The Raptors dropped another one last night and again down the stretch they made it look "so easy" for their opponent...
Anyone else find this to be a weird game?
I mean, at halftime, it looked like the Toronto Raptors were en route to a 20 point blowout loss.
Rudy Fernandez was NBA Jam on fire hitting all 8 of his shots, including SIX 3-pointers.
The club had no answer for LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Raptors weren't exactly lighting it up on O, and of course were giving Portland pretty much whatever they wanted inside.
Oh...and despite Portland's major turnover issues, the Blazers still had a sizable lead.
But in the fourth quarter, there were the Dinos, ahead on the scoreboard, looking like they could grab a surprise W!
I can't really explain it.
I liveblogged this one, watching the game in its entirety, and yet it was as if I had slept through the first half. A dominant Blazers club just sorta seemed to stop caring in the third quarter, and Toronto's offense was enough to get them back in it.
Portland let their defense slide, went away from Aldridge in the post, stopped feeding en fuego Fernandez, and started missing shots.
Meanwhile, Andrea Bargnani's offensive game continued to hum along, and thanks to an explosion from former Blazer Jerryd Bayless in the fourth quarter, there we had it. Toronto up by 7 with about six minutes to go, and suddenly Portland looked like they were in trouble.
Only they weren't really in trouble, and fans who have watched this Raptors' team all season probably knew that the inevitable collapse was coming.
And sure enough, the Blazers woke up, started going back to Aldridge, and things unravelled for the Raps, all the way to a 102 to 96 loss.
As I was watching this one come to a conclusion, I couldn't help but have one of my favourite old-school jams in my head.
No, not "Hard Times" by RunDMC, which also would have been quite applicable considering this was Toronto's 16th loss in its last 17 games.
A REAL old-school jam, one from 1966 in fact, sung by Len Barry:
The song title is "1-2-3," but the chorus just about says it all.
"It's easy, (it's so easy), like taking candy...from a babyyyyyy!"
And that's the situation right for opposing teams that are facing the Toronto Raptors; they can get pretty much whatever they want on offence, whenever they want.
Take the Spurs game where SA got 70 points in the paint.
Or a loss to the Pistons in January that saw Detroit run the same play over and over again - the Raptors, being unable to alter it in the slightest.
Or individually, players like Jamal Crawford, Luke Harangody, Emeka Okafor etc etc, being able to play to their strengths all night long.
"It's so easy..."
I remarked via Twitter and in the live chat that it was a bit like watching a YMCA game at times last night; you could literally point out the path of least resistance in terms of the opposing team trying to get to the hoop. On one occasion, Blazers' guard Patty Mills dribbled across half, looked at Toronto's defence somewhat confused and realized "hey, if I cross over on Calderon here, I've got a wide open lane to the basket!"
And off he went.
Down the stretch, the Blazers attacked Andrea Bargnani at nearly every opportunity, especially by feeding Aldridge, and the result was a 14 point quarter by LA as his "I should have been on the All-Star team" tour continued. Television viewers could hear Raptors' coach Jay Triano instructing his team to keep LaMarcus from getting into the middle, but Jay might as well have been telling Martin Lawrence that making more "Big Momma's House" movies wasn't necessarily a good idea.
With no answer for Aldridge, no resistance defensively when it counted, and some horrendous execution at the other end in the game's final minutes, it quickly became obvious to viewers that this would be Toronto's third straight loss.
Aaaah, the old 2010-11 motto for the Raps rears its ugly head.
"Wash, rinse, repeat."
The interesting thing is, Toronto is finding new ways to lose lately.
Earlier in the season the club would get down big in the first quarter, be behind on the scoreboard by double digits at half, then fight back late to make a game of it.
Recently though, it's been the fourth quarter that's been the major sore spot and while the club ranks 19th in the league in first quarter scoring, and 10th in fourth quarter points, these stats could easily reverse if the season continues the way it has in the past couple weeks.
On a positive note though, there were some nice glimpses from the youngsters.
DeMar DeRozan's jumper continues to look much more like JJ Redick's than JJ Abrams', Ed Davis started in the place of the injured Amir Johnson and hauled in 13 rebounds, and even Joey Dorsey gave the team some great minutes in terms of defence and rebounding.
And I even thought Andrea Bargnani had a good game.
Sure, LaMarcus Aldridge ate him alive for most of the night, but isn't Andrea's stat-line what you want to see from him going forward?
29 points off of 10 of 17 shooting from the field and 8 of 9 shooting from the stripe, 6 rebounds and 4 assists?
Imagine how lethal that would be either off the bench or if he was surrounded by some major talent and some two-way players?
But please can we stop the Andrea/LaMarcus comparisons?
It's not even close anymore and the fact that the above comparison essentially looks at only two statistical categories makes me shake my head. Andrea isn't even a better scorer right now when you factor in usage, true shooting percentage, etc, etc. And let's see, Andrea's sporting a pretty league-average PER of 16.5 while Aldridge has an exceptional mark of 21.3.
And really, I could care less about who is a better player between the two.
The Raptors don't have Aldridge.
They have Bargnani, and a 14 win team that is headed straight for a top 5 finish in the upcoming NBA draft lottery.
Until the current coaching staff and roster figures out how to generate some wins with the personnel they have now, this will continue to be the season of "Wash, Rinse, Repeat."
Or simply, "It's So Easy."