Archive for the ‘Leandro Barbosa’ Category

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The Raptors were looking to end a three game losing streak and add to the Pacers’ recent woes in the process. They succeeded with little resistance on Friday night.

James Johnson started the game with a hot hand to jump start the Raptors and spark what was a small but energetic crowd of 14 726. The Raps jumped on the Pacers early with a 10-0 first quarter run, and lit up Indiana for 32 in that first quarter.

Toronto continued to build a lead in the second quarter, as Reggie Evans continued to grab every rebound and loose ball in his path and Leandro Barbosa exploded for 18 first half points. On the other side, the only Pacers making any kind of impact were Danny Granger and Tyler Hansbrough. The Raptors found themselves up 14 after putting up 60 points in one of their more impressive first halves of the season.

The Raps got a little sloppy to start the second half, the pace of the game slowed down considerably and the Pacers made their move with Darren Collison taking over in the third quarter. But as was the case at various points in this game, the Raptors bent, but never broke, and were able to sustain a double digit lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Despite getting into early foul trouble in the fourth and seeing the lead dwindle to as little as six, the Raptors hung on for win no. 18. The entire game seemed like the Raptors were on the cusp of blowing the doors off, but never could. In the end though, they were always able to quickly stop a Pacers run and keep a comfortable lead throughout.

The main factors in tonight’s victory were Toronto’s advantage on the glass and another impressive performance by the Raptors’ bench. The Raps out-rebounded the Pacers 46-34, and saw their reserves outscore the Pacers’ bench 46-26. No one was more effective off of the pine than Leandro Barbosa, as the Brazilian Blur enjoyed his best game as a Raptor, pouring in 29 points in 26 minutes.

Reggie Evans and Ed Davis combined to pull down 29 rebounds, with Davis finishing with a double-double.

James Johnson finished with another solid looking, balanced stat-line in 25 minutes, DeMar DeRozan finished with 16 points on 13 field goal attempts and Jose Calderon put up 13 points and eight assists while committing just one turnover.

It really was a complete team effort for the Raptors, as even Joey Dorsey, Sonny Weems and Jerryd Bayless provided quality minutes in the limited floor time they all saw.

Really, the only Raptor who seemed to be labouring through this game was Andrea Bargnani, and that’s likely due to the fact that he is still said to be recovering from the flu. I hope that’s all it was for Andrea, because he seemed a step slow on every possession tonight.

The game even ended with a bit of drama for those who stayed in their seats. Leandro Barbosa tried to convert a layup with the game out of reach and the shot clock turned off in the dying seconds. Granger and Hansbrough seemed to take exception with this, and looked to be talking trash until Reggie Evans came over and sent them away with their tails between their legs.

Raptors Player of the Game: Leandro Barbosa – 26 Min, 29 Pts, 12-21 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 3-4 FT, 3 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

Pacers Player of the Game: Danny Granger – 36 Min, 25 Pts, 7-17 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 8-8 FT, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

Goat of the Game: Roy Hibbert – 21 Min, 4 Pts, 2-5 FG, 0-1 FT, 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 TO, 5 PF

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You could tell that both of these teams were coming off of the All Star break, as they were running up and down the floor on every offensive and defensive possession early on. Unfortunately, for those of use who took the time to watch this game and for the sorry people who paid money to watch it in Charlotte, that inspired play lasted for about six minutes.

The Raptors were in a tight game for most of the first quarter, but when Jerryd Bayless checked in to replace Jose Calderon late in the quarter, he spurred a Raptors turnover spree that helped the Bobcats start to pull away.

Toronto was only down six after one, but it could have been much worse, as Charlotte must have missed four or five layup or dunk opportunities in that first quarter.

The second quarter started with a bang, courtesy of this monster dunk by Ed Davis, but that was the last Raptors highlight of the first half, and one of the few high points of the night for Toronto. Charlotte outscored the Raptors, 28-17, in the second quarter, and hung 61 on the Raptors in the first half, carrying a 17-point lead into the break.

From there, the game was pretty much over. The Raptors went down by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, and never showed enough grit to get back in the game. Sure, they cut the deficit to 11 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats closed the game out on a run. And besides, if you’re idea of making a game of it is getting to within 11 points, then you’ve got problems.

You could look at the turnovers or the free throw discrepancy (Charlotte attempted 42 to Toronto’s 26) as keys to the Bobcats win tonight, but if you watched this game from start to finish, you know that the Raptors were just never really locked in after that late first quarter run from Charlotte. The Bobcats are in the thick of a tight playoff race, while the Raptors are playing for next year, and beyond that. This shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.

