Five thoughts from the Toronto Raptors’ beatdown of the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.
It was the DeMar DeRozan show in the first quarter
DeMar took the Raptors first two shots—both makes—and he carried that hot hand through the quarter, and the rest of the game. He scored 12 in the awarder on 6-9 shooting.
He also threw down this filthy alley-oop from Kyle Lowry:
Air Comp10 pic.twitter.com/i2s0b3CkBB
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 16, 2017
The first wasn’t entirely DeRozan of course. OG Anunoby continues to make plays that don’t necessarily show up in the highlights, including a lovely little baseline pass to Jonas Valanciunas for a layup. Meanwhile, it looked like Kyle Lowry did indeed need some home cooking, as he hit his first shot—a signature Kyle Lowry pull-up 3 in transition.
At the end of the day though, it was DeMar’s night. DeRozan would finish with 31 (on 19 shots); the Raps are 7-0 this year when he scores 30. (Of course, I’d like him to still keep the assist numbers high as well…! He only had 1 tonight.)
Once again the Toronto Raptors bench choked away a double-digit lead
The first quarter ended with a DeMar + bench unit that looked great and succeeded in closing out the quarter with a 10-point lead. I thought Dwane Casey might go with a Kyle Lowry + bench unit to start the second, but he went with the 5-man bench unit (without CJ Miles, who was nursing a sore shoulder) and it was a disaster. How bad was it?
- Three of the Raptors’ first four possessions ended in turnovers.
- Toronto native Nik Stauskas went on a personal 15-2 run to start the quarter.
- At one point, the Nets had a +22 advantage in bench scoring.
Boy, I miss the halcyon days of the internet heaping praise all over the Raptors bench…
Thankfully, the starters set things right
The five-man starting unit came back in halfway through the quarter, and closed it on a 21-6 run to get the lead back to 14 at the half, and that was pretty much it for the Nets. The Raps starters didn’t let up in the third, though, pushing the lead to 20 with 6.5 minutes to play. Their third quarter play was wonderful, filled with ball movement, crisp cuts, rock-solid defense and yes, even rebounding. I know it’s the 11-16 Nets on the second night of a back-to-back (and missing two starters) but it was nice to see. Overall the Raps starters have outscored their opponents by 111 points over the last 9 games, and they’re 8-1 in that stretch.
I’m not sure how I feel about Kyle Lowry gunning for a triple double
Kyle had 10 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds after three quarters; he wanted rebound #10 and Casey let him back in to get it. It makes me uncomfortable.
First of all, there’s the obvious: If he went back in the game only to collect a meaningless rebound and got hurt, well, then Casey should be fired.
Second, it’s valuing personal stats above team success. That rebound means nothing to the team or anything beyond Lowry’s stat sheet. That’s sad.
Thirdly, that’s thumbing your nose to an opponent that you’re beating, easily; it’s rather unsportsmanlike.
All of that said I loved seeing the joy Kyle and the bench shared together after he got it. If that kinda thing brings the team together and continues building that camaraderie, then how can it be bad…?
Will garbage time help settle the bench down?
The Raptors’ bench played the entire fourth quarter (other than the Lowry minute to get his triple double). Norman Powell was able to knock down some shots (5-8), which should give him some confidence; Delon Wright was able to play 15 minutes and get up 8 shots in his first game back from his shoulder injury; Jakob Poeltl had his best game in two weeks, finishing with 11 points on 5-6 shooting with four boards and 2 blocks. Even Lorenzo Brown scored, a rarity!
Casey’s got some challenges in front of him now that Wright is back. Will his presence right the bench play? Or will their struggles continue?
We’ll get our next chance to find out on Sunday, as the Raptors play host to the Kings!