The Raptors may have been minus Reggie Evans against the Hawks yesterday afternoon, but as the HQ points out, with the way the rest of the team played, it may not have mattered had he been suited up.
Editor's Note: The HQ is expanding! Since about the end of last season it became clear to the team that they could use a few extra resources to help on the content side, so last month they put out the call to Ryerson's School of Journalism here in Toronto, seeking interns. They've narrowed their list down to a few final candidates, but want readers help in deciding who eventually rounds out the team. To that end, the HQ will be posting work from the finalists, and at the end of it, will seek feedback from you, the readers, as to who should get the gig!
We had our first four intern submissions last this week, and here's our fifth courtesy of Sasha Kalra, contestant number five...
The Toronto Raptors couldn't execute offensively down the stretch, as the Atlanta Hawks used a strong 3rd quarter to win 96-78.
The euphoria surrounding the Raptors' recent 4 game winning streak seems a thing of the past, and being comprehensively defeated at home doesn't help. It was a case of old habits returning, and it was perhaps fitting that Josh Smith, a player that was drafted 9 positions after Rafael Araujo, had a monster game.
Smith was playing with passion unheard of in these parts, as his 12 points 10 assists and 13 rebounds summed up a complete performance. He even had time to pick up a technical foul midway through the 2nd quarter.
"When he plays with that type of energy, good things just seem to happen for us" said Hawks coach Larry Drew.
The Raptors were without rebounding machine Reggie Evans and three point specialist Peja Stojakovic. The loss of Evans not only left the team without their leading rebounder, but their emotional leader on the court. Joey Dorsey started in place of Evans, as Jay Triano did not want to risk sacrificing his bench's chemistry by inserting Amir Johnson in the starting lineup. Dorsey put in a respectable shift, with 9 points and 6 rebounds in limited minutes.
Andrea Bargnani led the offensively dismal Raptors with 14 points, and DeMar DeRozan chipped in with 13. The team as a whole did not play well, and Jay Triano was critical of his starters in his post game address.
"Jose, DeMar, Andrea, Sonny, you go one through five. DeMar got outplayed by Joe Johnson, Jose got outplayed by Mike Bibby, Andrea got outplayed by Josh Smith, Sonny got outplayed by Marvin Williams, Joey got outplayed by Al Horford. Nobody could score and we couldn't stop these guys and that is why you have a 20 point game." - Jay Triano
Triano leading off his rant by mentioning DeRozan was not a form of random selection. DeRozan was constantly helping on defence, allowing his man to consistently get open looks. These lapses are brought into even greater focus when one is guarding Joe Johnson and the other Raptor-killer, Jamal Crawford.
Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza were first class chuckers once again, and combined to go 8 of 23. Barbosa was a defensive liability, and Kleiza's only noteworthy contribution was being the only Raptor to make a three pointer, and thus keep our coveted streak alive.
Jared Bayless looked lively in his limited minutes, and was constantly attacking the rim instead of settling for jumpers like the rest of his team. He attempted 8 free throws, a game high statistic that will likely fly under the radar. With Calderon looking unconvincing at times, Bayless' efforts are likely to be noticed by Triano. Mike Bibby has historically been a Raptor-killer, but there is no reason why, at the age of 32, he should be burning his opposite number on the offensive end.
For the Raptors, it was an issue of offensive execution down the stretch, and the Hawks outscored them 25-11 in the 3rd quarter. Worryingly, it was the second straight ineffectual 3rd quarter performance, as it proved to be their Achilles heel in Boston on Friday.
With 3 games remaining before they head out on another road trip, the Raptors need to take advantage of the schedule and remind their fans why they follow them in the first place.
a few notes:
What in the world happened to Julian Wright? After showing glimpses of his ability to be a high energy guy off the bench, Wright hasn't figured much lately. Not sure what is going on behind the scenes with Triano, but he could have been useful matching up against the Hawks on defensive end.
There was a period in the 2nd quarter where Bargnani was hot, and the team did nothing to get him involved offensively. They eventually did find him in the post, but it had taken too long, and his overeagerness resulted in an offensive foul.
DeRozan had a bad game, but let's all remember that he is still suffering from the hamstring injury he suffered earlier in the season.
Atlanta won this game 146-115 last year. Progress!....ok that was the only positive spin I could come up with, you do better.
The Raptors are at their best when moving the ball swiftly, and 15 assists isn't enough for this team when they want to win such games
Whats the over/under on the number of clipboards Triano will have destroyed by the end of the year?