Tag: Toronto Raptor

Orlando Magic v Toronto Raptors

Raptors’ Tyler Hansbrough dunks, J.J. Hickson ends up in poster (VIDEO)


J.J. Hickson tries to make the right play. Maybe a split second late, but he recognizes that Tyler Hansbrough has cut from the top of the key area straight down the land and is about to dunk. Hickson goes for the block.

He’s not strong enough. Hansbrough throws it down and Hickson just ends up in the poster.

The Raptors got 61 points from the guard combo of Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams and had a comfortable win on the road over Denver.

PBT’s Sunday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Cavaliers shouldn’t hit panic button, may want to locate it

D.J. Augustin, LeBron James

Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while you were detained after trying to bring a midevil war hammer on a plane….

source:  Cleveland Cavaliers. ”Right now we are not very good. In every aspect of the game.” That would be LeBron James assessment of the Cavaliers right now, and they looked every bit that bad in a humiliating, 23-point blowout loss at home to the lowly Pistons Sunday. Yes, the Cavaliers were without Kyrie Irving, but the bigger issue is the defense is struggling and Anderson Varejao is not walking through that door. Kevin Love was never much of a defender but LeBron is not hustling back consistently in transition defense and the rest of the team is following his lead. Coach David Blatt can’t get this team to buy in on defense, rather they are a team of bad habits. Still, this is a six-win Pistons team… well, make that seven wins, but the point is this is the kind of team the Cavaliers should be able to beat with LeBron and Love on the court together. That they can’t speaks volumes to where they stand. Their problems are bigger than ones that can be solved with some magical trade (that may not happen anyway). It’s still just more than a third of the way into the season, there’s time to turn it around and become the team many feared. But a lot of things need to change.

source:  Detroit Pistons. Yes, the Cavaliers have issues, but let’s give the Pistons credit — that was their best game of the young season. Is it a coincidence their two best games of the season (beating the Pacers Friday) came after Josh Smith was cut loose? Probably. First off, they hit 17-of-31 from three, that’s a one-off. Also, Brandon Jennings has these kinds of night a couple times a season — 25 points (13 in the third quarter), and almost all of it on jump shots, as he was 5-of-6 shooting from the midrange and 5-of-9 from three. Jennings also has six assists. (To be fair, he’s played well in three of the last four, maybe he’s finding a groove.) That said, it’s two big wins in a row for Detroit. We’ll be watching to see if this continues.

source:  Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams. The Raptors 1-2 punch at the guard spot put up 61 points on the Nuggets. Kyle Lowry continues to be one of the best players in the Eastern Conference this season — he had 30 points (on 20 shots), 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Then Lou Williams comes in off the bench and put up 31 points on 18 shots including going 4-of-7 from three. When those guys re hitting like that the Raptors can beat anybody. It is the play from these guys that has Toronto having won eight of nine without DeMar DeRozan.

source:  Dallas Mavericks. In what was a really entertaining game against Oklahoma City, Dallas may not have won the big individual battles but they won the war and got a quality victory. This one may have been a toss-up: Dirk Nowitzki had 30 points (10 in the fourth) on 13 shots, while Serge Ibaka had 26 points on 14 shots, plus 10 rebounds. At the point guard spot Rajon Rondo had 15 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, while Russell Westbrook flirted with a triple-double scoring 18 points, with nine assists and nine rebounds. Still, without Kevin Durant that’s not enough from Westbrook. But you knew it was going to be a good night for Dallas when Greg Smith was doing this.

source:  San Antonio Spurs. Speaking of teams getting quality wins, the Spurs are still without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard yet were able to beat the Rockets 110-106. This was another great game for the fans — it was close the entire way (if a bit sloppy, the teams combined for 43 turnovers), but as they do when it got to the end the Spurs simply executed at a higher level than their opponents. The Spurs got 24 from Danny Green, plus the usual strong nights from Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

Kyle Lowry on almost being a Knick last year: “Essentially, I was gone”

Kyle Lowry

Raptors fans have James Dolan’s fear of getting fleeced by Masai Ujiri — again — to thank for their position a top the Eastern Conference.

