The Raptors were on a National stage last night but not for the way they are playing. All eyes were on Jeremy Lin and he lived up to the hype. Before I get into the game itself, please do me a favor and READ THIS story by @Bruce_Arthur, one of the best in the game.
With a large Asian contingent present at the ACC to watch Lin, there was a strong buzz going before things tipped off. A few minutes in though, I along with most on media row were left confused. Fans were booing Lin at the line but as soon as he made the shot the place would erupt. Were these Raptors fans, Knicks fans or Jeremy Lin fans? By the end of the evening when he had hit the game winning shot, I decided they were a mix of both. There were those who were rooting for him to fail but then couldn’t help applaud as he kept proving the doubters wrong. There were others who were rooting for a great story and even more who were there to check out the hype.
Lin struggled early and Jose Calderon managed to run circles around him. The Raptors played out the first half perfectly, giving up just 36 points and looked to be in control. Things changed quickly in the second half, as they often do in the NBA. The Raptors coughed up the ball 12 times and allowed the Knicks to gain momentum. Chandler was in foul trouble but the Raps were unable to take advantage of that playing smaller, though they did outscore the Knicks 50-46 in the paint. The inability to convert at the line, coupled with the turnovers set the stage for Lin and what a heck of a performance he turned in. 27 points to go along with 11 helpers and he hit a game winning three.
The Raptors didn’t seem to buy into the hype to start, but when it came down to crunch time, they became spectators. A chance to shine in front of a huge audience, they became the secondary story. For one more day… Linsanity continues, For the Raptors — tonight is another game.
The Night in Numbers
19 Turnovers on the night but the glaring number is 9 of them came in the final frame. You are not going to win many games averaging a turnover a minute.
-9 at the free throw line. The Raptors didn’t get to the line much but even when they did, they managed to convert on only 60% of them.
25 Points for Calderon to go along with 9 assists and 7 rebounds but he was held scoreless in the final frame when D’Antoni made the switch and put Shumpert on him. Jose played a stellar game but at the end, it was him on Lin and Lin won.
16 Fast break points. The Raptors managed to control the pace of the game and scored 24 points off the Knicks’ 16 turnovers. Earlier in the season, still figuring out the new system, one wondered if they were ever going to get out and run.
11 Blocks for the Raptors, 5 of them courtesy of Amir Johnson as he threw a little block party for Amare Stoudemire. A trend emerging under Dwane Casey’s system is the Raps are winning the hustle categories on most nights.
30 Points given up by the Raptors in the 3rd quarter after holding the Knicks to just 36 for the first half. Lapses like these are what Dwane Casey keeps talking about when he says they need to learn how to play 48 minutes.
12 Points for Jeremy Lin, 6 of those came in the final minute including the game winning 3, ensuring LINsanity would go on for another day.
The Raptors are 1-3 so far on this home stand but the 3 losses have been by a combined 11 points. “Losing pretty” one might call it but there is a quick turn around and it’s on to the next one leaving little time to dwell on the past…
Up Next: Spurs @ Raptors. Wednesday, 15th February 2012. 7PM