It was nice to see Sonny Weems running the floor again, Andrea Bargnani grabbing rebounds and DeMar DeRozan continuing to attack the basket, despite obvious fatigue from All Star weekend. But really, no Raptor was great on this night, nor was any really bad. It was a mediocre kind of night, and it showed in the final score. I did like Jerryd Bayless’ fight in Charlotte. He started off shaky with four turnovers in the first half, and went 0-for-4 from the field. But Bayless fought through those struggles, kept attacking, and used 12 free throw attempts to finish with 11 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.

Before tonight’s ball game, the Raptors made a small but puzzling trade. They traded Miami’s first-round draft pick (which they obtained in the Chris Bosh deal) to Chicago in exchange for 2009 first-round pick, James Johnson. The 24-year-old forward hasn’t done much in limited minutes since being drafted by the Bulls, but I guess the Raptors figure he is worth a gamble on. I, on the other hand, do not think that way. I understand that Miami’s pick will likely be the 25th-30th pick in the draft, but with proper scouting, there is a better chance you can find a solid role player for the future late in the first round than there is that James Johnson will turn into that player for you.

Lastly, the Raptors are back at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night to take on the Bulls. In two games against the Bulls this season, the Raptors have been outscored by a combined 37 points. And go figure, Joakim Noah is set to return to the Bulls lineup on Wednesday. If this game is still a game at halftime, consider it an accomplishment.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jerryd Bayless – 21 Min, 11 Pts, 0-4 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 11-12 FT, 5 Reb, 10 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 TO  (No Raptor was truly worthy of a mention tonight, but Bayless fought hard enough to go from potential goat of the game to get to this spot)

Bobcats Player of the Game: D.J. Augustin – 35 Min, 23 Pts, 8-15 FG, 2-7 3Pt, 5-5 FT, 1 Reb, 8 Ast

Goat of the Game: Leandro Barbosa – 17 Min, 4 Pts, 2-6 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 1 Reb

You weren’t expecting anything else, were you?

Once again, the Raptors got off to a decent start on the shoulders of hot shooting by DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani and the usual intensity of Amir Johnson. Bargnani and DeRozan combined for 21 points in the first quarter, and the Raptors scored 29 points on the Spurs in that first frame, but they gave up 31.

Unlike Tuesday night in Milwaukee, the Raptors actually kept their hot shooters involved through the second and third quarters, as Andrea and DeMar continued to build on the solid games they were putting together.

Aside from an early scare that occurred when Amir Johnson sprained his ankle (Amir did return in the second quarter), the Raptors enjoyed a pretty successful first half, all things considered. They scored 56 points, were down just four against the league-leading Spurs and shot nearly 58 percent in the half. But the Spurs lead the league in wins for a reason, and they showed it in that first half with picture-perfect passing and ball movement that resulted in them shooting 62.5 per cent.

This was one of the rare instances this season where Toronto’s opponents’ efficient shooting had little to do with the Raptors’ lack of resistance.

The third quarter was the highlight of the night for the Raptors and their fans (unless you were really amped for Leandro Barbosa’s pizza-clinching free throw in the final minute). Roberto Alomar and a big Sonny Weems alley-oop jam seemed to liven up the crowd, and the Raptors used the energy to stage a 13-2 run that actually had them up by three heading into the fourth quarter.

But the fourth quarter is what usually separates the men from the boys, the contenders from the pretenders, in this league. Or in this case, it’s what separates a 44-win team from a 14-win team.

The final quarter was basically an elite, veteran team asserting their will and pulling away from a very poor, young team. The Raptors were held to just eight points in the first nine minutes of the quarter and were outscored 30-16 over the course of the fourth, as DeJuan Blair out-muscled the Raptors’ big men to provide San Antonio’s X-factor. It also didn’t help that Toronto decided to go away from Bargnani and DeRozan at this juncture of the game.

In the end, what was supposed to happen happened, though the Raptors did continue to prove that a young team will get up for a clash with an elite team more easily than they will for a battle with a fellow cellar-dweller.

Bargnani scored 29 points and was fantastic, offensively, looking more like the player who dropped 41 at Madison Square Garden than the guy who couldn’t keep up with Luke Harangody. Though Andrea’s rebounding total of two can definitely be called into question, specifically on some failed box-outs in the fourth quarter.

