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Lewenberg: Game Day Notebook - Raptors at Warriors

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Josh Lewenberg
3/4/2013 2:56:14 PM
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Looking to snap a four-game losing skid, the Toronto Raptors (23-37) continue their road trip visiting the struggling Golden State Warriors (33-27) at Oracle Arena Monday at 10:30pm et/7:30pm pt.

With their playoff aspirations all but officially squashed following a 122-114 overtime loss in Milwaukee on Saturday, the Raptors hope to play spoiler against a Warriors team in desperate need of a win. Golden State, having also lost four straight, is barely clinging onto the sixth seed in the Western Conference - sitting a half game above eighth-place Houston - despite dropping 10 of their last 14 overall.

The Raptors, who have not had much recent success against the Warriors or at Oracle, will have their leading scorer Rudy Gay back in the lineup. Gay - averaging 20.5 points on 39 per cent shooting in 13 games with Toronto - missed Saturday's loss with back spasms but is expected to be available after participating in shoot-around Monday afternoon. Forward Andrea Bargnani, feeling ill after an adverse reaction to medication, will be a game-time decision for Toronto.

Trends and Tidbits

The Warriors have won 11 of their last 14 meetings with the Raptors - scoring 100 or more in 13 of those games - including seven straight victories against them in Oakland. Toronto has surrendered an average of 119.1 points per contest during its seven-game skid at Oracle, dating back to 2004. Golden State was victorious in the first match-up between these squads this season, a 114-102 road win on January 28th.

Coming off a five-game road swing of their own, the Warriors will happily return to the Bay Area where they boast a record of 18-7, having won six of their last seven on home court. Golden State allows 97.5 points per game in Oakland compared to 104.4 on the road this season.

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan has attempted six or more free throws in nine straight games, the longest stretch of his career. He had 21 points and matched a career-best with nine assists in the previous meeting with the Warriors. Coming off a nine-assist performance in the Bucks loss on Saturday, DeRozan has now registered five or more dimes in nine games this year after accomplishing that feat in just five contests over his first three NBA seasons.

Rookie forward Quincy Acy was reassigned to the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League, the Raptors announced Monday afternoon. This will be his second stint in the D-League after appearing in three games with the Jam back in December.

Fun Fact: The Raptors' last win at Oracle came on February 8, 2004, an 84-81 OT defeat of the Warriors. Morris Peterson hit the winner in the extra period after Toronto held Golden State to just two points in the fourth quarter. Vince Carter led the Raps with 22 points and Robert Archibald was the team's starting centre with then rookie Chris Bosh nursing an injury. Current Raptors forward Mickael Pietrus was a member of the Warriors.

What to Watch For

- Can the Raps control the tempo on the road?

Not an easy task for a team that has had trouble dictating the pace of the game wherever they've played over the last seven days. The Raptors got off to a quick start in Milwaukee on Saturday thanks in large part to the high-percentage looks they were able to conjure up by running the floor. Toronto mustered seven fast-break points in the first quarter but failed to register any in the remaining 36 minutes (or in overtime).

The Raptors rank second to last in fast-break points but employ the athletic talent required to be a running team, and they've had some success playing that way (in small doses). That opportunity could be there for Toronto against a Warriors team that has committed 18 or more turnovers in four of their last five games.

- Own the Paint

One of the worst rebounding teams in the association (ranked 29th), the Raptors have been outworked on the glass and in the paint during their recent stretch. Giving up crucial offensive boards played a big part in their overtime loss to the Bucks and they've now been out-rebounded in a season-high nine consecutive games.

Golden State outscored the Raptors by 28 in the paint and bested them by 12 on the boards during the January meeting. (Note: Andrew Bogut had eight rebounds in that game but is considered doubtful for Monday's tilt with back spasms)

Who to Watch For

- Stephen Curry

Who else but Curry, the hottest player in the NBA right now. The Warriors' guard has been on fire, averaging 36.8 points on 54 per cent shooting - 56 per cent from three-point range - over his last four outings, including a 54-point explosion in New York on Wednesday. Despite Curry's heroics, his team has lost all four of those games.

However, Curry has all the makings of a young Raptor killer, scoring 27.6 points - his highest average against any opponent - in five career games versus Toronto, all wins.

- David Lee

A complete player and one of the most unheralded stars in the league, Lee paced the Warriors with 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in their win over Toronto early this year. Golden State's lone All-Star leads the NBA with 39 double-doubles.

- Amir Johnson

Before fouling out in overtime, Johnson helped the Raptors claw back into Saturday's game by scoring 10 of his 19 in the fourth quarter. Toronto's leader in field-goal percentage shot an efficient 9-for-11 and added nine boards in that game. Coming off the bench in the previous meeting with Golden State - for Aaron Gray who had a career-best 22 points - Johnson scored nine in just 23 minutes. Permitting he stays out of foul trouble, Johnson should see a much bigger rule in Monday's affair and will be counted on to help keep Lee in check.

Injury Report

Toronto

Rudy Gay (back spasms) - probable
Andrea Bargnani (reaction to medication) - game-time decision
Linas Kleiza (sore right knee) - out

Golden State

Andrew Bogut (back spasms) - out
Brandon Rush (torn ACL, left knee) - out

Stephen Curry (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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