Raptors take one they should have; Lucas steps up; Time for Anderson’s minutes to be cut; Hornets have too many bad defenders

- February 11th, 2013

A win is a win, even if it comes in an ugly game. This was a game the Raptors should have won (at home, against a porous team) and to their credit, the players managed to pull it out.

Some thoughts:

- This win doesn’t happen without John Lucas catching fire. When he gets hot, he gets into some kind of a zone. Lucas went 5-for-5 from deep, helping the Raptors get to .500 from three for the game. His presence was badly needed after the starters struggled badly in the third quarter. The starters had dominated the first quarter, which made the third quarter let-down pretty strange.

If Lucas heats up like that, you have to leave him in. Especially if Andrea Bargnani is unavailable and Rudy Gay is resting on the bench.

- Speaking of Gay, he was initiating the offence more than we’ve seen so far. It’s a bit of a different look and it’s going to be a good thing, especially since the team can use as many creators as possible. When Lowry is sitting, Gay can facilitate and find open shooters like Lucas. He can also create his own shot against anybody and it’s been a long time since one could say that about any Raptor.

- Lowry had his best game in weeks. He was fantastic early, doing whatever he wanted. Granted, Greivis Vasquez is a woeful defender (poor Anthony Davis, he is surrounded by pylons, in the  off-season, the Hornets/Pelicans desperately need to add a perimeter defender or two), but Lowry had the aggressiveness and determination we saw earlier in the year back. That’s as good a sign as any for the Raptors because that Lowry is the near all-star version, giving the team two well-above average players in the starting lineup for the first time in eons (DeMar DeRozan I would slot as about average, Amir’s overall probably an average starting power forward, Jonas Valanciunas is below average for now, but gaining rapidly).

- While we’re on Valanciunas, looks like his confidence and wind is back. He put in another fine effort against another man-mountain in Robin Lopez. It seems Valanciunas particularly enjoys matching up against the league’s biggest centres (Roy Hibbert the other night). You have to appreciate the passion Valanciunas brings. Once he establishes himself, he’ll also get a lot more calls, particularly on defence (he wasn’t impressed with a foul call on a clean block at one point).
- Terrence Ross played decently in Indiana, but might have had his worst performance of the season against New Orleans. As much as I’ve been clamouring for more Ross (with less Alan Anderson being ideal as long as he sees himself as a top option), the truth is, Ross didn’t have it and didn’t deserve minutes on this night. But … Anderson received far too many minutes. Even though he was the best option defensively, if he’s going to make that many bad decisions offensively, you’re probably better off bringing Amir back into the game in the fourth (he had been really good) and going with Gay and Fields at small forward and shooting guard. Somebody has got to get Anderson to rein things in, he can’t be shooting at will unless he’s in a zone like Lucas (and we haven’t seen evidence that he gets in those zones, like Lucas can).
- Until Lucas’ heroics, the bench wasn’t very good. But they made up for it in the fourth. Fields also was a big help in limited minutes.

- Austin Rivers looked better than I’ve seen him before in the NBA, but that’s faint praise. He went from historically awful to just pretty bad. Raptors should be very happy they didn’t take him at 8 (he was very much on the list). He’ll get better, but he’s lost right now.

Categories: Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

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