If you thought watching the Raptors blow a 10-point fourth quarter lead in their home opener was crushing, how about blowing an 11-point fourth quarter lead and eventually losing in triple-overtime to fall to 1-6 on the season?
Some thoughts on the most “Raptors” of Raptors losses…
- DeMar DeRozan had a night to remember with 37 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals in a ridiculous 60 minutes of playing time. Yes, he took too many threes, turned the ball over five times and took 33 field goal attempts in total, but anyone who watched this game knows that DeRozan was the only Raptor willing to step up down the stretch, and the guy deserved a boat load of free throws in addition to the seven he attempted. The fact that DeMar didn’t end up with at least 12 free throw attempts in this game despite consistently attacking the rim and drawing contact is a travesty.
Just to tug on your heart strings a little more, how amazing would it have been had the Raptors gotten a stop after this and won the game on this DeRozan jam?
- The whole “refs hate the Raptors” theory has existed for a while, but I’ve never really bought into it until this season. I don’t mean that I now actually believe the refs have it in for Toronto and I’m not going to say this team would have four or five wins with more balanced officiating (there’s a lot more to a 1-6 start than just the refs), but you have to admit that the officiating hasn’t exactly been close to fair through seven games. The Raptors out-hustled and out-fought the Jazz for the majority of the night, they out-rebounded Utah, they outscored them in the paint and generally attacked the basket more often, and yet the Jazz still had the benefit of the whistles, as Utah attempted 13 more free throws than the Raptors.
Nothing summed up this discrepancy more than Mo Williams literally kneeing Jose Calderon a couple of times on one play without a whistle.
- Up until Al Jefferson (who was a 1-for-25 career three-point shooter coming into this game) rattled home the game tying three with less than three seconds left in regulation, the Raptors had led from the opening tip, and had an 11-point lead with 6:14 remaining. The Jazz didn’t take their first lead until it was 105-104 in the first overtime period.
- Dominic McGuire got the start at small forward for Toronto, and while his defence was pretty good throughout the game, he also committed what was probably the contest’s stupidest mistake. Down three in overtime, McGuire had the ball on a fast break and had DeRozan open in front of him, running ahead of the pack to the basket. Instead of passing the ball to DeRozan for what should’ve been an easy two points, McGuire tried to take it himself. The play ended up with an out of bounds call against the Jazz, and the Raptors got nothing on the subsequent inbounds play. Way to know your role, Dom.
- Jonas Valanciunas picked up a fourth foul early in the third quarter, and for some reason never touched the floor again after that. Ed Davis and Amir Johnson were giving the Raptors great minutes down the stretch, so I was fine with Dwane Casey sticking with them, but Andrea Bargnani gave the Raps little if anything after halftime and when Amir fouled out in overtime, I would’ve preferred to see Valanciunas get some crunch time minutes rather than Aaron Gray. Valanciunas finished with 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting in just 16 minutes.
- I mentioned the great play off the bench from Johnson and Davis. The pair combined for 15 points (on 7-of-12 shooting) and 23 rebounds, including an impressive 13 offensive rebounds that kept many Raptors possessions alive in the second half.
- Jose Calderon’s final stat line of 20 points (on 50% shooting) and 17 assists looks good, and he hit some big shots for the Raptors throughout the game, but overall, Calderon still left a lot to be desired. He committed some costly turnovers at crucial stages of the game, and more than anything, his fear of contact really stuck out in this game.
There were two occasions where a weak missed layup attempt from Calderon (because he was trying to avoid contact) ended up in a Jazz bucket at the other end. One of those Jazz buckets was a three, which led to a Calderon technical for arguing that he was fouled, and an overall four-point play. Jose may very well have been fouled on that play, but if he takes the ball harder to the bucket and puts his body on the line instead of trying to avoid the contact, he probably either converts both layups and/or gets the foul calls instead of the Jazz getting six points.
- Another close loss, and another reason to be disgusted with Andrea Bargnani. As usual, Bargs came out aggressive in the first quarter and had 10 points less than seven minutes into the game in addition to playing focused defence. Unfortunately, Bargnani didn’t feel like expending much effort on either end in the second half or overtime, and certainly didn’t earn anywhere near his final total of nearly 49 minutes played. Andrea finished with an unimpressive and very empty 19 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
- Keeping with the Bargnani/Calderon criticism, their pick-and-roll defence in overtime was among the porous I’ve ever seen in an NBA game.
- Linas Kleiza provided 20 points off the bench and did most of his damage in the first half before eventually fouling out, but Kleiza still took too many long twos and forced shots for my liking. He’s not usually going to make those shots, and when he doesn’t, the failed attempts are only back-breakers for a team that doesn’t need any more of those. I did like Linas’ effort on the glass, though, where he collected seven rebounds.
Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 37 Pts, 16/33 FG, 1/6 3PT, 4/7 FT, 8 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl, 5 TO in 60:00
Jazz Player of the Game: Paul Millsap – 34 Pts, 11/16 FG, 3/4 3PT, 9/10 FT, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk, 1 TO in 43:40
After thinking it was too early to hit the panic button just a few days ago at 1-4, I’m now officially panicking at 1-6. Forget how close the Raptors have been to grabbing a few more wins or how they “should” have won games against the Pacers and Jazz if not for fourth quarter lapses. This team is 1-6, has to travel to Indiana for the second night of a back-to-back after this excruciating marathon of a loss, and then heads out to Boston to face the Celtics on Saturday.
If they’re better than 1-8 heading into what I bloody well hope is a winnable home game against the Magic on Sunday, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.