If you thought things couldn’t get worse for the Toronto Raptors than losing to the Detroit Pistons, or to the Cleveland Cavaliers, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to this one: An 18-point loss to the 11-30 Houston Rockets, losers of 20 straight games!
And the scary thing is? With the trade deadline on Thursday, there’s room for this to get worse.
Let’s get these thoughts over with.
1. Put it in Springfield
What an unreal series of possessions from our guy Aron Baynes in the first half last night. First, he let a Kyle Lowry pass bounce off his hands, and when the Raptors recovered it, proceeded to let a Malachi Flynn pass bounce off his hands.
On the next possession he blew a wide-open dunk.
On the next possession he threw a shovel pass out of bounds.
I hope he gives the Raptors a refund for those two minutes of horrible basketball.
2. Enjoy this Stuff While it Lasts
I know most people, when they think of John Wall and Kyle Lowry going head-to-head, only remember the 2015 sweep. But Kyle Lowry has owned John Wall for years (Lowry’s record is 19-4 in 23 regular season matchups against Wall). So it was with some delight that I got to see Lowry embarrass Wall on the opening possession of the game, faking a handoff and spinning right past Wall for an uncontested layup.
Did it mean anything in the grand scheme of things? Nope. But who knows how many more games we have with Kyle, so let’s just enjoy all of these moments as we get them.
(And no, it’s not lost on me that Wall proceeded to embarrass the entire Raptors team for most of the rest of the game. Let me have this moment!!)
3. Put this in Springfield too
I don’t get to see many commercials as I watch the Raptors games on League Pass, so I’m very glad that this beauty made its way onto Twitter via William Lou:
forget the second half this will be the only relevant thing to come out of this game pic.twitter.com/LNtsbhpe3L— William Lou (@william_lou) March 23, 2021
It’s so perfect. The BOUCHER jersey, and the fact that it’s two sizes too big making Boucher look even slimmer. Devlin barely being able to keep a straight face. The artistry of the eye-popping color on the chicken sandwiches.
This one deserves a Hall of Fame spot and an Oscar too.
(In all seriousness: Good for Boucher, man. Get that bread! Or, uh, chicken.)
4. Did Chris Finch Steal the Playbook?
Why are the Raptors struggling to score against such bad teams? While the Rockets aren’t nearly as bad on D as the Cavaliers, they were still sporting an 11-30 record coming in to the game. And yet the Raptors just couldn’t get anything going yet again on the offensive end.
Where’s the ball movement? Where’s the cutting? How was Norman Powell so efficient when the team was shorthanded and he was the only source of offense — and now that there are other players to theoretically take any pressure off of him, he’s back shooting in the mid-40s. The Raptors couldn’t even crack 100!
What gives with this, man? With two point guards on the floor, the Raptors should not look this bad.
5. Stuck With the Bench Too Long
As Nick Nurse searched again in the second half for a lineup that might work, he appeared to stumble on something with a Fred VanVleet-plus-bench-group featuring Paul Watson, Malachi Flynn, Chris Boucher and DeAndre’ Bembry.
This group finished up the third quarter on 13-2 run to get the Raps within two. But they came back out in the fourth… and then the foursome stayed out there when Kyle Lowry replaced Fred VanVleet... and, well, it was a little much for our beleaguered bench group.
And it’s not like the Rockets went on a big run or anything; they outscored the Raptors 5-1 in that stretch. But the Raptors’ offense got especially bad during this stretch — and then Bembry got ejected, the lead stretched back to 10 and that was it.
Last night really wasn’t the time to run out a four-man bench lineup in the second half.
Well, I do not like where this is going at all. I was one of the ones who believed, even with the poor depth, that a Raptors team with Kyle, Fred, Siakam, OG and Norm could finish top-5 and make the second round. But that’s clearly not what this team is.
Maybe it could have been, in a normal season. But this is the season we’ve got, and this team doesn’t have it.