The Toronto Raptors looked to make it 2 in a row on the road as they faced Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, coming off a much needed win against the Phoenix Suns. Alas, the Raptors ended up with a feeling and result they have experienced far too often this season...heartbreak. They fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 118-116 in an overtime thriller.
A tough shooting night for Rudy Gay, going 7-26 from the field (including missing a shot for a chance to send the game to double OT), but DeMar DeRozan & Alan Anderson played fantastic basketball for the Raptors providing clutch baskets & solid play on both ends of the court throughout the game. In another Raptors sub-plot this season, Andrea Bargnani re-injured his elbow early on in the contest and did not return to the game. Toronto was leading 89-79 heading in to the 4th quarter, but the Lakers went on to outscore the Raptors 30-20, including incredible clutch shots by Kobe Bryant down the stretch in regulation, to send the game into overtime.
Kobe Bryant was an absolute beast, posting 41 points & 12 assists for the Lakers. Dwight Howard also had an excellent game, posting 24 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals, and 5 blocks. That effort marked back-to-back games where Kobe has posted 40+ points & 10+ assists. The 'Black Mamba' is doing everything he can to make good on his guarantee that the Lakers will make the playoffs.
The real question is: Where do the Raptors go from here? With 19 games left in the regular season, and 8 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference (who also own any potential tiebrakers against the Raptors), it appears that the playoff goal & dreams for this season are out of reach.
Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony matched each other basket for basket in what first looked to be a high scoring game, tied 32-32 after the 1st quarter. Ironically, both Rudy & Carmelo ended the game with 32 points each (including 17 for Rudy in the 3rd quarter alone!), but in the dying moments the Raptors capitalized on what appeared to be mental lapse by the Knickerbockers. With the score 100-98 and 3.4 seconds left, the Knicks opted not to foul intentionally, which allowed the Raptors to push the ball up the floor and run out the clock to secure the victory.
The Toronto Raptors are now 7-3 since acquiring Rudy Gay in the trade with the Memphis Grizzlies & Detroit Pistons. Currently, the Raptors are 4.5 games out of 8th place in the Eastern Conference, trailng the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Milwaukee Bucks, who are holding on to the 8th spot. It appears that a .500 record or very close to it, will be what is required to lock down that coveted 8th seed. With 26 games remaining the Raptors will need to go 18-8 in that stretch to reach .500. That will require the Raptors to win 69% of their remaining games to reach that mark.
Raptors' Head Coach Dwane Casey spoke to the media after the game:
Photo courtesy of NBA (Facebook)
Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Jamario Moon, DeMar DeRozan...and now Terrence Ross. Those are the 5 Toronto Raptors in franchise history who have participated in the NBA Dunk Contest. But now, Vince Carter has company as he was previously the only Raptor to have won the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Terrence Ross has now joined him as he earned and was voted the 2013 Slam Dunk Champion, with his victory over the defending champion, Utah Jazz's Jeremy Evans.
Terrence is also raising awareness and funds through the Dunk Cancer initiative and the Children's Cancer Association, by which "one hundred percent of the profits raised from merchandise sales will be donated to Dunk Cancer Month. At the epicenter of his campaign—during his participation in the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest—Ross has committed to donating $2,000 to Dunk Cancer for every round he advances in the three-round slam-dunk competition."
In case you missed T-Ross' incredible dunk display, or simply just want to watch them over & over, here are all the direct links for your viewing pleasure:no comments
Today, Super Bowl Sunday, the Raptors will play hosts to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, the now Raptor fan-vilified Chris Bosh, and the Miami Heat. If wagering on the Super Bowl, or playing fantasy basketball, isn't your thing, then you are definitely going to want to have your eyes glued to this game! Once the two teams hit the court I expect the hospitality to end there. This marks the second of 2 straight BIG tests for the Toronto Raptors and their latest acquisition - Rudy Gay! Rudy's Toronto debut was nothing less than a show for Raptors fans, as the Raptors enjoyed a huge team effort against the Los Angeles Clippers, rolling past the Clippers with a 98-73 victory.
It's always difficult to see fan favourites like Jose Calderon & Ed Davis be moved to new teams, but that is part of the business side of the game. With the Raptors are well below .500, something had to change. When you have the opportunity to get an elite level player like Rudy Gay, you have to pursue it. The 8th seed in the Eastern Conference is wide open, especially with the Boston Celtics losing Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger for the rest of the season due to injury. The Raptors must keep their focus on the goal of reaching the playoffs despite a tough start to the season, and win as many games as possible over the final 35 they have left in the regular season.
The Toronto Raptors have now dropped 3 games in a row after losing 107-105 in overtime to the Chicago Bulls at the Air Canada Centre. The Bulls' Luol Deng hit the go-ahead shot with 3 seconds to go to steal one for the Bulls.
Check out our friend Duane Watson's complete game recap at NBA.com for the story behind the numbers.
