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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 29.12.11
Turnovers, late breakdown costs Raptors
Another slow start for DeRozan
The Raps, who had trailed by as many as 14 points, had cut the lead to two on the strength of some heavy lifting by DeMar DeRozan on the offensive end and that good all-around defence under their own basket.
Needing one more stop, the Raptors lined up as the Pacers in-bounded the ball and then that slight moment of uncertainty occurred and took with it Toronto’s best chance at a win.
“Everything was going good except for that last rotation,” Raptors forward James Johnson said. “That was the one that cost me the most. I feel like I let my team down on that one and I have to learn from that and never let it happen again, especially at crunch time when we’re busting out butts so hard to get back.”
Johnson got caught trying to help out and wound up leaving his man just a little too far away. His man — Danny Granger — calmly lined up his shot as Johnson scrambled to recover and hit what turned out to be the back-breaking three-pointer of the game.
“They ran the normal play,” Johnson said. “We know it. We watched film on it. I studied it and we were on it. I just helped too much. I got over too much and got screened in — the big guy did a good job screening me in. Danny Granger is going to hit that shot every time when he’s wide open like that.”
Raptors' Aaron Gray held back
“I thought everyone was hesitant and tight in the first half,’ head coach Dwane Casey said.
But no one seemed as hesitant as DeRozan who admitted this isn’t the first time he has struggled early on.
“I think it’s all going to come,” DeRozan said. “It’s only the second game. Even last year I started off slow but I’m starting to find my rhythm and find my spots on the floor, more stuff will come easier.”
In two games this season DeRozan has four first-half points combined and 33 in the second half.
DeRozan is adamant that the discrepancy is merely a product of the lack of time he and the team have had to work on their offence.
“We’re still putting in new plays every day,” he said. “Once we get everything implemented I think I will be OK.”
Raptors lose home opener, 90-85
Raptors centre Aaron Gray was cleared to resume playing and was active against the Pacers, but was held out Wednesday night after team doctors decided he would be better suited to go through a full, tough practice before debuting.
A rapid heart rate was detected recently by the medical staff, which forced the club to shut Gray down for the season opener in Cleveland, but team and outside doctors gave him the go-ahead to resume full basketball-related activity.
Before the game, Gray told the Toronto Sun “everything is good.”
However, Gray, though announced, did not come out to join his teammates and it was too late to deactivate him and suit up Solomon Alabi.
Magloire needs to help lead these young Raps
“I cannot fault our men’s effort,” said Casey. “They gave it to us. They fought back in, fought back in … again, we have to put a 48-minute collective effort together.”
The Raptors, who shot 46 per cent from the field, did play hard until the bitter end. Even after Granger’s back-breaker, they came back and got a bucket to cut the lead to three again, but David West hit a jumper to end it.
“I know it’s a cliché but we’re right there as a young team,” said Casey.
Toronto offensive struggles were the result of a combination of things. Several players missed shots they’d normally make: Jose Calderon was just 3-for-9 from the field; Ed Davis had just two points and three rebounds in 20 minutes. Some players waited too long to get going: DeMar DeRozan was scoreless in the entire first half before finishing with a game-high 22 points.
“First-game jitters may have been it, wanting to do so well,” said Casey. “It wasn’t from a lack of effort. The guys competed, they didn’t give in, we got back in it with our defence and our offence is going to keep coming.
“I like the direction we’re going. We continue to grow from the first game against Cleveland defensively. Our offence will come . . . the more and more we execute and play together.”
Raptors do the pounding, but Pacers spoil the party
Jamaal Magloire, finally in his hometown at age 33 after leaving town for Kentucky around the same time the Raptors were being born as an NBA franchise, delivered a passionate, upbeat and brief message on opening night, sort of the reverse of a season-ending Grunwald apology. It was a little odd, as was the reality that Magloire, really, was the only candidate for the speaking role on a Raptor squad hoping to forge a new identity and find new leadership this season.
That, however, wasn’t it as far as statements from Magloire went this night. Early in the second quarter of a less-than-sparkling offensive contest against the Indiana Pacers, Magloire crashed to the floor with Tyler Hansbrough, a beefy power forward, as the two grasped frantically at a loose ball. Both clawed and swatted at each other, with Hansbrough absorbing a smack to the nose at one point, leaving his face red from the blow.
Both men took fouls on the play, but it was a moment when Magloire could define his role with the Raps, and a chance for head coach Dwane Casey to see his blue collar message sinking in.
Pacers spoil Raptors’ home opener
“We know they have big guys who are a lot more physical than guys they’ve had here in the past,” said centre Roy Hibbert, whose team led 38-34 at the end of a throwback kind of first half.
In the end, the Raptors didn’t make enough plays to win a close game. Going 7-for-13 from the line didn’t help either, and until DeMar DeRozan attacks the rim more frequently, planting a seed in the minds of officials, they aren’t going to get the trips to the line. So they’d better learn to make the most of their economy.
Yet on this night, at least the Raptors pushed back. Jamaal Magloire is ready – all-too-ready, it seems – to assume the role of team spokesman (really – starting your pregame speech to the fans by thanking the owner for bringing you home?) but he flattened Tyler Hansbrough in the first half, on the ensuing tip-off swatted him in the face and set two bastard picks.
Johnson had two blocked shots and bless the lad – the spirit is willing.
And wasn’t that Andrea Bargnani hooking Hansbrough under both arms and backing him out from under the basket in the fourth quarter? Yes, it was – just like it was Bargnani locking down Hibbert a few minutes later drawing an angry yell and scowl toward officials from the Pacers centre.
“Things got a little closer than we wanted down the end,” said Granger, who finished with 21 points to lead the Pacers, “but we put together a good stretch to close it out.”
The way Vogel saw it, his team left town leading a playoff series. Just 32 more road games to go, coach.
“That team is better than it looks on paper,” he said of the Raptors. “They are very well-coached. They had 35 assists in beating Cleveland and move the ball well. They’re going to be improved this year.”
Pacers' West delivers in the clutch in win over Raptors
And with the Raptors coming off three consecutive dispiriting seasons, this home opener provided a chance to change some minds, to lend some real-world results to the wide-eyed optimism training camp always seems to offer.
“I think we have a hot gym tonight, an excited gym,” Casey said before the game. “Our fans are excited to see our players. I told it to our guys, we owe it to them to lay it on the line: loose balls, taking charges, hustle plays. I expect our guys to do that.”
The Raptors gave Casey the effort he wanted. It just might not have been as controlled as he needed it to be. James Johnson, the Raptors reserve small forward, typified the evening.
Johnson was everywhere against the Pacers. He was arguably the best Raptor on the floor, garnering six steals, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
But after the Raptors had trimmed the Pacers’ 14-point lead to just two points, he lost Pacers swingman Danny Granger, who knocked in a three-pointer with just more than a minute remaining.
“Everything was going good except for the last rotation,” Johnson said.
West, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds, wanted to be the go-to guy on defense late, too.
He went to Vogel with a little more than a minute remaining in the game and told his coach that he wanted to defend Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani down the stretch.
Bargnani, who had 21 points, missed two jump shots in the final 1:14.
"When it's time to make plays on either end of the floor, I'm confident in my ability to be in the right spot," West said. "If they're going to make a play, I want to make it tough for them."
Having a presence such as West on the court helps ease the burden of Granger trying to carry the team late in games.
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