It's about time.
After four straight lackluster preseason performances from "Il Mago", we finally have reason to show optimism towards a return to form for one Andrea Bargnani.
Bargnani scored 20 points on 8 for 21 shooting in last night's 107 to 88 win by the Toronto Raptors, over the New York Knicks. He also grabbed 7 boards, blocked 2 shots and nailed 2 three-pointers.
His shooting percentage won't blow anyone away, but Andrea was still very aggressive with the basketball on the offensive end and showed more of a willingness to find his own shot and get into a rhythm.
So what does this mean moving forward?
Sadly, not a heck of a lot.
Andrea has had a terrible preseason up until this point, so it will be interesting to see what kind of performance he puts up against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night and if he can string together two straight solid outings to help build momentum leading up to the opener against Indiana on Halloween.
Jonas Impresses Yet Again
All aboard the Jonas Bandwagon!
All it took was his first touch of the game against Knicks superstar Amar'e Stoudemire to get fans even more riled up about the potential this young man has.
Valanciunas finished with four points on 2 for 5 shooting, as well as a game-high 10 rebounds (three offensive). He was stricken with foul trouble in the first half, picking up two early fouls in the first few minutes of the game.
Despite being denied by Tyson Chandler in the second half, Jonas managed to hold his own against the Knicks front court duo quite well for the majority of his minutes.
This is still going to be a long drawn-out process of development for Valanciunas, but so far so good.
Lowry Lifts The Offense
With all due respect to Jose Calderon (who finished with eight points on 3 of 5 shooting, as well as two assists and two turnovers), this Raptors team ran far more effectively with Kyle Lowry on the court, and that could very well be a continuing trend moving forward.
Lowry was outstanding in all areas of the game. He lit up the Knicks from downtown, nailing five of his six attempts from behind the arc (including one to close out the half at the buzzer) and consistently attacked the rim at every opportunity. He ended the night with 17 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists, although he did turn the ball over 3 times.
Not only did he have success attacking the rim, but also in leading his teammates in transition, including getting guys like DeMar ReRozan (13 points, 3 steals) and Landry Fields (6 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) great looks at the basket.
Really, it was night and day in terms of Calderon vs Lowry and not only in style of play. The offense looked stagnant at times with Jose running the show, but with Lowry, there was a lot more fluidity and it showed on the scoreboard.
On this night, it was Kyle's athleticism and ability to lead the fast break (Toronto was 11-0 in that department) that ultimately helped lead Toronto to a victory.
Second Unit Lends A Hand
The Raptors bench came up huge, scoring 47 of the team's 107 points.
Amir Johnson contributed in a big way, scoring 14 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in just 23 minutes of action. He also stole the ball twice and blocked two shots.
John Lucas also made the most of his limited minutes, hitting 2 key three-pointers on route to 12 points in just over 8 minutes.
After having a great night of basketball on Wednesday against the Wizards, Ed Davis was nowhere to be found against the Knicks this go around. I suppose with Amir Johnson's play, there was no need for Davis.
It just goes to show the amazing depth this Raptors squad has this year.
It has options.
Always a nice problem to have I suppose.
- Linas Kleiza forced the issue quite a bit last night. Nothing was coming easy to him. He needs to make better decisions with the basketball and that will ultimately lead to more minutes down the road.
- It seemed to me that the Knicks players were none too thrilled with having the shot clock on the ground instead of above the basket. They had quite a few shot clock violations that they seemed oblivious too in the moment. Sabotage perhaps? Conspiracy theorists rejoice! (kidding).