Raptors at Nuggets Points Per Game: Dunk of the year? Casey still pushing group; Work to be done; Johnson back in form?

- February 1st, 2014

Short and sweet today. Once again, Toronto did what it’s supposed to do, beat a slightly below average-bad team. Minus Ty Lawson, Denver’s in that range. Good teams take care of these games most of the time and Toronto’s done a pretty good job so far of doing just that, for the first time in ages.

- Terrence Ross keeps doing ridiculous things. The team thought Kenneth Faried chirped a bit on a block seconds earlier and that’s why Amir Johnson and Co. got so amped up after Ross threw down the monster one-hander against Faried. It was a pretty ridiculous jam. In Toronto’s history, only Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and maybe Keon Clark have thrown down better ones (feel free to argue).

- While the dunk will be what’s remembered, Ross finished second on the team in scoring (18) and also added two steals and three blocks. He’s becoming a difference-maker on defence, as well as in the corners.

- Will be tough for DeMar DeRozan to play Saturday. Just back from a bad sprain, playing on a back-to-back will be difficult. Knowing him though, he’ll be in the lineup. DeRozan was a bit rusty after a two-game absence, but he and Kyle Lowry – who both should have been all-stars, as we’ve been over – again put the team on their backs when Denver threatened. They dominated the third quarter and even though the Raptors took a foot off of the gas pedal, that was the difference.

- Dwane Casey wasn’t pleased his charges didn’t show a killer instinct. He continues to push for excellence and is smart not to get too worked up over wins. He strikes a good balance of praising his team and youngsters, while also making it clear what work still needs to be done and what can be improved. From Mike Ganter’s gamer:

“We’ll take the ‘W’ but I was disappointed and I let the players know about it,” Casey said afterwards. “I was disappointed in the close. You can’t come in and feel like you’ve got the game won with a 20-point lead. You’ve got to continue to execute, continue to be strong with the ball, continue to execute defensively if you want to be serious about winning in this league and until you grow up and do that, you’re going to end up on the short end more times than not.”

That didn’t happen and Casey wants to make sure it doesn’t down the road.

“It’s a four-quarter game,” Casey said still fuming. “If you’re serious about being a winning team … I’m going to say it again, we haven’t done anything in this league to think that just because we have a 20-point lead that you’re going to walk away and teams are just going to let you do what you want to do. We’ve got to finish out games and be strong mentally and physically in the paint.”

- Casey was right to be mad. It wasn’t a demolition by any means. Denver actually worked harder for a lot of the contest and controlled the rebound and points in the paint battles.

- Nine boards and three blocks from Johnson was a good sign. He finally got to double-digits in rebounds the other night and nearly did it back-to-back after a long run of putting up pedestrian numbers.

- Once again, the bench was a key. Masai Ujiri seems to be following his Denver model at this point, of building a strong regular season team built on depth. John Salmons and Patrick Patterson were the first two players off of the bench and both were strong, putting up the two best +/- numbers on the team. Though Greivis Vasquez and Chuck Hayes weren’t good, Tyler Hansbrough provided exactly what the team wants from him – another offensive threat who draws fouls and a force on the boards.

- Ross comes home to Portland a conquering hero. The possible dunk of the year, 51 points not too long ago and the heavy favourite to defend his dunk crown.

- Toronto’s four games over .500 for the first time in years and can go five games over for the first time since February of 2010.

Categories: Basketball

Subscribe to the post

2 comments

  1. unknown guest says:

    I’m hoping the killer instinct will come. Still think the VC dunk in the Olympics was crazier. This is the most exciting season in ages, probably since VC was here. I’m even hearing talk in foodcourts, trains, etc about the team

  2. ryan.wolstat says:

    I would agree with you on the Olympics dunk and even a few NBA dunks by Carter were probably better.
    Also agreed on the buzz, more casual basketball fans are talking Raptors this year than I have seen in years.

Leave a comment

 characters available