Archive for February 9th, 2013

Raptors at Pacers Points Per Game: Not this guy, not Rudy Gay … Raptor edition; Jonas back with a bang

- February 9th, 2013

Impressive bounce-back game for the Raptors in Indiana, as has been the case many times this season. Sure, you could say Indiana was due for a home loss after winning 15-straight at the deserted Banker’s Life Fieldhouse (or whatever they are calling it these days), but the flip side is this was a team simply dominating at home. The Pacers remain one of the four best clubs in the East and built up a decent lead. Yet, the Raptors stormed back, forced overtime and got a winner from Rudy Gay, who was brought here in part to be the man in those situations.

- I’ve been pushing for more Jonas Valanciunas for a while, and it was nice to see him given big minutes and producing (career-high in rebounds). Yes, he still makes some rookie mistakes (David West faked him out of his shoes, leading to a big dunk), but Valanciunas also is doing a lot of things right.

- Gay has been missing a lot of shots, but a lot of them are easy, chip shots, that will start falling. Gay showed what he could do in the fourth quarter and in overtime. He is capable of monster stretches (see the third quarter against Boston).

- Gay likes to joke that he can’t up there anymore like his younger teammates (even though Gay is only 26) , but his alley-oop in the first quarter was spectacular and he easily blocked a jumper attempt by Gerald Green, who, along with fellow dunk contest participant James White, could be the NBA’s premier leaper.

- Speaking of leapers, I knew Paul George would be good (and so did the Raptors, who wanted him badly), but not sure anybody expected him to be this good. Sure, there were Tracy McGrady comparisons heading into the draft, but George is really living up to the hype. He could be a top 10-12 player one day, basically a souped-up Rudy Gay.

- Amir Johnson’s been great, but he simply has to stop with the silly turnovers. Instead of panicking and trying to get rid of the ball as fast as he can when he receives it anywhere but under the net, Johnson must show more confidence and take his time. You know, like how he did at the end of regulation on a crucial play.

- Heard in the broadcast (I’m not on this trip) that DeMar DeRozan has hit more two-point attempts than any other  guard. Not sure that’s as good as it sounds. Yes, his attacking the rack is great, but he settles for inefficient mid-range shots far too often because he hasn’t been able to hit consistently from outside. It doesn’t lead to huge efficiency.

- Andrea Bargnani has helped the Raptors off of the bench in the role we’ve been calling for for ages now. If he’s willing to accept being a sixth man gunner, and it’s a legitimate question because he sees himself as a quality starter, he can be a help. Not sure it’s a viable answer long-term (don’t think Bargnani would accept it), but it means the Raptors don’t look like a team desperate to deal him for anything as long as he is playing along and powering the bench.

- The push-off foul on Bargnani against Hansbrough in the fourth was indeed “garbage” as Jack Armstrong said on the broadcast. Wrong call to make in a close game. Worse was Hansbrough throwing Valanciunas to the ground a couple of minutes later. Valanciunas was holding his injured hand. Hansbrough’s an annoying, some would say dirty player and it’s not surprising people want to take his head off just about ever game. He’s like an ultra-lite version of Bill Laimbeer. As usual, this one had some really bad calls. Not sure how you miss Hansbrough tackling Valanciunas and the offensive fouls on Bargnani and Gay were botched in the fourth when the refereeing should be ratcheted up a notch.

- I know Raptors fans fawn over Roy Hibbert and moan about how he should have been a Raptor (even though, the fact is, the team had no interest in selecting him if the pick was being kept and not dealt to Indiana, Serge Ibaka, Alexis Ajinca, Courtney Lee and Nic Batum are some of the guys they really liked), but I don’t think Hibbert is as good as most people think. Sure, he’s a great shot blocker, but for his size, he’s a terrible rebounder and he misses too many easy shots inside, considering how big he is. He would have been better than the ancient Jermaine O’Neal, sure, but I’d be rueing not getting guys like Ibaka, who were actually realistic, than not getting Hibbert.

- Terrence Ross is starting to pass more and it is helping his game. The first time he tried to make a nice dish to Valanciunas, Jonas wasn’t ready, the second time, it resulted in a dunk. Ross is putting it on the floor and looking to attack the rim or find teammates rather than just launching shots and that’s a great sign. Ross had a headband on for the first time. Wonder if that’s a slam dunk contest preview?

- Cory Joseph continues to dominate the D-League. What a fit he’d be with the Raptors. Toronto has tried to land him in the past, but San Antonio wouldn’t bite. Hard to find a match, Toronto won’t deal a 1st for him and Spurs usually don’t have bad contracts to dump and probably don’t want second rounders for a guy who is good enough to play in the league, just not on a team that has Tony Parker (still an MVP candidate) playing most of the time.

- Finally, Kyle Lowry has not been playing well, but not sure I get rolling with John Lucas III late (even though it worked out for the Raptors).

- One thing to add: Obviously, showing up for a game when you’re (supposedly) in a playoff race would be a good idea. I’m looking at the bigger picture in this piece, but clearly Raptors didn’t show up for one of most important games of season on Monday.