DeRozan finished with 25 points and was equally as impressive as Bargnani. It was encouraging to see the youngster get to the free throw line seven times, after going three straight games without a single trip.

Another positive for the Raptors was the play of Leandro Barbosa, who scored 20 points and looked comfortable on the floor, despite playing in only his second game after a long layoff.

As for the negatives, besides the team losing for the 15th time in 16 games, Jose Calderon continued to shoot the ball poorly, Amir Johnson sprained his ankle, Sonny Weems still looked lost on the floor for most of the night and Ed Davis didn’t exactly have one of his best performances. Although with Ed, he did take a nasty spill in the third quarter, and seemed to be having problems with his left wrist after that.

Another Raptors-related note I wanted to pass along was a scolding that Jay Triano looked to be delivering to DeRozan. In the second quarter, Triano called a timeout, and when the players sat down, Jay walked up to DeMar, and looked to be pretty pissed about something. I was nowhere near close enough to hear what was said, and it may not have been negative at all or it may not have even been directed at DeMar, but it definitely looked that way.

Lastly, I wanted to finish with some praise for the almost flawless Spurs. You’ll often hear that the best defensive basketball teams work like all of the players are connected on a string. There was a sequence of defensive possessions throughout the game where the Spurs demonstrated this better than any other team I have seen in person. To be honest, it was beautiful to watch as a basketball fan.

And yes, defence can be beautiful to watch. Let’s just hope we get first-hand experience of that in Toronto…in our lifetimes.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 37 Min, 25 Pts, 10-18 FG, 5-7 FT, 4 Reb, 4 Ast

Spurs Player of the Game: DeJuan Blair – 36 Min, 28 Pts, 14-21 FG, 11 Reb, 1 Stl (Blair scored 14 of his 28 in the fourth quarter. He was his team’s most dominant player in their most dominant quarter)

Goat of the Game:  Sonny Weems – 34 Min, 8 Pts, 4-9 FG, 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO (How Sonny got 34 minutes tonight is truly a mind-boggling question. For the record, Julian Wright played less than a minute)

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One of these men is an NBA centre; the other is not

If you’re not a hardcore Raptors fan or Bucks fan, then I hope to God you didn’t tune in to this ball game between a 14-27 team and a 19-30 team. Because believe me, the two teams played to their…um…potential.

First of all, the game was played in front of a dead-silent building, “filled” with 11 975 fans and the players on the floor did nothing to excite them. From a Raptors perspective, this game was downright ugly.

Sure, DeMar DeRozan got off to another hot start, Amir Johnson crashed the glass and Leandro Barbosa made his return. But as a team, the Raptors shot 16-of-45 from the field in the first half, and struggled to score 38 points in the half. Luckily for them, the Bucks were almost just as awful, and so the Raps trailed by just two at the break.

If there was a play to sum up the first half, it came in the first quarter. Amir Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound, three times in a row on one possession, and all of them came off of a Jose Calderon miss. And that brings us to Calderon, who may have had the worst quarter of his career in the first 12 minutes. Jose went 0-for-6, with zero points, one assist and three turnovers, and it was only a sign of things to come.

Again though, the Raptors were lucky, as they came out of the half down 40-38 in a game that they should have been out of already.

The third quarter was incredibly frustrating to watch as a basketball fan, let alone a Raptors fan. Forget that the Raps only scored 20 in the quarter or that both teams were sloppy. What was frustrating was that it took 11-and-a-half minutes to get the only Raptor that was shooting well, DeRozan, a shot in the third quarter. And it took a three-on-one fast break to get him that shot attempt.

Instead, Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon clanked jumper after jumper while DeRozan wasted away in the corner. Now I know that part of the problem is that DeMar needs to be more assertive and demanding on offence, but as a teammate, when you know only one guy on your team is feeling it on a particular night, how do Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Sonny Weems combine for 46 shot attempts (of which they combined for just 13 makes), while DeRozan gets just 13? It doesn’t add up, and I don’t know whether to attribute it to poor coaching, ignorant/negligent players, or just overall stupidity from all involved.

Back to the game itself. I could mislead you by telling you that the Raptors were in a close, eight point game heading into the fourth quarter, or I could tell you the truth. Everyone who has watched this team this season could tell that towards the end of the third quarter, the wheels began to fall off, and the Bucks were about to take total control in the fourth.

