Well that was ugly, wasn’t it?
The Raptors dropped their third game in a row, and their second of the season to the gutsy young Phoenix Suns, 115-103. They’re now 5-8 over their past 13 games, marking one their roughest stretches over the past couple seasons.
This loss was about more than just tonight. Recently, the Raptors have looked more than a little worn out. They couldn’t make a shot, hitting on only 39.8 percent of their shots from the floor and 26 percent from three.
They’re certainly missing their top reserve in Patrick Patterson, who sat out his 8th of the last 10 games. Patterson’s missing two way play — as a release valve on offense and a switchy defender — has shown just how little depth Toronto has at the power forward position, and how heavily they rely on him.
Eric Bledsoe set a career high in points as he carved up the Raptors, to the tune of 40 points. He added 13 assists and 6 rebounds, making 4 of 7 from downtown.
Kyle Lowry was ejected from the game (joining several asshat fans — seriously, if you’re going to throw stuff on the court, go throw yourself into a gutter somewhere) after clipping Suns guard Brandon Knight on the head, being assessed a flagrant-2 foul, and automatically earning his second technical foul. He was awarded the first for telling a referee a call was ‘f—-ing bull—t’, after a hard collision earlier in the fourth quarter.
The entire sequence had the feeling of a punch-drunk and frustrated fighter, someone who’s had enough of the abuse and just needs to do something, anything to find some catharsis. That or a kid who badly needs a nap. Given the load he carries for this team, it’s hard to blame him.
Even more worryingly, DeMar DeRozan turned his ankle after landing on Jonas Valanciunas’ foot, also in the fourth. He gutted it out for awhile, but left for the locker room with 1:30 left in the quarter, following the same sequence where Lowry was ejected.
We’ll wait with bated breath (seriously!) for word about the severity of the injury.
Beyond the injuries and nonsense, Lowry and DeRozan have hit a rough patch on the court. They shot a combined 11-34 tonight, and never got into any kind of rhythm. When you play as many minutes as they do, and grind through the wood chipper that is the NBA schedule, these lulls are going to happen.
That’s not meant to be comforting, it’s just a fact of life for the Raptors as currently constructed. The Raptors may have flown too close to the sun on wings of pastrami with the workload they’ve given their dynamic duo.
There were some mild positives on the night. Jonas Valanciunas continues to look more engaged and active, and he posted a 16-12 double-double with three blocked shots. His passing continues to show improvement — he had a nice touch pass on a sequence in the fourth that ended with a Cory Joseph missed three pointer, and a lovely dish to Lucas Nogueira in the first half. It’ll never be a focal point of his game, but we’re looking for silver linings on a turd here. The game being the turd, not JV-Nasty himself.
While we’ve talked a lot on this site about a trade as a way for these Raptors to take their best shot at the upper echelon of the NBA, one may be necessary just for Toronto to survive the final three months of the season, especially if Patterson’s health is in question in the long term.
What do you think the Raptors can do to achieve some modicum of rejuvenation?