Lots of Raptors flaws show on DeMar DeRozan's big night

I don’t know what you think but a season in which Vince Carter scores the 25,000th point of his career on a dunk against the Raptors and then DeMar DeRozan has the first triple-double of his career in a sublime performance on an emotional night against the Raptors somehow has “special season” written all over it.

I don’t know if that’s ultimately going to be special good or special bad but it’s something. And if you don’t agree, I don’t care; I just needed a way to get that minor point out there and right off the bat seemed to be the best idea.

Now, the game.


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Vintage DeMar

I know we’ve all seen the kid have some wonderful nights and I’m sure there are more to come but the way he handled the run-up to the game, the glare, the game was top-notch.

At no time during the game did it look like he was pressing the issue in any way, he took what was there, made a bunch of tough shots and a few we’ve seen a thousand times before and played, for him, a routine game.

I don’t know if it’ll be the same in February back home – I suspect the attention on him will be exponentially more intense than it was this week, when it was mostly Kawhi – and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles those emotions.

Last night, though, he was simply outstanding and, frankly, I was glad for him.

As he put it in the quick Game Centre thing, he had fun. Sure looked like it.

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On the other hand …

Man, there are some issues creeping in with the Raptors that we’ll delve deeper into later today after I get this done and a couple of flights out of the way.

But once again the three-point shooting was problematic.

They went 6-for-30, the starting backcourt of VanVleet and Green were a combined 1-for-12 and I know they’re not that bad all the time but they’re bad more often than not and that’s got to get resolved.

Trouble was, most of the shots last night would have fallen into the “good” category and if you’re not making good and open threes, you’re not going to win too often.

I don’t think last night was an indictment on the entire year and there is still more than half a season to go but watching open look after open look miss had to be tough for them.

Sayeth Nick:

“I thought we had some really good looks in the first eight or nine possessions. I think we had three wide open threes and none of them go, we had a couple at the rim that didn’t go as well … That might have let us hang in there a little bit if we could have scored a little bit with them but we just didn’t guard them well enough tonight.”

Two slow starts

The Raptors didn’t react well at the start of the game (“I’ve got to shoulder some of this or a lot of it, most of it. Obviously we didn’t have our guys ready to go. I mentioned before the game we were pretty attentive and focused and excited to be here but we didn’t come out and play that way,” was how Nick put it) but the start of the third quarter was just as troubling.

The Raptors had seemed to get back in the game a wee bit late in the second quarter – it was at least a manageable deficit – because they’d been playing better.

They come out in slow motion again, the Spurs rattled off nine straight points in about 2.5 minutes and we all started polishing up our stories, concerned only with when DeMar would get his triple double.

And that was pretty telling of the whole night: A step slow at key times and unable to cope.

Their quotebook

“It was just the speed, right? We were running behind them, they were running around us and it just looked like we were trying to ease into the game and by the time … there wasn’t any easing into it. They were great, their pace and speed and the way they were passing the ball.” – Nick Nurse.

“It was expected. You can hope expect, predict but being in this league long enough you know there’s going to be some boos and some cheers. I wasn’t disappointed. It wasn’t shocking.” – Danny Green on the reaction of the fans.

“Kawhi is a high-character guy. We all make decisions in our lives, what we are going to do with our futures, and he has that same right as any of us. So, I felt badly, honestly.”—Gregg Popovich.

Your quotebook

After about three days of rain and cold and clouds, it feels weird to be wanting to get to Milwaukee for some good weather.

It was so bad here I never got on the Riverwalk once, which meant none of the usual haunts although the shrimp tacos at the YardHouse were good and the local Pilsner tasted okay.

Figure a nice night at a good barbecue place basically attached to the hotel in Milwaukee and a nightcap at Goolsby’s will work out.

Some old travel stuff comes back pretty quickly.

Everybody over the national disaster that was the teen pucks?

I can only imagine the reaction in some necks of the woods there.

Tough result for the kids and I know there’s a ton of internal and external pressure put on them in that event, especially when it’s at home but think of it this way:

If the worst thing that happens to you in life is that you lose some hockey tournament as a teenager you will have live a pretty good life.

Okay, last call for mail because I’ve got to get it all wrapped up either on a stool waiting for others at the Milwaukee eatery or tomorrow after shootaround because Sunday’s flight is early.

There’s not much there at the moment so click on askdoug@thestar.ca and you’ll feel better about yourself.

At least I hope you do.


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