Just last week I was chatting with some other members of the media who cover the Raptors about how Toronto would limp through any games they were forced to play without Jose Calderon.
Sure, the lose of Andrea Bargnani was tough, but the reality is Calderon does such a great job running the offence that his loss would be a tough one to swallow for the Raptors.
Well, with the Spaniard limping through Toronto’s locker room prior to the game in a walking cast, it looked like the worst fears of Raptors fans were about to become a reality.
I guess Jerryd Bayless didn’t get that memo.
Toronto raced out to a 14-8 lead thanks to the infusion of energy Bayless provided the starting five. Bayless went 2-3 from the field during that stretch while scoring four points while dishing out three assists and getting a steal in his first six minutes of burn.
Watching the game unfold it was easy to be impressed with Bayless in the first half. Toronto finished the first half shooting 54% from the field (24-44) and had an impressive 16 assists on 24 field goals which helped Toronto go into halftime with a 56-51 lead.
In the second half, however, they only had six assists as a team.
“The point I made about Jerryd (Bayless) is you need to make sure you see people as they are coming off the screen and they are ready to shoot,” Casey explained. “It’s timing. Andrea (Bargnani) is a little rusty coming off of screens, catching the ball, handling the ball. All of those things put together with Jerry in a new situation because usually he has the ball in an agitated situation where he is able to attack and pick-and-roll and kind of look for his with the second unit. With the first unit he has the job of getting everybody involved and that’s a new endeavour for him.”
Even though there was some noticeable growing pains, there was plenty of positives like his six assists and only one turnover.
Bayless also scored 16 points while hounding Jennings into one of his worst shooting games of the season.
“I thought Jerryd (Bayless) did a much better job or running the point guard position,” Casey raved. “It’s a difficult thing to get everybody else involved. His job, and his gift, is attacking the basket and scoring himself, but one thing he has got to learn to do himself – and he’s doing a better job of it – is involving other people, feeding Andrea (Bargnani) and seeing other guys on the roll. On one pick-and-roll he made a nice little pass to Amir (Johnson) who was rolling to the bucket. Those are the kinds of things we need to have out of him.”
While the loss was tough to swallow, the fact Bayless was able to run the offense while getting open looks for himself and his teammates had to be an encouraging thing for the coaching staff to see.
Plus, the team didn’t flatline with Calderon out of the line-up like many people predicted. That’s got to be worth something, right?