The Toronto Raptors gave it their all during the second half of a back to back but couldn't finish strongly as they lost 92-88. Was it a case of missing easy looks, calls not going their way or complete defensive breakdowns? Sasha Kalra sees it as a combination of the three as he weighs in with his impressionThe Raptors were down 4 points late in the 4th quarter against a better team. They had just missed a couple of easy chances and had some calls not go their way. During a timeout, Jack Armstrong says that he thinks he can write a script for every Raptors game this season, and I agree.
I've stated before that the hard losses are becoming habitual for this young team. These kinds of performances are exactly what most "tank" enthusiasts hope for, and last night was more of the same.
Howard dominated in the paint early and finished with a cool 36 points and 13 boards. Ryan Anderson chipped in with 19 points and 13 boards, and J.J. "ice in my veins" Redick had 13. Is it time to elevate Anderson and Redick to the lofty status of "Raptor Killer" alongside the likes of Mike Bibby and Jamal Crawford? Both have seemingly torched the Raptors throughout their respective careers and it might be time to think about immortalizing their efforts. They were making great decisions in terms of when to shoot and when to drive and were attacking the basket to grab offensive rebounds.
But Orlando's individual players weren't the only story of this one. Yes, as has been the case for most of the season, the Raps' first quarter play was marred by a series of defensive breakdowns. Dwight Howard was dominating in the paint and his early output helped to open up the shooting lanes for Orlando's notoriously trigger-happy wing players. You get the feeling that if the Raps could just get off to solid starts, then some of these games would be W's.
In any event, the Dinos had a chance to snatch a win late on but a series of unfortunate events manifested on the court.
There were 4 plays in which the referee's call didn't go Toronto's way and each of them was controversial. DeMar DeRozan's offensive foul and subsequent no-call when hitting a tough layup with Howard all over him came first. Afterwards there were two instances when Jose Calderon appeared to have been literally rugby tackled by Howard as he hunted the ball down low. In both instances a blocking foul was called on Calderon and he sarcastically laughed at Dick Bavetta.
Refereeing should never be a team or fan bases primary complaint when losing (unless you're the 2007 Suns) and you just have to move on to the next play. Things have a way of evening themselves out over the course of a season and this was a night when the calls just weren't going our way. Stan Van Gundy has been very vocal about the lack of respect his superstar seemingly gets from officials and this was a night it all went right for his center.
The Raptors close out their stay in Toronto when they play the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. Does anyone want to bet against another typical performance?
- DeRozan's offensive show will get most of the headlines, but James Johnson quietly had a great game. He finished with 13 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal.
- Hedo Turkoglu was booed every time he touched the ball. The boos were very quiet in comparison to the love this crowd has shown "villians" in recent years. It was probably a case of a not-full stadium full of the Monday blues, but this was a cheap imitation of how loud the ACC would get for Mike James, let alone Carter or McGrady!
- In last night's edition of "Things Matt and Jack Talk About During A Long and Painful Raptors Season" we have the Leaf's win against Montreal on Saturday, Don Cherry's "Ontario vs Taranna" rant, Justin Bieber, Dwight Howard's endorsements and Jack claiming that he listens to Taylor Swift.
- This female fan sitting courtside tried to give Jameer Nelson a little extra encouragement. Unfortunately she missed, and I would have loved to have seen his reaction.