January 3, 2012
Butler, Johnson key to win over N.Y.
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
A bit underplayed in the aftermath of Toronto’s big win at Madison Square Garden on Monday night was the impact of Toronto’s small forwards.
Through four games, the duo of Rasual Butler and James Johnson have been more noticeable for what they didn’t do — score — than what they did do, which was defend.
But that changed Monday night when they wound up doing a whole lot of one and a substantial amount of the other. Their assignment was the toughest one in the matchups game between the two teams. They had to find a way to contain or at least limit the damage Carmelo Anthony could do.
Anthony wound up scoring 35 points in the game, but needed 31 shots to reach that number which meant fewer opportunities for everyone else.
Johnson revelled in the chance to go up against Anthony, a guy he has always admired. Foul trouble — he picked up two in the first half and added three more in the fourth — limited his time on the court.
Butler’s fouls didn’t become a concern until late in the game so it was the veteran who wound up playing the bulk of the minutes, finishing with a season-high 37 not to mention season highs in points with 13 and rebounds with 10.
“I just had the opportunity to be on the floor because of my defence,” Butler said. “Some (scoring) opportunities found me and I just shot them with confidence.
“I knew, especially without Amar’e there, (Anthony) was going to be aggressive and when you’re up against a great scorer like that all you can do is make him work for things and get him to take shots. You can’t get down on yourself even when he makes them because he’s going to do that. You just want to make those superstar players volume shooters. You just can’t let him get his 30 on 15 or 16 attempts. You want him to take as many shots as possible to get his numbers.”
Butler and Johnson both did that and they were as big a reason as any that the Raptors came out of this one with a win.