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Tip-In: "Pushin' and Shovin' " - Raptors Battle Nuggets but Can't Climb Out of First Quarter Hole

It was a 15 point loss in the end, but as the HQ notes, the Raps fought as best they could, ultimately unable to overcome a big early deficit...

A collection of tweets and quotes from various Raptors after last night's 96 to 81 loss to the Denver Nuggets:

DeMar DeRozan: A tough one tonight. Just have to figure the little things out & play the game like we know how to play. Just thinking to much.

Jerryd Bayless: It’s tough to dig yourself out of a hole. We’ve got to do our best to correct it. We’ve just got to play better.

Ed Davis: We gon be ight

Gary Forbes: Gunna look at it from another perspective and turn it in the right direction.

And DeMar again: Everyone has to step up. We have to believe that when Andrea is not out there, that we can do it.

I saw these quotes in my Twitter feed last night and they struck me as odd.

Not odd in the sense that basketball players never say or tweet this kind of stuff, but odd in that if you didn't watch last night's game, you'd think from these quotes that the club lost by 30 points, or was now on a 10 game losing streak.

The reality was that an overmatched team missing its best player put up a good fight, but ultimately couldn't get a win on the road, losing to one of the league's best teams.

However the loss only evens the Raptors' record on this five-game road swing, something I think most fans probably thought impossible going into Sunday's match against the New Jersey Nets. Yes, I'd wager most thought this road trip would result in maybe a win, two at best considering the competition.

So why the glum tweets?

I'd wager upon closer inspection, that they have more to do with individual issues than team ones.

Let's start with DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan was 3 of 15 last night, totaling eight points in 33 minutes. He's now shooting under 38 per cent on the season, and has career lows nearly across the board in every category. In the past consistency was an issue with the USC alum but you can't say that this season. DeRozan has been very consistent.

Consistently bad.

Too harsh?

I don't think so, and at some point Dwane Casey is going to have to do something here. Again last night the Raptors dug themselves a huge first quarter hole that they were unable to escape, and a big part of that was DeRozan's 0 for 10 start.

Could Barbosa get the nod?

It's not impossible, although there would be some debate as to how much sense that makes. DeRozan's confidence looks shaky (he even alluded to this in his tweet about over-thinking), and a benching could make matters even worse.

Plus Barbosa has settled into a nice groove of late off the pine, so not sure you want to shake that up either.

Besides, this isn't all on DeMar.

Linas Kleiza was 1 of 7 from the field himself, and saved only by some solid numbers in other categories. Kleiza couldn't put the ball in the hoop but grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists.

(Not to mention participating in a nice shoving match with Al Harrington.)

And Jose Calderon hit on only 3 of his 10 attempts so there was a collective scoring drought going on besides DeMar here too. DD might be the obvious choice for a change in the starting line-up, but I wouldn't say Jose is immune to a stint off the bench either. Jerryd Bayless was 7 of 10 for 18 points in only 16 minutes so maybe it's time to give him an extended run. After all, it was the Bayless-led second unit that really got the offense going in the second half, and managed to close Denver's lead to only six points. He's still no point guard to me, but if he and Barbosa can consistently penetrate the opposing team's defence and get to the rim, something they did last night, then I'm all for giving it a shot.

That's what this season should be all about after all.

Yes, tanking sounds good if you truly believe it will result in obtaining a franchise player come June.

But we all know there's no guarantee of that whatsoever, and the last thing you want is a club left with a Washington Wizards-like disposition with which to nurture future top prospects with.

I'll take a Utah win here and there, and a team that's fighting tooth and nail every game.

That's what fans saw tonight, and despite a 12 point first quarter, and only seven points in the game's final 10 minutes or so, a shot at a win.

Now we see how coach Dwane Casey can adjust his personnel in the absence of Mr. Bargnani, to translate that fight into a few more W's as the season goes on.