Well that was disappointing.
As mentioned in our annual letter to Santa what this team really needs is a statement win. A win where the team can really feel good about itself, helps this team to turn the corner and allows it to leave the past few weeks behind. Last nights loss to the Portland Trailblazers was almost that win.
Led by Brandon Roy in the second half the Trailblazers made quick work of the first half lead held by the Toronto Raptors and now the Dinos head to Golden State in hopes of closing out this west coast swing with a .500 record.
Oh Brandon Roy. What more can you say about this guy that we have not already said? Not only was he a one man wrecking crew (and in the process making quick work of key #2 in the preview) but seems to thrive playing against the Raptors. The battles between these two teams are always very entertaining but the end result always seems to be the same. Much like last season and that extra time thriller at the ACC, it was Brandon Roy taking over and carrying his team to victory. There was one point in the fourth where Brandon Roy had outscored the entire Raptors team in the second half.
Roy scored in all different ways. He got to the hole, played a solid two man game with Aldridge and simply beat Moon off the bounce time and time again. He showed every facet of his game and the Raptors simply didn’t have a response.
It was hard not to enjoy what Roy was doing last night as it was a hell of a performance. The thing I liked the most about his play is that he is never arrogant about it. There was no looking at the Raps bench when he stuck a key jumper falling away in the corner and there was little trash talk. He just went about his business and let his play talk for itself.
Riding Roy’s offensive output the Blazers put up 33 points in the fourth quarter which matched the Raptors output for the entire second half.
After managing to put 57 points in the first half the Raptors couldn’t buy a bucket in the last 24 minutes.
Why the discrepancy in scoring output? After allowing the Raptors to score at will in the paint in the first half the Trailblazers made some half-time adjustments and packed the paint forcing the Raptors to take their game to the perimeter. Unfortunately the Raptors couldn’t find their stroke from out the outside. Kapono was 0 of 5, Parker 2 of 6, and Moon was 4 of 8 with most of his points coming on dunks.
In short, in the second half the Raptors shooting went stone cold allowing the Blazers to gain the momentum, reclaim the lead and ride their star to a victory.
The Portland run at the beginning of the third quarter was totally expected and the Raptors managed to stay in the game heading into the fourth quarter. Although the lead had dissipated that much needed win was still within CB4 and company’s grasp. Brandon Roy and the Trailblazers just ensured that it wasn’t going to happen.
It’s hard to find a lot of fault with the Raptors performance on this evening. Sure the Raps didn’t get to the line as much as hoped, and they did turn the ball over more than usual, but their play was solid considering it was the second game of a back to back on a lengthy western road swing. The Blazers took away the bread and butter and Toronto didn’t respond as required.
Although it’s another L there were some positives to take from this game. In particular, Toronto’s front court is arguably playing its best basketball all season. JO continued his strong play from the Sacramento game, CB4 got back on track and Andrea Bargnani has strung together a few solid games. The Raptors were only outrebounded by 4 on this evening which is commendable considering Greg Oden had one of his better games.
The chemistry between CB4 and JO is still developing but slowly you can see things are moving in a positive direction. Teams are having trouble defending the high-low game and they are playing off each other more and more. When Bargnani comes into the game and can then stretch the defense it makes for a formidable front-court rotation. The biggest issue to date has been that the games where CB4, JO and Bargs are all playing well have been few and far between. Whether it’s been injuries, inconsistency or tired legs these guys have not all been on track at the same time.
Now, 30 games into the season there are signs that things are starting to round into form and hopefully, despite the L, these big men can continue to build on their high level of play. If the wing men show up when all three of these big men are playing at a high level the Raptors will be tough to beat. They just need some help from the outside and that help wasn’t to be found last night.