Remember at the start of last season the Raptors just were not working, they needed changes, and GM Masai Ujiri was clearly thinking big moves. First he traded Rudy Gay to Sacramento (which worked out well for both sides), then he set up a deal that would have sent Kyle Lowry to the Knicks for Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and a 2018 first round pick (Metta World Peace’s name was rumored also). A reasonable trade. But Dolan backed out (he didn’t like how the Carmelo Anthony trade went with Ujiri), Lowry stayed and the Raptors started winning. A lot.

Lowry reflected on all of that and last season speaking with Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

A day after the Raptors failed to sign Steve Nash as a free agent, (then GM) Bryan Colangelo brought Lowry in from Houston in a trade for a first-round pick and somebody named Gary Forbes. Lowry remembers his emotion on that day.

“Two and done and I’m going home,” he said….

“I figured two years and I’d be a free agent and go somewhere else. This wasn’t where I wanted to be. I tell people that all the time. You can’t predict your future. You have to live it by the day….

“Our season last year was a helluva story. I was traded (to New York). Essentially, I was gone. My best friend (Rudy Gay) got traded. It was all messed up.”

Now Lowry is happy — he signed a new deal with the Raptors this summer (four years, $48 million), he loves the city and he loves all the winning. Lowry matured, his game matured and everything fell into place last season.

Lowry is playing at an All-Star level again this season — 20 points and 7.7 assists a game with a PER of 23.9 — and the coaches are not going to leave him off the list this year as an alternate (he’s fourth in the fan voting, Toronto has come out for him in numbers, but it’s not likely the fans vault him past John Wall, Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving to be a starter).

As for the Knicks… well, you don’t need a ball dominating point guard in the triangle really. So you can try to console yourself with that.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry leading in early All-Star voting returns

2014 Sears Shooting Stars Competition

You really like LeBron James. But we knew that.

You really like Stephen Curry. But we knew that as well.

What is interesting is you have now fallen for Anthony Davis, John Wall and even Pau Gasol in Chicago. And Kevin Durant has some catching up to do.

That’s what we can take away from the first — and somewhat early — returns from the fan voting for the All-Star Game on Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The NBA released the early returns on Christmas Day. Remember that fans get to vote on the starters — two guards and three front court players — for each conference, then the coaches vote for the bench players that round out the rosters.

Here would be the starters if the voting holds:

Eastern Conference: John Wall, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol
Western Conference: Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol

Here’s the secret about the early voting: There are usually not many changes between this and the starting five in the All-Star Game. Last season saw more than normal, and I think we’ll see a couple this year (hello Kevin Durant) but this is usually a pretty stable indicator.

Some quick thoughts on these returns (you can see more detailed voting return numbers below):

• Being injured left Kevin Durant in an “out of sight, out of mind” state but I expect he will climb the ladder and make it into the starting lineup if he gets healthy.

• Wow, that’s both Gasol brothers starting.

• Not surprisingly LeBron James leads all vote getters early on, however his is less than 30,000 over Stephen Curry of the Warriors. Curry even leads Kobe Bryant. Nobody used to lead Kobe.

• While Chris Paul and James Harden are normally locks, they are well back of Curry and Kobe. Not likely the West starting backcourt changes.

• Raptors fans are getting out and voting this year. Kyle Lowry deserves the support, but you can tell they are voting in numbers when Louis Williams makes the top 10 of guards.

• Will Pau Gasol really be able to hold off Kevin Love for a starting spot out East?

• Voting remains open through Jan. 19. The voting is now all digital — fans can vote on NBA.com; through social media networks including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblog; via SMS text, and the NBA Game Time and using the NBA Game Time from Sprint applications.

Here is the top 10 vote getters so far.

