So the Raptors went to Brooklyn while the visiting Bulls landed in Toronto around 5ish local time. The Bulls likely were checked into their hotel and got to watch the Raptors battle with the Nets. They would have to be happy with what they saw to some degree. Injures and lots of them.
We already know the Raptors have no Bargnani and Valancuinas. Add to the list of questionable for tomorrow night Jose Calderon who took a Reggie Evans knee to the hip. Alan Anderson needed some dental work after getting on the wrong end of a Brook Lopez Elbow. He did not return and Calderon tried to play after the knee to hip but sat down the stretch. Lowry came back and looked good on his bum ankle but you wonder how it will feel tomorrow.
Given the state of the game you love the heart but question the wisdom. Lowry led a futile attempt to get back in the game. At time Lowry re-entered the game the Raptors were down I believe it was down 10 points in the fourth quarter. Lowry led the Raptors even with missing a portion of this game with injury with 21 points. If Lowry’s injury is not bad this would be a nice bounce back night for him. That said his past history this season does not leave you hopeful.
The Raptors did battle hard through out this game but call me Mr. Negative if you like I never had any sense that I felt the Raptors would win this game. In the end the thought was the right one as the Nets had 3 starters with 20+ points. Williams had 21, so did Joe Johnson register the same point total and Lopez led the way with 22 points. It was more than enough to give Nets their seventh straight win with a 113-106 over the Raptors.
As the Raptors playoff chances become bleaker once again some have turned to Terrence Ross to ease their pain. He did nothing early on in this one but then one, two highlight dunks and the hype machine was underway.
I feel the need to explain to you the reason that Terrence Ross in the Dunk Contest is a marketing mission for the Raptors. Let’s be real about this. There is no chance any Raptor is playing in the All-Star Game itself. It isn’t going to happen. So the Raptors only chance to make All-Star Weekend might be getting Ross in the dunk contest. Hence this crazy insane push to get a kid in the dunk contest that really at the start of this had little interest in it.
I agree with Terrence Ross’ original comments that he was just an in game dunker and he really wasn’t all that interested in the slam dunk contest. Ross may have a chance to get in the Rookie/Sophomore thing. I really have no clue how they even do that mess anymore. Jonas can be ruled out of running for that safe to say.
So be amazed by Terrence Ross all you like. But understand that at the end of the day you’re getting played. Also understand that as great as his dunks might be the overall product still needs a ton of work. Vince Carter he is not even close too. I would even say DeMar DeRozan had a more consistent rookie year at least offensively.
This is not even taking into account the joke the dunk contest as a whole has become. DeRozan was screwed in this contest not once but twice. The level of competition is just getting lower and lower. Vince Carter and what he did against who he did seems like a far distant memory. Lebron James lied to all saying he would enter his name into the contest. Blake Griffin was more props than substance when he went in it. The motivation for top stars to get in dunk contest is as an all-time low. Fred Jones who once played for the Raptors represented the last low bar for me with this contest. That was until Jeremy Evans last season that was out performed by a former Raptor Sonny Weems in a dunk contest that was seen by far fewer on You tube from some European All-Star competition.
While many worry about this nonsense be more concerned that Raptors are rapidly being not bad enough to be considered bad. While not good enough to be considered good. This leaves the moves that they should have made without much thought now all come into question.
The Raptors really run the risk of being caught up in the present and lose sight of the overall future. The Raptors now are 1-6 in the Atlantic Division and still have 3 games vs. Boston and 4 vs. Knicks. In the end the Raptors might be the team I always expected them to be. Good enough to not be terrible but definitely not a playoff team.
Points will likely be a premium against a Bulls team that only allowed the Hawks to score 58. They also sport a 10-5 home record despite being just 11-10 at home. It will be a Raptor team that is a best banged up and tired. At worst you might see John Lucas III as your starting point guard with lord knows who as his back-up. In any case the Raptors streak to close 2012 is fading away and the reality of who this team is and who they are not is coming back into focus.