Looking to get a much needed with the Raps went into Indiana to match-up against a Pacers team with a new head coach.
Unfortunately, the result was much the same as the past two weeks - another loss.
Well the streak continues.
The Raptors lost another game last night this time 104 to 93 to the Indiana Pacers.
In yesterday's preview I featured three keys.
Here they are again:
1. Don't Hang Your Head
2. Attack the Rim
3. Just Find a Way
Early on in the last night's game it was readily apparent that the Raps were unwilling to do any of the above and before you knew it, they were down by 20. The effort was not there, the players were settling for jumpers and it looked like they had mailed it from the opening tip. Early on it started to look like the Minnesota game all over again and another low in a season full of lows.
Then something changed.
The insertion of Ed Davis into the game and Jay Triano's willingness to ride him for the rest of the half.
For those of you who didn't watch last night's game it was, for me, the coming out party for Ed Davis.
Davis is not exactly an extrovert. He is mild mannered, understated and quiet. Last night however, Ed Davis came to centre stage and took the spot light.
In a game that could have been over early, Davis entered the game and single handily raised the Toronto Raptors play to another level. With grit, toughness and relentless effort Ed Davis made turned a blow-out into a ball game. Despite a sluggish effort by the starters, Davis' energy was contagious and suddenly the Raptors were in the game.
In the second quarter alone, Ed Davis had 11 points and 5 big rebounds. He also played some solid defense on Roy Hibbert who earlier on, had been owning the Raptors in the paint.
In a shocking turn of events Jay Triano left Davis in the game while Andrea Bargnani watched much of the second quarter from the bench.
One of the players who benefited from the energy Davis supplied was Amir Johnson. Johnson, like most of the starters was slow starting, but soon he and Davis were doing a fantastic job defending the paint and at the same time allowing the Raps to claw back into the game.
Together Davis and Johnson did a great job in the front court. They were both extremely efficient scoring the ball and were the only players rebounding with any frequency the ball for the Raps. As mentioned in the chat last night, Amir Johnson is a warrior.
With a shortened bench, the only other big for the Raptors to see the court was, of course, Andrea Bargnani. I am not sure where to begin with this.
Plain and simple there is just no excuse for his play as of late and the first quarter of last night's game told me all I needed to know about him as a player.
I fully recognize that offensive talents like Bargnani are going to have off games and go into slumps. You cannot be "on fire" every night. You can however, impact the game in a positive way even if your shot is not falling.
The perfect example? DeMar DeRozan.
Although DeRozan again struggled mightily with his jumper last night (3-15) he did still had a positive impact on last night's game. DeRozan had 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
Andrea in the meantime managed a meagre 5 boards and his defensive effort was non-existent. The Raps simply need more from Andrea. As a team the Raptors were badly out--rebounded and some of that blame lies with No.7 who in addition to being deficient on the glass was also owned by Roy Hibbert who, as an aside, looks to be the one to benefit the most from the coaching change in Indiana.
At least in the first half Triano finally recognized that keeping Bargnani on the floor was to the team's detriment and he kept him on the bench in favour of the aforementioned Davis.
If you want more evidence of just how bad Bargnani played last night just know that Matt Devlin and Leo Rautins started turning against him.
Andrea Bargnani just isn't playing with any heart.
In addition to Bargnani's play, the other disappointment was the simple fact that the Raps had lots of opportunities to win this game yet couldn't execute when it mattered.
The Pacers turned the ball over countless times (25) yet could not capitalize. The team squandered numerous fast break opportunities and also committed far too many turnovers.
A win was there for the taking but the Raptors let this one get away especially when you consider the below average night had by Danny Granger.
So where does the team go now? In a night where Triano did all he could to get his team a win, including shortening the bench, the team still came up short.
I can't help but to go back to the start the team had. The effort was simply dismal and I couldn't help but wonder if this team actually cared to win. It scares me that a rookie had to come into the game and lift this squad.
Hopefully a lesson has been learned from last night's game, by both the players and the coaches. If guys are not willing to show heart and effort they simply shouldn't play at all - or at a minimum, less.
Triano's decision to let Bargnani stew on the bench in the second quarter of last night's game made me hope that finally the light has gone on and it has been recognized that this team is not fighting for a playoff spot, it is fighting to develop a culture.