Magic at Raptors Points Per Game: DeRozan brilliant, Bargnani wakes up a bit; Calderon, Johnson renew dynamic duo act

- November 19th, 2012

It’s early, but that was a huge win for the Raptors. Sure, Charlotte and Detroit are beatable teams, but losing to a weak Orlando side at home would have been a blow. Now, the Raptors have a chance to head into a tough stretch (5-of-6 on the road) with some momentum and confidence.

Some thoughts:

Another solid game from DeMar DeRozan, one of his best all-around efforts of this breakout season. Led the team with nine rebounds and 20 points, hit a three, was extremely effective. The improvement in his ability to handle the ball is the thing I notice the most this season. He is more confident with the ball and seems to know what he needs to do. He is making quicker decisions and is making more correct decisions. The next step is becoming an average or slightly above average defender, because he’s still not strong at that end, but he’s getting close to average.

There haven’t been many combos in Raptors history more effective than Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson. Calderon knows where Amir is going to be, pretty much every time and puts the ball exactly where Johnson needs it to make a good play. Ideally, they’d be leading a strong bench, but the combo powered the Raptors in the fourth yesterday.

Ed Davis only played 7:41, and only grabbed one rebound (with five points), but he looked solid. He helped the team and only sat later because Amir came to life and because Andrea Bargnani was having one of his better games this year.

Speaking of Bargnani, the team got him going early and he responded by playing harder and being more effective overall at both ends, though he continues to shoot himself out of hot starts (finished 7-for-19). As I’ve said for years now, he still hurts the team and still needs to be traded, but when he plays like he did on Sunday he is probably a slight positive. He creates space for his teammates and even made life tough for the smaller Magic players down low. He’s an underrated man-to-man defender, but still struggles immensely as a team defender. Have to think he’s reading his press. Not sure I’ve ever seen a player bolt from a winning locker room so quickly after a game. He’ll keep the wolves at bay for a bit if he keeps trying hard, but, again, long-term, the franchise would be better off finding decent trade value for him.

Dominic McGuire says he is getting more comfortable as a starter. He’s settling into his role, defending the best opposing swingman and taking open shots. When the Raptors run, he is even effective on offence because he has size and athleticism and can finish in the open court. Down the line, he’ll be a solid option off of the bench who Dwane Casey can call on for a few minutes every game to harass and tire big-time scorers. For now, he has to do more than that.

Jonas Valanciunas responded to being yelled at by Casey for not boxing out:

At one point Casey exclaimed: ‘Come on Jonas!’ After he allowed Glen Davis to grab an offensive board. After that, Valanciunas started to use his length against Davis’ bulk and he found success on the boards, particularly on the offensive boards.

Mississauga’s Andrew Nicholson looked to be pressing a bit, but showed the skills that made him a first-round pick. He’s going to be around for a long time. Very skilled big man.

Congratulations to Jamaal Magloire for his new position with the club.

See you in Philadelphia.

Categories: Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

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