InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner shares his unedited thoughts on the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors from Friday night. The Raptors visited the Nets and won in convincing fashion, 101-79.
Quick summary: The Raptors led 24-18 after the first quarter. Both teams scored just 16 each in a quiet second quarter. The Raptors tore away in the third quarter (31-19), and kept things going in the fourth for a convincing win. New Jersey shot just 31.3%. They had 20 offensive rebounds, compared to just 5 for the Raptors, but barely converted anything.
It’s pointless to say anything about Vince Carter today. He had a miserable game, shooting 0-of-13 and hitting 3-of-4 free throws for just three points, four rebounds and three assists (but three turnovers). The Raptors played very good defense, but Vince being off like this obviously isn’t normal.
Toronto also defended Devin Harris very well, holding him to 4-of-10 shooting for 14 points, five rebounds and five assists (but four turnovers). Are teams starting to figure Harris out? Hopefully not, for the Nets sake.
What I didn’t like about the Nets today is that as Harris struggled, very few other Nets seemed to try to help him out. As Harris had the ball in three-point range up top, Brook Lopez was the only Net to consistently set a real screen for him in an effort to free Devin up. Other Nets stood around watching. Now, usually Harris uses his super-quickness to create out of nowhere, but when it isn’t happening, guys should move and help a bit.
I’m extremely impressed by Brook Lopez. He’s the real deal and is very strong, agile and basketball-smart on both ends of the floor. The young center is a stud and will have an impressive NBA career.
I still don’t know what to make of Yi Jianlian, other than that he’s agile and has a sweet-looking jumper.
The arena’s sound system sounded especially muffled today.
As for the Raptors, Jermaine O’Neal is moving slowly and not the player he was before, but he has a high basketball IQ and uses his size more effectively than shows on the stat-sheet. Only a little, though.
Chris Bosh didn’t do anything special today, but he didn’t really have to.
Jason Kapono took 15 shots, more than any other Raptor, hitting just six, four of which were three-pointers, finishing with 16 points and five rebounds.
Joey Graham is having a great stretch and has played good basketball for the last few weeks. He looks confident. Graham came off the bench to play almost 30 minutes, shooting 5-of-8 for 16 points.
Andrea Bargnani was a starter this season, but now comes off the bench, and showed very little today, shooting just 2-of-10. That’s obviously worse than usual, but I’m still not sure how good he’s going to get. He’s shown in the past that he has the ability to become a starter-quality player on a winning team, but he isn’t that, yet.
Keep an eye on the Raptors as they learn to play under new head coach Jay triano.