Game No. 32: Bobcats 98, Raptors 91

I wrote earlier on Friday about how even Tank Nation subscribers wouldn’t be able to take anything out of a loss to arguably the worst team in NBA history. Hours later, it’s officially a reality, as the Bobcats snapped a 16-game losing streak with a win in Toronto, “improving” to 4-26 after 30 games and 2-16 on the road.

This has to be rock bottom, right?

Now here are some thoughts on the game:

1- My first thought is this, that the Raptors, as poor a team as they are, even without Andrea Bargnani and Linas Kleiza, are still a better team than the Bobcats. But they’re not better by enough of a margin to be able to coast by the Bobcats, or anyone else in the NBA for that matter. The incredibly frustrating thing about this loss is that the three or four times the Raptors decided to play hard in this game, they actually went on mini runs and started to build a lead. Then they would simply stop playing, almost as if they thought a six point lead against Charlotte would be enough. This team has to realize that as nice as solid efforts against teams like the Celtics, Lakers and Spurs are, those efforts will never excuse absolute duds like this. The Raptors we saw on this night deserved to be booed off of the floor.

2- One bit of good news for the Raptors is that they got one of their walking wounded back in the lineup in Jerryd Bayless. Bayless attacked the basket in his short stay on the floor and generally looked like his fearless self, but the bad news is that he played just five minutes in his return. I’m hoping this was just a precautionary decision by Dwane Casey, and not a sign that this injury is going to nag Bayless in one way or another all season. The guy was playing so well before he went down again, it would be a shame if he can’t get back to 100 per cent any time soon.

3- Another positive in this game for the Raptors was the crowd. Considering some of the larger crowds Toronto has had this season, 15,575 might not sound great, but if you ask me, getting over 15,000 people to spend their Friday night watching two teams with combined records of 12-48 is actually a minor accomplishment. Maybe “Naughty By Nature” or the “Fan Night” deals on merchandise brought the crowd in, but they actually sounded into the ball game, despite the “performance,” or lack there of, from the home team.

4- I’ve mentioned before that even when DeMar DeRozan has good games this season, there is always something that seems to hold him back from having a great game. Tonight was no different. DeRozan finished with a very efficient 24 points on just 15 field goal attempts and got to the line 12 times. Those are impressive numbers for the 22-year-old. But it leaves us with more to be desired when you consider that DeMar had 13 points after the first quarter on five-of-six shooting and 18 points at the half on six-of-seven shooting. Unfortunately, foul trouble slowed down DeRozan’s big night in the second half. He’s been pretty good over the last couple of weeks, and I suppose we can take solace in the fact that his January slump is officially over, but I can’t help thinking about the “what could have been” in a lot of these performances.

5- Yes, I realize that they just beat the team that I root for, but I remain confident in saying that the Bobcats have the worst NBA roster I’ve seen in my lifetime. It’s a joke to look at. I often find myself wondering how Bobcats fans, if they exist, make it through their days or make it through this season. As bad as things are here in Toronto, I still believe the Raptors have a couple of good pieces for the future already in place, a few additional assets that are at least somewhat attractive on the market and a solid coach in place. I look at the Bobcats, and I see a sad sack collection of “talent” with no hope in the near future. Drafting Anthony Davis would obviously change things, but right now, even exciting young players like Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo don’t do it for me.

6- You know what’s getting really frustrating? Watching Leandro Barbosa make really bad decisions with the ball in his hands. On the surface, you see a 16-point performance in 24 minutes off of the bench and think Barbosa performed well, but if you watched the ending of this game, I’m sure you share my frustration. The Raptors had cut the lead to two, got a stop and were running out on a fast break, with the ball in Leandro’s hands. Everyone in the building thought Barbosa should move the ball except Barbosa himself, and the play resulted in a turnover. Just minutes later, Barbosa committed another foolish turnover at a critical moment. I accepted that this season would be full of ups and downs (mostly downs) and full of frustrating moments a long time ago, but I assumed a lot of that frustration would come at the hands of our younger players, not the seasoned vets who were supposed to be supplying the leadership on this team.

Even a boost in the Tank Nation standings isn’t enough to satisfy me with a loss to the Bobcats, but if you can find comfort in it right now, a Pistons win on Friday leaves the Raptors with the fifth worst record in the NBA. Not to mention, a Hornets upset at MSG has Toronto just 1.5 games ahead of the second-worst record. Fun times, indeed.

***

To finish, I’m going to suggest that you listen to the return of RaptorBlog Radio, which features an interview with fan-favourite and “Ultimate Raptor,” Alvin Williams. I promise you it will go down easier than anything related to this embarrassment of a game.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon – 42 Min, 14 Pts, 5-12 FG, 2-5 3PT, 2-2 FT, 3 Reb, 8 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 TO (Amir Johnson’s season-high 15 rebounds and another balanced game from James Johnson have them in the conversation too)

Bobcats Player of the Game: Kemba Walker – 30 Min, 14 Pts, 5-15 FG, 1-4 3PT, 3-3 FT, 3 Reb, 8 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 TO (You can take your pick between Walker and Biyombo, who came up with 13 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks)

Comments (11)

  1. 1 – Raptors can never take advantage of a bad team. They for sure deserved to be booed off the court. Doesn’t matter if they play well. If they compete hard they gotta close out games which they can’t seem to do with the roster we have. And even with Bargnani & Kleiza the Raptors are still a horrible team.

