Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Lowry’

(cartoonstock.com)

(cartoonstock.com)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the midway point of the season. A variety of publications have released their “mid-term report cards” on the Raptors, which kind of made me feel bad for the Raps. A lot of them weren’t exactly the type of reports you’d want to put up on the fridge.

I know, I know, I spend a lot of time making fun of the Raptors. But like that parent who just can’t see how ugly and stupid their kid is, I’m an eternal optimist with this team. They’re all…special…in their own way.

So below is a summary of the grades dished out by the teachers at TSN and The National Post, with a special bonus from me. Because everyone’s good at something. Right?

Player TSN says… The National Post says… Yeah, but…
Quincy Acy C-
“Has to cut down on blown defensive assignments.”
C
“Has been a willing learner.”
Beard-growing: A+
Alan Anderson B+
“Game-altering performances.”
B
“It is difficult to get past Anderson’s accuracy from the field.”
Alliteration: A+
Andrea Bargnani D-
“His laconic play has finally soured the front office on him.”
F
“Ineffective offensively and regressed defensively.”
Looking slick in a suit: A+
Jose Calderon A
“His leadership has been invaluable.”
B-
“Struggled badly in his 15 games as Kyle Lowry’s backup.”
Ability to grow 5-o’clock shadow before noon: A+
Ed Davis A
“A revelation.”
B+
“A revelation.”
Being a revelation: A+
DeMar DeRozan C+
“His play has fallen off dramatically.”
C+
“His defense remains a mystifying negative.”
Having capital letters in his name: A+
Landry Fields C
“His jumpshot has remained horrendous.”
C-
“Still digging out of an early-season hole.”
Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Drake: A+
Aaron Gray C-
“Rebounding, his one great strength, has been missing all year.”
D+
“Has not been of much use.”
Looking confused: A+
Amir Johnson A-
“Still struggles to guard his position one-on-one.”
B+
“Johnson’s ceiling is limited, but he has maximized his ability.”
Hairstyle choices: A+
Linas Kleiza D
“Cannot replicate (or even approximate) his international effectiveness.”
D
“Has been totally ineffective.”
Being one of two Lithuanians I can name: A+
Kyle Lowry C
“Biggest disappointment of the season so far.”
C
“Lowry’s play has varied wildly.”
Making me nervous in close games: A+
John Lucas III C-
“Doesn’t offer enough elsewhere to offset his lack of scoring.”
C-
“Started off the year on a tremendous cold streak.”
Being more famous than John Lucas I or II: A+
Mickael Pietrus D+
“Doesn’t have it in him to contribute to an NBA team like he used to.”
C-
“Terrible offensively.”
Keeping knee doctors in business: A+
Terrence Ross C+
“He needs to shoot much better and learn to pass more often.”
C
“Flashes of brilliance to go along with complete no-shows.”
Potential to be the third Raptor to lose a dunk contest: A+
Jonas Valanciunas C+
“Fouls far too much.”
C
“Perhaps the Raptors’ worst defensive player.”
Looking absolutely nothing like his bobble-head doll: A+
Dwayne Casey N/A C
“Has relied a little too much on his veterans.”
Having gone from coaching a championship team to the Raptors without killing himself: A+
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Over the holidays, the ghost of failures past visited Demar DeRozan to teach him the true meaning of Christmas. (Photo: bleacherreport.com)

Record:  10-20 (6-4 over the past 10)

Low point: December 10th vs. Portland: 5th straight loss. 11th straight road loss.  Bargnani and Lowry get hurt. Amir Johnson gets ejected. Portland sets an NBA record by going 0-for-20 from three-point land, but still wins by 18. 

High point: Bargnani and Lowry getting injured, allowing the rest of the guys to play like a team and win 5 games in a row for the first time since 1844.

Stuff I’ve Noticed:

  • Valanciunas has got hustle. He’s more energetic in warm-ups than most players are in the actual game.
  • Calderon’s bald spot is now visible from the upper bowl.
  • Once he’s no longer needed as Jonas’ translator, Linas Kleiza has got to go.
Memorable Quote:
“There’s been some slippage, clearly.”
-GM Bryan Colangelo exhibits interesting word choice while analyzing Toronto’s defensive focus.

Photo: fivechan.org

‘Tis the night before Christmas, and all through T.O.,
Not a commentator is stirring, not even Matt and Leo.
The Raptors have won five consecutive games,
With a lineup of youngsters, subs, and no-names.

The players are nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of playoffs dance in their heads.
But management can’t sleep. They’re not even yawny;
They’re trying to figure out what to do with Bargnani.

