Archive for the ‘Reggie Evans’ Category

Reggie Evans

Reggie Evans’ value to the 2010-11 Toronto Raptors is difficult to deny — the Raptors are 9-13 when he plays and 11-37 when he doesn’t — so it might seem like a no-brainer that they should attempt to re-sign him to a reasonable contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season. I prefer to actually use my brain when I consider these options, so let’s determine how Reggie fits in with the future of this team.

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Wearing their green jerseys a day late, the Raptors welcomed the league’s worst road team to the Air Canada Centre for a meeting that could have ramifications on the May draft lottery. If that doesn’t get you psyched to watch basketball, I don’t know what can.

The Raptors came out with a lot more energy than they had on Wednesday night in Detroit and attacked the Wizards early on. With the two Johnsons, Amir and James, providing an early spark, the Raps were able to build a respectable six-point lead after one quarter. That first quarter was very much the Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan show vs. the Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford show, with those four players accounting for more than half of the first quarter offence.

The wheels appeared to be falling off for the Raptors early in the second quarter, as a slew of turnovers and all around sloppy play from the Toronto bench helped ignite a 14-0 Wizards run. But Washington’s lead was short-lived, as a Jay Triano timeout halted the Wizards run and seemed to calm his troops.

Toronto came out of that timeout playing zone defence, and it worked wonders in that second quarter, as the Raptors responded with a 9-0 run of their own that eventually ballooned to an impressive 18-2 run. The Raps held a nine-point lead at halftime after hanging 62 points on the Wizards in 24 minutes.

The scoring and pace of the game settled down considerably in the third quarter, and it was thanks in large part to the refs putting away their whistles. After the teams combined for a ridiculous 46 free throw attempts in the first half, it took over 11 minutes for any free throws to be attempted in the third quarter, as Reggie Evans took the only two free throws of the quarter.

The Raptors kept a comfortable lead throughout the third, with Bargnani carrying the load, scoring 11 of his 33 points in the third frame.

Toronto took a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter, and looked to be well on their way to win no. 19 on the season. But if you should know one thing about these Raptors, it’s that they will always find a way to make things interesting, good or bad.

With their offence going ice-cold on 3-of-17 shooting in the quarter, the Raptors allowed the Wizards to jump out to a 17-5 run to cut a 93-79 lead to 98-96 with just a few minutes remaining. But a series of big buckets from Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan, and even a surprising string of productive trips to the free throw line from Reggie Evans, helped the Raptors seal the victory.

There were plenty of positives on the night for the Raptors. They shot the ball well, shared the ball and played an overall team game to get a rare W. But nothing sticks out like the combined performance of Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan. The pair combined for 63 points and both played at least 37 minutes in the victory. What really makes their performance incredible was how efficient they were en route to those 63 points.

Bargnani and DeRozan needed only 30 shots between them to get to the 63-point mark (they were 19-of-30), while getting to the free throw line 27 times. Bargnani, especially, made his impact at the charity stripe, as he had already set a new career high with 14 free throw attempts in the first half, and finished with 18.

The other thing I wanted to mention tonight was the crowd at the ACC. I know it’s a Friday night, but anytime you get over 18 000 fans (including Samuel L. Jackson and “Hurricane” Hazel McCallion) out to see a pair of teams with a combined 34-99 record, it’s impressive. After a slow start for the attendance figures this season, the numbers have picked up over the last little while, and I’ve noticed that even on some emptier nights with crappy teams in town, the crowd has been more energetic.

I don’t know if it’s the young team that has people excited or the promise of reduced ticket prices next year, but there seems to be a sense of optimism for this team around the building. We’ll have to see if it’s warranted or not.

