I’m convinced somewhere, deep underground, there’s a League of Former Raptors Players hell bent on destroying Toronto at every opportunity. It seems like this season it's been one after another - guys in new uniforms putting up career nights against their old team.
On Wednesday night, the League presented Jarrett Jack and Alan Anderson. Remnants of a Raptors era better off forgotten, both players went off - Jack had 24 points, six assists and four rebounds while Anderson added 22 points on 7-for-9 shooting. They led the way, as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 109-93.
So yes, coming in 9-0, the Raptors are no longer perfect against Atlantic Division opponents. Even that sacred mark has been broken by the dismal play of late. Terrence Ross emerged from the shadows to lead the Raptors in scoring with 22 points, shooting 5-for-11 on three-pointers. Kyle Lowry had a double-double with 13 points and ten rebounds, but didn’t score in the second half.
More troubling for Lowry was his night guarding Jack. Critics have been quick to point out his fall in play in the new year, but it’s been most noticeable at the defensive end. Regularly a tenacious ball hawk, he had issues simply keeping the 31-year-old Nets guard in front of him tonight.
After Lowry carried the Raptors to a 51-49 halftime lead, Anderson and Jack made life tough for the Raptors to start the third. The Nets defence picked up as well, scrambling effectively to force Toronto out of their comfort zone.
The Raptors responded by taking distance jumpers, few of which went down - the Raptors were a putrid 10-for-33 from three-point range. It all ended up fairly frustrating, culminating in a garbage time flagrant two and ejection called on DeRozan for this play.
All these areas of the game will have to improve for the Raptors. This marks the end of a soft spot in the schedule, with the three remaining games before the All-Star break at home against the Clippers, Spurs, and Wizards.
After the All-Star break? Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans, Dallas, and Golden State await. A 1-7 stretch isn’t out of the question, and Toronto will have to at least resemble their 2014 selves if they’re going to hold on in a constantly evolving East playoff picture.
What were your takeaways from tonight?