Had the Raptors won some of the other close games they’ve been in this season, it would be a lot easier to look at the positives from taking the Spurs to the wire. Instead, they sit at 3-11, and so there can be no so such thing as a moral victory.

Here are some thoughts on the game:

Spurs 111, Raptors 106

- Andrea Bargnani went 2-of-19 from the floor today, including 0-of-7 from three-point range and 0-of-1 from the free throw line. To make it as frustrating as possible, a significant portion of the shots he missed were embarrassingly wide open looks in the fourth quarter and overtime that each could have made the difference in the outcome of this game. I get that missing shots isn’t exactly an “effort” thing, but that’s an irrelevant point when you’re supposed to be the offensive leader of a team. If Andrea could have hit the goddamn broad side of a barn today, the Raptors upset the Spurs. It’s as simple as that.

- The other whipping boys for fans in this game will surely be Jose Calderon and Dwane Casey. Calderon did his best to make Bargnani feel better by shooting 3-of-14 himself while providing his usual pylon-like defence, and on too many occasions, passed up what should have been a layup to move the ball out of the paint to a teammate. There are plenty of times when penetrating and then kicking out is the right decision, but there are also times when if you have the opportunity for a layup, you take the easy two points. Considering Calderon’s experience and age, it’s infuriating that he still doesn’t always understand this.

- Even more infuriating was coach Casey’s insistence on letting Calderon inbound the ball at crucial points down the stretch. It was obvious that Jose was having problems trying to get the ball in the first time they used him on the inbounds. By the second and third time, the Raptors were just asking to get called for a five second violation, at least when Calderon wasn’t simply inbounding the ball to the Spurs. And by the time we got to what felt like the 100th out of a timeout play that started with a Calderon inbound, the team finally did get burned by the five second rule.

There were a few of Casey’s decisions in regards to his lineups and rotations that frustrated me early this season, but letting Calderon continue to inbounds the ball when everyone noticed on the first occasion they tried it that it was a risky proposition is probably the most frustrated I’ve been with Dwane so far this season.

- Speaking of a frustrating coaching/lineup decision, Ed Davis was probably the Raptors’ best player today, racking up 15 points and 14 rebounds in just 22 minutes of action, and yet he didn’t so much as touch the floor after being substituted by Bargnani of all people with 4:34 to go in the fourth quarter. Believe me, I understand that the Raptors needed some offence and also understand that having Bargs in the game could stretch the floor in a way having Davis and Valanciunas in at the same time ever could, but at some point, with Andrea chucking up brick after brick and Davis enjoying one of the most impressive performances of his career, how do you not even try going back to Ed?

Without Davis’ effort off of the bench, this game has no chance of even being close down the stretch of the fourth quarter, let alone going to double-overtime. He was that big.

- Outside of Davis, the two other bright spots for the Raptors were Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan. Valanciunas went toe-to-toe with Tim Duncan and more than held his own, posting a career high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, three blocks and three assists in 39 minutes. Jonas had a big block on Duncan in overtime and even hit a couple of clutch shots and free throws when the Raptors needed him to in overtime.

As for DeRozan, he was a force all over the court. He finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and though he didn’t shoot the ball well, he continued to attack the basket late in the game and put forth a commendable effort on the defensive end and on the boards. Whether it was poking a ball loose and then diving to retrieve it on defence, or driving to the basket and then following up his own miss to send the game to double-overtime, I don’t have much to complain about with DeRozan.

- With regard to DeMar’s game-tying rebound and bucket in the final second of the first overtime period, it looked like he should have been rewarded with free throws after his initial miss, but seeing him just outfight everybody for the ball after that, tie the game, then roar with excitement/anger while “We’re Not Gonna Take It” started blaring in the arena was pretty cool, and almost felt like the Basketball Gods were trying to tell us something. Unfortunately, with guys like Bargnani and Calderon still around, the truth is that young players like DeRozan and Valanciunas will unfortunately continue to “take it,” and take it on the chin at that.

- Kyle Lowry didn’t have a great shooting night, made a few more poor decisions in terms of when to shoot late in a close ball game and was clearly outplayed by Tony Parker, but then you see him busting his ass on virtually every single possession on defence and fighting for rebounds with seven-footers and it’s hard to hate on the guy’s game. Without a doubt, Lowry has to improve his decision making, but if some other players on this team had the fight and internal desire that Kyle has, this would be a pretty damn good team on willpower alone.