    2 – Talking about the crowd…..that is all the Raptor fans are doing is putting money into MLSE who don’t care for the Raptors and are the main reasons why nobody wants to come/stay here. Vince Carter & Chris Bosh had every right to leave especially the bad direction the organization is going c/o the ownership of the Raptors MLSE who focuses on too much marketing and other non-sense. Watching the Dallas Mavericks celebration when Jason Kidd was talking and he brought up this good point of view. And I quote: “If you don’t have good ownership to put together a strong team then you don’t have what it takes to compete and win a championship.” And it’s very clear that the Raptors don’t have what it takes to put a great team.

    3 – The Raptors gave MJ a nice b-day present by helping the Bobcats end the losing streak. Kemba Walker made clear that this is only the beginning especially how the Raptors ignored him during draft night.

    4 – Overall…..I say the Raptors need a whole makeover. The entire roster, the scouting staff not to mention the whole upper management. Most of all…..a better owner than MLSE because the fans are getting ripped off to watch this team break the hearts of fans in Toronto. Bryan Colangelo shown he is a fraud!!!

    • While I agree that the Raps deserved to be booed off the floor, a few of your points are just off.

      We are pretty much a .500 team with Bargnani in the line-up, which would be good enough for 8th seed in the East right now. Horrible team? I think you need to check the definition of horrible.

      MLSE may not be the best management, but we have some good pieces for the future. I like our coach and what he’s gotten out of our players, especially Bargnani. We need to get rid of Jose and replace him with a young, athletic PG who can actually play D. With a solid pick in this year’s draft, and JV coming next year, there will be better times ahead.

      • Come on MBL, the Raptors aren’t even close to a playoff team even with Bargnani.

        They’ve not only lost to the league’s worst teams without him, they’ve also lost to those teams with him.

        New Jersey, Washington, Sacramento all with Bargnani in the lineup. And the game against the Bobcats should have been a win with or without him.

        That young, athletic point guard who can play D, could have, and should have been either Knight or Walker in my opinion. Who cares if you’re as bad as the Bobcats are this season. They’re missing out on possibly getting Anthony Davis or Andre Drummond this summer to be that big man to play center. Both of them will be better than Valanciunas.

        • Ok let me clarify.. I don’t think they are a ‘playoff team’ with Bargnani, but theyre also not horrible. I was simply pointing out the fact that their percentage record with him in the line-up would be good enough for 8-9th place right now, which is true. However, if you’re talking about if this team could make noise in the playoffs even with Bargani, I would say no.

  2. How can you not be impressed with 7 blocks from a 19 year old (biyombo) and a great performance from kemba walker. Both with no summer league under their belts….after all, what did our Raptors rookie do??? Oh yeah – NOTHING….cuz he’s not even in the country.

    • I was very impressed with Biyombo’s performance, and chose Kemba as his team’s player of the game.
      As for your comment about Valanciunas, what does him not being in the country have anything to do with it? He’s fulfilling another year of his contract playing pro basketball. It’s not like he’s not in the country because he’s not good enough to play in the NBA. Ricky Rubio played multiple seasons outside of the NBA after being drafted, and I’m pretty sure you would take him in a heartbeat right now.

  3. I don’t really see a huge difference between the two teams, the Bobcats are just a year ahead of where the Raptors are currently when it comes to the tanking/rebuilding plan.

    We can’t keep hiding behind Calderon, Barbosa, Kleiza, etc. and we’ll eventually have to throw our younger players into the fire just like the Bobcats are doing.

    All the teams that the Raptors are battling for a bottom 5 seed are in better shape than the Raptors are in, both in terms of young talent depth and the experience that said young talent has gained or is in the process of gaining.

    • Most teams are in better shape than the Raptors are right now, but I don’t believe the Bobcats are one of those teams. I honestly believe if you could give GM’s and execs their pick of Valanciunas, DeRozan, Davis, Walker or Biyombo right now, they would take Valanciunas most of the time. I also think that of the rest of the players I listed, all are in the same boat in terms of trying to figure out their ceilings and futures in the NBA.

      Plus, the Raps have a better coach in place IMO, and no matter what you think of Colangelo and Co., I’d take him over the guys running the Bobcats. I really can’t see how the Bobcats are in better position.

    • PBI, I agree. The Bobcats have made some solid draft choices in Walker/Henderson/Biyombo and appear to be a team that could dominate in the near future. If they land that #1 pick and draft Anthony Davis, they could be one of the most improved teams next season.

      I don’t believe the Raptors are set up to be a contending team even in 5 years. Most importantly they don’t have a PG to build around, and Valancuinas is a big question mark as to how good he will actually be in the NBA.

      They haven’t been good enough to be a playoff team, and haven’t been bad enough to land a top 5 pick (other than last year), which worries me.

  4. I rip on Calderon, a lot…some of it has to do with the fact that he’s over-rated by many. And most of it has to do with the fact that for every good thing he does on the offensive end, he definitely makes up for on the defensive end. How can you pick him as player of the game, when we just got torched by dj augustin in the 4th quarter and lost to the worst team in the league? The Raps have made so many strides in their defence, but the big problem is still the fact that Jose cant seem to keep ANY guard in front of him/out of the paint. He doesn’t get out to shooters fast enough and he can’t seem to fight through screens and frequently goes under, leaving opposing guards open to shoot the ball. Charlotte’s coach went small and played the match-up to perfection. I love Jose’s work ethic, cuz Lord knows he tries, but this team will continue to be held back if hes still our starting PG next season. We need to get rid of him now, while we can still get some value in return.

    Also, I agree that Barbosa made some poor decisions near the end of the game, but the 2nd time he lost the ball, Maggette clearly reached in and Kemba caught him on the arm too. The reffing was atrocious in the 4th, highlighted by that obvious double-dribble by Augustin at the end. Charlotte scored, and put the game away on that play. There has been some VERY suspect calls against T.O the last few games.

  5. MLSE are a complete and utter joke.

    We need new ownership ASAP!

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