Can't say I blame Sam Jackson and Luke Wilson for not paying close attention to the action on the court. This game was u-g-l-y and it didn't have no alibi. (Getty Images)

I’m not sure what was more aggravating — the Raptors blowing a 12-point lead because they couldn’t hit open shots in the second half or the brutally one-sided officiating late in the fourth quarter that screwed over the Raptors repeatedly. This was an ugly game that got progressively uglier as it went along. I think that the officials must have decided that while neither team truly deserved to win this game, the Hornets needed it more so they made sure they got the necessary calls.

OK, now that I have that out of my system (I’ll await my fine from Mr. Stern), the Raptors would have won this game easily if Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon didn’t each have their worst games of the season. I don’t know if they were hungover or what but neither of them could hit a shot to save their lives today — Barganani went 4-for-17 in 42 minutes and Calderon went 0-for-5 in 39 minutes while the rest of the team shot 55.6 percent. To make matters worse, Bargnani only grabbed four rebounds while Calderon had seven turnovers.

For the Hornets, Emeka Okafor had his usual deterrent effect in the paint but it was Jarrett Jack who led New Orleans’ comeback while scoring 17 points off the bench — with all but two of those points coming in the second half. From the way he’s played during most of his Hornets tenure, I wondered if he had managed to have his best game as a Hornet against his former team. But when I looked up his game log I saw that he dropped 23 in a win over the Rockets last Friday. It appears he’s rediscovering the form that made him such a solid performer with the Raptors last season.

As frustrating as it was to watch the Raptors fumble away a very winnable game (with a little help from the men in grey), you kind of have to be used to this now if you’ve been following this season, right? This was the first game this season I actually got to watch at work and my co-workers were surprised at how well I took this particular loss. I told them, “Hey, this is what crappy teams do.”

Raptors Player of the Game: Amir Johnson — 31 Min, 17 Pts, 8-12 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 1-1 FT, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk, 2 TO

Hornets Player of the Game: Emeka Okafor — 38 Min, 17 Pts, 8-12 FG, 1-3 FT, 16 Reb, 1 Blk, 3 TO

Goat of the Game: Andrea Bargnani — 42 Min, 11 Pts, 4-17 FG, 1-7 3PT, 2-3 FT, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO

Comments (12)

  1. All you guys do on this blog is whine about the officiating.

    Just stop trying to appeal to the rah-rah Real GM type fan who wants to win every game and embrace Tank Nation.

  2. Poor officiating and a plague of injuries are perfect for the recipe of: losing a lot + getting young guys lots of burn + keeping the team optimistic and playing hard(we’re not losing because we have a terrible team – it’s the injuries and the officiating!)

    It will be interesting to see if this team can make it through the season without completely folding.

  3. You people just read this:

    “The players haven’t changed. And neither have the plays. Only one thing is different about the Thunder’s defense. Ron Adams. The wily assistant coach who was largely credited for revamping the Thunder’s once ragged defense jetted to Chicago last summer. With his departure, Oklahoma City’s defense has seen a drastic drop off… has regressed in opponent points, opponent field-goal percentage, opponent 3-point field goal percentage, blocked shots, opponent turnovers and defensive efficiency… Several players admit that Adams’ departure has been a significant factor… Practice sessions are said to be the same this season as last year’s. And from a scheme standpoint, the Thunder hasn’t changed anything. But having Adams harp on all the finer points made a major difference, players say”.

    What can you all assume by that? I assume that there are different kinds of coaches. Those who CAN, and those who CANNOT make the difference on a certain issue. How many year, in Raptorland, have we being hearing coaches talking about defense? Is it ever happened that may we testify a true improvement in the collective efficiency? I don’t think so. So, it’s safe to say that neither Triano, or Iavaroni last year, or Carlesimo this year, just nobody was good enough on this matter. Period. And don’t tell me that the players are not able or committed enough, and bla bla bla bla. Very good coaches MAKE their players better and more committed. It’s part of their own job!

