The Toronto Raptors dropped yet another winnable game on Wednesday at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. Although the loss itself is not that surprising, giving up 105 points to the Milwaukee Bucks is. What went wrong for the Raptors in this one? the HQ's Scott Campsall has your answers
So far this season we have seen an inordinate amount of ugly, sloppy basketball games, of which the poor play has been widely attributed to the nature of the condensed post lockout schedule. Whether or not last night's 105-99 loss for the Dinos was a result of playing too many games in too many nights one cannot know for sure, but what we do know is that it sure was an ugly game.
Both teams decided very early on that defense wasn't something they were interested in playing and it was readily apparent from the get go. As a result, the first quarter concluded with a score of 29-28 which, for the first time since January 13th, was in favor of the Raptors.
The lively first quarter posed a couple of defensive challenges for each team. Dwane Casey decided to insert Amir Johnson back into the starting lineup, figuring that his athleticism would make him a better matchup for Milwaukee forward Drew Gooden than Aaron Gray; however that did not go exactly as planned. Gooden torched Johnson and the Raptors for 13 of his 20 points in that first quarter.
On the Raps side of things DeMar DeRozan was giving the Milwaukee Bucks‘ defense fits. DeRozan had 8 of his 25 in that opening quarter, setting the tone for what would be a fairly impressive offensive game, but more on DeRozan later.
The second quarter was a big one for the Bucks who made a push on the back of a couple of huge quarters by Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Stephen Jackson. Dunleavey made six of his seven shots in the quarter, netting a cool 16 points in the quarter, while Jackson pitched in with 8 points.
Despite a halftime deficit of seven points, it never really felt like the Raptors were out of the game. Toronto made a number of runs in the third, including a sequence of back-to-back three-pointers by DeMar and a layup by James Johnson that cut the lead to 1 midway through the Q. Yet, it seemed like every time the Dinos made a run, the Bucks responded with some big buckets of their own.
The fourth quarter was no different. The Raptors made another big push after being down six when Rasual Butler came out of nowhere to nail back to back treys before Leandro Barbosa sliced to the bucket and made a layup to actually give the Raptors a lead. Yet again though, the Bucks came roaring back with a three-pointer by Stephen Jackson and a number of big buckets by Drew Gooden and Brandon Jennings.
It was Brandon Jennings who would seal the game for the Bucks, after missing a three-pointer he proceeded to grab his own rebound--by outrebounding the entire Raptors team--and toss the ball back up and in to extend the lead to 8 with less than a minute left which would prove to be safely out of reach.
The loss stands as the Raptors third in a row and came, much like the last, in a very gettable game.
The Bucks didn't get a great game out of Brandon Jennings who finished with 11 points on 3-12 shooting but got some good minutes out of him when it mattered. Although Jennings was largely ineffective, a number of other Bucks stepped in to pick up the slack; Drew Gooden finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, Mike Dunleavey had 18 and Stephen Jackson added 17 off of the bench. Those performances were crucial for the Bucks, but none were bigger than the play of former Raptor Carlos Delfino. Delfino lit up his former club with 25 points which included 6 three-pointers and an impressive 7 of 12 shooting. Delfino also had a season high 9 rebounds and played both sides of the ball which lead to his game high 4 steals.
For the Raptors, DeMar DeRozan put together a pretty polarizing performance in this game. The box score would suggest that he had an outstanding game--25 points on 9 of 18 shooting from the floor and 4 of 6 from beyond the arc is a great stat line, but the box score doesn't tell the whole story here. DeMar struggled to hang with Delfino all night long, and at times, became complacent on the offensive end as well. There was a sequence that took place in the fourth quarter that illustrated this perfectly.
With just over 2 minutes left in the fourth, and the game on the line DeRozan failed to check Delfino leaving him wide open for a three-point shot that extended the lead for the Bucks. On the very next possession DeMar got a little too casual with the ball and was stripped by Delfino who then lead the break and drew a foul again against DeRozan. It was sequences like that that won't necessarily show up in the box score, but were a big reason why the Raptors were unable to come away with a victory last night.
DeRozan's play aside, the Dinos got some pretty solid effort out of James Johnson who has played quite well since moving to the power forward position and really seems to be coming around. Johnson filled up the stat sheet with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Linas Kleiza also pitched in with 12 and 8 while Ed Davis had 6 points, 7 rebounds and a team high 3 steals. Outside of those few players, there wasn't much else going for the Raptors on this night. Jose Calderon had 15 assists, but made just 4 of his 12 shots and wasn't overly impressive on the defensive end of the floor. Jerryd Bayless tallied 6 points and 7 assists before leaving the game with an apparent ankle injury.
The Raptors loss come on the first game of a 7 game homestand that will span the next two weeks culminating on the 22nd with a game against the Detroit Pistons.