The tired Toronto Raptors lost 109-104 to the Dallas Mavericks. They surrendered a huge lead in the first half of Wednesday's and were never able to come back. Both teams had key players missing, and it definitely showed.
For the Raptors especially, the loss of Kyle Lowry was very important. Without Lowry the offense was often stagnant, and reminded me of the Raps offense during the tanking days of last season. Not enough off the ball movement, and a lot of one-on-one plays at the end of the shot clock. Not good memories.
It wasn't just the offense that worsened without Lowry. The defense also got significantly worse, as Calderon and John Lucas were forced to cover speedy Mavericks' point guard Darren Collison the whole game.
But the Raptors didn't lose because of their offense or defense. They lost because of their inability to rebound. In the first half, when the Raptors surrendered the huge lead, they had just 13 rebounds. The Mavericks on the other hand had 31 rebounds, and 12 of these were of the offensive variety.
Therefore even when they did get a stop, the Mavs were often getting the ball right back.
The whole game Jonas Valanciunas, Ed Davis and especially Bargnani got completely out rebounded by Brandon Wright and Chris Kaman. If these guys are being out rebounded by Wright and Kaman, what's going to happen when they play Andrew Bynum? Marc or Pau Gasol? Or Dwight Howard? Definitely not a good sign. The only big man that played well tonight was Amir Johnson, who ironically had been getting career low minutes in the past few games.
The Raptors put together a run at the end of the game to cut the lead to 5, but ran out of time before they could come all the way back. Lowry's absence was a huge part of this loss, but even more imminent were the struggles of the big men. If the Raptors are going to beat good teams this season, they can't be out rebounded like they were today.
The Raptors next game is Saturday night, vs. the 76ers. Be sure to check our game-day thread on Saturday, as we'll be chatting live.