  4. “or the brutally one-sided officiating late in the fourth quarter that screwed over the Raptors repeatedly”

    Officiating was terrible in that game. On both sides of the floor. I initially thought the refs were trying to give the Raptors the win just for traveling all the way from Canada. LOL. They even tried to reward a Raptor player with 2 free throws after he made the shot on an And 1 play. If you make the basket and you get fouled, you get 1 free throw, not 2. That was crazy! LOL.

  5. Scott,

    What is your opinion on Andrea Bargnani as a player?

  6. Statement: He’s obviously a very skilled offensive player, there’s no denying that at this point. And he could be a valuable piece as a power forward playing next to a defensive-minded, rebounding center. But as a center, I feel that his faults cancel out his contributions. It’s not his fault he’s forced to play a position he’s not suited to play, but the fact remains that he’s a one-dimensional player and I don’t think the Raptors can realistically compete in the NBA with him playing center.

    It’s sort of like how Hedo Turkoglu looked like crap on the Raptors and Suns but is suddenly “rejuvenated” now that he’s back on the Magic. Playing next to Dwight Howard obviously helps. Bargnani and lots of other players would look great playing next to Dwight, but there’s only one Dwight.

  7. PBI,

    I almost always tend to give the refs the benefit of the doubt, but last night was horrible and most definitely worthy of comment. Did you watch the game?

    Scott,

    I really don’t understand the belief that Bargnani is somehow playing out of position. It’s simply not true. Bargnani is best defending bigger, less mobile big men- centers. He struggles defensively against quicker big men who have the ability to face up, which tends to describe most of PFs in the NBA. Case in point, before Reggie Evans was injured, Evans defended most of the centers and Bargnani the PFs. And Bargnani’s defense looked even worse. At least when he’s defending the centers, he can use his bulk. Did you see him last night in the 2-3 zone playing on the side? The wing players went by him like he wasn’t there so many times I was shocked Jack Armstrong didn’t say anything.

    And on offense, Bargnani is best when being guarded by slower, bigger centers, rather than quicker PFs.

    Obviously Bargnani inability to defend is a real problem, but it doesn’t change no matter what position he plays.

  8. @Tim W: Defensively, Bargs is better defending 90% of centers one-on-one than he is PFs. But that’s where it ends. Centers are supposed to be able to anchor a defence. They tell their teammates where they’re supposed to be. They provide help, they provide lane intimidation, they can block shots, take charges, and clean up the glass. Bargs is fundamentally inept in every defensive skill that doesn’t involve man-to-man defence. This is why he’s not a 5. Offensively, he is better off playing 5s as you mention but I would contend that the Raps will be a perennial loser with Bargs playing the 5. It would have been nice to see what the team would have looked like with Chandler had that trade gone through.

  9. dribbles,

    Bargnani will be a perennial loser as long as Bargnani is a starter, no matter what position he plays. I agree with everything you said about what a center SHOULD do, but no matter what position Bargnani plays, he’s going to be a liability 50% of the time he’s on the floor. If he plays center, at least he will be able to defend his position half decently (his man-to-man defense is vastly overrated by many Raptor fans), whereas if he plays PF, he’s a complete liability.

    This is the reason why Bargnani must be traded. Sure, he’s a nice offensive player (although not very efficient), but he’d be best in a role off the bench playing 15-20 ,mpg. On the Raptors, though, that’s never going to happen.

  10. I meant to say “The Raptors will be a perennial loser.”

  11. I’m all aboard the trade Bargnani bandwagon. More than anything, it’s the lack of hustle. I remember a game earlier this season where I saw him go to the floor for a loose ball, and I was so shocked and excited because I literally couldn’t remember him ever doing that (maybe Bosh got to him, ha ha). Of course, I haven’t seen that again. He’s just passive by nature, and I agree he’s best suited as a bench player.

  12. Bargnani is not inept or incapable. He is lazy. He doesn’t give a crap. His body language says so. The only time he looks lively is after he makes a couple of baskets. Hey, look at me, I try now!

    It would take a super duper coach to light a fire under his dragging ass. And he makes more money in a year than many will see in 20. Without motivation, he’s Steve Novak playing 40 minutes a game.

    Nice.

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