In their win over the Charlotte Bobcats last night, the HQ was a big fan of the team's look and feel, and discusses Jay Triano's new-found rotations...
I'm not sure why I named this recap after DJ Quik's fifth LP.
It's not even in my top 3 of Quik albums.
Those would be Rhythm-a-lism, Quik is the Name and Way 2 Fonky, in that order.
However after pondering the Raptors 103 to 101 victory last night over the Charlotte Bobcats, the words "Balance" and "Options" just kept sticking in my head. And not because I had been bumping a steady diet of DJ Quik, but more because after seeing last night's win, those words rung true.
Last night I saw the most balanced version of the Toronto Raptors in eons.
The club started well, with energy at both ends of the court. They made some errors sure, but unlike many a match of late, didn't get blown out. They kept the game within striking distance and the defense held the 'Cats to a mere 18 points in the first Q.
And lo and behold!
Off the bench came the vaunted first-round pick, and first-round signing to boot, both recipients of Jay Triano's recent line-up switch which now has DeMar DeRozan and Hedo Turkoglu riding the pine.
And you know what? They didn't miss a beat.
In fact, I thought Hedo played exactly the role he should be playing for this club. He made some clutch shots, facilitated the offense, and gave the Raps some basketball savvy off the bench. Yes, it wouldn't be the Ottoman if he didn't step out of bounds on a key Raptors' possession with Toronto holding on to a two point lead for dear life...but this was a start.
As for DeMar, his 8 points in 20 minutes off the pine don't really tell the whole story as he brought a much-needed dose of energy and enthusiasm to the Dinos. His play, along with that of Amir Johnson, gave Toronto some key possessions in this win.
And this brings me back to the title of the post.
Not only did I feel that the Raptors' brought forth a balanced attack, but due to the line-up he started the game with, it also felt like Triano had plenty of options throughout this match. He could go big, small, add some more offense in to the mix when needed, and generally didn't seem as hand-cuffed to certain set rotations. Peering over the box score in fact, the minutes doled out were pretty much what I hope to see each night.
-A little over 15 for Amir.
-About 24 on average for Calderon and Jack.
-A nice mix of Weems and DeRozan.
-And even four minutes of Reggie Evans thrown in for good measure.
Now Marco Belinelli didn't see the court, but on nights when DeRozan and/or Weems aren't getting it done, I'm sure he'll get the bulk of the minutes. And other than that, things just seemed to fit.
Of course a loss Wednesday to the Clippers could throw all of this off.
But assuming the line-up stays the same, I'd bet we see another solid effort.
The real key to me, outside of the new and improved use of players, is the two B's, Bosh and Bargs. Both were back in top form last night, complementing each other throughout the match. Bosh finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Andrea almost hit the 20 and 10 plateau himself, finishing with 16 and 9.
Bosh still didn't quite look like his old self, (he seems allergic to free-throws suddenly) but it was indeed a step in the right direction. As for Bargs, I can't overstate the importance of getting rebounding numbers like last night's, especially against a rugged team like the Bobcats.
Maybe it was the Uncle Leo "ANGRY" eyebrows Andrea was sporting?
If Bargs can attack the glass and be the true secondary scoring option this team needs on a consistent basis, and Bosh can get refocussed here down the stretch, who knows.
Mind you this is the 2009-2010 Toronto Raptors we're talking about here, and one solid outing doesn't have me ready to cash in my "over" bet yet.
However last night was the best I've seen this club look from front-to-back in ages, and considering the recent woes in Raptorland, I'll take it and look forwards to the next few matches.