Lastly, the other night I mentioned that the Raptors’ road record of 5-27 was simply atrocious. Well with Friday’s loss, the Wizards road record now sits at 1-31. Forget about atrocious, there are no words I can think of to quantify that.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani - 41 Min, 33 Pts, 8-15 FG, 2-2 3Pt, 15-18 FT, 3 Reb, 5 Ast

Wizards Player of the Game: Trevor Booker – 36 Min, 26 Pts, 12-15 FG, 2-2 FT, 13 Reb, 3 Ast. 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Goat of the Game: Yi Jianlian – 33 Min, 9 Pts, 4-10 FG, 1-3 FT, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO

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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

For the first time ever, the Utah Jazz came into Toronto without Jerry Sloan, but they still carried an 11-game winning streak over the Raptors into Wednesday night’s ball game.

With Andrea Bargnani missing the game due to the flu, the Raptors sent out a much more defensive-minded and athletic lineup, and it paid off early on. The Raps got off to a good start (13-6) thanks to some solid defence and attacking the basket on offence. It was nice to see multiple players crashing the boards and following up on Raptors drives.

With the crowd getting ready to welcome Reggie Evans back to the floor, another Raptors big man went down. Amir Johnson appeared to hurt his ankle and stayed on the floor for a minute or two before leaving the game on his own legs. Amir did not return with what the team was calling a left ankle sprain.

From that disappointment, Raptors fans were then forced to watch a brutal end to the first quarter, as Toronto’s defence evaporated and Utah torched them for 31 points in the opening frame.

The Raptors recovered in the second quarter, as Ed Davis, believe it or not, led the charge offensively to spurt the Raps back into the game, even taking the lead for the majority of the quarter. But just as they had in the first quarter, the Jazz closed the second on a bit of a run, and held a 52-50 lead heading into the half.

If there were any questions regarding Reggie Evans’ health or rust factor coming into this game, they were quickly put to rest, as Reggie had eight rebounds in the first half (his first 15 minutes of action in three-and-a-half months).

The Raptors cranked up the defence again to start the second half and started to put together an impressive run of their own. DeMar DeRozan carried the scoring load despite poor shooting because he continued to attack the basket and get to the free throw line. Jose Calderon kept the Jazz defence honest by knocking down his jumpers and as mentioned, Reggie Evans picked up right where he had left off in November.

By the end of the third quarter, the Raptors had held the Jazz to just 18 points and found themselves up eight heading into the fourth quarter.

The Raptors stretched that lead out to 12 on a couple of occasions in the fourth and eventually to 14, but the Jazz made their inevitable run as the game’s conclusion drew closer. A barrage of buckets from C.J. Miles, including a couple of threes, had the 14 425 fans in the ACC groaning and getting restless.

The Utah rally was completed by big shots from Devin Harris and Al Jefferson on one end, while on the other end, Calderon proved for the millionth time that no matter how hot his shot is, it will always fail in the most clutch situations.

The Jazz had the ball for the last shot with the game tied at 94, and after Devin Harris’ shot clanked iron, Al Jefferson tapped up a Hail Mary at the buzzer that shot straight up in the air and then fell perfectly through the hoop.

In a 17-47 season, the Raptors have lost many games in many different ways, but few compare to squandering a 14-point lead at home with eight minutes remaining and then losing on a fluke tip-in at the buzzer.

Despite another disgusting collapse and heart-breaking loss at home, and despite the fact that Amir Johnson sprained his ankle, there were a few positives for the Raptors on this night. First and foremost, the Raptors’ bench was simply incredible. After dominating the Nets’ bench in London, the Raptors reserves came out and dismantled a much more formidable opponent in the Jazz, 42-9.

The other positives included Ed Davis’ 12 first half points, DeRozan’s eight rebounds and 11 free throw attempts, Sonny Weems’ 16 points in just 20 minutes and of course, the solid return of Reggie Evans. In his first taste of game action since November 26, Evans grabbed 11 rebounds in 33 hard-fought minutes.

At the end of the day, the Raptors fall 30 games below .500 and lose to Utah for the 12th straight time. Though it doesn’t take a basketball genius to see that without Jerry Sloan or a superstar point guard (sorry, Devin), these aren’t your daddy’s Utah Jazz.

