* Dwight Buyucks was on the court nearly three hours before the opening tip working with Jama Mahlalela. Impressive work ethic. Dwane Casey is always stressing the importance of being ready to go even when it doesn’t look like there will be minutes and Buyucks is doing just that.
* It’s always kind of weird when an NBA player eats dinner in the media room. They are obviously welcome, but since it’s such a rare occurrence, it always catches me off guard (like when I was a kid and saw a teacher anywhere outside of school). Tonight Carrick Felix dug into a big plate of pasta across the table from me while I was doing my pre-game research.
* There was a big debate in the Cavaliers locker room before the game was if it’s a three, five or ten second rule when you drop food. The Aussie, Matthew Delladova, found that it depends on what country you’re from. North Americans were unanimous that it’s a five second rule but the players felt even that’s too long.
* Toronto got off to a rough start shooting 22% from the field (5-22) in the first quarter. They had almost no dribble-penetration and only a few entry passes into the post. Instead, Toronto heaved a lot of ill-advised deep jumpers or three’s. Five of Toronto’s 22 first field attempts in the first quarter came beyond the arc and they only scored four points in the paint in the entire quarter. All four of those points came from Tyler Hansbrough off of dunks.
* Attempting more three’s (seven) than free throws (four) is always a recipe for disaster. That’s how Toronto started the game in the first quarter and things didn’t get much better in the second quarter as they failed to shoot a free throw but launched four more 3-pointers. Going into the half attempting 11 three’s but only four free throws is horrible.
* Kyle Lowry sat on the bench late in the first quarter grimacing and grabbing his right leg/thigh. The team trainer rushed over to check on him and Lowry quickly sent him away. Lowry returned to the game early in the second quarter and looked fine.
* Why do the Raptors continue to pout and complain after not getting a foul call? It just shows up the refs and prevents them from getting the benefit of the doubt next time. Plus, when Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas are demonstrative they will get hit with technicals like Valanciunas got in the third quarter. Refs ain’t got time for that.
* Great halftime ceremony by Canada Basketball Hall of Fame to honour Andrea Blackwell (played 17 years with Team Canada from 1979-96), Candace Clarkson (Bronze Medal at World Championships in 1979 and Olympian in 1984) and Bill Coulthard (Gold Medal at Senior Canadian Championships in 1952 and Olympian in 1952).
* After halftime, Steve Novak doesn’t sit down on the bench until he makes a three-pointer. Needless to say it doesn’t take him long to drain a three.
* Toronto started the third quarter being aggressive trying to score in the paint. 18 of Toronto’s first 25 points in the third quarter were scored in the paint. When Patrick Patterson decided to switch it up and drain a three, Mike Brown had seen enough and called a timeout. By then Toronto had opened up a 71-58 lead.
* Anthony Bennett nearly climbed the back of Patrick Patterson as he soared for a dunk attempt late in the third quarter. Would have made for a filthy dunk and a great poster.
* Greivis Vasquez gave Toronto a big spark off the bench today. He lead Toronto’s bench in +/- with a +8 and seemed to be playing with a bounce in his step that he has been missing. Maybe it was the three that he hit early in the game that helped boost his confidence.
* I’m impressed with Amir Johnson’s hockey knowledge. He was talking with a couple of us media grunts after the game and seemed genuinely excited about Canada playing for a gold medal on Sunday.
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS
1 – Toronto only played played hard for one half and still won the game. They stunk it up in the first half (39 points while shooting 32% from the field) but found a way to steal this game thanks to an impressive third quarter.
3 – Tyler Zeller had three blocks in the first half.
4 – Cleveland will get their chance for revenge in four days when these two teams play again in Cleveland.
12 – Number of made field goals by Cleveland (12) before DeMar DeRozan (0-5) or Kyle Lowry (0-4) made a shot from the field.
16 – Toronto only scored 16 points in the first quarter and then had 16 points in the paint in the third quarter. The fact Toronto decided to play a little nasty while being physical and trying to score in the paint is the reason this game turned around.
37 – Toronto scored 37 points in the third quarter after scoring 39 points the entire first half.
78 – It took 78 games last season for Toronto to get their 30th win. This season it only took 55. Progress!
THEY SAID WHAT?
“I still have nightmares about it.”
Dwane Casey talking about Kyrie Irving’s buzzer beating shot last season
“They’ve got some nice talent. The big kid, (Patrick) Patterson, is good. He’s an inside-out player. He’s played well enough to move Amir Johnson to the bench. They’ve also got Tyler Hansbrough who is a tough son of a gun. Their bigs are really good and then they’ve got Kyle Lowry. I can’t praise him enough and I think the team takes on the character of Kyle. They’ve got some length and athleticism. DeMar DeRozan is talented. Dwane Casey is doing a nice job and these guys are trying to do it defensively first.”
Mike Brown on the Toronto Raptors
“We had to give our bigs a wake-up call in the second half. And they did. You’re going to have nights like that. It wasn’t from a lack of trying or lack of effort. They’d touch a rebound and fumble it out of their hands. Miss a rebound here. Miss a put-back there. All at once they allow the offence to dictate how they’re playing and how they’re feeling about themselves. So they turned it around in the second half. We reminded them that there’s more to the game than the offensive end.”
“He was very intense. He played tough and showed growth. He’s going to have ups and downs but tonight he was just really intense. He really kind of lead us with his intensity.”
Kyle Lowry on Jonas Valanciunas
“Give Toronto credit, I thought they came out in the second half and played extremely hard. I thought the big kid (Jonas) Valanciunas was a big difference in the second half. For us to give up 37 points and expect to win on the road in the third quarter was tough. I thought the was we came out was flat in the third quarter, but then to our guy’s credit they stayed with it. We missed some free throws and some shots that we normally make. We tried to make a little run getting our defence betting going into the fourth quarter to give us a chance but Toronto had built too big of a lead.”
“He’s been working on his right and left hand. I really don’t know what one he is. I don’t know if he knows.”
Dwane Casey on Tristan Thompson
Audio from Dwane Casey, Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson.