This was a game the Raptors should have lost; playing against a better team (in my opinion) on the road. It’s not the loss in general that should frustrate Raptors fans. It’s the way the game was lost that should trouble fans.
Both teams had reason to come into this game hyped up. The Raptors were coming off of the biggest comeback in franchise history, while the Bobcats were coming off of a “pep-talk” from owner Michael Jordan after being decimated by the Celtics.
The first few minutes looked bad for the Raps, as Charlotte jumped out to an 8-2 lead and looked unstoppable through about six possessions. Jerryd Bayless settled the Raptors down, and Toronto actually cruised for much of the first half, opening up a 12-point lead at one point on agressive offence and tight defence.
However, any chance for the Raptors to take a comfortable lead into the break was squashed by their own doing. The Raps committed a nasty eight turnovers in the second quarter, and the Bobcats put together a nice run to the end the half, cutting the Raptors’ lead to just six.
The third quarter was more of the same for Toronto, as turnovers and some poor decisions on the offensive end had the score all even after three.
And then came the fourth, where both teams exchanged one-possession leads through the first six minutes, until the Bobcats took the lead for good. The Raptors sealed their own fate, as they committed 18 turnovers (most of them foolish and unforced), settled for some horrible looks and went just 11-of-21 from the free-throw line.
Another punch in the gut for the Raptors: Stephen Jackson fouled out in the fourth, and in the end, it was Tyrus Thomas who made the big buckets for the Bobcats.
As we get to the point-making part of this post, there are a few guys to single out. Andrea Bargnani was awful tonight. He missed open looks, looked disinterested and threw the ball away in the final minute after making his first hustle play of the night (an offensive rebound).
Jerryd Bayless was solid for most of the ball game, but tried to do too much late in the fourth, and committed some costly turnovers. Leandro Barbosa had a rough shooting night, and it has to be said, that for as many clutch shots as the Brazilian Blur makes, he takes as many questionable ones.
Sonny Weems continues his slow transformation into Jamario Moon (a guy who forgot what got him here in the first place). He’s taking shots that disrupt the team’s offence and that should force him to the bench, and isn’t playing with any energy on the other end. Case in point, a limping Gerald Wallace blew by Sonny with ease tonight. And is there anything more frustrating right now than Sonny Weems ruining every Raptors fast-break by pulling up for a jump-shot?
Ah yes, there is something more frustrating, that Sonny Weems is still being rewarded with playing time (given 36 minutes in Charlotte). Which brings me to my next point, Jay Triano is “coaching” miserably right now. There’s no punishment for guys like Weems when they are awful for two straight weeks, but then a guy like Julian Wright, who plays his butt off, is given only three minutes tonight because he made a couple of early mistakes.
In the NBA, coaches should be evaluated mainly on how they manage their rotations, their play-calling out of timeouts and the effort they get out of players. Jay Triano gets a one out of three this season (effort). The Raptors’ play-calling out of timeouts is truly laughable, and Jay’s rotation management may be even worse.
I’m not a Triano “hater,” and I’ve given him credit when credit is due, but as of late, he’s been brutal.
There were a few bright spots for the Raptors in Charlotte. Ed Davis was very good in 25 minutes of hard-fought basketball. He defended well, came down with some nice boards and chipped in six points. Amir Johnson was even better, picking up a double-double in 36 minutes. DeMar DeRozan had a decent ball game, as the youngster attacked the rim and knocked down most of his open jumpers en route to 14 points. He also threw down a vicious jam that should easily find its place on highlight reels.
To summarize after all that, I thought being an inferior ball club would do the Raptors in tonight, but it turned out turnovers, free throws and coaching were their downfalls, and that’s a sad way to lose a basketball game.
Raptors Player of the Game: Amir Johnson -36 Min, 12 Pts, 5-9 FG, 2-4 FT, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk
Bobcats Player of the Game: Nazr Mohammed – 19 Min, 18 Pts, 8-11 FG, 2-5 FT, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk
Goat of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 28 Min, 12 Pts, 4-14 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 3-5 FT, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 4 TO