The Toronto Raptors fell to 2-4 on the season, as they put forth a sloppy effort tonight against what promises to be a championship contending Indiana Pacers team that weathered Toronto's early storm to remain a perfect 6-0.
The Raptors came firing out of the gate and raced to a 32-22 lead at the end of the 1st quarter. They shot 56% as a team and also forced Indiana into some tough looks. Rudy Gay looked the best he has all season. Kyle Lowry was distributing the ball effectively. Jonas Valanciunas was holding his own against the well reputed Roy Hibbert. That storyline wouldn't continue for long, as the Pacers pounced gradually as soon as the bench was introduced. Indiana cut the lead to 2 going into the half (46-44) and one hoped Dwane Casey and the Raptors would make adjustments to match the Pacers' intensity. The Pacers, however, had other ideas, as they continued to expand their lead when Paul George caught fire in the 3rd quarter and the Raptors came out sluggish and lethargic. The Raptors couldn't find it in them to make a run at the lead, and the Pacers hung on for the comfortable W.
- Kyle Lowry. I thought Kyle Lowry was the best Raptor on the night. Given the dynamics of the team and the shot distribution that'll usually hold true on most nights (all shots to Rudy and Demar), it's important for Lowry for contribute in other areas of the game. A quick look at his statline reflects a nice all-round performance by K-Low. 12 pts, 8 assists, 7 rebs is not all-star quality, but he chipped in in all areas and gave the Raptors a fighting chance.
- Rudy Gay. Make no mistake, this is as much a testament to the reduced expectations of Rudy Gay as it is about a good performance on his part. He was fantastic on offence in the 1st half, going 9-13 with 22 points. Of course, he cooled off significantly; ending up at a 12-26 shooting performance, to go with 30 points. However, full credit where it's due; Rudy even had 3 steals and 3 blocks in what was his best game of the season
- Matt & Jack. Yup. If that doesn't tell you about how badly the team played, nothing will. I can't find any other positives. But in all seriousness, we rip on the broadcast crew sometimes, but they were solid today. They were as unbiased as you'd want them to be and praised the Pacers where it was deserved. I hope that continues.
- DeMar DeRozan. Yikes, 2-15, 6 points. Need I say more? DeMar and Rudy just can't seem to have efficient games simultaneously. When one shines (using that term loosely), the other struggles. They need to find a way to co-exist, and I do think some of that falls on the coaching.
- Dwane Casey. Good coaches make adjustments to spark their teams. Frank Vogel found a way to make his starters completely flip the script from the 1st quarter when the teams started the 2nd half. I don't have any complaints about the rotations, but Casey needs to be able to adapt when an opponent figures out a gameplan to exploit this team.
- DJ & The Benchwarmers. If this were a TV show, it'd be a sitcom about a team of toddlers whose sloppiness and general clumsiness is exacerbated by the inability of their overmatched coach to find spots for them to succeed. At some point though, the bottom line is that the Raptors don't have any other place to look. Terrence Ross looks to have plateaued, and the dropoff from Lowry to Augustin/Stone/Buycks is massive. It took the bench virtually no time at all to start letting the Pacers cut into the lead that the starters had built in the first quarter.
- The Middle Two Quarters. Some numbers: The Raptors scored 27 points in the middle 2 quarters. There was a 29 minute span after the 1st quarter that yielded 34 points for Toronto. You know what that says to me? A failure to make adjustments, and a very weak bench.
Is our offence just...'is it my turn now'?