In the Paint
Join Date: Dec 2007
Daily Raptor Dish - 30.01.2012
New-look Raptors beat Nets
Casey: There's no excuse
On a road trip that saw futility streaks broken left and right, the Raptors saved one more for the finale.
First it was a win in Phoenix that ended the Raptors' 14-game losing skid in the desert. Then it was another against Utah on their home court, something the Raps had not done for 12 consecutive games.
Sunday in New Jersey, the Raptors got their first victory against a team that included Deron Williams.
The jersey point guard had played the Raptors 14 times previously as a member of first the Jazz and then the New jersey Nets. In all 14 games, Williams went home a winner -- until Sunday.
Kelly: Coach Casey points Raptors in right direction in 94-73 win over Nets
Casey saw a team Friday night in Denver that was already using Andrea Bargnani’s injury as a crutch.
What he saw was a team that said they had no chance of winning without Bargnani and then went out and made sure that was the case.
The Raptors first quarter was as abysmal an offensive quarter as they have played all year.
With just over four minutes remaining in the 12-minute frame, they had scored all of two points.
In short, they went into the game thinking all was lost and then played that way.
Casey could have shrugged this one off as a team in the midst of a tough road trip playing in one of the NBA’s traditionally toughest places to get a win — particularly for an Eastern Conference team.
He could have looked the other way for a night and just said it was the combination of the long trip, the high altitude and a superior opponent.
But Casey doesn’t operate that way.
He left the court, conferred with his coaching staff a little longer than he normally does and then walked into the Raptors locker-room and in no uncertain terms told the Raptors the approach that night was unacceptable.
His message was simple. The attitude that his team brought to the arena Friday night will no longer be tolerated.
He didn’t make any threats — at least he didn’t when he reiterated his message moments later to the media in what we can only assume was a toned down version of the one the players got minutes earlier. What he did was take away the excuse.
The excuse that says the Raptors have no chance without Bargnani in the lineup so why fight it.
That doesn’t fly with Casey.
It doesn’t fly because that lack of belief, that give up before a game is even played, isn’t in his DNA.
DeMar DeRozan provides punch in Raptors’ win over Nets
Andrea Bargnani may be the most impactful, Leandro Barbosa the most electric, James Johnson the toughest minded, but the Toronto Raptors most consistent performer is coach Dwane Casey.
After lashing his team for their lack of effort in Denver, one would have allowed Casey to indulge himself a little after whipping New jersey 94-73 with a tired, short-handed squad.
No chance. Rather the opposite. He was working hard to draw attention away from his boldest stroke of the evening.
Already missing Bargnani, who’s off the crutches but limping badly, the coach was also robbed of his best bench option, Barbosa, who is nursing a sore ankle.
So for the first time, Casey featured both of his point guards in the starting lineup. Jose Calderon was left to run the offence, while Jerryd Bayless was asked to disrupt the Nets’ all-star quarterback, Deron Williams.
Williams will always create his own offence, but Bayless’ constant nagging prevented him from involving his teammates. In the third quarter, clearly fed up with his shadow, Williams nodded one way, turned the other and then planted an elbow on Bayless’ chin.
He chirped all the way up the floor. “What?! What?!” he screamed at Bayless, who smirked in return. Later, Bayless put a shoulder into Williams and plowed him over. He stood above his New jersey counterpart for a beat. Williams thought about extending his hand for a pull up. Bayless walked over him instead.
By that point, Williams had reduced his game to a two-man pissing match, at which point Toronto had already won.
But when it was put to Casey that his brainwave had disrupted one of the league’s most dangerous players, he bridled at the idea.
“We didn’t shut (Williams) down. Let’s not get that twisted,” Casey cautioned.
“But it looked like (Bayless) got inside his head a little bit.”
“No. No, he didn’t,” Casey said a little too assuredly. “Deron missed some shots he normally misses. Jerryd did a heck of a job, don’t get me wrong, but we didn’t shut him down. How many points did he get?”
“So he still went to work.”
Doubtless, Casey’s curious emphasis on this point has a great deal to do with the fact that the Raptors will still face the Nets twice more. No need to provide Williams with bulletin board material. Williams’ has faced them fifteen times in his career, and last night was the very first time he came up on the losing end in one of those encounters.
Bayless’ defensive contribution stood out, mainly because it was so unexpected. Everything else was what’s always hoped for, but so seldom arrives at once. Both Johnsons were powerful in the paint. Ed Davis temporarily located a jump shot. Linas Kleiza was a dangerous counterpoint from the bench.
It was all a little ragged, but in the best way. Bayless played at the two spot. DeRozan played small forward, which he guessed he hadn’t done since college, when he regularly lined up as a four.
The result was less slapdash than inspired. This squad sometimes has the tendency to play like men who’ve lost their place in the script, staggering around looking for their mark. Last night, it was still tight on defence, and free-flowing elsewhere.
DeRozan and Raptors crush Nets
And, with Casey yelling and gesticulating from the sidelines, Toronto kept the power on in the second half, as Williams became increasingly frustrated with Raptors hands in his face, and Bayless stuck on his right shoulder. Bayless, who finished with 17 points in a team-high 34 minutes, filled the quiet Prudential Center with a roar when he grabbed a mid-air pass from Calderon, who had nine assists and 10 points, and slammed the ball through the rim.
And when Bayless had to sit because of foul trouble, DeRozan kept the temperature high, banging New jersey bodies as he drove into shooting lanes, eventually making 11 of 16 free throws, just the third time he has gone to the free-throw line more than 10 times in a game this season. DeRozan also continuously hit open jump shots as the Raptors outscored the Nets 26-14 in the third quarter to build a 17-point lead heading to the fourth quarter.
With injuries playing a role in their 7-14 start, the Raptors received a huge lift from DeRozan. He made eight of 12 shots, and 11 of 16 free throws.
“The key was patience,” he said. “I watched a lot of film and I didn't want to force a lot of things. Lately we get kind of slow coming out in the third quarter, so I tried to be aggressive and get things going.”
Raptors coach Dwane Casey was impressed by DeRozan's effort.
“I thought DeMar DeRozan did a heck of a job attacking the basket,” Casey said. “He's too athletic and too quick to not get to the rim.”
Toronto led 46-41 when it scored 10 straight to go up by 15 points. DeRozan scored four free throws in the run, and Jerryd Bayless scored a couple of baskets.
“The guys played like they believed,” Casey said. “They knew that we were short-handed, so everybody carried their load.”
Last edited by LX; 01-30-2012 at 02:43 PM.