Raptors shoot early, shoot often in pre-season victory

HONOLULU – C.J. Miles took an early shot-clock three-pointer that missed, the Raptors got a quick steal and Serge Ibaka took an early shot-clock three-pointer that missed before Jonas Valanciunas grabbed an offensive rebound that he kicked out to Kyle Lowry who took an early shot-clock three-pointer that went in.

All of the shots came fast and with basically no dribbling and were exactly the kind of quick and decisive offence Toronto wants to show more often than not in the coming NBA season.

The flurry was about midway through the third quarter of what turned out to be a 121-113 win over the Los Angeles Clippers at the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of the University of Hawaii.

“That’s the stuff you want, especially with us getting the three-point looks,” said Miles, who finished with 12 points and made two of the seven three-pointers he took in 18 minutes.

“They’re encouraging us to shoot them and everybody knows – obviously there’s a lot of work put into it -- a big part shooting is just confidence and we’ve got guys who can shoot it and are being encouraged to shoot it. Those shots start to fall when you learn what shots you’re getting and you can work on them a little more.”

The flurry was a perfect encapsulation of Toronto’s pre-season opener. The Raptors played a more purposeful pace, got up 43 three-point attempts but made only 11 for a 26 per cent success rate. But the looks weren’t bad, not too many would be considered forced and, eventually, they’ll fire at a better pace.

“I’m not overly concerned,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We want to be a three-point shooting team, I thought we had some disjointed threes early, as the game went on we got a better rhythm with them and some of them we just missed wide open looks.

“Conditioning and just getting in game rhythm will help.”

It was a typical pre-season opener for both teams with too many turnovers (21 by Toronto, 40 combined), too many guys playing (15 Raptors got in the game, 14 Clippers hit the floor) and very little consistency.

Kyle Lowry had 17 points in 16 minutes for Toronto, the only starter to reach 20 minutes was Jonas Valanciunas and he had 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists and Norm Powell had 16 points off the bench.

Casey loaded up groups that may never play again which also led to some dubious play.

The backup frontcourt group of Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam and Lucas Nogueira that played together extensively over the first three quarters struggled and when Casey watches the film, he might end that experiment.

“Right now we’re trying to get guys minutes in there,” the coach said. “There’s no rhyme or reason with our rotations right now and that’s purposeful. We’ve got to decide the first unit, establish an identity with the second unit and that’ll come. We don’t have lot of time with less games but we’ll have time to get that in.”

Blake Griffin had 18 points and Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari 17 each for the Clippers.

Read more...