Tip-In: So Close...yet just another L

The Raptors just couldn't close the deal last night losing to the Atlanta Hawks at home 104-101.

A tough loss after a solid outing despite taking another lashing from Raptor killer Jamal Crawford.

The sad fact of the matter is that this was a game that the Toronto Raptors should have won.

But if there is one thing to take away from last night’s 104-101 heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Hawks,
it’s that the Raptors are incapable of playing defence.

The main feat that differentiates the good teams from the bad teams is their ability to play timely
defence when the game is on the line. The Raptors, who led throughout a majority of the fourth quarter,
were ahead by two points until Mike Bibby took a pass from Jamal Crawford and nailed a three-point
shot with 8.2 seconds left in the game.

The Raptors still had two chances to win the game after Bibby’s clutch shot, but Jose Calderon was
unable to penetrate Atlanta’s defence on a tough drive to the basket. With no foul called the Raptors
turned the ball over to Atlanta and was forced to foul Joe Johnson. The Raptors got desperate after
Johnson hit his two free throws with just over a second left, as Andrea Bargnani missed a tough buzzer
beating three-pointer that would have sent the game into a much anticipated overtime.

Whether or not Calderon was fouled on his layup attempt was irrelevant as the fact of the matter
remains that the Raptors were unable to stop the Hawks from scoring when the game was on the line,
and that was the most troubling part of Wednesday’s game.

Sure the Dinos, scored 101 points and racked up 25 assists against the eighth ranked defence in the NBA
but we all knew that the Raptors could score points, it was their defence that everyone was concerned
about.

Offensively speaking, head coach Jay Triano has done wonders with this team as the Raptors are able to
go basket for basket with the NBA’s best as evidenced by last week’s 102 point performance against the
Boston Celtics and their number one ranked defence. Having managed to score over 100 points in each
of their last four games, no Raptors fans should be worried about their team scoring points. They should
however be worried about stopping other teams from scoring, as the Raptors had no answer for last
year’s sixth man of the year.

While the Dinos were able to hold Josh Smith and Al Horford at bay with nine and 10 points respectively,
Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford proved to be a nightmare for Toronto’s perimeter defence, as Crawford
scored a season high 36 points in 34 minutes off the bench.

The Raptors’ inconsistency has been their Achilles heel all season long seeing as how because of it, they
are never able to get into a proper rhythm. DeMar DeRozan started off the game strong with a few nice
drives to the basket and a flashy dunk, but was a non-factor for most of the game and although Amir
Johnson went 4-4 from the field, his five personal fouls hindered his ability to be aggressive late in the
game.

As far as consistency goes, Bargnani and Leandro Barbosa were the only two Raptors that consistently
played well, as both players scored 26 points. However, unlike Bargnani, it was refreshing to see the
Brazilian Blur bring some much needed energy to the court.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Raptors played well against a team that most people thought would beat
them outright, however good teams like the Atlanta Hawks will find a way to overcome whatever deficit
they are facing if they are presented with a defence as lacklustre as the Toronto Raptors.

SEAN TEPPER

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