Well, that was a bizarre end to what was, for 3 quarters at least, one of the worst games of professional basketball I've ever had the misfortune of witnessing. Seriously, I wanted to take a shower prior to the 4th quarter, and get the stink of 36 minutes of putrid Raptors basketball off of me.
These are some of my game notes just before the late rally:
Do they really have to play the 4th quarter?
I feel like pulling a Joakim Noah and flipping-off everyone involved in this game. Everyone.
How is there still 9 minutes left in this game?!
How is there still 6 minutes left in this game?!
The Kings led by 20 points, 92-72, at the end of the 3rd quarter, before the Raptors -- again, inexplicably, considering how excruciatingly bad they were for 36 minutes -- went on a 27-13 run. A combination of Ben McLemore failing to realize that Steve Novak has one basketball skill, and you probably want to nullify that skill; and the Kings simply being lulled to sleep by the overall dullness of the game/their opponent's ineptitude, resulted in the Raps clawing their way to within 5 points.
And it was a 6-point game, with 25 seconds left, when this happened:
Worst call of the season? It's definitely up there, along with the charge that was called on Lowry (coaches aren't the only ones that don't like him) late in the Brooklyn game last week. The officials on the floor obviously felt that Lowry kicked out -- Reggie Miller-style -- at McLemore. But Lowry did not initiate the contact with the Kings rookie. McLemore clearly jumped into Lowry. An awful, AWFUL call. And just so we were under no illusions as to the level of officiating incompetence on show, Lowry got a technical even though he ran down the other end of the court to remove himself from the situation.
Had the officials got the call correct, the Raps would've been down by just 3 with Lowry heading to the free-throw line. As it was, Lowry was ejected for his second technical, and the Kings closed the game out with a bunch of free-throws.
Oh, and speaking of free-throws...
Okay, so here's the thing: as egregious as that late call on Lowry was -- and it was bad -- the Raptors did not deserve to win this game. To reiterate: they were atrocious for more than 3 quarters. While the Kings shot poorly all game (just 39% from the floor) they got to the free-throw line at will -- attempting 51 free-throws. FIFTY-ONE. The Raptors attempted just 24, and while that disparity, if you're just looking at the box-score (and seeing that terrible Lowry call 100 times this morning) may lead you to believe that the Raps were screwed by the officials all night long, that's simply not the case.
The Kings got to the free-throw line 51 times because they absolutely bullied the Raptors in the paint. They attacked the basket constantly, and were rewarded for those efforts. The Raptors, on the other hand, only attempted 24 free-throws because they took way too many long jumpers. At times, in the 3rd quarter, it looked like the Raps had officially given up running any kind of offense -- dribble, dribble, pull-up, and repeat.
Perhaps the mere presence of Rudy Gay on the court caused some kind of ugly pavlovian response.
DeMarcus Cousins, or Raptors Killer, as we should start calling him, finished with 25 points and 10 boards -- 5 of those rebounds coming on the offensive glass. In fact, the Kings finished with 15 offensive rebounds overall, and they had 11 in the first half -- scoring 18 points off those extra possessions during the first 24 minutes of play.
And if it wasn't Boogie or Jason Thompson bullying the Raps' bigs in the paint, it was Isaiah Thomas and Gay driving to the bucket and getting to the line. Gay had 24 points and 10 rebounds in his first game against the Raps since being traded. And while he started the game 0 of 4, he soon realized that he was better served putting the ball on the deck and attacking the heart of a fragile Raptors defense. Shame he didn't do more of that during his time in T.O.
Oh, and the turnovers...
The Raps turned the ball over 17 times, with 8 of those giveaways coming in an ugly 2nd quarter. When I go to sleep tonight and inevitably have nightmares about being forced to watch this game over and over -- strapped in a chair, eyes forced open, like Alex in A Clockwork Orange -- what I'll see is not the blown Lowry call; but Jimmer friggin' Fredette leading a 4-on-1 fast-break after turnover number 655.
Did I mention that I hated this game?
For the Raps, Kyle Lowry was the lone bright-spot on the stat-sheet; he finished with 21 points and 8 assists; while Patterson and Novak (catalyst for the late run) fought hard off the bench, finishing with 14 and 12 points, respectively. But again, the Raptors dug themselves a massive hole during the first 40 minutes of the game, and although they seem to have an uncanny knack of kicking into gear once they're down by 20 (see games against Charlotte, Dallas, and Portland for previous variations of last night's narrative) it's an understatement to say that this is not a good habit.
Against Portland, falling down by 20, and then roaring back, was commendable. A moral victory with the team looking exhausted, playing in the second game of a back-to-back. But last night's attempted-comeback was no moral victory. We can all cry and moan about a terrible call that screwed the Raptors late; but as I'm sure Dwane Casey will point out, that call did not decide this game.
Copious amounts of crappy basketball decided this game.
Next up for the Raps, it's a Friday night tilt in L.A. against the Clippers. They'll need a much better effort against Blake Griffin and company if they want to end the Western Conference road trip on a winning note.
- This game got so bad in the 3rd quarter that Matt Devlin reading badly composed tweets on air was more entertaining than what was happening on the court.
- The Raptors fall to 2 and 15 all-time against the Kings in Sacramento. Not great.
- DeMarcus Cousins is an absolute monster. There aren't too many centres and power forwards in the NBA that can defend him when he's on his game -- the Raps' bigs certainly couldn't last night. Such a handful.
- Sacramento's arena is called Sleep Train Arena. Also known as the worst named arena in professional sports. Seriously.
- I'm still worried about Amir Johnson. He only played 18 minutes last night, and mobility-wise, he's just not there. It might be worth sitting him for a couple games just to let him rest that ankle.
- Early in the 4th quarter Kings coach, Mike Malone, took what I thought was a jittery, premature timeout. He definitely doesn't trust his team to work through tough stretches on the court; and giving that they tried to hand the Raps this game, I don't totally blame him.
- Dont worry Raps fans: New commish, Adam Silver, was on hand to watch this one. Expect a prompt apology for the blown call...and then a fine for putting on such a crappy performance.