For Toronto sports fans who may have tuned into the Raptors game seeking an escape after watching the Leafs get dismantled, your misery only grew in the first three minutes of this ball game. The Spurs, who have the league’s best record and have won 15 straight at home, ran out to a 10-0 lead against the seemingly over-matched Raptors.

Any basketball fan should know a 10-0 run to open a game is not what it seems, but any modern day NBA fan or Raptors fan also knew the possibility for this game to get U-G-L-Y, in a hurry, was there.

So imagine the surprise then, when after a quick timeout by Jay Triano, the Raptors responded with a 17-7 run over the next six minutes, and a 23-12 run overall to end the first quarter up by one.

Even the eternal pessimist would have to credit the young Raptors for keeping it close after their start against the superior Spurs. But even the eternal Raptors optimist would have to admit they didn’t anticipate the warm and fuzzy feelings to last.

Toronto put together one of their best quarters of the season in the second frame, outscoring San Antonio 30-20 to take a 53-42 lead into the half. What was especially surprising, and encouraging to see for Raptors fans, was that the Raps were holding the Spurs to just 35 per cent shooting in that first half. They were not stubbornly and foolishly trying to outscore the Spurs, but rather they were beating a better team, on the road, by playing basketball the right way.

All this made for an interesting second half, which most would agree, on its own, was already a shock.

You knew though, that at some point in the second half, the Spurs would make their move. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when. Over the course of the third quarter, the suddenly sloppy Raptors saw their lead slowly dwindle, but managed to keep some distance between them and the Spurs…for eight minutes, that is.

Suddenly, the Spurs ended the quarter on a 16-4 run, and within a matter of minutes, the Raptors had gone from up six to down six.

The fourth quarter was even worse, as the mighty Spurs simply imposed their will, and the young Raptors were happy to lie down and let it happen until they began to fight back again in the final minutes.

A recurring theme in the last two losses for the Raptors has been the disappearance of Andrea Bargnani’s shot. Bargs has gone a combined 10-of-37 over the last two games in New Orleans and San Antonio, and one would have to infer that if Andrea had even come close to showing up, the Raps might have two stunning upsets in their pocket.

A more troubling stat is Andrea’s minutes played over those two games. Despite shooting 4-of-17 on Monday, he was rewarded with 42 minutes. Tonight, Andrea’s porous defence and 6-of-20 shooting earned him 36 minutes. Triano was visibly frustrated with Bargnani early in the third quarter, but decided to bench him for a grand total of just four minutes. Now that’s how you send a message.

There is no question that these two games were defensive battles, for the most part. And so a big like Joey Dorsey may have had an impact down the stretch. Unless Joey Dorsey has suffered an unreported injury, then it boggles my mind to see him get just nine minutes, combined, over the last two games, while Andrea shot his team’s chances away.

What was that quote from Jay about making everyone earn their minutes this season, no matter who it was? I hope you didn’t fall for that one, Raptors fans.

DeMar DeRozan was a bit disappointing in the second half for the Raptors, as he followed up a 20-point first half with an eight point, 2-of-8 second half. Though it also must be said that DeRozan stayed aggressive, and obviously had a solid game overall.

Ed Davis was impressive, yet again, as he played within his boundaries, finishing with 11 rebounds and a couple of assists, while only attempting two shots. For the record, he made both of them.

Another positive for the Raptors continues to be Julian Wright. Wright was 1-of-4 from the field in San Antonio, but continued to play defence, rebound and like Davis, know his limits. Most of all, Wright showed his unexpected passing ability with a couple of mesmerizing dimes.

Lastly, I wanted to mention Sundiata Gaines. This was easily his worst game (though he’s only played three) as a Raptor. His stat-line will show you that he made four of six shots, but it won’t tell you that he wasn’t decisive enough, made some poor decisions with the ball in general and forced his own shot too often. It was the total opposite of what we had seen from him in his fist two games.

So the Raptors fall to 13-29, losers of five straight, with stops in Orlando and Miami looming. Can you hear “Tank Nation” rejoicing?

