It's a Lithuanian Sandwich!! - Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
It was a hard fought loss as the Raptors were downed by the Jazz at the ACC. Still searching for a winning formula, Kinnon Yee is not sure whether the team is moving closer to finding that formula
You can chalk it up to "wanting it more".
You can chalk it up to "a more experienced team".
Heck, you can chalk it up to "missing injured players".
Yes, there was a lot of "good" to be taken away such as DeMar DeRozan's offensive performance and Jose Calderon being 3 assists short of a 20-20 evening. That's not even mentioning getting a very productive night out of the SF position from Linas Kleiza. And frankly, I hate to harp on the negative.
But it's concerning to get such great performances from your players, to shoot over 50% for most of the game until overtime, and still be no closer to a win. As much as we'd like to just talk about being competitive, the Raptors continue to fold in the critical moments of games, and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that we aren't seeing the same defensive fire that we saw last year.
Does that mean that James Johnson was just that much more important to this team than we initially thought?
Credit the Jazz for being hungry for their first road win. They did it with some extremely strong performances by Marvin Williams who was causing a lot of trouble for the Raptors early before Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap took control in the fourth and overtime periods.
When you look at the game in general though, the Raptors started out with the right idea. They decided to jam it down the middle early, and gave Jonas Valanciunas his touches. It really set the pace for the Raptors.
Balanced scoring afterwards built up the lead and making 8 of their first 10 shots made it look easy.
The problem was, the Raptors couldn't get any separation. Marvin Williams kept the Jazz in it early with his athletic plays, especially when the Raptors went to the bench and started to cool off. From then on, the Raptors kept a lead for most of the game, but the Jazz were always within striking distance.
For the Jazz, Mo Williams kept the Jazz in pace with 17 points and 14 assists. He was too quick and crafty for the Raptors' point guards and stressed the need for Kyle Lowry's recovery. The Raptors also allowed Randy Foye to go off for 20 points and that's how the Raptors managed to be extremely efficient during this game, but still managed to lose.
The Raptors had their chances though. They had the ball in their hands for the final plays in both the end of regulation and the end of the 1st overtime. They just didn't have the personnel to finish and make those shots.
As the overtime periods stacked up, fouls became a factor as the teams entered into the 3rd overtime period. Linas Kleiza and Amir Johnson on the Raptors and Randy Foye of the Jazz all fouled out before the Jazz asserted their will in the third overtime.
However, in the end, I'm not so concerned with just this loss.
I am more troubled by the fact about where this team is heading. Wasted opportunities have a way of coming back to bite, and the Raptors can't hope to progress by squandering nights where they've brought their offensive A-game but paired it up with a dismal F-performance on defense. This should have been an easy win for the Raptors which makes it just that much more frustrating.
So far this year, the Raptors have had a terrible shooting percentage (2nd last in the league until yesterday's game) along with being the third last in the league in defensive rebounding. A year ago, the Raptors were at least tied for 9th in defensive rebounding, while being 8th from last on in shooting percentage. It's not hard to see where the Raptors are coming up empty.
It's a leaky boat and the Raptors have to figure out what is the priority and stick to it.
Otherwise, they'll continue to waste efforts like yesterday's.