landry fields forever
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 04.12.10
Calderon all but silences Thunders' Westbrook
Bargnani playing like an all-star
If you accept the fact that Russell Westbrook is among the premier point guards in the NBA today, then perhaps it’s time Jose Calderon got some recognition.
You know, it has been a while.
And before you start slagging his defence — the old fallback in this city among Raptor fans — consider Westbrook is one of the fastest and highest scoring points in the league today and while Calderon wasn’t solely responsible, he was the Raptors’ first line of defence in holding Westbrook to 20 points in Friday’s 111-99 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Now 20 points doesn’t sound like he was shut down or anything, but consider Westbrook needed 19 shots to get those 20 points and you start to appreciate the job Calderon and the Raptors did on him.
Without Kevin Durant (left knee sprain) in the lineup, Westbrook is asked to score and while he did go off for 38 in a triple overtime win over New jersey on Wednesday, including all 13 in the overtime, the Raptors never let him get in a rhythm.
And that — keeping Westbrook from finding that rhythm — was job No. 1 as far as Calderon was concerned.
“I was trying to give him different looks so he wouldn’t get in that rhythm,” Calderon said. “With a guy like him if you are always waiting for him at the three-point line, he is going to know you will be there. I was trying to press him one time, wait for him the next. Go under the screen the first time, go over it the next — just try to show him different looks so he didn’t know what we were doing on defence.”
Calderon though readily admitted his role was just the first in stopping a guy of Westbrook’s abilities. Without the Raptors bigs backing him up the way they were last night, the blow-bys that were constantly being blamed on Calderon last season would have happened again.
Only this year the Raptors help defence is a much more evolved skill so even when Westbrook did manage to get past Calderon there was at least one and sometimes two bodies waiting for him.
Youthful energy lifts Raptors past Thunder, 111-99
The emergence of Andrea Bargnani continues.
Bargnani led the Raptors in the squad’s 111-99 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night with a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds.
For the first time in his career, Bargnani has grabbed seven or more rebounds in four consecutive games and people on both sides of the floor are taking notice.
“He’s playing like an all-star, he’s our franchise player,” said Amir Johnson, the other starting big man who shone with a 14-point, nine-rebound effort on perfect shooting from the field and the line.
“He comes in and does his thing and hopefully it continues for him.”
Thunder forward Jeff Green also spoke highly of Bargnani.
“They’re good, athletic (and) they’ve got a very good player in Bargnani,” Green said.
Bargnani set the tone for the Raptors, scoring 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter.
He also rebounded from a horrid second quarter with excellent play in the third and fourth quarters.
Raptors dump Durant-less Thunder
It was as if it all came together in one magical quarter of basketball: the offence, the defence, the play in transition.
It looked like a bunch of kids just goofing around, young colts feeling good about themselves and their future.
While there are sure to be blips as the Raptors progress through the final three-quarters of the NBA season, they can hold up the third quarter of Friday’s 111-99 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder as proof of what might be.
“It felt like we were at home playing in the gym, just messing around,” DeMar DeRozan said of the 34-18 third that gave Toronto command of the game in front of 16,774 Air Canada Centre spectators. “Running, getting out, getting steals, getting rebounds, just pushing it. With the crowd behind us, we’re tough to beat like that.
“I think we matched up well with them, we’ve got a young team and we matched up perfect.”
It was as good a stretch as the team has played all year; they forced six Thunder turnovers in the quarter and shot 62 per cent from the floor. They got production from everyone on the court and turned a seven-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead.
“I thought the third quarter was very, very good basketball,” said coach Jay Triano. “We got up and pressured and kept the pressure on them and were able to get stops and scores.
Raptors use youth to beat Thunder
Gutsy performances came from all over the Raptors’ roster. Andrea Bargnani had a huge 26-point, 12-rebound effort, Leandro Barbosa scored 22 off of the bench capped off with a steal to seal the win in the final minute, and Jose Calderon going toe to toe against elite point guard Russell Westbrook, who’s been on fire in the last several games for the Thunder.
To be fair, the Durant-less Thunder may have been a little wobbly playing only two days after their triple-overtime win over the New jersey Nets. But 22-year-old Westbrook -- one of the league’s top point guards who contributed 38 points Wednesday night -- said that was no excuse.
“We got lazy,” Westbrook said after Friday’s loss.
He’s not worried, he added.
“We win some, everybody’s: Whoopee, hey-hey. Now we lose, and everybody’s like, Whoa, in panic mode,” he said.
“We’re gonna be alright. Kevin’ll be back soon and everything will be alright.”
Fatigue appears to kick in as Thunder loses to Toronto Raptors
Over the past year and change, the Thunder have proven that such wide-eyed youth can be beneficial. The Raptors are mimicking that plan, and Friday was one of those evenings when it made total sense. Toronto landed one of its more impressive wins of the year, beating the Thunder 111-99.
A pair of relative greybeards led the Raptors. Jose Calderon had a season-high 15 assists and solid defence containing Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook, while Leandro Barbosa emerged as a clutch late-game scorer, finishing with 22 points.
But the game was really won on two things. First, there was the overall consistency of Andrea Bargnani, who collected 26 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the year.
“Every time I thought we got a good stop and I was wondering if we were going to get the rebound, it was Andrea who came down with it,” Raptors coach Jay Triano said. “His effort on the boards was outstanding.”
More importantly, the Raptors put together an electric third quarter, one built on defence and the willingness to run. And those things are both predicated on young legs.
The Raptors won that quarter 34-18, with Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors collected 11 fast-break points in the frame, while Oklahoma City shot 29% from the floor in the quarter.
Youth brings energy, and both teams had that in a fast-paced game. After a miss in that third quarter, Johnson, 23, stole the ball back and passed it forward to DeRozan, 21, who sent an on-point alley-oop pass to Weems, 24. Two players later, Johnson got to throw down his own filthy dunk off of a pass from Calderon.
“That’s why we’re the Young Gunz,” DeRozan said, briefly forgetting that the troika has renamed itself the “Young Onez.”
In the Thunder, maybe there is a lesson — and a target — for these Raptors. Two years ago, Oklahoma City was among the worst teams in the league. Last year, the Thunder made the playoffs and gave the Lakers an excellent six-game series. This year, despite a shaky start and some injuries, they are 13-7. A berth in the Western Conference Final seems possible, if not probable.
“We just got beat,” Brooks said. “Got to give them a lot of credit. They were ready to play and defended in the second half when they needed to. We had no answer for their ball movement. Defensively, we struggled tonight and that's what we've got to continue to work on and get better at as our team continues to grow.”
Facing a fleet-footed Toronto team was not an enviable position after Wednesday's three-hour, 21-minute marathon against the Nets and fatigue appeared to show for the Thunder as Brooks played all 12 players who were available.
After not committing a turnover in three overtime periods and having just two in the first half against Toronto, the Thunder had six turnovers in the third quarter alone.
The Raptors (8-11) outshot the Thunder 61.9 percent (13 for 21) to 28.6 percent (6 for 21) in the period to blow the game open.
Toronto shot 54.9 percent for the game and was led by Andrea Bargnani with 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Leandro Barbosa added 22 off the bench. Starting point guard Jose Calderon had 15 assists.