After the Raptors tough loss to the Magic on Sunday, one of the most glaring deficiencies was the absence of productivity from the small forward position.
With their backs against the wall the following night against the Knicks and in serious danger of squandering a fourth straight winnable game in the fourth quarter, it was the veteran Rasual Butler who stepped up in an eventual 90-85 win.
Five of Butler’s 13 points and four of his 10 boards (both season highs) came in the game’s final six minutes and he also had an impact on the defensive end. His Knicks counterpart Carmelo Anthony dwarfed his scoring numbers with a game-high 35 points, but Butler (along with James Johnson) made him work for it by forcing him to take 31 shots to get there.
Butler’s not likely going to be this team’s third option on offence with any regularlity, but on Monday he provided a steady veteran hand for a team that needed to prove to itself it could close a game out.
“Double-double Rasual Butler is what we’re going to start calling him,” said Casey post-game. “But that was big for us. He did a good job on the boards, 10 rebounds, 13 points. He did a good job defensively and he really was solid.”