Cousins dominated the Raptors on Friday night. - John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo
The recently hot Raptors ran into quite the roadblock Friday in DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings.
Sooner or later a game like this was bound to happen.
For the first two quarters of the game, it seemed as though the Raptors might indeed find their way to another victory despite their somewhat lackadaisical play. But, in the third, their complacency got the best of them as they made just 3 of their 21 attempts in that quarter resulting in a 28-10 advantage for the Sacramento Kings.
That deficit would prove too much to overcome.
"I don't think we played with the zip or the bounce that we had," Dwane Casey said after the game. "We were flat and missing free throws (67 percent form the line), turnovers, you name it, we had it."
The Raptors lack of energy was not their only problem on the night. The other major problem the team encountered came in the form of the 6-11, 270 pound DeMarcus Cousins - the Kings troubled starting centre.
"We were flat as a pancake, we had no answer for Cousins inside." Casey said.
Cousins dominated the Raptors pretty much right from the get-go, easily handling whatever matchup the Dwane Casey threw at him. Amir Johnson fouled out in just over 9 minutes attempting to guard Cousins and Aaron Gray also found himself in foul trouble.
With those two key bigs on the bench and Jonas Valanciunas still unavailable, Casey even turned to rookie Quincy Acy as a last-ditch effort to stop the Sacramento Big-man. But, to no avail, as Cousins ran rampid on the Raptors interior to the tune of 30 points - 10 of which came in the Kings dominating third quarter - on 11 of 18 shooting from the floor as well as 20 rebounds and 4 assists.
"He was getting pretty much everything he wanted. It hurt us when A.G (Aaron Gray) and Amir (Johnson) got in foul trouble. Those are our two defensive stoppers." Ed Davis said of Cousins.
The Raptors also had a great deal of trouble stopping John Salmons, the player who once memorably spurned the Raptors during free agency.
Salmons was the second leader scorer for the Kings, scoring 20 points on 7-14 shooting - an impressive night for the swingman who is not always the most efficient of scorers. Eight of his 20 came in the fourth quarter while being guarded mostly by Kyle Lowry after Casey opted for a small backcourt in an attempt to spark the offense.
Offensively for the Raptors, nothing quite clicked. The starters struggled mightily and although the bench had their moments - Kyle Lowry and Alan Anderson stepped up in the scoring department with 24 and 20 respectively - scoring either came inefficiently - as was the case with Anderson - or too late in the game - Lowry scored 15 of his 24 in the fourth quarter - and ultimately their contributions were not enough to boost the Raptors to victory on the night.
Despite the loss, the play of Landry Fields was something that stood out in this contest. Since Fields has returned from injury, he has either struggled to crack the lineup or has seen limited minutes out of position at the power forward spot.
On Friday, Fields saw 21 minutes of action and looked perhaps the most comfortable he has been during the regular season in a Raptors uniform. His numbers were not spectacular - 5 rebounds and 6 points - and occasionally being matched up with DeMarcus Cousins was a challenge, but the fact that Fields is looking more comfortable on the floor is a positive for this team.
"Yeah, just trying to get into game shape because its so much different than working out in practice," Fields told RaptorsHQ about becoming more comfortable on the floor. "Its coming game by game, (I've) still got a lot of work to do."
The Raptors will now look towards Sunday and a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. If the Raptors fail to bring more energy against one of the best teams in the league, than things could get much uglier much quicker than they did on Friday.