- Speaking of desire, I know I questioned coach Casey’s decisions earlier in this blog post, and I stand by those questions, but his desire on the sidelines always gets me fired up. In case you were wondering why he always sounds hoarse and coughs a lot in post-game media scrums, there was a defensive possession in the fourth quarter where I could hear him barking out instructions and encouraging his men…and I sit in the fifth row of the upper bowl. The guy wants it so bad, and while his decisions surely factor in to today’s loss, I still feel for the guy with this 3-11 record hanging over him.

- As mentioned in my Game Thread, the Spurs became my Western Conference favourite once the Thunder traded James Harden, and from what I’ve seen this season (other than their two losses to the Clippers), I’m feeling good about that prediction. I gave Duncan a lot of the love in that thread, and he obviously deserves it, but I still feel that Tony Parker doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Sure, there are plenty of people who see him as the future Hall of Famer he is, but there are also still plenty of NBA fans that don’t mention his name when the conversation about who the best point guard alive is right now. Chris Paul is that guy, and there are a lot of phenomenal young point men in the Association in today’s game, but there aren’t many guys in the world I’d rather entrust with the ball than TP, and if you ask me, he’s been playing at a near MVP level for the last couple of years.

- The Raptors have now lost four straight games, but what makes the losing streak so tough to swallow is that they’ve been outscored by just 15 points combined over those four games and have legitimately been on the precipice of victory in each contest. I don’t know if I’ll ever again see a team get off to such a horrid start record-wise while being so competitive overall. That’s not me making excuses, it’s just me trying to explain the most gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, frustrating way to start 3-11 you could have ever imagined.

Raptors Player of the Game: Ed Davis – 15 Pts, 7/11 FG, 1/2 FT, 14 Reb in 21:39 (DeRozan and Valanciunas may have finished with better numbers, but Davis didn’t get nearly as much time on the floor, and as mentioned, was the reason the Raptors were in this game)

Spurs Player of the Game: Tony Parker – 32 Pts, 14/27 FG, 1/4 3PT, 3/4 FT, 6 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 TO in 46:03

Up next is a back-to-back in Houston and Memphis, a quick return home for what I hope is a winnable game against the Suns, followed by a five-game road trip out West. I’m trying to stay positive, and I really do see how absurd it seems to declare a season over after 14 games, but again, I just don’t see how the Raptors come out of this stretch in mid-December with a manageable record.

Drew, Oliver and I will get together to cry about it all for another episode of RaptorBlog Radio tomorrow, so stay tuned for that on Monday.

Until then…

Comments (45)

  1. mistake in Bargs numbers, he was 0-7 from three not 2-7

  2. Could we please turn the Raptor Blog into the AnyTeamButTheRaptors Blog until Colangelo is fired?

  3. Without a doubt, today was a disappointing loss in another game that could have been won.

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter if BC is telling Casey to play Bargnani more minutes. The fact that he was put back into the game in the 4th, and even all of OT is frustrating to watch and makes me lose faith in Casey’s coaching decisions. It’s getting to a point where enough is enough.

    If he doesn’t have what it takes to send a message and keep Bargnani on the bench, the coach is just as much to blame as Colangelo.


  4. I’m tired of Andrea. I’m tired of him setting half ass picks, I’m tired of him regressing in every game after teasing fans with a decent first quarter every time. I’m just tired of him getting minutes just because he’s getting paid 10 million a year. Let’s just amnesty him already! it’s not as if he’s got much trade value to begin with!

  5. This was a learning experience for JV, DDR and ED. A positive one for Jonas – he now knows he can make it big time in this League. A positive one for DDR as he now knows how to keep playing even when the calls aren’t going your way. I only wish Ed Davis’s learning experience could be considered positive but I have to say that Dwane needs to sit the guy down and beg his forgiveness for stomping all over his tender young ego – I mean the best game he’s ever played in a Raptor uniform and he gets benched at the crunch time, for a veteran who couldn’t step up. Andrea must have known he didn’t have it today and he should have sat down voluntarily. The Spurs weren’t even coming out to guard him for the final twenty minutes – let him Jack up those bricks and be ready for the rebound cause it’s comin’.

  6. The fact that Casey said since Bargnani is his go to guy. He will always use him in the fourth. Two things need to change. Either Casey needs to go and we get a guy who isn’t afraid to bench top players with poor performances or we need to bring in a new GO TO GUY.

    Davis may not be ready. But I doubt any coach in the league would have doubted Casey for choosing Davis over Bargs. Casey is purely a defensive coach. Definitely not a Head coach. His decisions makes no sense. I hate the fact that this team is cursed to forever be a loser.