In the blogosphere there has arisen such a clatter,
And Colangelo knows it’s a delicate matter;
Do we trade Jose? But he’s playing so well,
He and the young guys are starting to gel…

And what about Lowry? Do we really need him back?
Is he our next Mighty Mouse? Or just our next Jarrett Jack?
And then there’s John Lucas, the infamous shot-taker,
Who hoists ’em up now and asks questions later.

One thing’s for sure: as the new year approaches,
Raptorland looks to its management and coaches
To make good decisions. To rid us of fear.
To give us a reason to stand up and cheer.

The players are certainly doing their part;
It’s hard to find fault with their effort or heart.
Jonas puts heart into each shot he takes,
No matter the cost, or how many fingers he breaks.

Lanky Ed Davis is making great strides,
And Ross makes us cheer when he takes to the skies.
Amir’s got our logo on the back of his cranium,
And Linas…well, he’s our second-best Lithuanian.

So as MLSE takes a brief Christmas break,
And tries to decide which moves it should make,
Perhaps what we need isn’t just a new player…
…what did Toronto do when displeased with its mayor?

Merry Christmas, Raptor fans!

Not all road trips are joyful romps filled with laughter and puppet shows. Especially not when they're Raptors road trips.

Not all road trips are joyful romps filled with laughter and puppet shows. Especially not when they’re Raptors road trips.

As road trips go, it’s not one the Raptors will want to remember.

Following a win at home against Phoenix on the last day of November, the Raptor family was on a high, feeling relatively good about their big trip out west. They piled in the car, loaded up the suitcases, and Papa Casey asked if anyone had to use the bathroom before they left.

What followed was a hot, frustrating, disappointing family vacation of epic proportions. They argued over directions, Jose and Kyle were constantly bugging each other in the back seat, and the a/c stopped working shortly after Hamilton.

When the dust settled and the rusty Raptormobile sputtered back into the driveway, the numbers weren’t pretty: 5 straight losses, an average of 109 points allowed, and a rebound differential of -42. In last night’s horrible finale, the opposing Trail Blazers set a record for worst 3-point shooting (0 for 20), and still beat the Raptors by 18 points!

But hey, it could have been worse. It took a bit of digging, but I managed to find a few road trips that make this one seem not quite so bad:

  1. Napoleon’s trip to Russia in 1812. He set out with about 400 000 soldiers. About 1% made it back. So by comparison, Toronto’s trip wasn’t so bad; we only lost Bargnani and Lowry to injury, and Amir Johnson to apparent insanity.
  2. The movie “Crossroads” starring Britney Spears. Released in 2002, this road-trip-themed stinker was supposed to be Britney’s transition to the big screen. One reviewer’s take: “I never looked at my watch so often during a movie.” At least the Raptors’ road trip was entertaining.
  3. Andrew Thomas’ failed Orlando crime spree. In 2010, Thomas was frustrated that he couldn’t buy individual cigarettes from a 7-Eleven. He decided to stick it to the man by robbing every convenience store in sight, armed with a BB gun. Unfortunately, he left his driver’s license on the counter at the first place he robbed. Police caught him quickly.

So, all in all, it could have been worse. But it’s a safe bet that the team is relieved to be back home for an extended home stand to close out 2012. And 2012, make no mistake, is a year all Raptor fans will be happy to see fade into the rearview mirror.

Are we there yet?

Kyle Lowry started the 2012-2013 season the same way Bargnani started last year: playing like an all-star, then getting injured. (Photo: Bleacher Report)

Record: 3-7

Low point: Losing Kyle Lowry.

High point: Bouncing back from a heartbreaking triple OT loss at home with a win on the road the next night.

Stuff I’ve Noticed:

  • Alan Anderson plays with hustle. It’s the hustle of someone who’s just been woken up by a fire alarm, but it’s still hustle.
  • The construction at Union Station is making it one of the most unpleasant places to be after a game. The TTC responds to this by adding zero extra staff and opening zero extra entrances on game days.
  • With $40 million, MLSE could have bought a beer for every fan at every home game this season. Just sayin’.
Memorable Quote:
“Rookie Terrence Ross is still learning; Linas Kleiza does nothing to improve the Raptors’ sagging defence; Anderson is reliable but limited; Dominic McGuire is an offensive black hole…Andrea Bargnani has re-established himself as the league’s most enigmatic player; the tough defence that Dwane Casey built last year has not reappeared; rookie centre Jonas Valanciunas is having trouble staying on the floor; Kyle Lowry is nursing an injured ankle.”
-The National Post’s Eric Koreen succinctly summarizes the Raptors’ early-season problems. In other words, everything.

Things were going great, until the 4th quarter hit the Raptors like…well, like this.

 

It was a promising start.

The new faces were contributing, Calderon was playing great off the bench, and the Dance Pack did a passable rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” before distributing candy to the impressively large opening-night crowd at the ACC.

