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Despite a career night from Aaron Gray (!!!), the Toronto Raptors (16-29) simply couldn’t counter the offensive potency of the multi-weapon Golden State Warriors. En route to their 114-102 victory, the Warriors scored from all over the floor, shooting 40% (6-15) from long range and owning a 62-34 advantage in the paint (thanks, in part, to surprise returnee Andrew Bogut). All told, they shot 53.5% (46-86), with seven players scoring in double digits.
Even with Golden State’s offensive execution, the Raptors managed to stay with their visitors for much of the night, trailing by as little as just a single point in the final quarter. That, however, was before they suffered through a near-six minute scoring drought during which the Warriors put together a 10-0 run. From there, the home side never got any closer than within eight … even though they did find it necessary to inexplicably call two late timeouts and commit three intentional fouls in what was already an out-of-reach game!!
When it was announced that Gray would start on account of Bogut’s return, I wasn’t exactly anticipating the titular chants that would echo through the already somewhat-barren ACC in the fourth quarter. Sure, the chant was tongue-in-cheek, but it still acknowledged an unlikely 22-10 effort from a guy averaging just 10.9 points per game this season. Heck, it wasn’t just a career-high point output for Gray, but a scoring total that fell just one shy of his accumulated sum from his past 11 games.
Point Guard Play
With Kyle Lowry out with back spasms, the team was forced to lean heavily on Jose Calderon to both spark the offence and chase around Steph Curry. Unfortunately, neither he nor John Lucas III were up to the task. Calderon’s first half – 0 points on 0-5 shooting with two turnovers – was a struggle offensively, while his second half was problematic from a defensive standpoint (Curry and Jarrett Jack combined for 23 points over the final 24 minutes). Not that Lucas (three points on 1-5 shooting and a -9) helped much.
Bogut made an impact in his first game since November 7 (12 points, eight rebounds in 23:36 of floor time), but Golden State’s dominance inside extending far beyond the big Aussie. Nine Warriors picked up multiple rebounds to spur a 49-37 edge on the boards. Many of their 62 points in the paint came off balls picked up off the offensive glass.
- Monday night offered an interesting comparison between two rookies selected one spot apart last June. Harrison Barnes, the No. 7 pick, managed 14 points on 6-11 shooting including an explosive late dunk and an eye-opening up-and-under. Meanwhile, Terrence Ross, the controversial No. 8 selection and no stranger to gravity-defying slams of his own, managed a similar 11 points on 5-9 shooting in 10 less minutes. Think I’d still rather have Barnes, though.
- You can tell its trade season with two significant rumours being attached to the Raps. The Celtics are rumoured to be pursuing Lowry (although it’s hard to see an easy match on the Boston roster), while Toronto is at the centre of the Rudy Gay Sweepstakes and supposedly engaged in talks involving Calderon and Ed Davis as a potential package in return for the $100 million wing (apparently Toronto is after Darrell Arthur as well). Can’t really offer an opinion without the terms of either trade being clear, but it doesn’t look like both Lowry and Calderon will be sticking around past the deadline.
Now, things get really tough. Starting Wednesday in Atlanta (7:30pm, TSN2), the Raps will face playoff teams in each of their next five games (Hawks, Clippers, Heat, Celtics and Pacers).
Prediction: Hawks 104, Raptors 90 (31-9 this season)