Nets at Raptors Points Per Game: No faulting this effort; Glimpse into the future; Veteran Nets combine talent and savvy

- December 13th, 2012

You can’t fault Toronto’s effort. Down to 8 bodies and an exhausted Quincy Acy who didn’t get into the game against a solid Nets team (even without Brook Lopez), the Raptors ran out of gas and out of shooters.

Ed Davis illustrated why I wanted to see him in the starting lineup with another excellent game. He has only paired with Jonas Valanciunas for limited minutes earlier in the season and they were not earth-shattering in most of those minutes, so it was interesting to see how well they played together as starters on Wednesday night. As long as Toronto can eventually land a star small forward who can shoot from anywhere on the court, this could be a very good frontcourt of the future. If a shooter isn’t added, you’ll get more nights like Wednesday, where, despite two excellent quarters of defence, eventually, the opponent will make some shots. If the Raptors can’t counter with any semblance of efficient offensive play, the defence can’t carry them on its own.

That said, I still prefer having an elite rebounder and solid all-around defender in Davis than Bargnani as a starter with this franchise because Bargnani’s offence runs hot and cold and you know he won’t rebound or help defend at all.

- The Bargnani injury (out indefinitely and probably at least a month) is a tough one on a number of fronts. Yes, it puts Davis where he should be, but it also makes things even more unsettled in Raptor-land. You can’t trade the guy, most likely, if he’s in a suit. Not after the start to the season he has had. Teams are going to want to wait until he is healthy.

As for the game:

Was impressive that the Raptors got the early jump on a Nets team that was expected to be ornery and effective after blowing a 17-point lead a night earlier. Instead Toronto’s zone and pressure caused all kinds of problems.

Eventually, talent was the difference. Joe Johnson shrugged off a slow start to take the game over, showing why Landry Fields said earlier in the season that he was one of the five toughest players to guard in the entire NBA.

- The Raptors desperately need some consistency from the wing. DeRozan has been hot and cold. Linas Kleiza and Mickael Pietrus have alternated good games and disastrous ones (Pietrus was left to look to the rafters incredulously after missing yet another three).

- Jose Calderon looked like a different player back in the starting role. Not much of a factor in the second half, like most of his teammates, but excellent in the first half.

- Hard not to be impressed by Quincy Acy, who was up at the crack of dawn to get back from California to Toronto. Casey said it showed how much Acy wants to make it as an NBAer. He even got a speeding ticket racing to get to the airport, according to Eric Koreen.

- Started a bit of a kerfuffle, apparently, by tweeting Ed Davis’ quote about missing Bargnani. One more time, he wasn’t insulting Andrea, he never does that, either because he genuinely likes the guy, because he is way too smart to do so, or a combination of both.

Some quotes:

Casey:

“I thought the guys competed, they played the game the right way. Sharing the ball, I thought the ball stuck a little bit toward the end through fatigue I’m sure.”

(DeMar struggling) Playing one of the best 1-on-1 players for most of the game.

Jose had 15 assists and did what he could, but again, their talent took over in stretches. They hit one three in the first half, our goal going into the game was make them beat us from outside … not from the 1-on-1 bounce in the paint. But they made their shots in the second half.

I thought we executed the gameplan with eight or nine players and that’s what basketball is about. If we get some of the shots we’re looking for to fall, and things are going to fall the right way.

Ed was big-time. Didn’t shy away from the contact. That’s abig step in his growth process.

He’s a young kid making big strides and I’m really proud of how he played.

To feel and accept the contact is a growth process for him. Plus, he made his free throws.

We competed in a lot of games. I thought tonight’s stretch was longer. The ball stuck offensively. Defensively, they hit some tough threes that broke our back. But I cannot fault our guys efforts. Our mental approach in some situations is what breaks our acks. There are only a few situations – travel, energy – where it was not there. This league is about mental and physical toughness. The team that gives into it usually get beat. We did not give into it tonight, but they made some tough shots.”

Jonas Valanciunas:

“We’ll miss him (Bargnani). We missed him, especially today. We had just eight guys and it was really, really tough.

Different playing with Davis instead of Bargnani? You have to play basketball. He’s good on defence, he’s helping more to rebound, maybe Andrea more oriented to offence, he’s really good to offence. Eddie may be more like a defence player. He’s really strong, it was hard to play against him. (On Reggie Evans).”

 

Ed Davis:

“He plays hard so it’s always fun to play with him. One of the first times we played together this year. He plays the game the right way. (On Valanciunas)

He’s our guy on the team, he’s our leading scorer, I mean second-leading scorer, or third, tied with Kyle. (On Bargnani).”

Calderon:

“I know the standings. I know where we’re at. That’s because I care. We should know where we’re at. At the same time, you’ve got to look at everything: not only the losses, not only where you’re at, but the positive part, how many games are left. We’ve got to compete and keep working. There are other teams struggling as well. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it’s on us. It’s what we do out there.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

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