Well, they weren't going to win them all.
The Toronto Raptors dropped their first game of the 2015-16 season on Friday night, losing 92-87 on the road against the Orlando Magic. They still stand with a record of 5-1 at the top of the Eastern Conference (at least at the time of publishing), but the bid for a perfect 82-0 season is officially dead.
In all seriousness, though, this Raptors team is obviously going to lose their share of basketball games, and some in this kind of heartbreaking fashion. Despite many positive signs over the Raps' first five games, there have been a few warts showing through and they certainly reared their ugly heads in this one.
The slow starts might be a problem again this year. The Raptors shot an abysmal 10-for-43 (23.3 percent) in the first half of this one, including 3-for-15 (20.0 percent) from long range. Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry both picked up two fouls in the game's opening frame, and the team never really found a rhythm with their rotations thrown out of whack.
Offensive execution was also a problem, particularly on the game's final possession.
Why didn't Kyle just shoot? pic.twitter.com/HnFZGwo4Bd— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) November 7, 2015
It's a slight improvement over last year's "give the ball to Lou Williams and let him force something again" play call, but not by much. A lot of things could've gone differently in that possession that would've resulted in a Raptors win, like if Kyle Lowry had just taken the shot, if DeMar DeRozan had gone up strong with it down low, if Jonas Valanciunas didn't force that hook shot, or if Tobias Harris hadn't gotten away with shoving Lowry on the rebound attempt. The clear path foul at the end sealed the game.
Lowry (17 points on 6-for-16 shooting, three threes, five rebounds, two assists, and a steal) and DeRozan (23 points on 7-for 15 shooting from the field, 9-for-12 from the line, seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks) were solid, while DeMarre Carroll (9 points, 3-for-13 shooting, 1-for-5 from long range) was decidedly not.
The real hero of the game was Cory Joseph, who had his best game as a Raptor with 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field and 5-for-6 from the line, one point shy of his career high. Jonas Valanciunas only played 23 minutes due to foul trouble, but still managed eight points, 14 rebounds, and two blocked shots, including 11 rebounds in the third quarter. That set the franchise record for the most boards by a Raptor in a single quarter.
It's a bump in the road, sure, but no reason to give up on the team's strong start to the season just yet. There were still some positive signs, as the team came roaring back from a disappointing first half to go on a 19-4 run after the break and outscore the Magic 33-19 in the third quarter. Despite a deplorable first half, they never really felt out of it and did manage to fight until the game's final possession on a night when they could've packed it in much earlier.
The Raptors will try to get back in the win column on Sunday when they travel to Miami to take on Chris Bosh and the Heat.
What are your thoughts on this one?
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