Disappointment doesn't begin to describe the feeling. After Sunday's win against the Pacers where the Raptors allowed the Pacers to keep up with them the entire game, it was not surprising that the Raptors lost yesterday's game. However, the manner in which they did so, was pretty surprising.
I have seen this movie before, except it was way too soon for a repeat.
I was foolish to think that this Raptors team had put it all behind them.
Oh, how I was wrong.
I'll start off by saying that the Pacers did what they had to do, which is to score. Yes, your head coach was away and you were probably playing with lots of emotion. My condolences to the O'Brien family for their loss. And perhaps your lineup change really did make that big of a difference and ensured a Pacers win. Seven players in double figures sure is impressive along with shooting 52 percent from the field and hitting 94 percent of your free throws probably helped out your cause. Earl Watson, Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, and Luther Head, I salute you.
I would give you more kudos but I need to spend more time ripping apart my home team since we have yet another back-to-back game.
So yes, here we go.
Chris Bosh, one would look at your stat line and give you a pass, but the defense that you played at times was down right atrocious. Not even making an effort to challenge shots at the beginning of the game, it dictated that the Pacers could do what they want in the lane. Your partner in the front court really wasn't much help either despite setting a new career high in scoring. But other than that, there was little to complain about.
Andrea Bargnani, you should have done better to push Roy Hibbert to the outside. You've pushed Shaq, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, and even Dwight Howard. But yet, you didn't muster the strength until the fourth quarter. Oh, and four rebounds? Not even close to being acceptable.
Then of course, Jarrett Jack. You got angry at how out of sorts your team was and you tried to bring the Raptors back, but four points and six assists was not even close to being enough. Even worse, you let Earl Watson completely steam roll you. It just went to show that Jose Calderon was not the only person having issues with fast point guards. Your offense has been pretty good lately, but that just covered up your defensive issues.
Sonny Weems and Marco Belinelli, you both had a tough situation to come into. However, I have been greatly disappointed with you, Weems, since your temporary promotion to the starting lineup. Gone are the cuts to the basket and the aggressiveness that made fans fall in love with you. Marco, you gave us some good minutes and entertainment, but you have to play in more control. That's what's going to make you special.
And as for the bench, you did what you could offensively. But no one could stop the bleeding once in started. Even when Triano made wholesale changes, no one could stay in front of their man, and no one could cover the Pacers straight up. Where the Raptors required the bench to change the tempo of the game, they simply just presented more of the same.
Yesterday's game was exactly the same as those we saw in November. Back then, the excuse was that the team didn't have chemistry and couldn't figure out how to play together. Now, the excuse is going to be that the Raptors were full of injuries. The headlines and critics will say that we're going too far to criticize a team that has lost two starters.
Except none of those injuries are on their top defenders.
And for this Raptors team to stay in the playoff picture and maybe even catch the injury-riddled Boston Celtics, they will need to make sure this is the last game that they allow this to happen at.
Luckily, the Raptors play the Nets tonight.
The Raptors, however, really need to do only one thing to ensure victory at this point. In fact, it's this one point that caused the Raptors so much grief back in November and that's to play some sort of defense. It was a lesson that was learned since the middle of December and one that has been practiced successfully for about a month and a half. It's not rocket science and this team has proved it. By staying in front of their man and contesting 3-point shots when needed, the Raptors have built an impressive record.
The Raptors can discount the Indiana game as being just one that will become forgotten in the larger scheme of things, but in order to take advantage of "Friendly February" as Jarrett Jack calls it, the Raptors must take advantage of every sub .500 team while they can. They've let one slip through the cracks, but it has to stop here.
Otherwise the Raptors and their fans will use another f-word to describe February.