    • Funny thing is, Dwayne Casey used to talk about how he would go with the hot hand, and that he wasn’t afraid to pull players who weren’t playing well….that lasted about one season.


  7. Keep the losses coming, only way the Colangelo/Calderon/Bargnani era will be brought to its merciful end.

    At this point, why would you even want Bargnani to make one of those shots late in the game or in one of the OTs to win a game? So our deluded GM continues to think that he’s on the right path with the flawed team he has entirely built around a defense crippling, horribly inefficient 6th?

    What a scary thought.

    • The end might not be so near for BC.

      He’s highly entrenched in the organization and he can always ‘step down’ from the GM role and continue to meddle as team president.

      Also, the arena was packed. Change would happen if the seats were emptier.

  8. *horribly inefficient 6th man*

  9. Casey is so infuriatingly stubborn with veterans and his rotations. Is there not an assistant coach on this team willing to tell him the two PG rotation in the 4th quarter isn’t working or that Bargnani shooting 2-19 isn’t helping? Seeing Ed Davis benched when he was the reason we were in this game really sucks.

    Being a Raptors fan is like the boat scene from ‘Godfather Pt. II’. Colangelo keeping Bargnani on this roster is killing us.

  10. Well written, I seriously think that this game resembles how us raptors fans are so tired of having calderon and bargnani. Barg and jose have been with the raptors for about 6,7 years and exactly how much success have we had? Its just time to move on.

  11. With all due respect, it doesn’t matter to me how loud Casey is from the sidelines or how great a cheerleader he is. I simply don’t understand what he’s doing on a nightly basis. These perplexing coaching decisions continue to be a common theme every game. So frustrating!

  12. Any way we can trade Bargnani while he still has some value left. Throw Caldern in there to and let’s change the culture here.

  13. I feel like we should just trade Bargnani for the best possible package and start Ed Davis or Amir Johnson. Speaking of Ed Davis, it is infuriating how little Coach Casey uses him. I mean, he’s getting what? 12-15 minutes a game? If he could get 25-30 minutes he could grow substantially as a player and even if he doesn’t score, we know he will rebound. That is something Bargnani cannot and is not willing to do. I feel like DeMar has taken over as the primary scorer and with Kyle Lowry there as well, I don’t feel like he will be as bad as he was last year as the main guy. Ed Davis and Jonas Valanciunas should be unleashed.

  14. it’s gonna take a big trade to pique my interest – picked a good year to move to brooklyn

  15. I love people (not so much on this blog, but certainly on raptorsrepublic) that talk about Bargnani and Calderon and maybe even TRoss for someone like Rudy Gay or even Pau Gasol. I would legitmately trade Bargnani for a sack of peanuts.

  16. Quitting the Raptors, booze and facebook. All have been significantly linked with distracting and negatively affecting my life, so I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

  17. I want Bargs traded, but…

    You don’t take out your (arguably) #1 scoring option and (certainly) #1 big man to put your 4th/5th big man in during the 4th Q and OT just cause your bench guy is “hot.” Seriously, what planet do you guys come from?

    Again, I don’t like Bargnani and really, really want him traded. But your belief is always that your shooter will hit his next shot – you HAVE TO play it that way as a coach so that your player will feel the same way. It’s the same with a slugger in baseball, a sniper in hockey, a shooter in basketball, whatever….. You don’t take out your top offensive option in crunch time to ride a hot hand from deep in the rotation. You’ll psych out all your own players by yanking around their roles/responsibilities just to ride the wave of the most recent quarter of basketball.

    That said – agreed this team has the potential for an entirely new identity, and AB + JC are now holding them back. Thing is, I think BC gets it. He’s the one who put these promising young guys together and shifted the culture of this team from offence + shooting to defence + effort. He needs to add some more pieces. They desperately need SF help, then they need some experience and development time.

    • I don’t think any smart ball fan reading that will agree about you in regards to Bargnani instead of Davis

      • These players of people of habit, routine, superstition
        I missed the previous game but didn’t AB have a decent line
        Treating team members as individual chess pieces misses an important point

    • I see what you’re saying about your first point, and it’s the same type of thinking I tried to reason to myself. But, you put him in the fourth, same thing…fine, let’s try OT…same thing. Wouldn’t it make more sense to try something new by the second OT? I understand he’s a shooter and everything, and just like Lucas showed us (I forget what game) they can hit big shots at anytime. But why not mix it up? I’m sure the Spurs would’ve rather had Bargs shooting an open 3 at that point then even Derozan. At least having Ed would improve second chance opportunities and team defense.

