There’s a theme falling into place for the Raptors: Battle hard all night, regardless of the opponent. Have a chance to win a game. Lose said game.
It’s brutal. For the players. For the staff. For the fans. And for the writers just trying to write an early game story off of a blowout for once.
Credit Dwane Casey and his staff for keeping spirits up in the midst of one of the toughest stretches in Raptors history.
- A lot of people recall Chris Bosh coming out of his shell and announcing himself as a prime-time player back in the day against Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Jonas Valanciunas’ performance on Sunday against San Antonio brought me back to that game. Career-high 22 points, great work on the boards, blocked shots and most importantly, challenged one of the top 15 players ever Tim Duncan, at both ends, showing no fear. Valanciunas’ was fantastic and is only scratching the surface of where he could be one day. Duncan made a point of going up to him after the game, a sure sign of respect. Bryan Colangelo’s taken a lot of flack for many of his moves in Toronto, but nobody can say he made the wrong call taking Valanciunas. It will go down as one of the best decisions of his career. Funny that xenophobic fools hated it from Day 1 (even though I and others wasted time trying to talk them down from the ledge) … speaking of which, have to love the keyboard ninjas who sent pure class athletes like Jose Calderon ridiculous, hate-filled garbage via Twitter. Get a life, clowns.
Back on topic, unfortunately, there’s only one Valanciunas on this roster. But he’s a tremendous building block, even in a league that currently is trying to go small. Things change.
- The Raptors didn’t have much business being in a game with San Antonio. The team is great and is awesome on the road. Plus the Raptors couldn’t shoot the ball. Not too many teams win games when they shoot 36% from the floor.
- Said Ed Davis looked great in Detroit. Well, he looked even better yesterday and needs to get more run. Sure, his offence is limited and he isn’t the most consistent player around, but the team does better when he’s on the court then when he is off. Unlike that other guy … but I won’t go there – too much. Not fair to dump on Bargnani now. I’ve made my case many times previously. Two great games and one all-time stinker don’t change it. He still needs to go. He still doesn’t fit and he still hurts the team more than he hurts it.
- I’m fine with Casey playing Bargnani so much hoping he’d regain his form … but I would have changed it up in the second overtime. It was clear by then it wasn’t happening. Davis could have provided a lift. Team wasn’t scoring anyway, might as well try to get some easy buckets. Bargnani was doing a solid job on Duncan, which makes keeping him in more understandable, but might have been worth seeing what Davis could do on that end.
- Casey hated the club’s efforts on the boards in Detroit, and got a great response. Toronto throttled San Antonio on the glass and that’s how the team stayed in a game it had no business being in.
- Tony Parker is a fabulous player. One of the most unstoppable players in the league. I can add a “duh” here. Spurs liked Valanciunas so much that they considered a Parker-for-Valanciunas and something swap at that draft. Spurs ended up doing quite well with Kawhi Leonard, who, like Valanciunas, probably goes down as one of the top 4 players from that class.
- Another 51 minutes for DeRozan. The man needs a rest. If and when Bargnani goes, a swingman that can take some pressure off of DeRozan must be the return. That or a quick return to health by Landry Fields, who is expected to still miss at least another month. We should get more clarity on Fields later this week.