The Toronto Raptors sure have had their share of drama this week, haven’t they? Monday’s affair against the Denver Nuggets went haywire in the final minutes, as Scott Foster Foster’ed all over himself and everyone around him; Wednesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers was rather mundane, with the drama coming after the buzzer, when Fred VanVleet put Ben Tayler on blast x1000.
And here we are, with me having name-dropped two referees before even mentioning tonight’s opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Can I get my thoughts out of the way first though? I started writing about Scott Foster on Tuesday but ran out of time, and then Wednesday happened and it already seemed dated! But everything I had to say was echoed by VanVleet and most other writers and NBA personalities: the league can’t allow referees to take over the games, because that’s not what people want to see; it devalues the game and the entertainment experience.
On Monday, after Jamal Murray scored on a layup to cut the Raptors lead to 111-110 with 1:32 to go, the remaining combined 10 points scored in the Nuggets’ eventual 118-113 win came from the free throw line. There were seven fouls called in total, plus Scottie Barnes’ technical foul and ejection, in those 92 seconds; there were also two coach’s challenges and the accompanying video reviews.
The final 92 seconds of game time took 16 minutes and 15 seconds of actual time to play. And that shouldn’t have been the case; the game only took that long because the officials got too happy with their whistles, made questionable calls that led to coach’s challenges, and then let the game get away from them.
Set the outcome of that game aside (if you can! I don’t blame you if you’re still angry!). That’s 16 minutes spent watching a basketball game where no one scored a basket, and the outcome was not decided by anyone actually playing basketball.
Who wants that? That can’t be what the league wants! I don’t have a fix or anything, but I hope smarter people than me are working on it.
There’s another thing I want to mention here, which is that some folks seemed to blame Barnes for his ejection, saying like “he needs to keep his composure” and “keep his emotions in check” in these situations. And I’d like to issue a hearty “fuck off” to those folks.
Let’s watch the tape. Barnes makes an exaggerated shrug after the foul call on Jakob Poeltl. Maybe he says something salty (possibly “y’all are cheating bro” which does indeed sound like something Scottie would say). And Foster tosses him, after only one technical foul, and makes his exaggerated “you’re out of here” motion — twice — while glaring at him. He then walks to the scorers table, turns back, and makes the motion twice more while yelling at Scottie.
This is 55-year old grown man, whose responsibility is to manage the game, yelling at a 21-year old who’s trying his damndest to win a critical basketball game, and kicking him out of the game, again without warning or issuing the two standard technicals, for a throwaway comment.
Who needs to keep their emotions in check here? It’s not Scottie Barnes, I’ll tell you that much.
Anywho. I’ve said my piece, and thankfully I don’t risk a $30,000 fine like Freddy. Phew!
To actually get you set for tonight, here’s a Jay Rosales-esque fun fact that may interest only me: Anthony Davis has never beaten the Raptors in a Lakers uniform. He’s 0-for-3, having missed the other four matchups due to injury. His last game against the Raptors came in May of 2021, when Kyle Lowry was still a Raptor!
Now, lineup-wise, Will Barton is expected to play for Toronto, and D’Angelo Russell is expected to return to the Lakers lineup. LeBron James remains sidelined with a foot injury.
Let’s hope the Raptors drop The Brow to 0-4 as a Laker tonight!
Where to watch:
TSN, 10:30PM ET
Toronto Raptors — Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
Los Angeles Lakers — Troy Brown Jr., Jarred Vanderbilt, Anthony Davis, Malik Beasley, D’Angelo Russell
Toronto Raptors — Otto Porter Jr. (foot – out)
Los Angeles Lakers — Mo Bamba (ankle – out), LeBron James (foot – out)