      Also, why not reward a guy that’s clearly hustling, rebounding and doing everything you ask of him?

      Overall though, I think he just needs to be benched at least. Fine, give him fourth quarter minutes because he’s your number one scoring option, but at least show that shooting terribly, averaging less then 5 boards a game, and not really contributing anything else on defense will not be ‘rewarded’.

      • tmk – I 30% agree with you, but I still think it would a very, very rare NBA coach who would bench his #1 big man (who just scored 34 points in the last game) in favour of his #4 big man during OT.

        You gotta let your main guys play through rough stretches, or else they start looking over their shoulders and worrying about making mistakes.

    • No. 1 chucker is not a No. 1 scoring option. By every metric (aside from ppg), Bargnani is a terrible scorer – this year more than most. In fact, his TS% and eFG% are the worst they have been since his second year.

      • Exactly, he’s horribly inefficient and inconsistent and I’m sick of hearing how’s Bargnani is a 7 footer with unique offensive skills. If he was 6’5″ he’d be lucky to be Swaggy P.

    • Bargnani is an inefficient scorer who’s career FG% is 43%. From a big man that just unacceptable. If he’s in the efficiency range of Bosh or Dirk sure let him shoot but he’s never been and over relying on him is going to cost us more games. Yes he can go on a scoring binge from time to time, but at this point in his career he needs to produce consistently. We’ve given him every chance too do that and he still after 7 years still hasn’t produced consistently.

  18. anybody take a look at the recap on nba.com and how all the replays are basically of the spurs (except 2.5)?


  19. I can’t take this shit anymore. Casey says he stuck with Bargs “because he’s our guy.” Gregg fucking Poppovich is famous for leaving his best players on the bench, crunch time included, if they’re not playing well and the bench guys are producing. That includes, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli.

    What the fuck has Bargs done to receive this regal treatment? If the best coach in the league can sit Tim Duncan, do you think Casey could sit Andrea freaking Bargnani? Did anyone else notice that Casey didn’t sub out Jose on some defensive posessesions when he had the opportunity?

    I give the guy all the props in the world for what he did with the team last season, but I don’t know what the fuck he’s doing this year. If I see Lowry and Jose with a useless version of Bargs in crunch time again, I’m going to throw my TV out the window.

    • Couldn’t agree more



    • Eh. It was a pretty lousy draft class. Brandon Roy was hardly a home run and only lasted four years. LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t look very exciting at the time. Funny that we ended up with Kyle Lowry.

    • Bargnani was going first overall in that draft regardless which team had the pick. Was a very very weak draft. Picks #3, #5, #9 and #10 are already out of the league after just 6 years. I remember some minor talk of Rudy Gay, but generallyBarganai was the consensus top pick that year.

      • Wow, i actualy just double checked, and about 18 of the 30 first round picks from that draft are already out of the NBA. That’s a very very very bad draft.


  21. Hopefully we will have better luck against the Rockets. Like the Raptors, they are also an underwhelming team that has yet to live up to expectations.

  22. Has there ever been even a decent team where the two main scoring options are inefficient volume shooters like Bargnani and Derozan? It’s frustrating watching these two have the longest leashes ever the past couple years. At some point the team needs to realize that maybe it isn’t such a good idea to give these guys the ok to bomb away and waste possessions with low-probability scoring chances.

    • 110% true. This has been THE problem with the Raptors for years.

      I mean really, DD was under 40% this game and people are still somehow saying he had a good night.

      • I think the difference is that Derozan seems like he is putting out quite a bit of effort which is commendable. You rarely see him “floating” through a game. He’s just not a productive player. He’s a fringe starter at best in the NBA.

  23. Wow, lots of angst in these comments! Too many to bother reading.

    I would like to add my spin. Yes, Bargs cost the rest of the players (other than Jose) the game. But from my perspective, the real culprits, yet again, were the refs. That was some seriously one sided BS last night.

    From what I’ve seen so far this season, a youtube video depicting blatant bias against the Raptors could be made of every single game this season.

    Now, you might think I’m a ref hater. I’m not. I’ve never had a problem with them before. I just don’t understand WTF has gotten into them this season. Some team rep must have disparaged their manhood or sexual orientation or something in a blog :) I just can’t think of any other reason for this constant bias this season.

  24. I think this is the part of the movie where BC gives a locker room speech for the ages, trades our version of Giambi, and the Raps go on a massive winning streak.

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