If I created a list of things I'd rather spend 3 hours doing, watching the Raptors and Bobcats duke it out would land approximately 147th, behind "Write Exam", "Be a Designated Driver", "Try Sleeping After Drinking a Large Black Coffee", etc. A painful, painful game that seemed like it would never end, it also ate into the time I could've spent watching Heat-Pacers. Thanks, guys!
This game started off excruciating to watch. Neither team was passing the ball, and when they did, they missed open shots. Charlotte didn't register their first assist until halfway through the 2nd quarter. The Raptors rode Amir and Jonas Valanciunas to take a 18-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Toronto dominated the next quarter and a half, as DeMar DeRozan, Greivis Vasquez and John Salmons (!!) helped the Raps take a 47-37 lead into the break. With a lead of 61-45, the Raptors looked to be in control of the game. Unfortunately, Al Jefferson (24 and 11) and Kemba Walker (29 pts) each had huge nights that were highlighted by a dominant 3rd quarter to drag the Bobcats back.
After going into the 4th quarter all square at 70, the teams battled back and forth for the entirety of the final frame. Lowry hit a huge 3 to tie the game up and send it to OT. Charlotte put on a hilarious clinic of abominable free throw shooting to let the Raptors back into the game in overtime. DeMar DeRozan had the opportunity to seal the game with 2 free throws down 1. He only hit 1, and Kemba Walker hit a stunning game-winner with a second left to hand the Bobcats the W, 104-102.
- Amir Johnson: Forget the raw scoring numbers. Amir's the heart and soul of this team. Clearly undersized against Al Jefferson, Amir still managed to pull down 13 boards (6 offensive). He did struggle in the post against Al, but you don't get anything less than 100% effort from Amir. I still maintain that the Raptors offence needs to be much more pick-and-roll oriented, with a focus on establishing JV and Amir.
- Kyle Lowry: Just another day at the office for Lowry. After a quiet first half during which he couldn't find his shot, Lowry hit some timely three-pointers in the 2nd half to bail the Raptors out after all too frequent scoring droughts. The 3-pointer to send the game to overtime was awesome as well. Lowry continues to increase his value on the trade market. 17 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds.
- Terrence Ross: Terrence Ross is still far too streaky a shooter to be depended upon on a nightly basis. Coming off back to back solid performances, there was reason to be cautiously optimistic about the development of Terrence Ross. Tonight, his shot just wasn't falling for him (2-9, 5 points), and the poor performance percolated into his defensive effort as well. Ross was simply invisible for most of the night. Some of this responsibility falls on the coaching as well. The Raptors need to find a way to get Ross engaged and involved regardless of how hot is stroke is on any given night.
- 2nd Half Defence: The Bobcats are one of the worst offensive teams in the league. Charlotte torched the Raptors to score 58 points in the 2nd half to wipe out the Raptor lead. Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker were simply unstoppable. Each shot over 50% from the field and had their way with the guards and big men. Josh McRoberts threatened the Raptors all night and ended up with a near triple double of his own. The defensive effort simply needs to be better if the Raptors hope to win consistently.
- Sidenote: Matty D called Amir "The Doctor". That's worse than "Doctor of Denial".