Then came the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, and the 10-point lead the Raptors had built just moments earlier began to collapse like a home-made robot costume in the rain.

As I watched Bargnani’s last-second shot fall 30 feet short, and the buzzer sounded on a 90-88 Indiana victory, my mind started to wander. I started to imagine what the players on the 2012-2013 Raptor squad might have dressed up as for Halloween. Here are my conclusions.

Suggested Halloween Costumes for the 2012-2013 Raptors:
Player Costume Reason
 Kyle Lowry  Damon Stoudamire, circa 1996  Small, feisty, exciting. Made the Raptors backcourt fun to watch.
 DeMar Derozan  Hurricane Sandy  Expected to be a big deal for Toronto, ends up being extremely underwhelming.
 Jonas Valanciunas  A Tim Horton’s coffee  Double-double. Quickly beloved in Canada.
 Landry Fields  A Tim Horton’s donut  Matches his number of points.
 Amir Johnson  Rambo  Shoots far too much.
 Aaron Gray  The James Bond villain ‘Jaws’  He just kinda looks like him.
 Andrea Bargnani  Roberto Alomar  A tribute to the 1992 Blue Jays. And I really want to hear him say “catch the taste”.

 

In the end, it was fitting that this game was played on Halloween. No matter how much the organization has been hyping the improvements to the team, dressing them up as playoff contenders, it’s nice to know that underneath the disguise, they’re still our lovable Raptors, able to throw a game away in the dying minutes, and send the visiting team home with a nice Halloween treat.

You’re welcome, Indiana.

A new NBA season is almost upon us.

And in a tradition as charmingly Torontonian as bidding for (and losing) the Olympics, sports writers here are bursting with optimism at the prospect of a new campaign of Raptors basketball.

Well, maybe not bursting. But for the Raptor faithful, there are some good reasons to be hopeful this fall. Don’t laugh. It’s true.

Reason for optimism #1: Jonas is coming.

Skill? Check. Height? Check. Fashion sense? Hm…

In a headline straight outta 2006, the Raptors are hoping that a big man from Europe with loads of talent will have a positive effect on the team in the coming years. The anticipation around Valanca…Valcan……Valanaci…big V has grown all the larger since he missed what would have been his rookie season last year in Europe. The anticipation bubble will probably deflate quickly as he adjusts to the NBA game, but the consensus seems to be that this guy is (will be) good.

Reason for optimism #2: A legit point guard.

One of these guards was signed by the Raptors in the off-season. Can you guess which one?

Okay, so we didn’t manage to bribe Nash into playing here. But Kyle Lowry is solid, and after the parade of clowns we saw at PG last season, he might as well be Chris Paul. His perimeter defense, his scoring, his the-fact-that-he’s-not-Gary-Forbes-ness will all help.

Reason for optimism #3: We like Coach Casey.

Coach Casey, seen here giving a slow-clap after another ill-advised shot from Amir Johnson, was the main reason the Raptors won any games at all last year.

 A year of coaching the Raptors, and he hasn’t slit his wrists. That’s a plus. And let’s face it: he turned the team around last year. Well, maybe not all the way around, but he woke them up on defense and planted the seeds of success.

Reason for optimism #4: We’re not the worst franchise in North America.

“Remember”, Mom said, “there’s always someone who’s worse off than you.”

 A recent ESPN ranking of 122 sports teams on the continent places the Raptors at number 103, sandwiched firmly between the perennially mediocre Blue Jays (#79), and the belovedly horrible Maple Leafs (dead last at 122). It should be noted that the list does not include MLS, the continent’s soccer league, in which Toronto FC currently sits dead last.

In conclusion…?
Well, who’s to say what will happen over the next six months? The league is our oyster. This guy thinks the Raptors might make the playoffs this year. This guy puts them in the 7th seed.

Me? Well, I tend to stay conservative with my predictions. With that in mind, I’m forecasting the following:

  • The Raptors will finish 62-20, first place in the east. Bosh will be begging to come back, but Colangelo won’t return his phone calls.
  • Valanciunas will be the unanimous Rookie of the Year. He will pull down 18 rebounds per night and will be the toast of Toronto. He will get all the ladies, Bargnani will be jealous, and the two will come to fisticuffs in the middle of a game, prompting Bargnani’s trade to the Timberwolves.
  • Derozan will have a breakout season and put up 34.1 ppg through the all-star break, before a surprise marriage to a Kardashian and a subsequent messy divorce and downward spiral that will see him balloon to 270 pounds and disappear for a week-long bender in Niagara Falls.
  • Jose Calderon will win the dunk contest with a spectacular throw-down in which he does a backflip, followed by a barrel roll, followed by a mid-air high-five from Jerome Williams, who showed up because he thought he was still playing for the Raptors.

Go optimism! Go Raptors!