The Raptors had an early start time against the Hawks and fought valiantly, but couldn't find an answer to Josh Smith all game. The HQ's Sasha Kalra examines the loss...Well that's that.
The buzzer has sounded and the fourteenth game game of the season has ended in yet another loss for the Toronto Raptors. They didn't let the deficit grow too big during the game and went on a run at the end of the 3rd quarter to make it a one possession match heading into the 4th. They missed their first 7 shots of the final quarter and went on to lose a hard-fought game.
The scenario depicted above can be used for many of our losses this year, and I am perfectly fine with it. What the majority of the team's disgruntled fanbase wanted to see this season was progress made in the right direction. It was clear that there was a lack of talent, but this season was all about making strides defensively and competitively.
Sure, Dwayne Casey's offensive sets leave much to be desired. Outside of the Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson pick and roll there isn't really a go-to play that I have seen the team run on a consistent basis. But this season was never about the offense. Forgive me for the cliche, but you can't build a sturdy house without the right base and you always build from the bottom up. For now, we get to see a team leave it all on the court every game and this is resulting in many of these closely contested losses.
So what exactly happened during last night's episode of this similarly scripted season?
The Raptors had absolutely no answer for Josh Smith and he got off to a very quick start, hitting his first 7 shots. He finished with 28 points and 15 rebounds and Joe Johnson chipped in with 27 points himself. The Raptors did well to keep the game close and owe much of their good play to Amir Johnson and Ed Davis.
Davis started very sluggishly on both ends and Johnson was in foul trouble all game but they combined for 20 points, 21 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 blocks. Leandro Barbosa had another great offensive showing but wasn't given much help in the 4th quarter when it was clear he couldn't do it all by himself.
DeMar DeRozan looked disinterested for most of the game and the most emotion I remember seeing from him was when he was walking to the bench while being given a technical foul. Hopefully he can rationally look at the tape from last night and use it as a learning experience.
That was a totally winnable game, and I look forward to recapping many more like it in the coming weeks.