. Forbes actually took more free throw attempts (11) than field goal attempts (nine). He also hit some big buckets and attacked the basket when the Raptors were desperate for a make. In terms of the post-Barbosa future, you couldn’t have asked for much more from Bayless and Forbes in game no. 1.

4- Between the five second count against the Lakers and the iffy lane violation call on the Raptors late in this game, you have to wonder if NBA officials are proud members of Raptors Tank Nation. In all seriousness though, as has become the custom in closely contested ball games, the Raptors attempted many less free throws than the opposition. The Raps went to the line a respectable 38 times. Though it’s hard to call that respectable when the Grizzlies went their 51 times. I don’t think the officiating was as unbalanced as those numbers suggest, but at the same time, I don’t think one team was playing more physical or less physical to the extent that those numbers suggest either.

5- A few words on the Grizzlies. This team is good. Like, legitimately good. If healthy, they could easily go on another deep playoff run this Spring. To me, the Thunder are still the class of the Western Conference, the Spurs are still the team that poses the biggest threat to the Thunder, and the Lakers are still dangerous enough to win the West if things bounce their way. But realistically looking at teams’ rosters, overall talent and depth, it’s tough to come up with a team in the West better than the Grizzlies from top to bottom. Would I put money on them to win the West? No. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see them fight their way into the Conference Final. This is one of the teams I’m really looking forward to watching down the stretch.

6- If you’ve been a regular RaptorBlog visitor this season, you know I’m as big a Tank Nation proponent as you’ll find. Games won on the backs of veterans are incredibly frustrating in a rebuilding year. Games won against fellow lottery teams when the Raptors don’t even play well enough to deserve a win do nothing for me. But Tank Nation member or not, it’s hard to search for negatives in a hard fought victory like this that saw the Raptors outwork and upset a legitimate Western Conference playoff team on the road, especially when the victory came as a result of the work put in by two players in Bayless and Forbes that could be pieces of the team’s future.

And if even all of that can’t cheer you up, fellow Tank Nation members, then just look at the NBA scoreboard for Friday night, where you’ll see that the Kings matched the Raptors by upsetting the Celtics.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jerryd Bayless – 44 Min, 28 Pts, 9-17 FG, 3-5 3PT, 7-9 FT, 6 Reb, 9 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk, 3 TO, 6 PF

Grizzlies Player of the Game: Rudy Gay – 40 Min, 26 Pts, 10-20 FG, 3-5 3PT, 3-4 FT, 11 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 4 TO, 6 PF (Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol could have been given the nod here)

When Jose Calderon rolled his ankle at full speed on Saturday night in Detroit, a lot of thoughts and scenarios simultaneously rolled through Raptors fans’ minds.

While no one (at least I hope not) wished ill will on Calderon or hoped for serious injury, many fans did wonder how a Calderon injury that kept him out of the lineup long term could affect the Raptors. Would it “help” the Raptors by way of making them worse in the short term and contributing to their slowly improving lottery hopes? Would it hinder any Calderon trade possibilities ahead of Thursday’s NBA deadline? Lastly, would it give Jerryd Bayless and even Gary Forbes the consistent minutes they have been searching for this season?

A Calderon trade doesn’t seem likely, according to Raptors-related writers and insiders, with just 48 hours until Thursday’s deadline. And many of those other questions will likely go unanswered, as recent reports suggest the Spaniard could be running the Raptors’ offence sooner than expected after the scary looking injury. Jose accompanied the team on their five-game road trip, and though he won’t play in the trip’s opener tonight in Cleveland, the Raptors’ PR twitter feed announced this morning that Jose had already shed the walking boot.

What we’re left with is the assumption that unless something drastic changes between now and Thursday, or unless Calderon suffers another injury, he will be playing the point and starting for Toronto until the end of the season. While I’ve consistently said that trading Calderon just for the sake of it without obtaining fair value is senseless, I’ll admit that his presence on the court takes away from a season of development for the aforementioned Bayless and Forbes.

