Tip-In: Tanking Optimism. Raptors OT Loss to Bobcats Gives Hope For Tank Nation

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

Perhaps there was no need for Tank Nation to get too worried about the Toronto Raptors' recent winning ways post Rudy Gay trade. As Adam Francis notes, last night's performance against the Charlotte Bobcats should give Tank Nation a reason for optimism.

Our man Harsh Dave recapped this one pretty perfectly last night so I'm not going to go through all of the in's and out's of another epic Raptors buzzer-beating loss.

And yes another.

Vince Carter reverse slamming it home at the buzzer when he was with the Nets, Jason Terry draining a game-winner with Dallas, that Rudy Gay guy, and on and on.

I don't follow other teams nearly as closely as the Raptors obviously, but I do watch my share of NBA games and I'd hazard a guess that the Dinos have lost on more buzzer-beaters than pretty much any other team in the league over the last five years.

Last night's Kemba Walker shot in overtime was just the latest example.

Ironically, Walker's teammate, Al Jefferson, tipped in a game-winner himself vs Toronto back when he was a member of the Utah Jazz. Jefferson was one of the prime reasons the Bobcats got back into the game after being down 61 to 47 with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. He and Kemba Walker terrorized the Dinos in the second half, finishing with a combined 53 points in the match, and on the other end, the 'Cats shut the door defensively.

The Raps shot only 43 per cent on the night and at times, the Bobcats defense seemed to have the team's players moving on a string. On one possession late in the game, even Raptors' announcer Matt Devlin revelled in the Charlotte attention to D as Toronto struggled to find easy looks.

There's a reason I mentioned in the preview that the Charlotte defense was the second-best in the league currently.

Make no mistake though, this was no masterpiece performance by the 'Cats.

The club blew numerous attempts late in the game to close it out for good, and it took some Raptors' miscues and the Walker jumper to finally seal the W.

Which got me thinking.

Maybe those of us who are hoping to see the Raptors bottom out and were worried that post-Rudy Gay, the Raps would take off, have been unduly concerned. Sure, the Raps had won three of its last four going into last night's game, but those three wins came against the shaky Los Angeles Lakers, awful Philadelphia 76ers, and now decrepit Chicago Bulls.

Again, the Bobcats are no world-beaters, and despite some top-notch defense, the club's putrid offense should have allowed the Raptors to add another win to their resume. But instead, Toronto struggled on D down the stretch, and found it difficult to continue their recent scoring spree once the Bobcats locked in. DeMar DeRozan after a strong start, had a tough time shaking Gerald Henderson, and when he did, just couldn't get set on his shots. He finished with a game-high 30 points, but it took 26 shots to get those results. I'm not saying he missed Rudy Gay, but minus a true secondary scoring option tonight, DeRozan found himself consistently double-teamed, especially in the second-half, something I'm guessing we'll continue to see a lot of.

And no, Terrence Ross was not that second option. He was 2 of 9.

Neither was Kyle Lowry (6 of 14) and Greivis Vasquez was...never mind.

So maybe those who have been riding the tank hard have no need to push the panic button yet. Last night's loss drops Toronto to 9 and 14 on the season and into the bottom 10 of the league record-wise.

Oh, and up next the club takes on Dallas, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, all on the road.

The Knicks provide some reprieve after that as the Raps play a home-and-home stand versus New York, but by the time those games roll around, we may be seeing a very different looking team. If the club heads to New York with a 9 and 17 record, Masai Ujiri may have seen enough and made the next chess moves in order to drive this tank down into the NBA's basement, once and for all.

Although based on tonight's performance, one could argue that he may not need to do all that much.

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