USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Raptors played one of the best halves of basketball of the season and were feeling good heading into halftime. Fatigue, good decision-making and effort began to slow down in the 3rd quarter as the better team ended up pulling through for a win.
Is it really darkest just before the dawn? The mood around the team and this website over the last little while has been one of doom and gloom. The trade machine comments intended to save the season have been replaced by trade machine comments intended to blow up the whole operation. That four letter word that rhymes with ‘spank’ is being mentioned much more and the questions surrounding this team don’t look like being resolved anytime soon.
The Nets had lost 5 in a row coming into the game and were looking to turn their fortunes around. The Raptors dressed 9 players last night and Quincy Acy arrived in Toronto about an hour before tipoff. The new bass-filled introduction music that the Raptors used certainly set the tone for the night. All jokes aside, they were an absolute pleasure to watch in the first half.
Ed Davis and Jonas Valanciunas were dominating the paint and setting the tone at both ends of the court. Is this the starting frontcourt of the future? Oh wait, they don’t spread the floor as well as some of the team’s other combinations. Watch this space. Davis, only a few days after being publicly called out by Bryan Colangelo, further cemented his case to continue in this role when Andrea Bargnani returns. He finished with 24 and 12 while playing a ton of minutes. He relished the spotlight at the end of the contest and came up with big plays down the stretch to keep this one interesting.
It seemed too good to be true and I found myself pondering the manner in which the inevitable collapse would occur. The wheels began to fall off after halftime when Deron Williams sat down his team and gave them a quick pep talk. The Nets were in the latter half of a back to back and this contributed to their sluggish start. They started the third quarter like a team possessed. Every aspect of their play improved and the shots that the Raptors were hitting earlier weren’t going in at that same rate.
The Nets hit 9 three pointers in the second half as they slowly began to take over. Joe Johnson scored 23 points and CJ Watson added 16 off the bench. Acquiring Andray Blatche was a move that didn’t receive much fanfare but it looks to be paying off. The talented big man has taken Kris Humphries’ starting gig and contributed 14 points and 9 rebounds last night.
"I thought their talent took over. They hit some tough 3s that broke our back." - Dwane Casey
The timing of Jose Calderon’s 15-assist performance is likely to fly under the radar but it merits discussion. He’s managed to battle Mike James, TJ Ford, Jarret Jack, the mighty Darrick Martin, Jerryd Bayless and now Kyle Lowry for a starting gig. Lowry’s selfish tendencies have been highlighted in the media lately and he was also a topic of discussion during the team meeting after the Utah loss. Calderon’s been through this before and it’s worth noting that he’s a seasoned veteran when it comes to seeing off other point guards. He knows what he’s doing and last night could prove pivotal in determining his future with the team.
The team has a day off before resuming action Friday night against the Mavericks.
- The Sportsnet pregame montage contained highlights from the heartbreaking loss in Brooklyn at the beginning of the season. Do you remember the optimism surrounding that team after the heartbreaking loss to Indiana? Circumstances can be altered pretty quickly.
- Leo Rautins knows a thing or two about Lithuanian cuisine. He also attributed Jonas Valanciunas' aggressive start to his new haircut. More on this as it develops.
- Midway through the third quarter, Matt Devlin attempted to defend Amir Johnson's ill-advised technical foul by informing the viewers that "he is a good young man." I think his aim and lack of sanitary sense is the real story here. He's also a former teammate of Rasheed Wallace. Is Wallace feeling like a proud veteran or shaking his head at Johnson right now? Does he even care?
- It's pretty hilarious that "Cold" by Kanye West came on as Kris Humphries entered the game. The individual responsible for that needs to get the credit that they deserve.
- The team was booed on a couple of possessions late in the fourth quarter. The odds are that this happens again at some point during this run of home games.
- If you are going to watch one Raptors-related video today, let it be this one:
Referee Tries To Block Kris Humphries Free Throw (via DevKha)