Despite the tough loss against the Celtics on Sunday the Raps have been playing quite well as of late. Last night the Raps were in Indiana looking to keep the good times running.
Instead the good times came to a sudden halt.
Well this was a game the Raps would like to have back.
Last night the Raps blew a very winnable game against the Indiana Pacers 105-101 despite being up by 23 in the second quarter.
Simply put the Raps should have destroyed this Pacers team and early in the game it looked like it was going to turn out that way. The starters for each team played to a draw and then the Raps bench absolutely took over.
In the second quarter the Raps bench squad was all over the floor and absolutely destroyed their counterparts. The defense was good, the offense was better and it looked like this game was over early. Actually, if it wasn't for Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, Jose Calderon and even Rasho Nesterovic there is no telling how this game would have ended.
So how did the Pacers manage to get back into the game and then steal the W?
Well the answer to that is an easy one. The Raptors starters, in particular Hedo Turkoglu, just didn't come to play.
It was the starters who allowed the Pacers to get back into the game
It was the starters who didn't take advantage of the Pacers foul situation.
It was the starters who couldn't get the job done when the game was on the line.
Now It's hard to determine for certain why the Raptors starters played like it was 6 weeks ago. When they were re-inserted back into the game late in the second quarter they lacked energy, focus and did little on the defensive end to prevent the Pacers from going on a run.
When the teams came back out to start the second half nothing had changed. Rather than working the ball inside out the team settled for jumper after jumper. As the Raps continued to throw-up bricks the Pacers continued to chip away.
The excuse bandied about by Jack Armstrong and Matt Devlin? Fatigue.
With only two minutes gone in the second half Jack and Matt were pointing out how the starters were grabbing their shorts and looked gassed. For the next ten minutes the word "fatigue" was used about a dozen times to explain the Raps play.
I am not sure what the Raps do at half time but my guess is rest, get hydrated and discuss the game. Fatigued two minutes in? Gimme a break. I call that an excuse and a bad one at that. These guys are well conditioned professional athletes. Don't feed me Kraft Dinner and call it caviar.
The reality is the starters just played badly and did not execute. Their second field goal in the fourth quarter came with just 60 seconds left. Over and over they settled for outside jumpers. It wasn't pretty.
Just look at the box score and when you do take a good look at Hedo Turkoglu's line. Be forewarned however, it might bring back memories of Antoine Walker.
Hedo was, for the second straight game, a huge liability on the floor. His shot selection was questionable, his defense was completely non-existent and this was one of those nights when the +/- stat accurately tells a story. Hedo had a team worst -18 and he "earned" every negative point he managed to muster up. His play was so bad I was left wondering why he was even in the game down the stretch. Why not get some of the guys who manage to build the lead early back into the game?
At some point the Hedo that everyone expected (including Bryan Colangelo) better show up and show up on a consistent basis. Considering the limited production the team is getting from the 2 guard spot the team has to get production at the small forward position if they intend to continue to win games.
It wasn't just Hedo however. Andrea had a bad night from the floor, Jack was playing out of control and DeMar was a non-factor. Only Chris Bosh's 20 trips to the line are saving him from a scathing review.
All this being said this was just one game so it's important not to blow it out of proportion. During an NBA season there are nights where teams will have "lapses" like this. Hopefully that's all it is. The team can't let this be the catalyst to another losing streak.
Lucky for the Raps the schedule makers have given them all week to get back on track.
They better take advantage of the time.