Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pound the Rock Stars of the Night - Toronto Raptors 95, Dallas Mavericks 74 - The 'Attack of the Bench' Edition

POUND THE ROCK STARS - On a nightly basis, no matter how good or bad the Raps play, no matter if they blow out a team or if they get blown out and no matter if they win or lose, these are the Raptors with the best 'Pound the Rock' status for the night.


LINE:  20 pts (7-13), (5-11) 3 pt, 5 reb
Tying his season high 20 points first reached in a Utah loss back in November Linas Kleiza had one of those games that reminds everyone that may have forgot how good he can be. Not only was Kleiza beaming with confidence but his teammates were looking to him on offence knowing he had the hot hand, and making sure he touched the ball at least once on each possession.  Sitting out 4 games in December with one 5 minute outing where he picked up 3 points and another where he had 17 points in 29 minutes, it’s once again clear that with playing time and confidence Linas Kleiza is a key player coming off the bench.

LINE:  18 pts (6-14), 4-4 FT, 5 reb, 2 ast
Being a NBA 1st round draft pick is never easy especially if you’ve been drafted to a team like the Raptors who have struggled for the past few seasons. With Ross scoring an average of 6 ppg since joining the league he knows now is the time to prove himself with drama surrounding the Raptors starters resulting in an increased offensive output. With Kyle Lowry hurt, Andrea Bargnani hurt and surrounded by trade rumours and Landry Fields still out the rest of the Raptors are getting an opportunity to show what we’ve always known they can do.

LINE:  14 pts (5-9), 4 reb, 3 ast
With Jose Calderon used to stepping into a starting role for the Raptors it was a business as usual. With all 7 years in the NBA playing for Raptors Jose’s request to be traded no doubt indirectly lit a fire under his teammates. A public request to be traded is directed to his teammates as much as it is directed to the front office. The positive side of this kind of negativity is that Jose will play hard trying to prove he is not the problem while his teammates do the same resulting in all around great performances. Whether impressing future suitors or current owners all eyes are on the Raptors which may be a public motivating factor which they desperately need.

LINE: 15 pts (7-18), 5 reb
Chris Kaman has shown next to no drop in his stat line since 2003 and the Mavericks front office realized that and quickly made the big man a huge asset to the team. Scoring less than 10 points only three times this season while averaging 14 pts and 6 reb, one can only wonder what will happen when Dirk Nowitzki comes back from injury. No doubt the number of touches he gets will drop but if Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle can find a way to manage their minutes and run plays for both big men, the Mavericks have a chance to make noise once again in the West.

Next up for the Raps: vs Houston (Sunday)

Photo via The Globe and Mail

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