Raptors Player of the Game: Sonny Weems -20 Min, 16 Pts, 6-10 FG, 2-2 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 5 Reb, 1 Stl

Jazz Player of the Game: Al Jefferson -42 Min, 34 Pts, 17-24 FG, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

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When Marreese Speights goes off on you in your ninth straight loss, you got problems

For the second straight game, the Raptors came out flying and started hot, only to slowly fade as the game wore on, eventually dropping another home game, losing their ninth straight and falling 20 games below .500.

The warning signs for what was to come were present, even in what looked like a solid first quarter for the Raptors. Ten of Philadelphia’s first 16 points were scored on open layups, dunks or alley-oops. And though the Sixers only managed 20 points in that first quarter, and the Raptors held a nine-point lead, it had little to do with good Raptors defence. The truth is that Philly was misfiring on some open looks.

DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani were keeping the Raptors hot offensively in the first half, especially DeRozan, and Julian Wright was providing his usual spark on defence (Wright was the only Raptor to finish with a positive plus/minus). Though it should be noted that Wright went 4-of-11 tonight, which included three missed layups in the first half.

The Raptors struggled dearly opening the second and third quarters, and in the end, those runs helped the Sixers stretch their lead. Philly opened the second quarter on a 17-4 run, and the Raps were lucky to have the game tied at 50 at the half. In the first few minutes of the second half, the Sixers compiled a 10-2 run to take a semi-comfortable lead which they would never relinquish.

The deficit was a very manageable seven points heading into the fourth quarter, but the truth is that the Raptors never showed up for the fourth. There was no spark, no defining play or moment to rally the fans or the team, and no sense of urgency or energy emanating from the Raptors bench. Though I know it wasn’t the case, the Raptors seemed generally okay with dropping their ninth straight.

Rebounding, second chance points and interior defence were the Raptors’ undoing. The Raps were out-rebounded 43-33, were outscored by 12 (at my last count) in second chance points and were outscored in the paint, 56-30. When your team is already low on talent and limited by injuries, those numbers just won’t cut it.

Alexis Ajinca and Trey Johnson made their Raptors debuts, though neither made an impact in limited minutes. The pair combined for five points in 18 total minutes. Ajinca, who will be hard-pressed to earn a future in Toronto, actually looked decent on the floor. But it’s too hard to make any sort of assessment in a six minute sample.

The positives for the Raptors were few and far between on this night. Bargnani had a solid night statistically, and even recorded three blocks, but was defensively poor for most of the night, and disappeared offensively in the second half. Amir Johnson finished with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting and also had three blocks, but only grabbed six rebounds in 35 minutes of action.

Once again, DeMar DeRozan shone brightest for the Raptors, highlighted by his game-high 29 points and 12 trips to the free throw line.

It really is amazing to see how quickly things can change in the NBA, or pro sports for that matter. Two months ago, the Raptors disposed of the Sixers twice in a one-week span. At the time, Toronto looked like a young team that could over-achieve, while Philly looked like a hopeless squad destined for a top-five pick. The Sixers are now becoming more and more comfortable in a playoff spot, while the only thing separating the Raps from the East’s basement is Cleveland.

With the Raptors now 20 games below .500 and six or seven games back of the eighth seed in the East (depending on how tonight’s Bobcats-Suns game finishes), perhaps delusional fans still dreaming of a miraculous playoff birth will come to terms with the fact that this year is finished, from a wins and losses standpoint. Just look for youth development, exciting games, an honest effort, and a lucky bounce of the lottery balls.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan -40 Min, 29 Pts, 9-18 FG, 11-12 FT, 5 Reb, 1 Ast

76ers Player of the Game: Marreese Speights -17 Min, 23 Pts, 10-12 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 3-3 FT, 9 Reb, 1 Ast (Yes, that’s how bad the interior defence was. Speights had 23 and nine in just 17 minutes)