They all can’t be high-intensity, high-effort, high-entertainment games but the home side finished with more points than the visiting squad so that would leave Raptors fans feeling pretty good, I’d imagine.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game I don’t think, but I thought we played awfully hard, and played really hard in stretches, so that was good to see,” was the Nick Nurse synopsis.
Smart dude, that Nurse.
Anyway, they’re now 6-0 at home, 10-4 overall, doing pretty durn well with a bunch important players not playing and things aren’t all that bad at all.
Won’t even point out that Pascal Siakam’s had two less-than-enthralling games in his last three because that’d be picking at nits and we don’t do that around here.
(Of course, I type that, look at the boxscore and Pascal’s had 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists and maybe he was okay after all)
But what we do do is this.
The little things
This is the kind of stuff Marc Gasol does.
It’s early in the second quarter, he gets the ball at the elbow off a little pass from Terence Davis. Gasol gives a little head fake towards the baseline that gets Davis’s defender leaning, Davis rightly reads it and curls over the screen, takes a nice dump off pass from Gasol and makes a runner in the lane.
It was just a subtle little move from Gasol but it got the Raptors an easy bucket and proves why Nick said this about him before the game.
“He is such a pillar to our defence and a captain back there behind it and he’s also kind of a revolving wheel on the offence. You always hear me say it, throw the ball to Marc and start cutting.
“I can’t hardly remember his bad games if he’s had a few here or whatever. I just think he brings so much to our team from a leadership, defensive, passing, likeability, winner, that even if he goes 1-for-6 or even if he has a game where he has two points, he usually still has a really good game out there.”
Oh, and there was this.
When Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic went down with a rolled ankle under the basket in front of the Raptors bench, Gasol tried to commit an intentional foul at midcourt so the Magic could tend to Vucevic.
Orlando called timeout before Gasol could foul but he was all set to. That’s big time.
Up to his usual hijinks
Didn’t take long for Chris Boucher to make his mark.
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Couldn’t have been a minute after he got into the game when he injected it with a much-needed boost of energy.
He had a big block of an Aminu layup and then ran the floor like he always does and was there to flush a Rondae Hollis-Jefferson missed layup at the other end.
That’s the kind of stuff this kid named Siakam did about three seasons ago and, no, Boucher is not going to be Siakam so we’re not even going to go there but he does have that flourish of energy that they need off the bench.
Now, with Serge Ibaka back pretty soon – Nick said it might be as early as Saturday in Atlanta – the trick’s going to be making sure Boucher continues to have an immediate impact on the game because he’s not going to play nearly as many minutes.
Filling the sheet
It’s not all him because guys have to make the shots when they get the chance but Terence Davis II finishing with five assists was pretty big on the night. That’s compared to just three turnovers and I know his shooting and scoring is catching everyone’s attention, but the assists and turnovers are gonna make his coaches and teammates take notice.
He had seven the other night against Charlotte and four on Saturday in Dallas and if he keeps that up, it’s not going to be too hard for Nick to pare back the minutes being played by Fred VanVleet and, eventually, Kyle Lowry.
The search for a third guard capable of running the team or at least getting things organized will be much less an issue if Davis keeps doing what he’s been doing.
This is the second last reminder of the week to get your questions in for the weekend mailbag.
You do it by clicking on firstname.lastname@example.org and asking away. Don’t be afraid to toss in the odd oddball question, like why Babcock, why now and why in the world would anyone laud Ben Simmons for making the first three-pointer of his NBA career in his 172nd game instead of ripping him for not making one in his first 171?