USA TODAY Sports
The team that helped the Nets open Barclays Center returns, playing well.
The Toronto Raptors have had a good month, not as good as the Nets but very good, considering all the tumult going on with the team and front office which has included trade rumors and suggestions that GM Bryan Colangelo isn't up to the job.
They're 6-4 over last 10 and 10-4 over the last month, not a one with Andrea Bargnani on the court. Other than that, it comes down to fundamentals. In the last 10 games, they're tops in the NBA in assists (with the reliable Jose Calderon back at the controls), giving up only 92 points a game, fourth in the league, and playing excellent perimeter defense (30.4 percent) also fourth in the league over that stretch.
Bargnani's latest injury --torn right elbow ligament and strained right wrist-- has given 6'10" North Carolina product Ed Davis a shot. He's done so well as a starter (12 and 7) that his coach, Dwayne Casey, said that when Bargnani comes back, he's likely to go to the bench.
"He’s earned it," Casey said of Davis. "Again, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. But unless he does something, just goes backwards -- which I don’t see him doing -- it’s going to be very difficult to get him out of there and also difficult to keep him off the floor."
While Davis and Amir Johnson have filled in admirably for Bargnani underneath, DeMar DeRozan has, mostly, picked up the offensive slack, although he remains inconsistent. In the last 10 games, he's had games of 30, 24 and 23 as well as games of 8 and 6. Overall, over the last 10 games, he's shooting only 39.9 percent and 14.3 percent from three, having not made a three pointer in the last four games. Calderon, who is still only 31 --seems older, has averaged 8.7 assists and only 10 turnovers in 10 games ... none in the last three.
In addition to Bargnani, rookie Jonas Valanciunas is out and Linas Kleiza is questionable. For the Nets, Gerald Wallace has said he hopes to return vs. the Raptors and Tim Walsh has said he is making significant progress with his bruised ribs. The rest of the roster appears healthy ... and of course, they'll be going for their seventh straight, extending their best stretch since March and April of 2006, when they won 14 straight.
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