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The Morning After: Raptors-Clippers Post-Game Reactions

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Notes and quotes from Friday's win over the Clippers.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Things were not looking so well in the first quarter last night. Actually, let me rephrase, it was looking like a rock bottom moment for anyone wondering if back-to-back home losses to Milwaukee and Brooklyn was just that. The Raptors starting unit came out flat and fell behind the Clippers 30-10 late in the first quarter. But basketball games are very long, it turns out, and somehow the Raptors went from down 20 to up 20, and pulled away with a 123-107 win. Some notes and quotes from the game:

  • Dwane Casey post-game: "James (Johnson) and Lou (Williams) came in and gave us a big spark in the second quarter....We need that spark from our bench. We have to start getting quicker starts. I don't know what we have to do with the starting unit but we have to come out putting the pedal to the metal and find a group that is going to come out and give us a spark..."
  • After going 2-for-23 in his past two games, Lou was great last night. He scored 18 points in 28 minutes, including three three-pointers and going 7-for-9 from the free throw line. He was doing his usual drawing shooting fouls on the perimeter thing, and even made a few very nice dishes in the second quarter.
  • James Johnson returned from a (possible, depending if you believe in the conspiracies) groin injury and was magnificent. 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals in 19 minutes. 7-for-7 from the field. 2-for-2 from the free throw line. Casey said before the game that JJ would be getting more minutes at the four. He was guarding Blake Griffin at times against the Clippers, and held his own. Build his statue already.
  • But seriously, the energy that Johnson brings is huge. Now that everyone is back healthy and judging from Casey's words about getting off to quicker starts, one has to assume the Greivis Vasquez starting lineup experiment is coming to an end soon. He got a quick hook in the first quarter last night.
  • Vasquez did play well in the fourth quarter (Terrence Ross started the second half in his place), and finished with 17 points. When a team scores 123 points, there's going to be a lot of positives.
  • DeMar DeRozan was just 6-for-16 from the field, but finished with a near triple double: 24 points, nine rebounds, eight assists. Since his return, he's shown that he get be a very high level distributor as well as a scorer. The assist totals are up, and it will be worth watching if this becomes something permanent. The thing with DeMar, and we can harp on his mid-range game and difficult shots over and over (and we probably will), he's always adding things to his repertoire. You can't say he's an underachiever given his skill set.
  • It was Jerome "Junk Yard Dog" Williams bobblehead night (just me, or was his bobblehead miniature size?). He was in the crowd, and was introduced on the Jumbotron to Master P - "Make Him Say Uhh". I guess no one cares about the Percy Miller era?
  • Phife Dawg, decked out in throwback purple Raptors gear, performed at halftime. We may have found our contingency plan to Drake if he bails on this We The North thing.
  • Very sparse crowd to open the game. Might have been because the original scheduled time for this game was 7:30, but since ESPN flexed this game into their schedule to replace Nets-Knicks, it got moved up to 7:00. Some fans didn't get the memo about the change. On the bright side, most of them got to see a completely dominant Raptors performance sans the 30-10 start. Always look on the bright side.
  • Before the game, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers spoke about how the Raptors are a complete team in that they have multiple weapons who can attack, and two All-star caliber players in DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. He certainly got an up close look at that tonight (and for that matter, in Los Angeles back in December when the Raptors won at Staples Center by double digits).
  • Rivers also spoke at length about not panicking over a losing streak during the season. For the record, last night's loss gave the Clippers their first three-game losing streak since Doc became head coach.
  • Filed under it's apparently a really long season and players get bored: Glen "Big Baby" Davis was speaking in a British accent (I think..might have been Australian) before the game in the locker room. Apparently he had a bet with a teammate that he could keep the accent for an entire day. Davis checked in for some garbage time in the fourth quarter, I wonder if he was communicating on the floor in the accent too. I may never find out. I'll live.
  • Raptors are 7-3 in their last 10, so the sky isn't falling, but it sure felt like it in the first half. The big picture problems -- consistent defense, what happens to the offense when shots aren't falling -- remain, but when the offense is on and the shots are falling, results like this appear to be the norm. It's fun when this team gets rolling like this.
  • More Casey post-game, on Lou: "I thought he made some shots which helped everything. He made some good shots but I thought his passing was good...He's a veteran and he knows how to play. It's one of those things where he had a bad couple of nights but we have a lot of faith in Lou and our shooters."
  • Two more games until the All-Star break. The Spurs are in on Sunday. We won't have to worry about a winless home stand. Now let's see if we can string together a few more wins before the break. By the way, that's the first of eight straight games against quality opponents for the Raptors. 1-0 so far.