The Toronto Raptors snapped a four-game losing streak with a win last night in Indiana. But they didn't exactly do it in convincing fashion.
At one point during Monday night's triple-overtime loss to the Utah Jazz, the Raptors' PR account for their PR team noted to some disenfranchised fans that the club's offensive woes weren't as bad as people were making them out to be. For instance the club's offensive futility versus the Philadelphia 76ers last week, that saw the team score a measly seven points in the game's second quarter, wasn't an NBA record.
Hell it wasn't even a team record.
So essentially the tweet meant "hey, it could be a lot worse."
Well, for those watching last night's D-League-esque Raptors win, it was.
Indeed the Toronto Raptors snapped their four-game losing streak by beating the Indiana Pacers 74 to 72, but not because of any sort of commanding performance. The team shot a horrific 36 per cent from the field, topped the Philly game by scoring only FIVE fourth quarter points, allowed 14 offensive rebounds, and gave the Pacers about 18 chances to win this one.
Thankfully, as bad as Toronto was, Indiana was even worse.
The Pacers shot only 32 per cent on the evening and missed their last nine shots of the game allowing Toronto to hang on for the win.
It was incredible to witness.
The Pacers missed, got their own rebound, and fired it up only to miss again, six times during that sequence as Toronto simply could not get a board. This should easily have been an Indiana win, but sometimes that's not in the cards. This was one of those nights where the Raptors should have felt extremely lucky to have escaped with the win, especially considering their brutal fourth quarter.
How brutal was it?
The club hit only one of its shot attempts in that final quarter (a franchise record) and the five point fourth quarter total was an NBA record (during the shot clock era) for a team that went on to win a game.
That being said, as ugly as it was, you have to give the team some credit.
DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon admitted post-game that they were exhausted in this one, yet after a rough start where Indiana raced out to a quick lead, the club never stopped trying. They battled back to actually grab the lead later in that first quarter, and never gave it up.
Jose Calderon was the game MVP in this one putting on his best Jason Kidd impersonation. 13 points on 5 of 10 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and 10 assists giving him a triple-double on the night, and while DeMar DeRozan didn't put up Utah numbers, he hustled his way through a rough shooting night to post 15.
There's not much else to applaud.
The team seemed to run out of gas in the fourth quarter and again, it was only because of Indiana's equally putrid play late, that the club came away with the win.
This game though did continue to reinforce a season-long trend that has me concerned; the club's offensive woes.
The D definitely isn't there either, but being 20th in true shooting percentage, and only slightly higher than that in terms of offensive efficiency, especially coupled with the defensive issues, means that this team at present is going to struggle to win many games.
The main problem with the offense? Obviously missing Kyle Lowry doesn't help, but players that are supposed to be the team's go-to scorers, outside of DeMar DeRozan, simply haven't been.
Andrea Bargnani turned in another beautiful outing last night, scoring 8 points on 3 of 13 shooting to go with two whole rebounds. Prior to injury, Landry Fields had a true shooting percentage of 24 per cent. Those were supposed to be two of your top four scoring options so with them struggling, and Lowry out, the team's putting a lot of weight on a guy like DeMar, and other "non-scorers."
What I mean by this is that in absence of those main guys putting up points, suddenly Dwane Casey is forced to depend on frankly, some horrific offensive players like Dominic McGuire and Ed Davis for buckets, or hope that Linas Kleiza has an "on" night.
It's pretty hard to win in that fashion, especially when your defense isn't propping things up, and last night, based on Toronto's finish, would have certainly been an L against almost any other team in the league.
Boston, Orlando and Philly are up next and while it's not exactly a murderer's row, I'm guessing those games will mirror tonight's unless Kyle Lowry is back in action.
And I'm not holding my breath there.
Lowry was in New York to seek a second opinion on his injured ankle, a slightly ominous undertaking considering this sounded like a "he's going to miss three games" type injury when it was originally reported.