New look, new youth, new team, but boy, do they still know how to blow it?
If you’ve watched any Raptors basketball over the last few years, you have become way too used to this. The Raptors come out flying on the road, probably the West coast, build up a sizable lead, slowly watch it fade in the third quarter, then totally kick the bucket in the fourth.
Tonight in Sacramento, Toronto found itself up 17 after one quarter and up 11 heading into the half. After allowing just 16 points in the first, the Raptors allowed at least 27 in each of the last three quarters.
The Raptors looked like they were going to hang in there in the third. Sacramento would cut into the lead, and the Raps would respond with a couple of big buckets to stretch it out to 15 or 16 again. However, as soon as Tyreke Evans re-entered the game (he sat out the first portion of the third with stomach problems), the tempo changed, and you could feel loss no. 2 coming. Don’t act like you weren’t thinking it.
There were some bright spots. DeMar DeRozan tied a career-high with 24 points and got to the line for 14 free throws, Andrea Bargnani continued to light it up offensively with 28 points, and Reggie Evans continued to pull down every rebound in sight, finishing with 19.
Having said that, there were negatives to match all of those. DeRozan missed some key free throws down the stretch, Bargnani grabbed two stinking rebounds, and let’s be honest, if Reggie Evans is your MVP through three games, your in rough, I mean nasty rough, shape.
I understand that this was a road game in a tough environment and it was the opposing team’s home opener, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the Raptors simply wilted, offensively and defensively. It’s not like they lost a tough road game that was close throughout; they lost a game that they had in their back pocket. And with all due respect to the young Kings, they’re still not good enough to justify that Raptors collapse.
To finish tonight, here’s a helpful tip for Jay Triano. Never, ever finish a close game with both Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani on the floor. It’s a suicidal duo. I counted five times between the two of them that they simply held back from a loose ball in the final five minutes or so. All five of those balls ended up in the Kings’ hands.
Raptors Player of the Game: Reggie Evans – 32 Min, 6 Pts, 2-6 FG, 2-5 FT, 19 Reb, 2 Ast (Guys like Bargnani, DeRozan and Kleiza wouldn’t have been able to score the way they did tonight had it not been for Reggie creating second and sometimes third-chance opportunities)
Kings Player of the Game: Tyreke Evans – 37 Min, 23 Pts, 9-6 FG, 5-7 FT, 7 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk
Goat of the Game: Leandro Barbosa – 12 Min, 2 Pts, 1-6 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 3 Reb, 3 TO