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 41 Min, 28 Pts, 10-19 FG, 8-9 FT, 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Stl, 5 TO

Spurs Player of the Game: DeJuan Blair – 35 Min, 22 Pts, 11-16 FG, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 3 TO

Goat of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 36 Min, 14 Pts, 6-20 FG, 1-5 3Pt, 1-1 FT, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Comments (12)

  1. See Joseph, this is why you don’t nominate Bargs as the teams best player.

    How many other non-stars are gonna have career nights against him: Hilton Armstrong, Luke Harangody, Dejuan Blair, Omer Asik, My uncle Bob. The list is endless.

    I don’t think we have a best player, but if I had to choose i would say either Jose or Amir Johnson.

    It’s important to look past YAY POINTZ!! when evaluating a player.

  2. Statement, I can see the argument for Jose this year, but not Amir. And overall, right now, Andrea Bargnani is this team’s most talented player. Whether he shows that on a consistent enough basis in different facets of the game is obviously the issue. But it’s hard to argue that he isn’t the most talented player on the team.

  3. YAY POINTZ!!!!!!

  4. Joseph,

    I’d agree that Bargnani is the most talented SCORER player on the team.. But he’s not the most talented defensive player or rebounder. And Jose probably has a bigger impact on the team as a whole offensively than Bargnani does, because he makes his teammates better even if he’s not hitting his shots. You can’t just look at how well a player score to determine how talented he is. You have to look at ALL facets of the game.

    As for the article, as I said in the one for the last game, I generally defend Triano,but I am at a complete loss as to why Bargnani has played so many minutes in the last two games. It’s obvious that Triano was frustrated with Bargnani in both games, but he kept sending him back out there. It made no sense if he really is to keep his promise about EVERYONE having to earn their minutes. Did Bargnani earn his minutes the last two games? Can some reporter please have the guts to ask him that question?

  5. yay lottery ballllllllllllllllzzzzzzzzzz. triano the tank engine knows how to get us them high pickzzzzzzz. defense is for suckaaaas.

    //in all seriousness, fully aboard tank nation.

  6. Tim W.,
    go search someone to get you a cure, cause yours it’s called: obsesssion.
    You are not more able to hear the word “bargnani” without switch on and start sputtering sentences.
    Believe me: it’s a bad form of sickness. Someone’s got to inform your parents and relatives and neighbours: they’ve got a maniac just beside them.

  7. Honest question – do Bargnani’s minutes have anything to do with the fact that these guys are dressing half a team?

  8. The Raps were getting pushed around constantly inside. Amir and Davis try but they’re not going to outmuscle Duncan, McDyess or Blair. Dorsey is healthy as far as anyone knows and the guy is easily the strongest player on the roster. He’s also had some really decent games this season when he’s gotten minutes. I can’t imagine what’s going on in his head while he watches Andrea out there doing nothing to help the team and he can’t get any burn.

    I thought Dorsey may have been benched because he took a bad shot in the first half, but Triano’s leash with the guys he likes is about 10 km long. There’s still no accountability on the team.

  9. Probably a main reason Bargs is on the floor is because he spreads the floor for a guy like Derozan. Also there really wasnt anyone else to play and Bargs has been known to be cold for 3 quarters and then get hot. So I see how people question why Bargs was in the game but what other options where there.

  10. I so wanted to get on Bargnani’s bandwagon this year…but I ain’t getting on that thing. F for effort, “big fella”.

    Nice to see Derozan’s development…he’ll look great when he’s starring for another team.

    It’s not really the players’ fault (except Bargnani)…even if they had a full roster, this would still be one of the worst collections of talent ever assembled. Not even a Damon Stoudemire, Walt Williams or Alvin Robertson in sight!

  11. I am not a huge Bargnani supporter but at least last night I thought it was obvious why Triano put Bargnani back into the game. Our entire offense had shut down for a stretch and the aggressive doubles on Demar leading to turnovers were compounding the problem. On the other end we still weren’t able to stop them with some of our most defensive minded line-ups. Triano obviously thought we needed at least one other offensive threat out there to have a chance at winning the game.

  12. E.R.

    Do you disagree with anything I said, or do you just want to throw out a blanket statement that you hope minimizes my opinion?

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