Sixty losses. Six-zero.
Let that stew for a few seconds.
Now let’s get to recapping the last game of the 2010-2011 season.
There was a nice buzz in the building leading up to the final game of the season, even with knowledge that the “big three” of LeBron, Wade and Bosh would not play. That buzz was killed early, as the first quarter of an already late start (8 p.m.) seemed to go on forever.
The refs were calling anything and everything to bring the pace of play to a screeching halt, and when the game finally did get moving, Eddie House channeled his inner LeBron by pouring in 18 first quarter points and leading the Heat to a nine-point lead after one quarter.
The second quarter was the Raptors’ best of the night, as they found a way to stop Eddie House, the rest of the Heat players stopped draining their prayers, and the Raptors were able to get off and running after coming up with stops and turnovers. It was quite the momentum shift of a quarter, and the Raptors actually carried a one-point lead into the half.
Forget the game for a moment. The highlight of the third quarter was when the Toronto faithful broke out into a “we want Bosh” chant and LeBron James teased the hell out of the fans. LeBron sprung up out of his chair, took a few running steps towards the centre, indicating he was going in, then waited for fans to get excited before returning to his seat with a sly grin on his face.
LeBron returned to his seat to a round of boos after his silly antics. I won’t lie; I thought it was a pretty funny moment and a light-hearted one at that. But this will only add to the LeBron hate out there, and rightfully so. I don’t care how funny you’re trying to be, you don’t willfully mock the paying fans, who, by the way, are paying nearly 40 per cent more for a game that features you and your best friends.
Back to the game.
The Heat regained their lead in the third, but a one-point game heading into the fourth looked to be just what the doctor ordered to send the 20 108 fans in attendance into the off-season with an exciting finish.
So much for that.
What followed was disgraceful and thoroughly disappointing.
The Raptors players, every last one of them, seemed to have called it quits after that third quarter, as they simply failed to show up for the last 12 minutes of the season. I didn’t expect them to play with the intensity of a game seven, but I did expect them to play their hearts out, you know, given the fact that it was probably the last time this young group of players would be playing basketball for a while.
Instead, they mailed it in, scoring just 10 points in the fourth quarter and happily accepting loss no. 60, which officially makes them the third-worst Raptors team in franchise history, and the worst since the 1997-98 team went 16-66.
On the “bright” side, the Raptors did finish with the third-worst record in the league, which means they should be in line for a top-three draft pick, and will have a 15.6 per cent chance of actually winning the draft lottery.
There were a few positives in this dreary season, namely the development of DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis and the acquisitions of Jerryd Bayless and James Johnson. Amir Johnson also added to his overall game, and from a financial standpoint, the Raptors do have a lot of flexibility going forward.
In addition, one can hope that the disappointment of a 60-loss season helped management realize which players are and are not worth keeping around.
This might be the last recap for a while, with the uncertainty of a lockout looming, and I’d like to thank all who contributed to these recaps throughout the season, either by reading or commenting. But I’ll have you know that you will continue to find quality Raptors blogging here, throughout the off-season and leading up to the draft over the next few months.
Hopefully, you come along for that ride.
Until then, grab a drink and erase this season from your memory.
Raptors Player of the Game: Jerryd Bayless – 42 Min, 21 Pts, 6-13 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 9-10 FT, 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Blk 5 TO
Heat Player of the Game: Eddie House – 45 Min, 35 Pts (career high), 14-27 FG, 7-13 3Pt, 1 Ast, 2 TO