Miami downs the Raptors in a Battle of Division Leaders

Rudy needs to re-define his game - John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

In what was no surprise to anyone following the Raptors, the Miami Heat managed to win 90-83 in Toronto. It was ultimately efficiency that killed the Raptors even though they made a game of it in the second half.

Only three teams are above .500 in the Eastern Conference.

And if you were looking just earlier yesterday, there were only two.

In the most frightful division in the NBA, the Raptors are still leading the way at 6 and 9, albeit with a record that gets uglier with each passing game. And for now at least, the Raptors are the one-eyed king in the land of the blind.

Then again, it makes you wonder. The Raptors, for all their ugly, have been putting up some interesting stats.

Fourth in free throws made, second in offensive rebounds, eleventh in overall rebounds and fourth in personal fouls drawn.

Where they're losing ground to everyone is in in assists and anything to do with field goals. The Raptors are currently 25th overall in field goal percentage, followed by 26th in field goals made are also rounded off with being dead last in assists.

And in advanced stats, it's pretty much the same story. Rebounds, we're good. Shooting the ball, not so much.

So you have to begin wondering about how dangerous this Raptors team could be if they could find some better way to use Rudy Gay? Rudy, for all his faults, has recently proven that he has the size and speed on the defensive end to defend 2's, 3's, and 4's. Heck, he managed to hit a double double with his 11 rebounds..

But if Gay continues to shoot the way he does, doesn't he just wipe out all his good? We're talking about a player who has the second worst shooting percentage of any Raptor rotation player at just under 38%. And that's if you count Steve Novak as a rotation player. Yet he attempts 19 shots per game which is top for the team, with DeRozan following behind at 18 attempts, and Kyle Lowry at 11.

Ideally, if you're the Raptors, you want Rudy Gay to be a guy who would draw double teams, and draw attention away from DeMar DeRozan. You would want Gay to defer more to his teammates, while continuing to develop his focus in other areas (like rebounding). Imagine a bigger, stronger, Shawn Marion.

But unless he changes his game, he's going to continue to waste DeMar DeRozan's recent efforts.

While not really advancing in most of his stats, DeRozan continues to shoot hot from the 3-point line which is what is contributing to his rise in scoring. Over the past two weeks, including last night's game, DeRozan has seen his 3 point shooting rise just about 12% compared to last year. And while his rebounding is also up, so are his turnovers.

Last night though, was another seemingly wasted effort. Going 50% from the field and grabbing 7 rebounds, DeRozan was the only Raptor who could cancel out LeBron James' night. Kyle Lowry chipped in 15 of his own thanks to getting 4/4 from the charity stripe.

The rest of the team seemed out of sync.

Jonas in particular had a frustrating night as he kept getting pushed out of his comfort range and wasn't aggressive enough for most of the night. Another earful from Kyle Lowry seemed to focus his attention on defense a little better, but it's gotta start coming from within instead.

Terrence Ross also had an extremely poor night once again by going 0-5 and didn't use his athleticism on the other side of the ball when his shot wasn't falling. Yes, Dwane Casey used him to match the Heat when they went small down the stretch, but Ross failed to impress as he's shown us before what he's capable of doing.

Quincy Acy had a nice transition dunk and set a hard, yet illegal pick on Mario Chalmers. But sloppy defensive play which led to 8 Miami points quickly benched him again after 3 minutes of play.

Once again, Tyler Hansbrough was one Raptor off the bench to bring his game to last night's match. Leaving with a cut above his eye and getting stitches in the first half, he also sought to challenge all shots and was a terror on the offensive boards.

It all goes to underline the fundamental flaws of this team as we keep going forward. Yes, there are assets on this team who need to continue their development. Yes, this team is doing quite a few things positively at this point in the season, including play hard and be entertaining.

However, at the end of the day, the Raptors are still a team who is sitting at .400. A winning percentage of .400 would put you third last for the entire Western Conference.

But look, as a Raptor fan, there's one great solace that you should take throughout the entire year.

At least they aren't the Knicks.

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