Archive for January 12th, 2012

Kings at Raptors Points Per Game

- January 12th, 2012

The Raptors continue to do some things right – namely force opponents into bad shots, fare well on the defensive boards, get effort and results out of Andrea Bargnani – and some things not so right.

- An off-night from Amir Johnson was bound to happen and is excusable. He’s been great this year, was under the weather and playing for the third time in three nights. Still, allowing DeMarcus Cousins and J.J. Hickson to go off for 11 offensive rebounds sunk the Raptors.

- I like Cousins. People expect too much from him because there are a lot of polished kids in the NBA these days. Cousins isn’t one of them. He’s raw, genuine, maybe a bit brash, but very, very good. He talked about loving playing for Keith Smart and even admitted the obvious – the Kings are too selfish and don’t pass enough. “We’ve always been close (off the court), but we don’t always play as a team. That’s just us being young and inexperienced. We’ve got to put that off-court relationship on the court,” Cousins said.


- I don’t like the precedent the team is setting losing to a winless squad (Washington) and at home the next night to a team that had not won yet on the road. Sure they were tired, yes Andrea Bargnani went down (more on that later0, but these are winnable games. Make a few more shots and they are wins. If Amir Johnson makes that alley oop in the final two minutes and Cousins doesn’t get an easy one at the other end, the Raptors might have pulled it out. But when Rasual Butler is going 1-for-5, James Johnson 0-for-4 and Bargnani 2-for-13, wins are going to be almost impossible, even if you hold opponents to 37% shooting.

- Hate to harp on this, but a change has to happen soon with Butler. Casey hinted at it after the game, though he knows Linas Kleiza will take a while before being able to play heavy minutes. Speaking of Kleiza, it’s always hard to judge an athlete after one game following a long layoff – how much of it is endorphins going wild, how will they recover after the first test? You always see more bounce from somebody who has just returned. Games 2-5 will be far more telling. But his play was an encouraging sign for sure. Kleiza wasn’t running the floor like that at any time last season. He was feeling numerous injuries and finally went down for the year. If he comes back in better shape than ever, he will be a much-needed addition for the offensively-aenimic Raptors.

- If Bargnani is out for any length of time the Raptors will be hard-pressed to win more than once every four games. Not only has he been the best offensive player on the team by a mile (Jose Calderon has been a great facilitator but Bargnani has been more important), against all odds, he’s been one of the top two defenders as well (along with Amir Johnson. With James Johnson a notch behind due to some errors relating to over-aggressiveness). Calf strains almost always need at least a week off and usually a lot more than that, depending on the severity. I’m not doctor but Bargnani didn’t seem too bad, but the MRI will make the situation clearer.

- Lost in the hoopla over Cousins was the fact that Tyreke Evans came alive after a bad game in the deciding fourth quarter. The Raptors had no answers for one of the league’s premier drawer of fouls. Sure some came at the end when Toronto had no choice, but Evans went to the line nine times in the quarter, making them all. He even had a couple of assists.

- Leandro Barbosa is getting some flack for ruining offensive sets by going all “Sacramento Kings” on opponents and doing things himself, but the way Toronto is performing on offence, can you really blame the guy? I still think the team should deal him at the deadline if a 2012 2nd rounder and expiring can be attained since I like Jerryd Bayless playing Barbosa’s role here long-term.

- Tough stretch coming up for the Raptors. Pacers are good, Bulls are great, Hawks are meh but better than Toronto and Boston, though fading largely thanks to that awful Kendrick Perkins trade and age, is Boston.