Eastern Conference


1. LeBron James (Cle) 552,967
2. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 265,170
3. Pau Gasol (Chi) 247,953
4. Chris Bosh (Mia) 208,549
5. Kevin Love (Cle) 169,818
6. Joakim Noah (Chi) 69,994
7. Marcin Gortat (Was) 57,715
8. Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 52,318
9. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 46,494
10. Al Jefferson (Cha) 43,230


1. John Wall (Was) 299,209
2. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 265,917
3. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 237,356
4. Kyle Lowry (Tor) 182,896
5. Derrick Rose (Chi) 105,465
6. Jimmy Butler (Chi) 99,984
7. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 51,946
8. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 17,512
9. Louis Williams (Tor) 15,329
10. Bradley Beal (Was) 13,911

Western Conference


1. Anthony Davis (NO) 524,623
2. Blake Griffin (LAC) 307,908
3. Marc Gasol (Mem) 227,554
4. Tim Duncan (SA) 198,649
5. Kevin Durant (OKC) 191,881
6. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 152,253
7. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 117,003
8. Dwight Howard (Hou) 104,699
9. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 100,015
10. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 74,501


1. Stephen Curry (GS) 549,095
2. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 521,542
3. James Harden (Hou) 336,998
4. Chris Paul (LAC) 257,528
5. Rajon Rondo (Dal) 107,366
6. Klay Thompson (GS) 90,957
7. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 84,686
8. Damian Lillard (Por) 82,884
9. Jeremy Lin (LAL) 77,276
10. Tony Parker (SA) 50,287

PBT’s Monday night NBA Winners/Losers: The Bulls backcourt can be fearsome

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks

source:  Chicago Bulls backcourt. When Derrick Rose and Jimmy are both attacking, getting into the paint off the dribble, scoring and setting guys up — plus drawing fouls — you are in trouble. Monday night the Toronto Raptors were in trouble. Rose had 29 points on 19 shots, he was getting into the lane (he shot 5-of-8 at the rim) but what was real trouble was his jumper was falling and he was 6-of-7 from the midrange. It was a great show down the stretch as Rose would make a play then Kyle Lowry would make a play — Rose had 15 points in the fourth quarter, Lowry had 18 — but in that time the Bulls kept playing enough defense to pull away. Butler was a rock all game, scoring 11 in the first quarter and playing good defense all game. He helped lead the charge from 12 down and getting the Bulls a quality win.

source:  James Harden, Houston Rockets. The Rockets went on a 20-5 run in the second quarter and from there pretty much ran away and hid from the Portland Trail Blazers, who had been red hot the last couple weeks. It’s a quality win and it was a James Harden showcase — he had 31 first half points and finished with 44 points on 26 shots, and he did it knocking down threes (4-of-9) and midrange jumpers. Plus of course getting to the line. It’s this game that cements Harden in the MVP race as one of the guys toward the front.

source:  Atlanta Hawks. They have won 12 of their last 13, but it’s the quality of wins the past week that should get your attention — they beat the Bulls, Cavaliers, Rockets, now on Monday night you can add the Mavericks to that list, 105-102. The Hawks did it without Jeff Teague — Dennis Schroder got the start at the point and had a team-high 22 points, hitting 5-of-8 three pointers. Dominique Wilkins told PBT last week he thought Paul Millsap was again playing at an All-Star level and he had 13 points and 12 boards, and he was rock solid. Coach Mike Budenholzer has them sharing the ball and playing great team basketball. This team is for real — they are ranked 7th in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and teams in the top 10 in both can be considred title contenders. If they can sustain this, watch out.

source:  Tony Parker. After missing eight of the Spurs last nine he returned and was expected to play limited minutes, instead he dropped 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting, plus had four assists and two steals to lead the Spurs past the Clippers. San Antonio had struggled in recent games, not looking themselves with Parker and Kawhi Leonard out (and he will be out a while longer). With Parker back the Spurs offense clicked again. You just know this is going to be a dangerous team when it matters.

source:  David Lee. He was back for Golden State, playing in his first game of the season, and the former All-Star gave them six points and seven boards in a little over 16 minutes. He looked rusty, as one would expect. But what is really key is he came off the bench and said he was willing to accept that role. With Draymond Green in the starting lineup the Warriors have been a force and coach Steve Kerr was not going to mess with that has outscored opponents by 27 points per 100 possessions. Now the Warriors will bring Andre Iguodala and Lee off their bench — this team is going to be a real playoff threat (if Andrew Bogut is healthy, that’s the caveat).