Lo and behold, just three minutes into the fourth, we had a 13-point game, and mere minutes later, the Bucks were holding a very comfortable 18-point lead. In the end, the Raptors managed just 16 points in that final quarter, and actually outdid themselves (in a craptacular way) by scoring less in the second half than they did in that lousy first half. This all led to the final 18-point margin of defeat.

No matter how you slice it, the Raptors never had their heads in this game.

Aside from DeRozan, who finished with 18 points, I thought Amir Johnson brought his usual hustle to the table and Leandro Barbosa had a decent return from injury.

Amir was hampered by some familiar foul trouble and had an uncharacteristically inefficient night on the offensive end, but he, at least, looked alive on the floor and did grab 11 rebounds in just 24 minutes. Barbosa finished just 4-of-11 from the field, but he made a few nice plays and showed a willingness to attack the paint that hasn’t been seen around these parts since Barbosa went down a few weeks ago.

And if you’re thinking, “what about DeRozan attacking the paint?” Then I must remind you that DeMar has now gone three straight games without a single free throw attempt.

Oh, and before I leave you, how about this? After setting an NBA record with at least one three-pointer made in 986 consecutive games, the Raptors fell a little bit short of that record in their latest streak. On Tuesday night in Milwaukee, Toronto’s new three-point streak ended…at six games. There’s a reason this team is dead last in three-point shooting.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan -39 Min, 18 Pts, 9-13 FG, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

Bucks Player of the Game: Andrew Bogut – 30 Min, 14 Pts, 6-8 FG, 2-3 FT, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 5 Blk

Goat of the Game: Jose Calderon – 32 Min, 6 Pts, 2-15 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 6 TO

The Raptors had plenty of reason to come out with one of their more spirited efforts of the season.

They should have still been angry after being jilted by poor officiating on Wednesday. They should have had retribution on their minds after being embarrassed by the Pistons, at home, already this season. In addition, this was their last home game (and a very winnable one, at that) before embarking on a grueling five-game road trip.

Instead, the Raptors responded with one of their worst games of an already bad season.

By the looks of it, the Raps were not prepared and lacked the focus necessary to grab a win in the NBA. They came out sluggish, almost looking like they expected the win to fall into their laps. This was mind-boggling to watch, since it’s not like they have had much success against the Pistons this season (other than a miraculous 15-minute stretch in Detroit).

The Pistons attacked the feeble Raptors in the first half, and held a lead as large as 15 before Toronto began to fight back. A couple of technicals given to DeMar DeRozan and Jay Triano (for arguing against more sketchy officiating) seemed to spark the Raptors at the end of the half, and the Raps used a late run to cut the deficit to just seven at the break.

After allowing the Pistons to shoot 57 per cent in the first half, Toronto picked up the defence in the third quarter, but it was their offence that began to let them down. Instead of cutting further into the lead, the Raptors actually lost ground in the third, and headed to the fourth down nine.

As awfully as the game was going for Toronto, there was still a sense that if they could string together one solid run, the game could be theirs for the taking. Unfortunately, on this night, the Raptors were barely able to string together a series of solid possessions, let alone play one solid quarter.

They had their moments in the fourth, which included Andrea Bargnani making things interesting in the dying minutes. But in the end, it was not to be, as Tracy McGrady and Tayshaun Prince hit a couple of daggers and Jose Calderon and others committed a couple of careless turnovers to seal the ball game.

As bad as the team-defence was in the first half, the offence may have been worse in the second. The offensively challenged Pistons scored 61 points over the first 24 minutes, and were then limited to just 40 the rest of the way, which included an 18-point fourth quarter. But the Raptors could never capitalize, scoring just 41, themselves, in that second half.

The Pistons are now 4-17 on the road, and two of those four wins have come at the Air Canada Centre.

As for the Raptors, things are likely about to get ugly. They lost Leandro Barbosa at the end of the first half to an apparent hamstring injury, and he will not travel with the team on their upcoming trip.

So now Toronto heads to Washington on the back end of a back-to-back, then travel to New Orleans, San Antonio, Orlando and Miami. Yikes.

For those of you having trouble accepting that this team is probably going to fall out of the playoff race and start looking towards the draft, I have a feeling it will become easier to understand in the next week or so.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 35 Min, 31 Pts, 12-25 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 7-9 FT, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Pistons Player of the Game: Tracy McGrady – 36 Min, 22 Pts, 8-17 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 4-5 FT, 4 Reb, 5 Ast,

Goat of the Game: Jerryd Bayless – 12 Min, 3 Pts, 1-5 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 TO