That wasn’t the prettiest game in the world last night, in fact, let us never speak of it again.
The Raptors sported a starting lineup the Bakersfield Jam would likely not be concerned about. Ben Uzoh? Alan Anderson? and Justin Dentmon serving as the primary backup one shootaround into his Raptor career?
If this is what “Tank Nation” is all about then I want no part of it.
That was ugly. That was ugly before the disgraceful 4th quarter where the Raptors were outscored 33-17. I mean the game was tied at 68 in the 3rd Quarter. Is that “pounding the rock” or just straight stinking out the joint?
To be fair, the Raptors were without Calderon, who was relegated to the bench with “hockey face” after Elton Brand elbowed him in the face on Wednesday. They were also without James Johnson, who is usually a spark plug for the Raptors. He was out with what can only be described as “upsetting the coach”.
Not a great effort for our team, not at all.
Still Derozan had another strong game, Sonny Weems returned and Tristan Thompson got a nice ovation from the crowd. Not all bad, I guess.
Zan For Three
Driving the Tank
I get it. I really do. I understand Tank Nation. I understand the idea of cheering when your team loses.
The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t get Kevin Durant by winning lots of games. Lebron wasn’t delivered on Cleveland’s doorstep for shows of good effort.
Losing brings Toronto a valuable asset. Losing lots, at least theoretically, increases the value of that asset.
But if we are going to tank this season, I’d at least like to go down with some dignity. Dwane Casey has shown this past week that he has absolutely no intention of leaving this season with a whimper. He has this team playing hard and aggressive.
Just not last night.
If we are working towards next year, it would be nice to see a little more Ed Davis and a little more Solomon Alabi. Last night, Justin Dentmon, fresh off of getting to the city, played 20 minutes. Alabi, a two-year Raptor, drank Gatorade.
Ben Uzoh and Alan Anderson are living out their NBA dreams of starting in a game, while some of our younger players are wasting away on the bench.
Tank or no Tank, let’s play the players that have a possible future here.
So James Johnson sat against the Cavaliers on the very same night Sonny Weems made a public appearance in Toronto. 2+2=4
I’m not going to suggest that the Raptors are looking to replace Johnson with Weems. That would be a bad idea, a very bad idea. But Weems is a solid offensive player and one who has really shown some promise in Lithuania this year. His arrival at the very same time his replacement was being benched is sure to conjure up all kinds of baseless rumours and armchair GM-ing.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that he returns, though.
He’s good friends with Demar Derozan who is seemingly part of our future. He can score in bunches, which would be a nice asset to have on our bench, especially since Leandro Barbosa’s output has been replaced by Alan Anderson’s thus far. And he seems to want to be here. If we are to believe his words.
Sonny is a pretty one-dimensional player, but like Barbosa, he scores a lot. If used properly off the bench he could become a semi-valuable asset.
That being said I don’t think the plan moving forward is to have Johnson start at the 3 next season (he would likely come in off the bench) and the Raptors don’t need to carry the extra wing if one will be acquired in the summer.
The Weems debate will continue and Colangelo is going to have to make a decision.
At the very least, there will be plenty of chatter about Mr. Weems over the last couple of weeks of the season.
The Dog House
Of all the players that I could imagine being in Dwane Casey’s “dog house”, James Johnson wouldn’t be one of them. This season he has been Mr. Everything playing with energy, doing the little things and playing strong defense.
He has been a fan favourite because of the energy he plays with on the court.
It is therefore very intriguing why he has been benched in favour of Alan Anderson.
In typical Dwane Casey fashion, this matter is being dealt with internally (as it should be), but one has to wonder what Johnson did to earn his mini vacation.
Hopefully it was a minor incident that both parties are now . The Raptors need James Johnson; tank or no tank. He’s a fun player to watch and would have come in handy last night against the Cavs.
Zan of the Night
The kid is getting his confidence back. Unfortunately he’s getting it back just in time for the season to end. Once again Raptor fans went from being done with Derozan to thinking he might be part of the core. Is he the player from the first half? or the one playing well to end the season?
Seems like Derozan has got a bit of “Reimer-itis”, hopefully his solid play continues into next season and he doesn’t revert back to his old ways. On Friday night he shot the ball well, got to the line and was one of the only players that gave his team a chance to win.
Not Zan of the Night
He is not an NBA starter, but there he was as the Raptors starting small forward. He won’t be there much longer, one can only assume. He finished with 30 minutes of play and zero points. He missed the four shots he took and was an overall -13 on the night.
But I guess he deserves more time that Alabi.
The Zan Tabak Herald