TORONTO - Not many teams can do it and the Raptors certainly could not find a way to slow down Golden State’s dynamic guard duo of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
Ellis, the NBA’s scoring leader heading into the contest, scored 28 — the sixth time in seven games he has scored 20 or more — but left the game for X-rays with just over a minute left after wrenching his back on a blocked layup attempt.
Curry, despite tweaking the tender ankle that kept him out of action for two games, was still the most dangerous player on the floor, finishing with 34 points — 24 in the second half — and four assists.
“I’m familiar with the rims, that’s my joke,” said Curry, who used to shoot around on a daily basis as a boy when his father Dell played for the Raptors.
“I think he feels that he’s Canadian,” said Warriors head coach Keith Smart.
“This is almost like a home with him so he loves to play here.”
Curry agreed with his coach.
“I’m familiar with the environment and the arena, feel good when I come back ... I shot well here last year and hope to keep that going every time I come back.”
Last season at the ACC, Curry scored 29 points, along with 12 assists and eight rebounds.
On this night, Curry controlled the tempo, slicing to the rim at will because the Raptors were petrified he would unleash his velvety shooting stroke on them. Coach Smart even forgave Curry’s five turnovers.
“He is still in his growth cycle. He is at the bottom of that growth cycle of learning and maybe in a year he will be up there with the (top point guards in the league),” Smart said.
He’s not too far off that plane right now.
Curry, the seventh pick of the 2009 draft, showed yet again that Golden State got another steal after nabbing Ellis 40th overall back in 2005.
The pair’s play was a reminder of the talent gap the Raptors face. Simply put, nobody on the Raptors has anywhere near the combination of skill and heart that Curry and Ellis possess.
Who’s the tired team?
Are we sure the Golden State Warriors were the team playing a back-to-back and not the Raptors?
Outside of an 8-0 Toronto run to start the game, the team with the tired legs looked to be the Raptors.
Golden State rolled to a 14-point halftime lead, trounced the Raptors on the boards (42-32), shooting-wise (52.7% from the field to Toronto’s 45.8%) and in free-throw makes (especially early) — always a sign of tired legs.
Even a second-half Raptors comeback was not really the result of Golden State fatigue, as the Warriors still played reason-
ably well in seeing their substantial lead lessened.
Curry, in particular, carved the Raptors for 16 points in the fourth quarter of Toronto’s 109-102 loss.
Sonny Weems made one of the early Raptors’ play of the year late in the fourth quarter. Weems, who missed the team’s last game with a knee injury that was still bothering him, wrapped the ball around his back, leaving his defender in the dust and went hard to the rim for an impressive throwdown.
After suffering his injury coming down from a dunk attempt in Los Angeles, it was a good sign for the Raptors to see Weems throwing one down hard.
Not your dad’s Warriors
A team that hasn’t cared about the defensive end of the floor for years finally is buckling down on defence.
“It’s one thing to have the horses on defence to be successful, it’s another to execute it,” said new Warrior David Lee.
“We’ve been doing a great job of flying around; everyone is putting in a great effort on the defensive end. It’s made up for the fact that we haven’t played well on the offensive end.”
A major part of the reason the Raptors were able to shave a 20-point deficit into single digits was by turning a 28-12 points-in-the-paint advantage for Golden State into a 48-42 Raptors advantage at the end of the game.
By going inside, the Raptors also upped their dismal field goal percentage from 32.4 at one point up to 45.8
They also did it by going small, using Linas Kleiza at power forward and Amir Johnson at centre instead of Reggie Evans and Andrea Bargnani.
Bargnani had a poor night at the office, picking up four fouls, one rebound and 11 points but no free throw attempts in his 20 minutes and did not speak to the media after the game.
Around the world
The NBA’s international makeup was illustrated late in the first quarter and early in the second when players from five countries, along with the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the NBA (Jeremy Lin) were on the court at the same time.
Multiple American players, including Lin, were joined by Jose Calderon (Spain), Leandro Barbosa (Brazil), David Andersen (Australia), Kleiza (Lithuania) and Andris Biedrins (Latvia).