Raptors (6-19) vs. Cavaliers (5-20)


December 18, 2012 by slewfeet

A pre-game thought: How on earth does Anderson Varejao manage that hairdo? Doesn’t it add about ten pounds to his playing weight? Moreover, why does Jack Armstrong think his name is pronounced Varaygeo?

Game on – Bronas gives a mighty squawk after getting fouled on a power move and sinks a free throw to put the Raptors first on the board, but some poor decisions on offense put them in a quick 6-1 hole. Luckily DeRozan can still drive, but some particularly goofy turnovers from Calderon and JV give Cleveland some easy points in transition.

All these masked men on the Cavs make them look like a team of supervillains. Early on, the Raptors look more like the damsels in distress. Some ugly basketball to open things up.

Jose’s starting to take over now, making a series of long twos and even a strong drive to the net. He may not be able to defend Kyrie Irving for the entire game, but it’s not like Irving can defend him either. Coming out even in the point guard matchup would be a coup; right now the pigeon is dominating it.

Amir Johnson with an o-reb putback right over Zeller and Varejao to close into an 18-21 deficit. Varejao tries to counterattack, but hurts his knee in a nasty fall and spends awhile twitching on the free throw line. He sinks a free and tags out for Luke Walton – who, as the Bronasdome is keen to point out, has got a major douchebag vibe about him.

Everybody’s favourite Primo Pasta commercial comes in to finish the quarter. If the team’s fortunes continue with Bargnani out, they might need to find a new mascot. I wonder how Quincy Acy feels about pasta and sauce?

John Lucas checks in, blows a tire and falls over, as TSN has him on their Raptors on the Floor inset at the perfect moment. A nice assist to Alan Anderson for three will make it 30-32, and then Anderson gets two more drawing a foul rebounding after a powerful drive. AA pretty much defines mediocre, which makes him by far our best option at small forward. He’s playing very well tonight though, which makes me want to herald him as our savior and then turn on him when the hot streak inevitably ends.

The earlier foul on Varejao is changed to a flagrant, and Jack Armstrong won’t shut up about it. Varejao sinks one, but JL3 keeps things close by drawing a key offensive foul and hitting a three to give the Raptors their first lead since the opening point. The best part is how he starts strutting around and elbowing people out of the way like he owns the place.

Terrence Ross hits a three and Matt Devlin gleefully heaps on the praise. “That’s what he does!” No, it really isn’t.

Miles, Gee and Gibson have been absolutely racking up the long balls all game even with the Raptors’ tighter defense. It’d probably help to at least contest those shots, guys.

We turn out attention to the bench and hey, Landry Fields is dressed to play! Now we’ve got four middling small forwards as opposed to three, just what we needed to save the season!

Jose rolls back in and stays hot, scoring his 5001st and 5003rd career points on highly contested shots and then doing more of those incomprehensible arm gestures and shouting a bunch. He’s now shooting 7 for 8 and probably mailing dead rodents to Kyle Lowry at the end of every quarter.

With four seconds left off a timeout, John Lucas puts up a dribbling clinic and blazes around two Cavaliers, then hooks a slick pass to Ed Davis, who’s sitting undefended in the paint. He goes up for a pretty dunk, and in doing so just barely lets time expire before he can finish. Tough break, and we’ll finish the half down 49-53.

Two dunks from JV open up the 3rd, with a jimmy from Irving in between. Waiters makes the most ridiculous attempt at a spin move I’ve ever seen and turns it over to DeRozan, who promptly turns it over to Gee, who scores. Pietrus steps out, but the Raptors regain possession and Pietrus attacks for three. Immensely sloppy few minutes of clown ball from both sides there.

Some back and forth play, and then Gee manages to draw three defenders in and slips it back to Varejao for the easy drop. Calderon responds on offense by trying to behead a cameraman, but knots things up 62-62 with a trey on his next possession. Surprise, surprise; this whole not trying to run offense through Bargnani thing is actually working remarkably well.

The best part of having Amir Johnson and Ed Davis playing at once is how they always miss shots, but box out the other big men and pick up each other’s rebounds. If they wanted to, they could probably just o-reb forever.

Linas Kleiza is dumb and plays dumb.

Calderon for three and an and-one from Amir take the Raptors up as much as 78-74, but Irving reduces the lead to one going into the 4th, which is nowhere near enough of a buffer for our traditional last-second collapse.

Early in the quarter we have a five-man pileup and then a tip-off into nowhere, but JL3 comes through with a layup to save the day. Waiters retaliates with a filthy dunk, but Lucas rolls in from downtown and sinks the and-one to open up a 9-point lead. Amir’s fouled going down the middle and makes both frees. The Cavaliers get two back, but a sick pass from Anderson gets Amir the and-one, and it’s suddenly 92-80.

Lucas gets a technical foul, presumably for taking Irving’s arm in the face. This is the one time anyone will ever agree with Jack Armstrong’s myriad of referee rants; I have no idea what JL3 did short of making an adorable scrunched-up face complaining about the contact.

Whatevs, the Cavs miss the shot anyways. Miles hits a three, but Anderson gets it right back. Lucas and Irving with dueling twos, but another phantom call for Irving brings them to within eight. Kleiza can’t get anything going, but Anderon flies in out of nowhere for the rebound and Amir owns the and-one to bring us to 100-89 with an all-bench lineup to boot. Hell, maybe we’ll even see some Quincy Acy action tonight.

Good news – Jack Armstrong’s improved from Varaygeo to Varejoe. Even better, Kleiza posts up for his first from the field tonight. He misses the and-one on the next try, but DeRozan snaps up the rebound and gives Kleiza the exact same shot – which he misses. No wonder he wasn’t the Lithuanian Player of the Year.

Just checked Pietrus’s birthdate and what the fuck, he’s only 30? Dude plays like he’s at least 35.

Raptors are just burning time now. DeRozan makes his frees, and then Kleiza earns a foul with some effective use of his ass. Irving is getting tenacious, but Calderon patiently blocks him off. They still give up an and-one to Tristan Thompson because why not, but Kleiza’s fouled again and hits both, which gives him an almost respectable-looking line for a thoroughly unrespectable game.

A turnover with twenty seconds left is the final nail in the Cavs’ coffin, and Jose will just hold on for the remainder of the game. Consolation brohugs for the Cavs begin with the clock still running, and everybody feels the love. Final score is an emphatic 113-99 with a great team performance overall – I bet Bargnani’s just gushing over them to the Italian press now.


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