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Raptors play badly, get jobbed, lose 102-99 to Kings

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That game was stupid.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Sacramento Kings Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t like to complain about officiating. Over a 48 minute game, there are too many calls that go one way or another to ultimately lose sleep over any one given play. But tonight’s call was decidedly garbage, in a high-leverage situation that directly affected the outcome of the game.

To recap: Terrence Ross hit a game-tying buzzer-beating three pointer with 2.5 seconds left on the clock. That play was waved off because the Kings own timekeepers failed to start the clock when DeMarcus Cousins deflected the inbounds pass, and the officials deemed that had the clock started on time, Ross’s shot would not have counted.

Two problems with this:

  1. There is no way you can assume the alternate reality of the clock starting on time would have had the exact same sequence of events play out. Ross can only play to the clock that he saw above the net.
  2. This sets a horrible precedent for home games moving forward. If the referees will retroactively subtract time, why not just implore your timekeepers to start the clock late when a road team has a buzzer-beating shot opportunity to mess with the team’s perception of time.

That call was bullshit, but it’s one game in an 8-month regular season, and the Raptors will be fine. A lot had to happen for the Raptors to even be in that situation. That game was ugly.

The Raptors have a problem with their starting lineup. That was the 7th straight game an opponent has amassed at least 100 points, and much of that is due to the hole the Raptors dig themselves into in the first and third quarters. Lowry/DeRozan + the bench are expected to claw their way back or build up enough of a gap during their runs in the second and fourth quarters in order for the Raptors to register wins. That’s the blueprint and it is problematic.

Today was no different. The Raptors started out in a hole, and clawed back in the second quarter to go into halftime with a 63-58 lead. Then they gave it all back and then some in a 28-18 third quarter for the Kings, and started to claw back again in the fourth quarter. Lowry then picked up his fifth foul and the comeback was stalled. Ross’ miraculous jumper falling almost distracted from the ever-present axiom of life that the Kings, no matter what their circumstances are, will find a way to beat the Raptors. It was written.

The Raptors gave up 64 points in the first and third quarter and only 38 in the otherwise. To get an idea of the discrepancy between the bench and starting unit, consider that Lowry was the only starter with a positive +/- (+11) and that all four other starters were double digit minuses. For whatever reason, the starting lineup is prone to over-helping and missing rotations that result in conceding wide open three pointers, and all of this happens because of poor perimeter defence. Pascal Siakam has some nice defensive potential, but he’s a rookie. DeMarre Carroll is a total wild-card on a game to game basis. And DeMar DeRozan has regressed to David Ortiz-level one-dimensional play. They’ll need to figure this out quickly.

Take nothing away from the Kings though. As mentioned in the preview to today’s game, they are a talented but volatile team. Rudy Gay has decided to join the long line of players who live to exact revenge on the Raptors, as he registered 23 points on 9 of 13 shooting. Once again, DeMarcus Cousins was kept relatively in check, but it came at the expense of open shooters galore, as the Kings shot 11-27 on the night from 3.

Really though, beyond that, the Raptors were their own worst enemies tonight. DeRozan had a horrid game as he was held to under 20 points for the first time all season. Mix in his non-existent defence, untimely turnovers and hijacking of the offence on a poor shooting night, it’s a game he’ll want to forget quickly. Cory Joseph has been invisible all year and that continued tonight.

Spare a thought for Jonas Valanciunas and Patrick Patterson. Patterson’s cold shooting has been talked to death, but he went 3-6 tonight and played a large role in helping the Raptors claw back in the fourth quarter. Valanciunas had 19 points in the first half and 4 the rest of the way, as the Raptors totally forgot about him when the game tightened up in the second half. I’ve been understanding of it in some games, but it was inexcusable to not involve him more tonight.

Anyway, the Clippers tomorrow night. Thanks, schedule makers.