The Mavericks rarely had a lead under double digits, yet the Raptors made a late push to make it close.
The Raptors lost a game in which they outscored their opponent in each of the final three quarters. It was that sluggish start that did them in; they were outscored 36-24 in the first quarter.
O.J. Mayo had seven points in just over three minutes to open the game, and Chris Kaman had eight points in eight minutes.
So what can we take away from this game?
Jonas Valanciunas will struggle against crafty vets
Kaman did very well against Valanciunas.
Kaman used his smarts to get JV into early foul trouble and he never got going. There were many times where JV was frustrated with the call, but Kaman knows the league and its officials; it was clear that he tried to get JV aggravated and in foul trouble.
No surprise that Kaman, a very smart big man, held JV to only 10 minutes of playing time.
DeMar DeRozan is slowly coming around and turning into a complete player
Yes, I have been skeptical of DDR and especially his extension. But it makes sense for a player who quoting a friend of mine, “can be Gerald Green or T-Mac."
I had complained about DDR’s low assists and rebounding numbers from last season (two and 3.3 respectively). In last night’s game (granted Lowry was out), DeRozan had one of his most complete games, scoring 24 points with six rebounds and seven assists.
He also did all this on 8-for-17 shooting (47 percent). He has also shot above 50 percent in two of the previous three games.
He has shown more energy, and I think Casey has had a great impact on him. Let us hope it continues all season long.
That being said, there was one possession where he was guarded by Vince Carter and you could see Vince getting in his "game mode" (that is few and far between). He went up and cleanly blocked DeMar's jumper to the ohhhs and ahhhs of every fan at the stadium and those watching on TV.
Seemed to me like a statement that the Raptors' most popular player ever (who recently mentioned he would like to retire or rejoin the Raptors, via TSN) demonstrated to the Raptors' current franchise shooting guard.
Do the Raptors Make the Playoffs?
The frontcourt struggle with exceptionally gifted big men
No, I am not stating that Kaman is exceptionally gifted, but I am talking about Brandan Wright. Although he only amassed a 12-and-7 line, he seems to be all over the glass offensively and many of his baskets seemed as if the Raptors' bigs had no chance.
Moreover, there were times when Andrea Bargnani just needed to box out his opponent to avoid giving up an offensive rebound. These fundamental mistakes can easily give the opponent extra shots and thus easy points. If you take away Amir Johnson’s six offensive rebounds, the rest of the Raptors only had four compared to the 16 of the Mavs.
Slow starts are slowly killing their chances at a W
The Raptors have given up 66 points in the first quarter of the last two games. On the season, their opponents have averaged 26.8 points in the first quarter (projected to over 107 points per game).
That simply won’t cut it for the Raptors. They need to come out stronger with a better strategy and more energy. That is on Casey to pump his players up and not full of air.
Although the Raptors are 1-4, they have played some competitive games and shown signs of improvement. Hopefully Kyle Lowry is not sidelined for too long and he can come lead the team once again. They have also played some tough opponents to date and need some time to mesh as a unit.
I have not lost faith in the possibility of a playoff run.
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