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RaptorsHQ Lunchbox Links for January 12, 2012

We're long overdue for an edition of LBL, so let's get to it starting with last night's affair.

First off,'s Michael Grange on the Raptors' loss, and the lockout aftermath. As he notes, there's been some ugly basketball so far this NBA season, and the Raps have been major participants.

One of the games they participated in, their loss Tuesday night to the then 0 and 8 Wizards. I'm not sure we've probably broken down how embarrassed the Raps should have been by the loss, but consider this, Washington hadn't won a game before that in nine months...

...must have been the fake Twizzlers.

How brutal was that game? Well, those who were with us for the liveblog, we know all too well but the fact that Grantland did an actual piece on the match, claiming that the viewing of the match was a "fate worse than death,"speaks volumes.

Oh...and how about more reasons the Wizards are terrible?

Regardless though of recent offensive and viewing woes, the buzz continues to build around the defensive job new coach Dwane Casey is doing. The Hardwood Paroxysm does a great job capturing a piece of said buzz.

Now if he can just get DeMar DeRozan going, because as the National Post's Eric Koreen notes, DeRozan is still auditioning for a role on this club. A role that might not be so clear next year once the Raptors add another top pick, and players like Valanciunas arrive.

Colangelo, Bargnani and more after the jump...

And how about a word from the man putting this all together, as he recently spoke on the Fan590. My favourite part? His comments about Casey even getting Bargnani to play D!

Finally, speaking of poor Bargs, who's scheduled to have an MRI done today on his left calf, he's finally getting some love from mainstream media, even making John Hollinger's "All-Surprise" team, early in this NBA season.

From the post:

Il Mago always could score -- even last season, he averaged a scintillating 24.0 points per 40 minutes while disappointing in virtually every other phase. What has stood out this season is that he's doing everything a little better -- rebounding, passing, shooting -- and the visual is that there's more of an attacking mentality and a confidence to everything he's doing. It's easier to envision that, of course, when the ball is going in. Bargnani's 51.5 percent shooting from the floor is unlikely to stay this elevated for long, though.

But there's another reason to put Bargnani on this list: It appears he's actually trying on defense. It's early, and I don't want to get carried away, but the standout feature when I've watched Toronto is the lack of glaring breakdowns that used to be a nightly treat. I've yet to see an opponent score while Bargnani stood 3 feet away with his back to the play, for instance. Baby steps, I know, but it appears Dwane Casey's defensive message is getting through. In the meantime, his 23.53 PER is miles ahead of his previous career bests, and at age 26, it appears he's finally realizing the potential Toronto saw when it drafted him six years ago.

Let's hope Andrea's ok because Toronto's next two opponents, Indiana and Chicago, are two of the league's top teams by most accounts, and with the Raps averaging a shade under 88 points per game WITH him Bargs...well...