Los Angeles Clippers 73 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Toronto Raptors
Amir Johnson, PF 37 MIN | 7-9 FG | 5-8 FT | 16 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +27

As Jack Armstrong consistently said during the game, THIS man is currently our best big on this team. His flashes around and to the rim make him an easy target for assists and every other player on the court with him realizes. Aaron Gray tossed a good pass to him on one/two/multiple occasions - Gray stepped into the hole left by Boss Davis' departure and perhaps shown that he can be Amir's new tag team championship partner.

Landry Fields, SF 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +5

His minutes along with Anderson's will obviously be cut back with the arrival of Gay. This will obviously limit the kind of numbers he can put up to justify his contract. But if he consistently plays like he did tonight in his newly limited minutes, he certainly won't hurt the team (that help-block was fierce) and he'll likely remain invisible for all the RIGHT reasons.

Aaron Gray, C 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +10

LOL. You would think that a man that LOOKS as slow and as non-athletic as he does would be a detriment to all the other athletes on the court at the same time. But, unlike Bargnani, the man simply knows how to use his size to contribute the team - and contribute he did. Savvy high-low/low-high passes to his new tag team partner, strong rebounds for second-chance points for his teammates and a good outlet pass to DeRozan which led to another alley-oop to Gay. When the match-up justifies his presence, he clearly can be valuable in controlled minutes.

Kyle Lowry, PG 32 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +28

Just like he said yesterday on a radio interview with Tim and Sid on the Fan 590, with Gay here now, his job is easier. In what way? "Oh, I just have to give him the ball and get out the way". You might look at his points total and think he was a non-factor, but he played within the flow of the game. He simply didn't need to play any semblance of hero-ball tonight. Indeed, on the offensive end, once it was clear his shots weren't falling or weren't needed, he realized that all he needed to do was drive, be aggressive, distribute the ball and get out the way.

DeMar DeRozan, SG 34 MIN | 8-17 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +31

It really did seem like he had some extra pep in his step. His stroke looked smoother and his decision-making when the ball was in his hand showed no signs of hesitation. But it really did seem like some of the drives to the hoop he made were a bit in kamikaze mode. And it looked like he shied away from driving after some non-calls. Keep driving to the hoop, DeMar!

Rudy Gay, SF 33 MIN | 8-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | +20

I hate to jump on to the Gay bandwagon and I don't want to be all over this guy's dick just because he had a Cinderella story-book beginning to his new era in Raptorland. Although his time on the court wasn't perfect, it's hard NOT to give this man an A+ when he literally arrived in a new country about a few hours before this game started.

Quincy Acy, SF 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | -2

Only played a couple in garbage time and so this grade is irrelevant. But it was fun to watch him juke and jive with his shoulders like he was ready to do some kind of dance move when he had that isolation play.

Jonas Valanciunas, C 13 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | +14

Upon his return, he seemed to have a bit of an edge to him. His demeanor had a bit of a mean-streak to it. I liked that hard foul on Griffin. I liked some of the hard-fought rebounds he grabbed. His offense wasn't needed, but his defensive presence was and he certainly provided it. He will need to continue to play that way with Davis gone. It wasn't a perfect night but after missing the time he did with the type of injury he had, he certainly didn't look afraid to mix-it-up in the paint. The Big VAL is BACK!

John Lucas, PG 19 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +3

Wasn't much of a facilitator. The question is whether he will eventually NEED to be. If so, we could be in trouble and thus should be in the market for another point guard. But as a scorer in a run-and-gun system with a bunch of athletes that can attract the double team, you can clearly see that he CAN be a valuable contributor.

Alan Anderson, SG 13 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5

Still took some ill-advised shots. Wonder if he's a little pissed now that HE WON'T be the small forward to close out games. Brought it on the defensive end and was limited by default on the offensive end - now that Gay is here, this is the way AA should be used going forward. Sorry, Anderson.

Terrence Ross, SG 15 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -6

Used his natural talents to be effective on defense again. Didn't really notice him on the offensive end but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing; but both of his two made field goals was a beauty albeit with one being in garbage time (#letrossdunk).

Dwane Casey

Managed play time well in that I didn't really notice any glaring "WTF" rotations. However, it's pretty obvious that his job was made easier in terms of rotations with the departure of Calderon and Davis as well as the arrival of Gay. The big thing to watch going forward is how he manages the minutes among the army of wingers we have.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Rudy Gay has a non-chalant way about his mannerisms on the court. There were criticisms from his naysayers in the media about how it appeared at times, in Memphis, that he doesn't try hard. After watching the his body language, you can see how some can reach that conclusion. But make no mistake about it, he is NO Bargnani. It's only ONE game, obviously, but it seems like he moves the way he does because the game comes so effortlessly to him. Indeed, it should when you are physically gifted like him. One might have expected him to look hurried and nervous on the court in his debut in front of a sellout crowd but it was the EXACT opposite. There were times when the spacing with his teammates looked a bit awkward at times (which is expected in his first few games) but he really didn't force anything and I'm glad he did the smart thing and deferred to his teammates. In turn, they rewarded him with shots that were meant for him to succeed - and, gladly, he took advantage of that.
  2. Do you see any place for Bargnani on this team?! Neither do I. And the way Colangelo has been talking in the media recently, it really does seem like he doesn't as well. Is it too much of a stretch to assume that, among a few objectives the Board gave to Colangelo to keep his job, the higher-ups want him to get rid of Bargs by the deadline. But what if Bargs actually shows signs of a rejuvenation?! Another "13 game" act to fool us into keeping him?! Then what?! Because one can bet that Bargnani may have a chip on his shoulder when he comes back. Will the Board be swayed then? Or will they stick to their guns and still insist that Bargs be moved?
  3. Again, the biggest short-term issue to monitor here is the management of minutes of the wing rotation. It's pretty obvious that if Bargs is going to be moved, he will have to be moved with someone within our current army of wings. How the hell will Casey keep everyone happy (except Pietrus - who cares about him at this point?) while still showcasing the value of every wing so that any possible return can be maximized? The next three weeks will be VERY INTERESTING in Raptorland - the story of Gay will just be icing on the top.