BIGGER ROLE FOR BIZ
Bismack Biyombo was a game-high plus-16 against Indiana. Starting in place of Jonas Valanciunas, who is out with a hand contusion, Biyombo scored 16 points and grabbed 25 rebounds, a franchise record surpassing the previous record of 24 by Donyell Marshall in March of 2014. All while taking only six shots.
There aren’t many shots to go around in the starting lineup, which is why Valanciunas’ offensive growth seems stagnant at times. Biyombo, on the other hand, continues to prove he doesn’t need shots to be effective. Would the Raptors be better off with J.V. anchoring the second unit and getting his shots there, with Biyombo being the chief screen-setter as a starter? The Raptors are 13-7 when Biyombo starts. It is unlikely to happen, but good food for thought.
With 28 points a piece, the Raptors backcourt made some history of their own Thursday night. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan not only led all scorers across the league, they also tied the record for most games in a season by two Raptors teammates each scoring 25 points.
What is more shocking is who the 2015-16 all-star backcourt is tied with. Yes, if you guessed Chris Bosh and Mike James, you’re correct. Which underscores how limited the Raptors duo star power has been over the years. Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady didn’t play together long enough to really be in the conversation. By default this is the best a tandem has ever played for Toronto so enjoy it while it lasts.
CASEY GETS 200
With the win over the Pacers, Dwane Casey reached No. 200. The milestone is impressive because most coaches aren’t given that long to find sustained success if it doesn’t come immediately.
It seems like just the other day Bryan Colangelo was introducing Casey to the media as a defensive guru. That was off the heels of Casey coordinating the Mavericks defence that stifled LeBron in the finals as Rick Carlisle’s assistant in Dallas. Now it seems remarkable that of the seven other Raptors head coaches, only Sam Mitchell enjoyed a longer tenure than Casey’s current one to date.
Speaking of coaches, earlier in the day the University of the Pacific hired former Raptors point guard Damon Stoudamire to be their head coach. Not totally unfamiliar with college, coach Stoudamire was a highly-regarded assistant at the University of Memphis. When Isiah Thomas drafted the diminutive point guard in Toronto, he praised his basketball IQ. It will now be put on display. The Raptors’ first-ever draft pick and rookie of the year broke the news with a letter to his previous self on The Players Tribune. It’s worth the read.
On Thursday, the Bulls’ Justin Holiday said he didn’t hear Drake yelling at him before he took a five-second violation with 25 seconds left in Monday’s game. Sure you didn’t. If that were true then taking a penalty for a five-second count with the game on the line is even more inexcusable.
If he didn’t hear about it then, he sure has heard about it now as it has become yet another meme inducing NBA moment.