If you’re not a hardcore Raptors fan or Bucks fan, then I hope to God you didn’t tune in to this ball game between a 14-27 team and a 19-30 team. Because believe me, the two teams played to their…um…potential.
First of all, the game was played in front of a dead-silent building, “filled” with 11 975 fans and the players on the floor did nothing to excite them. From a Raptors perspective, this game was downright ugly.
Sure, DeMar DeRozan got off to another hot start, Amir Johnson crashed the glass and Leandro Barbosa made his return. But as a team, the Raptors shot 16-of-45 from the field in the first half, and struggled to score 38 points in the half. Luckily for them, the Bucks were almost just as awful, and so the Raps trailed by just two at the break.
If there was a play to sum up the first half, it came in the first quarter. Amir Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound, three times in a row on one possession, and all of them came off of a Jose Calderon miss. And that brings us to Calderon, who may have had the worst quarter of his career in the first 12 minutes. Jose went 0-for-6, with zero points, one assist and three turnovers, and it was only a sign of things to come.
Again though, the Raptors were lucky, as they came out of the half down 40-38 in a game that they should have been out of already.
The third quarter was incredibly frustrating to watch as a basketball fan, let alone a Raptors fan. Forget that the Raps only scored 20 in the quarter or that both teams were sloppy. What was frustrating was that it took 11-and-a-half minutes to get the only Raptor that was shooting well, DeRozan, a shot in the third quarter. And it took a three-on-one fast break to get him that shot attempt.
Instead, Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon clanked jumper after jumper while DeRozan wasted away in the corner. Now I know that part of the problem is that DeMar needs to be more assertive and demanding on offence, but as a teammate, when you know only one guy on your team is feeling it on a particular night, how do Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Sonny Weems combine for 46 shot attempts (of which they combined for just 13 makes), while DeRozan gets just 13? It doesn’t add up, and I don’t know whether to attribute it to poor coaching, ignorant/negligent players, or just overall stupidity from all involved.
Back to the game itself. I could mislead you by telling you that the Raptors were in a close, eight point game heading into the fourth quarter, or I could tell you the truth. Everyone who has watched this team this season could tell that towards the end of the third quarter, the wheels began to fall off, and the Bucks were about to take total control in the fourth.
Lo and behold, just three minutes into the fourth, we had a 13-point game, and mere minutes later, the Bucks were holding a very comfortable 18-point lead. In the end, the Raptors managed just 16 points in that final quarter, and actually outdid themselves (in a craptacular way) by scoring less in the second half than they did in that lousy first half. This all led to the final 18-point margin of defeat.
No matter how you slice it, the Raptors never had their heads in this game.
Aside from DeRozan, who finished with 18 points, I thought Amir Johnson brought his usual hustle to the table and Leandro Barbosa had a decent return from injury.
Amir was hampered by some familiar foul trouble and had an uncharacteristically inefficient night on the offensive end, but he, at least, looked alive on the floor and did grab 11 rebounds in just 24 minutes. Barbosa finished just 4-of-11 from the field, but he made a few nice plays and showed a willingness to attack the paint that hasn’t been seen around these parts since Barbosa went down a few weeks ago.
And if you’re thinking, “what about DeRozan attacking the paint?” Then I must remind you that DeMar has now gone three straight games without a single free throw attempt.
Oh, and before I leave you, how about this? After setting an NBA record with at least one three-pointer made in 986 consecutive games, the Raptors fell a little bit short of that record in their latest streak. On Tuesday night in Milwaukee, Toronto’s new three-point streak ended…at six games. There’s a reason this team is dead last in three-point shooting.
Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan -39 Min, 18 Pts, 9-13 FG, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl
Bucks Player of the Game: Andrew Bogut – 30 Min, 14 Pts, 6-8 FG, 2-3 FT, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 5 Blk
Goat of the Game: Jose Calderon – 32 Min, 6 Pts, 2-15 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 6 TO