Dwane Casey opened his post game remarks with an apology to the inventor of basketball Dr. James Naismith. It was not a pretty contest at the ACC there is no denying that. What also wasn’t pretty was the attendance figure for the game of just over 10,000 at the ACC but it looked to be far less than that number. Canada was playing Cuba in a World Cup Qualifier down the road and BMO Field so that may account for some of the reason why.
Just my two cents, but if the Raptors had intended on starting Jonas Valancuinas which they did, perhaps letting the news leak out earlier in the day as opposed to around 5:30 pm might have attracted a bigger walk up crowd. Obviously he is a major focus of attention for Raptors fans as he is finally getting a chance to get out on the floor.
Tonight the minutes restrictions were gone and the people that were in attendance got to see a big dose of Jonas playing the most minutes for the Raptors roster at just over 29. The major fear that a lot of people had about him getting into foul trouble early in his NBA Career have yet to surface and may not. He did have a stretch in this game where he picked up two fouls in quick secession. It didn’t become an issue beyond that.
The major issue for the Raptors in Detroit was defense it was pretty horrible in the first quarter of the last game in Michigan. Tonight a much better overall performance combined with some God awful shooting for the Pistons made it a good night in that regard.
Turnovers were the major problem in the first half. That was corrected for the most part in the second. DeMar DeRozan had 5 on the night despite leading the team with 14 points. Had a chance to talk with Demar in the pre-game and will have some clips of that in the podcast on Monday.
Turning the attention back to Jonas he had 11 points and 8 rebounds no blocks tonight but he challenged some shots and looked much more relaxed in his overall performance. If he turns out to be the big star everyone hope he can be that crowd of 10,000 that were there will grow to 20,000 than 50,000 and so on. All people saying they were there to see his first game. If I am one of those people at least I will have my press pass to verify it.
Ed Davis really stepped up tonight as well and he needed too. Casey talked post game about the maturity level and size of both DeMar and Davis changing from last year. Davis had 12 points 6 rebounds and a block and a steal, a very nice night at the office for him.
The only down side might have been Jose Calderon having to leave this game after a coming together with Rodney Stocky. Casey said Calderon was held out as simply a precaution. But hey no worries that just leaves more time for John Lucas III.
He has a solid outing on the night with 9 points and 8 assists and has been nothing short of brilliant to this point. Casey back on media day commented that Lucas was going to be a great addition and was going to make it hard for him in trying to find him some minutes on the floor. So far, in the pre-season, thanks to Kyle Lowry's injury and the Jose only playing just a shade less than 14 minutes with 0 points 3 assists and 3 rebounds, Lucas has stepped up to the plate and ran with it.
I commented post game on the wild gold shoes John Lucas III had. Saying that “I could never pull that off,” it wasn’t a question or comment I said to him directly. However, he responded to me as if it was. He told me “Yes you could, you just got to have confidence.” This is something John Lucas has a full supply of and is just winning over people on and off the floor.
The other major concern for the Raptors has to be the play of Andrea Bargnani. Once is an accident, Twice is a trend and the third time we might just have a problem. Bargnani only had 7 points and just 3 rebounds which all came early on. Credit to @VaranDK on Twitter who responded via the social media device when I noted Bargnani had 3 rebounds fairly quickly “wills he get more than 5 is the question.” We gave you the answer and it was a negative. So is shooting just 1-5. He did have a couple steals and a block and is developing some chemistry with Jonas who some have labelled the Anti-Bargnani as well as many other things.
The thing you take away from this game is Jonas and his performance. It was not spectacular quite yet but was a much more true indication of what he is capable of. I just like the energy and passion he plays with. He is a nice and friendly soft spoken young man off the floor.
I may be starting to catch Jonas fever like everyone else. I still say we all need to be patient though. That said this kid is really easy to root for and that is never a bad thing.
Oh I almost forgot, even if it doesn’t count/matter we should mention the score. It was the Raptors moving to 2-1 on the pre-season with an 81-75 win. The Raptors will take the day off tomorrow and practice Sunday.