Some thoughts after Team Black’s 92-64 win over Team Gray in a spirited Raptors intra-squad game to wrap up Training Camp in Halifax.
– Yes, it was just an intra-squad scrimmage. No, it shouldn’t diminish DeMar DeRozan taking four three-pointers on Saturday and drilling a three of them on his way to a game-high 21 points.
Long distance shooting has been a huge focal point for DeRozan this past offseason, as he attempts to improve upon his 28.3 per cent shooting from behind the arc in 2012-13 (a career-best mark).
RELATED: More Intra-Squad Video From Halifax
The Raptors have clearly improved their perimeter shooting to their (likely) reserve unit, with Steve Novak, Dwight Buycks, D.J. Augustin and Austin Daye in tow. But better long-distance shooting from the starting unit is going to be key this season and Saturday was a solid sign that DeRozan may be ready to contribute to that.
- Speaking of Augustin, he was another standout in this one — really looking to get teammates involved (he had a game-high seven assists) and was active on the defensive end.
Augustin is coming off a tough campaign with the Pacers in 2012-13, but Casey praised his play all week in camp and believes he’s got a solid 1-2 punch again at point guard — something this team has lacked since Jose Calderon was dealt last season.
– The rough versions of the game’s box score floating around out there (feels like bootleg concert CD), show that Rudy Gay had a pretty rough afternoon from the floor (6-25 FGM-A).
But for a team that wants to cut down on less efficient longer two-point shots, it was good to see Gay work to try and establish himself a little more in the post. But that shift in style of play and the added weight he put on to play that way are clearly going to require an adjustment period against actual opponents. Bring on the preseason.
– Casey cited a lack of ball movement and poor spacing as issues for Team Gray in the loss, but also said missing Tyler Hansbrough — who sat out of the scrimmage with a tight left hamstring was also a significant factor.
“It put a spotlight on their [Team Gray's] inside play, but those things are going to happen during the season,” said Casey.
The addition of an all-world agitator like Hansbrough undoubtedly would have helped make things a little more difficult for Jonas Valanciunas (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Amir Johnson (13 points, nine rebounds, four assists) of Team Gray.
According to Casey, Hansbrough could have played, but the coaching staff saw no reason to risk it. Expect Hansbrough to be in uniform for the Raptors preseason games next week.
– Finally, the game concluded a whirlwind two-day return to Halifax, but there was clearly no drop off in the level of local interest in the Raptors during their stay.
Over 7,000 fans were estimated to be in attendance at the Halifax Metro Centre on Saturday, which helped raise $46,000 for local organizations Feed Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame Education Program, Kidsport Nova Scotia and YWCA Supportive Housing for Young Mothers.