Bayless finished last season (with Calderon sitting out) with an explosive final eight games, averaging 22.5 points on over 48 per cent shooting, including 41 per cent shooting from three-point range, while getting to the free throw line an impressive 58 times over the course of those eight games. While some pointed to the fact that the numbers came in a meaningless end of season stretch, it’s important to remember that Bayless put that stretch of games (which accounts for about 10 per cent of a regular season) together as a 22-year-old.

Unfortunately for Jerryd this season, injuries and Calderon’s strong play (10.5 points, 8.5 assists, 4.46 assist-to-turnover ratio) have limited him to just 21.7 minutes per game. Why this is particularly troubling for Raps fans is that Bayless has a qualifying offer worth over $4 million that the Raptors can offer him for next season, and you would have hoped that the now 23-year-old would either play his way into a long-term extension with the team or would be getting more of an opportunity on the court. Bayless has been inconsistent both this season and throughout his short NBA career, but he has also never been given much of a chance to prove himself long-term.

The ideal situation for the Raptors would be to keep Jerryd around next season and hope that he earns his extension then, but it might be just as ideal, both for “TankNation” and for Bayless’ development, if given Calderon’s latest injury, the team holds Jose out of some games down the stretch for “precautionary reasons,” also known as “rebuilding reasons.”

As for Forbes, head coach Dwane Casey admitted that the Raptors needed to get a good look at Gary (who was signed to a multi-year deal in the pre-season) when the team released veteran point guard Anthony Carter last week. Forbes, while as inconsistent as anyone in his short spurts this season, has shown some intriguing flashes while playing the point, a position that he’s not yet fully familiar with. A consistent spell with Calderon out of the lineup would have helped with that familiarity, and would have given Casey and his staff that sought after analysis of Forbes.

While I’ll reiterate again that I’m not suggesting fans should have hoped Jose would miss significant time and I still don’t believe trading him is an absolute must, I think it’s fair to say that Calderon being in the lineup to finish this season may leave fans, coaches and management with more questions than answers.

Yesterday we were alerted about the news that the Raptors and veteran point guard Anthony Carter were set to part ways over the next week or so. Today, head coach Dwane Casey addressed the issue.

While he addressed the fact that the Raptors will be looking at younger players, one of the players he mentioned by name was Gary Forbes, stating that although he’s not a point guard, the team “needs to get a look at him there.”

This is good news both for Forbes himself and for the large following of Raptors fans that want to see as much of a youth movement as possible over the second half of the season.

Forbes was actually the pre-season pickup I was most excited about (apologies to Aaron Gray, who has proven to be the best pickup) because I though his instant offence and explosive type of play could be an intriguing component of the Raptors’ bench over the next couple of seasons.

Other than a four or five game stretch in January (where he logged some minutes at the point), Forbes hasn’t been given much of a chance to show what he can do this season. Though in fairness to the coaching staff, Gary hasn’t exactly opened our eyes when he has played, other than maybe one or two performances.

He’s appeared in 24 games this season, posting averages of 3.3 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.9 turnovers in just under nine minutes per game. Hopefully Casey’s admission that the Raptors will take a better look at Forbes as the season winds down means we will see him get an opportunity with some extended minutes here and there. Though don’t expect a Forbes sighting tonight, as Casey revealed the 27-year-old is questionable after an emergency dental procedure.

The other interesting question Casey’s comments about “younger players” raises is to what extent does that apply? For example, are the Raptors so desperate and keen to experiment with their younger players that they would be willing to part with Jose Calderon at the trade deadline and run with Jerryd Bayless at the point for the rest of the season? Will they hold a guy like Andrea Bargnani out of some games to get a better look at Ed Davis and Amir Johnson?

These questions will begin to be answered at the deadline next week, and I’m sure all Raptors fans are anxious to find out those answers. Don’t get me wrong, I’d obviously rather root for a perennially contending Raptors team or one that’s at least closer to contention, but I really do find some of the underlying story lines in a rebuilding season interesting to follow.

Scott will have your Raptors/Rockets game thread up before the tip and I’ll have my six thoughts on the game post up later tonight or early Thursday morning. We’ll talk then.