Okay, seriously, what is it about Jamal Crawford that the Raptors have trouble with? The guy just seems to come out and have career nights against the Raptors. It’s money in the bank. Death, taxes and getting lit up by Jamal Crawford. Anyway…
So the Raps did what they needed to do, taking this one from wire to wire, handily beating the Knicks, although they did let another big lead nearly disappear. There were a lot of good things in this game, but what you have to like is how Rasho is providing that steady presence in the middle. He might be the only player in the league who can quietly come out and score 18 points in 27 minutes. You never really notice how many points Rasho has poured into the basket until he is taken out of the game and one of the commentators let’s you know that Rasho is checking out with X number of points. It’s a strange phenomenon, but he manages to do it by essentially using the same play. He gets the ball down low, just outside the semi-circle and does that half jump shot half hook shot business that must have a patent pending on it. It’s tough to block, so if he’s on, he can start filling it up pretty quickly. If you don’t have somebody to deal with his size, he will expose you. It’s actually quite nice to watch. It is textbook basketball…well, maybe not as far as the actual shot goes, but the rest leading up to that, textbook.
Once again, another good game from TJ since returning to the starting lineup, but I really didn’t like how Jose looked tonight. 23 minutes, 1-5 from the floor and turned the ball over 3 times? That’s not the Jose we know. There might be an argument that while he has shown some class by moving to the bench, there is the chance that it will take its effect mentally. Maybe not, maybe he just had a bad game, but against the Knicks, that kind of stuff isn’t supposed to happen.
Let’s take a quick look at TJ’s move back to the starting lineup. You can’t argue that he hasn’t looked like a completely different player. Just how much of a difference is there with TJ between starting and coming off the bench? Well, as a starter, TJ shoots almost 49% compared to almost 42% off the bench. His 3-point and free throw percentages are lower as a starter, which you could associate with fatigue. For Jose, his numbers as a starter or off the bench are pretty much the same. He shoots 53% as a starter, as opposed to 55% off the bench and 45% from 3 as a starter compared to 43% off the bench. If this whole thing isn’t going to blow up, we are going to need Jose not only prove that he is a class guy, but that he is going to be able to keep himself warm and game ready to come off the bench. It appears the Raptors finally have TJ working in control again, it would be a shame to lose Calderon in the mix.
If you’re the Knicks brass and you take a look at tonight’s game, you would think, well, if we can come out and look like this without the Fat Boys, Circus Act and “Star”bury, then why the hell are we paying those guys so much? To be honest, this game wasn’t ever really in doubt, other than the one point where the Knicks went on a bit of a run and managed to get the game back to 3 points, but the Knicks showed something by staying in there, fighting and not taking another loss lying down. David Lee didn’t have a great game shooting, but I’ll take a guy who will get up and down the court and will pick up a double-double via 15 points and 12 boards. Jared Jeffries has been putting in some solid work throughout the season and the Raptors may have to trade for Jamal Crawford just to stop him from scoring against them. The key for the Knicks is to admit that they have missed on a lot of their trades, blow things up and start again. There’s no shame in starting again, especially if it ends up with your team winning more.
Anyway, it’s good the Raptors did what they were supposed to do, that is a comforting thought, but there are still some important games coming up…like the return of MoPete.