De Ja Vu Experience at the ACC

I was covering this one for The Score doing the liveblog thing. So if you want a blow by blow of this one feel free to check it out as it happened. That or maybe go back and read our recap from January 19th when the Raps visited that Spurs.The Scripts from the 2 games were pretty similar. DeRozan had 28 on the 19th and 26 tonight at the ACC. DeJaun Blair went crazy in both games and the Raptors hung with the Spurs in both games only to have the Spurs pull away with it late. The Raptors played 3 solid quarters of basketball tonight but other than in the 3rd Quarter did not offer much on the defensive side of the ball. I am just going make some points on this one rather than you tradition game recap. In other words a DNB Game notes addition.

  • First it has to be noted what a warrior that Amir Johnson continues to be. He turned his ankle in the First Quarter and had to be helped back to the locker room. But by the time the 2nd quarter rolled around Amir was back on the floor. It really is so commendable given the circumstances of this franchise right now that he continues to fight like this. Not since Alvin Williams wore a jersey have we seen this kind of character and heart from a player in a Raptor Jersey. He had 12 points 13 boards and 3 blocks at far from 100%
  • Demar DeRozan maybe the best reason to keep watching the Raptors these days. He has really taken his game to the next level this season. I said coming into this season that his development was the biggest factor of the season. Not how many games the Raptors won or lost but what type of DeRozan we had at the end of the season. All indications are we will have a vastly improved one. I have no faith that Andrea Bargnani can carry or take this team anywhere. We have all heard the expression that you star player has to be your hardest worker and set the tone for a team. Demar is that hard worker. Look at how far his jump shot has come in just a year and half. It didn't just happen by accident. All those hours he puts in the gym are finally starting to show up on the floor. He rarely drove at the start of this one because he didn't have too. He was making shots. If he could make shots like this on a regular basis he will be coming very tough to stop as he showed when he did decide to add the drive to the mix.
  • These have been tough times for a couple of the Raptors. Jerryd Bayless has really seemed to have struggled over the last little while. He returned to the line-up tonight and really never seemed to find any kind of traction in this one. His minutes have been all over the place due to Calderon's injury problems. As the Raptors turn the page to looking to the future this season we need to really see what we have in my fellow J.B. I think we all know the good and the bad that we have in Calderon by now. Time to start evaluating what exactly we have in Bayless. Ed Davis has kind of faded back into the woodwork. He showed a lot of positive signs early on but of late to me has been a total non-factor and I am a bit concerned. But again you have to keep playing him even when a Reggie Evans returns to know what you have in Ed and let him learn and grow.
  • Oh Bargnani what do you do with a problem like Andrea? The same criticisms I have made in the past about Jose Calderon apply to Bargnani. There is one major difference though. Jose Calderon just can't defend it is not that he doesn't try to defend. In the case of Bargnani it would seem he has the skills and the body to be able to defend. He has decent speed and a big body but he just doesn't seem to want to use it or know how to use it. The time of saying he is still developing is quickly passing. Drafted back in 2006 was a long time ago. He has handled the offensive issues of no Chris Bosh fine. But Bosh leaving is not really any explanation as to why his defence is so horrible. This team with Chris was brutal as a unit and Bosh is not like a Dwight Howard that hides others defensive mistakes to often. I do not know of anyone that thinks should Bryan Colangelo remain he would consider trading Bargnani. But ultimately that might be what should happen. His highly skilled offence can still get someone to bite at this point. Ideally if you have a legit center and move him to his true position at the 4 you may actually have a good player in Bargnani. But a franchise player stuck out of position at the 5? Not a chance. The 29 points were great but no team can afford to have a center that gets you just 2 rebounds. Ultimately like I have said about Jose in the past his his liabilities on the defensive side of the ball out weigh his effectiveness on the offensive end you have a problem. Tonight you had a problem. You disagree? Go check out DeJaun Blair's stat line and tell me if you still disagree.
  • I am always honest in my feelings or bias when it comes to players. I like Sonny Weems. He is a good person and fun loving and one of the guys that I have got to know in covering games. I want to see him there next season when I am covering games. For that to happen Sonny is going to have to pick things up down this stretch. The defence has to improve, the quick jumpers need to go and he needs to start driving more like DeRozan has been doing. Weems can be a dynamic and athletic presence on the floor. But he needs to play smart and as he is starting to look like he is healthy there is no more excuses. Basketball IQ has nothing to do with how healthy you are. Sonny needs to go back and watch tape of what he did last year. If Weems Contract was up last season he would have a new contract and be secured to remain part of the Young Onez with Amir and Demar. They are likely rooting for Sonny to stay and so am I. But the -11 the worst in the starting 5 and the poor shot selection has to change. Forget about making long 2's and trying to make 3's go back to that mid-range game and drive off those looks when it is there. While on D there are no easy match-ups but bring that same fire he has to dunk the ball on the break into his defence. Hoping Sonny can get it done.
In the end the Spurs were the better team and by the 4th quarter came around the Spurs had another gear to go to and the Raptors are to young to know what that gear is yet. Spurs showed you why they have the best record in the NBA in that 4th quarter. They got it done through defence and there is a lesson in that for the Raptors. Regardless of the first 3 quarters come the 4th quarter the good teams in this league can get stops. The Raptors need to learn how to do that. Getting in a scoring match with teams that have more talent then they do is seldom going to result in wins. Spurs won by 9 points in San Antonio and tonight won the game 111-100. The games were almost carbon copies in many ways.

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