Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the Raptors followed up two solid outings in Orlando and Miami with a massively disappointing effort in Washington last night, but the idealist in me wanted to believe that they might have turned a corner and were going to play with heart and energy every game going forward. Instead, they looked lifeless and confused as a Wizards team playing without John Wall took a 26-point lead in the third quarter and thoroughly buried this sorry squad. It was, as Jay Triano aptly put it at halftime, “a horses**t effort”.
(What’s with Triano’s swearing lately? He isn’t trying to get fired, is he?)
In eight previous games this season, the Wizards had failed to shoot over 50 percent in any single game and entered last night with the league’s worst offence. Against the Raptors’ porous defence, they shot 56 percent fromt the field and scored seemingly at will in the paint. I wouldn’t have been totally shocked if Gilbert Arenas had lit the Raptors up for 40 because he’s certainly capable of that. Instead, he scored a relatively modest 20 points while Andray Blatche, Kirk Hinrich, Hilton Armstrong and Nick Young each scored in double figures and combined for 65 points on 64 percent shooting. It seems the Raptors are the cure for an ailing offence.
Washington outrebounded Toronto 47-36 on the night, but that was mostly a result of the Raptors missing 16 more field goal attempts than the Wizards. Of course, Andrea Bargnani’s two rebounds in 28 minutes didn’t help but we’re used to that by now, right? Unfortunately, he also went 3-for-13 from the field and was typically useless on defence. Reggie Evans wasn’t any better on that end, as we’ll see in the following two clips.
The shame about this play is that Bargnani actually tried to help when DeMar DeRozan got beat by Nick Young along the baseline. The problem is that Bargnani didn’t return to his man after Young passed the ball and DeRozan recovered, leaving Hilton Armstrong by himself. You can see Bargnani asking for someone to cover for him, but it appears he didn’t notice that DeRozan was right next to him. If any of you think that Bargnani isn’t specifically at fault here, I’d love to hear why in the comments. Part of what I’m doing with these videos includes educating myself on exactly why this team sucks at help defence.
How does a hulking power forward like Reggie Evans average a steal-and-a-half per game? Because he likes to gamble like in this desperate attempt to pick off a pass to Andray Blatche. This is just dumb defence and it’s an example of how activity doesn’t necessarily equate to effectiveness.
It’s hard to pick out a bright spot from last night’s debacle, but Sonny Weems continued to impress with his smart, efficient play on both ends of the court. Check out this sequence late in the first quarter (when the game was still within reach) where Weems does an outstanding job defending Al Thornton and then backs down Kirk Hinrich in the post for a spinning bank shot.
It may sound crazy if you haven’t been paying attention, but Weems has been the Raptors’ best player over the past four games. Of course, if he’s the best player on an NBA team… your team stinks.