Raptors' Coach Dwane Casey addressed the media after the tough loss.
The Raptors' next chance to turn things around is on Friday night in Philadelphia, to face the 76ers. The Raptors were victorious the last time the two teams matched up earlier this month, coming away with a 90-72 win.
A renewed commitment to defense, players stepping up and making the most of their opportunities (Terrence Ross, Ed Davis, Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan), and players getting healthy again (Alan Anderson, Landry Fields, and Kyle Lowry) have all contributed to this latest stretch of success after a frustrating start to the 2012-13 season. The Raptors have now won 2 games in a row, and they have 7 wins in their last 8 games.
Last night in Orlando, the Toronto Raptors had their most dominating win of the season and arguably their best all around effort this season. The Raptors won the game 123-88. Orlando had an early lead 19-16 with 4 minutes to go in the first quarter, but the Raptors tied it on the very next possession with a 3 pointer by Mikael Pietrus and didn't look back. The Raptors made 15 of their 27 three point attempts on the night, and they shared the ball extremely well by recording 33 assists on their 46 made field goals.
When you're winning games it's easier to joke around post game, as evidenced here:
The Toronto Raptors are going for their 6th straight win tonight versus the San Antonio Spurs. The re-commitment to defense has seemed to have made all the difference for the Raptors in this current 5 game winning streak. They have been able to hold their oppenents to an average of 90 points in that span. In order to get past the Spurs tonight, to avenge the double OT loss in Toronto earlier this season, they will have to approach this game the same way.
Our friend, Jeff Garcia at Project Spurs, reached out to us for a Gameday Q & A to talk about the Raptors and the Spurs in advance of tonight's match up. 'Project Spurs' is the best Spurs related blog out there, so be sure to check out the Q & A here.
Also, be sure to check out our latest 'Raps Talk' podcast, where we and our Raptors family at Hip Hoop Junkies discuss the recent success the Toronto Raptors have had and what they need to do moving forward to continue this trend, as well as other topics around the NBA.
Let's Go Raptors!!
The weekend was kind to the Toronto Raptors, and their hard work has seemingly started to pay dividends. On Friday night they hosted the Dallas Mavericks and came away with a dominate 95-74 win. They followed that up with another deserving win, with a renewed focus on the defensive end of the floor, getting past the Houston Rockets, 103-96 to provide their 2nd win in a row and their first set of back to back wins since last season (April 2012).
Jose Calderon posted his 2nd career triple-double (both this season). He posted 18 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds.
Alan Anderson was also huge off the bench for the Raptors, scoring 24 points in 25 minutes of playing time.
Coming into this 2012-2013 NBA Season I was definitely among the optimistic about the prospects of the Toronto Raptors. I recently said on one of our weekly 'Raps Talk' podcasts that we'd probably know by 24 games into the season (just over the quarter mark) how the team would look going forward.
The Raptors have 4 more games to play until reaching that point going to LA to face the Clippers, then to Portland, before returning home to face the Nets, and the Mavericks. The season has not been kind to the Raptors thus far.
Last night, the Raptors suffered their worst loss of the season in Utah, getting dominated by the Jazz by a score of 131-99. Kyle Lowry is usually short on words in interviews, but this pretty much sums up the effort in last night's game:
Following up on a question that we asked several Toronto Raptors including DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, and Terrence Ross during 2012-13 Training Camp in Halifax, "what sneakers do you like to wear on court?", we've decided to feature what they have been wearing so fans can get an up close look that you can't always get while watching the game in person or on TV.
Our friend, Holly MacKenzie who covers the Toronto Raptors for Sportsnet.ca, will be taking pics throughout the season when she gets the chance and is using the hashtag #RapsKicks on Twitter so Raptors fans, NBA fans, and sneaker enthusiasts (sneakerheads!) can check out some of the exclusives various players will be rocking all season.
Here is a list of the 2012-2013 Toronto Raptors roster and what brand of sneaker they wear on the court with their specific preference(s) within that brand in parentheses.
Adidas: Quincy Acy
Li-Ning: Jose Calderon
Nike: Alan Anderson, Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan (Jordan & Kobe), Ed Davis (KD & Kobe), Landry Fields (Kobe), Aaron Gray, Amir Johnson (Jordan & Nike Retros), John Lucas III (Jordan & Kobe), Linas Kleiza, Dominic McGuire (Jordan), Terrence Ross (Kobe), Jonas Valanciunas
Peak: Kyle Lowry
I've decided to highlight two players specifically in this blog post, DeMar DeRozan & Amir Johnson, because of the exclusives they love to wear on the floor each game. Personally I'm a sneakerhead at heart, so it's only right that I specifically acknowledge a couple of players on the team who have been going out of their way to step up their kick game up on the court. In seasons past both DeMar and Amir have shown Nike's 'Kobe' sneaker line a lot of love, but there seems to be some extra love to 'His Airness', Michael Jordan, this season so I'd be remiss not to highlight them!