It certainly wasn’t the prettiest NBA game of the year and it wasn’t the easy victory the Raptors’ fans were probably expecting. The Kings were playing without their leading scorer, Tyreke Evans, and were coming in tied for the worst record in the association. The Raptors were back home and welcomed back some players who were injured. By all rights, this should have been a much easier game for the Raptors, but they key letting Sacramento back in the game and couldn’t pull away.
The fourth quarter was where things clicked and The Raptors finally pulled away for good. Andrea Bargnani had one of his better offensive games going 12/19 for 30 points and Demar Derozan looked like he belonged int he big leagues with an awesome 13/20 shooting night and finished with 28. This is the kind of effort that fans in Toronto want to start seeing from these two guys on a more consistent basis.
Zan For Three
Today was one of those games where you saw Bargnani and Derozan take shots and you could just feel they were going to fall every time. I feel that way often when it comes to Bargnani, but very rarely with Derozan. Today this combo was deadly. Derozan took the ball to the rim and Andrea was lights out from the field. If Derozan couldn’t drive to the basket the ball was sent back out the Bargnani who would calmly drain a long two or a three.
When all the dust settles after the trade deadline and even later in the summer, these are the only two players that I can say with near-certainty will be a part of this team going forward. They are players that Colangelo and the MLSE brass see a lot of potential in. Bargnani is starting to bust out of the shadow of Chris Bosh that he was in for the last few years and is emerging as one of, if not the best player from his draft class. Derozan is a player that everyone has been waiting to explode. It would seem that we my be on the cusp of that moment right now.
These two players were dominant today. They shot the ball with confidence and demanded it in their hands. They both look like strong pieces of the puzzle going forward. If this year results in nothing else, I hope it results in these two players becoming clear-cut starters on this team for he forseeable future.
Somethin’ Brewin’ in the T-Dot?
Now I know the Carmelo Anthony trade to New Jersey seems to be imminent, heck it could even be happening right now for all I know. I think that trade is basically just waiting to happen and everyone knows it.
Less obviously, there seems to be something brewing in Raptorland. Bryan Colangelo has been eerily quiet for most of the season, heck, he’s even harder and harder to spot at the ACC during games. Like a deadly jungle cat, Bryan Colangelo is at his most cunning when he is silent. He hasn’t been saying much lately and the chances of a trade seem to be likely, in my opinion.
I’m not a beat writer. I don’t know anyone in the MLSE brass. I’m not clairvoyant, but I sense something is up.
The Raptors waived Ronald Dupree and sent Soloman Alabi back to the D-League. Neither move is earth shattering or even surprising. But it does leave the Raptors with open spaces on their roster.
The Raptors have most of the Trade exception acquired in the Chris Bosh deal still available to trade and must do so by the end of the season or they lose that money.
The Raptors also possess a number of expiring contracts that could be very attractive to teams trying to rebuild themselves. Peja Stojakovic is the one contract that seem most likely to move or be bought-out so that he can take his game to a contender for the playoff push.
The Raptors also possess some savvy veterans (Reggie Evans, Leandro Barbosa) that could help a contending team. Neither of those players come with long commitments or high salaries, which could make them even more attractive.
They also have two first round draft picks in this coming draft and could use either or both to package in a trade for another asset in order to sweeten the pot.
That’s a lot of assets that have values that will peek at the trade deadline. It makes a lot of sense if Bryan Colangelo isn’t so visible because he’s busy getting deals done. Hopefully he’s also getting his own deal done with MLSE as well.
Mark my words, something is going on in Raptorland. I smell a trade coming down soon.
Where’s the Noise?
Every game the Raptor mascot finds ways, using his bag of tricks, to get the audience into a frenzy. T-shirts, contests, shakin’ it behind a security guard, and other various ways of revving the crowd up. I don’t know what it is this season, I’ve been to quite a few games, but the atmosphere isn’t as lively as it used to be.
True, Chris Bosh left in the offseason and he was not replaced by a marquee name player. There were no major free agent pickups like Jermaine O’neal or Hedo Turkoglu to get the city talking Raptors.
But, despite the obvious reasons, the crowd just didn’t seem that into it today. They got to witness a close, playoff like atmosphere (even if the competitors won’t reach the playoffs this year) where the home team captured victory on late plays. And still the excitement seemed somewhat muted. The biggest cheer, save for perhaps the big Bargnani three ball in the fourth quarter, was for four visiting Blue Jay players that handed out signed Raptor balls.
The Raptors haven’t made the playoffs the last few years and the excitement surrounding the team is at a low point to say the least, but this is an entertaining group of players to watch.
True, there is no Vince Carter or Chris Bosh. No young superstar that takes your breath away, even in a loss. No JYD or Charles Oakley to leave it all on the floor in ways only they could.
What do you need Raptor fans? What will make you cheer and scream the way you used to. What will bring that electric energy back the ACC?
I suppose winning is the only formula, but if you’re down at the ACC watching the games, you’ll be able to see that winning isn’t that far away.
Zan of the Game
Both Derozan and Bargnani had monster games on the offensive end of the floor, but Derozan gets it because he is really developing his confidence. This is a kid that is making some strides this year to become a solid, solid NBA player. He may not peak this year or even next, but you can tell this is a young player that is ready to take his game to the next level. Raptor fans are going to enjoy watching this young player fill it up at the ACC for the forseeable future. Tonight was further proof that Demar is ready to take flight.
Not Zan of the Game
Linas is a good role player and a solid contributor off the bench, most of the time, but he has had a recent tendency to take shots outside the flow of the offense and puts his team in a hole. Today Kleiza had a rough day at the office. He seemed to think it was his job to shoot every time he got the ball. His defense on the other end of the floor was nearly non-existent and he doesn’t look like he is on the same page as he rest of his teammates. I like Kleiza’s game a lot, when he’s on the ball, but lately. he has looked completely off his game.
Kristoffer PedlarThe Zan Tabak Herald *** Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Zantabakherald