In one of their worst defensive outings of the season, the Raptors allowed Houston to shoot 53% from the field and 50% from three-point land. Toronto failed to build off of a competitive game against the Spurs, as James Harden and Jeremy Lin carved up their defence, both finishing with double-digit assist totals. Terrence Ross provided the lone bright spot for the Raptors, as he registered career-highs of 19 points and 5 rebounds.

Rockets 117, Raptors 101

- Terrence Ross needs to be added to the starting lineup RIGHT NOW. Not only for development reasons, but because he is currently the second best wing player on this team. With the exception of possibly Linas Kleiza, Ross has the best 3-point shot of any wing player on the team and with the exception of Dom McGuire, Ross is the best wing defender on the team. His foot speed is definitely superior to McGuire’s. Ross played fantastic defence against James Harden on four possessions in the 2nd quarter, forcing four straight misses. The hook shot he showed late in the first quarter is something I haven’t seen before and it makes me think there are other wrinkles to Ross’ offensive repertoire that we haven’t seen. He then showed a nice two-dribble pull-up off of a screen-and-roll later in the 2nd quarter.

Ross also added two three four dunks of the spectacular variety – the type of plays that give a team an emotional boost.

- I don’t agree with running a post-up for Dom McGuire in the first 5 minutes of any game. There has to be higher priorities offensively. It’s especially befuddling to give him post looks early in the shot clock and early in the game. He is not a high percentage scorer.

- It’s not just that Andrea Bargnani doesn’t understand the concept of help defence – he clearly doesn’t understand the concept of rotations. When Valanciunas takes Bargnani’s man, Andrea must rotate to JV’s man, but this never seems to happen. In the second quarter, JV was forced to step out on a shooter, leaving Lowry to guard the 7-foot tall Omer Asik. Bargnani was standing three feet away and yet he was completely oblivious to the fact that he should have rotated on to Asik.  As a result, Omer converted an easy layup over Lowry.

Offensively, Bargnani put the ball on the floor four times in the first quarter and good things happened every time. He drew a foul on Patrick Patterson, cashed two reverse layups and missed a close hook shot. It’s very frustrating that Bargnani doesn’t look to do this when his jumper isn’t clicking – say in the Spurs game for example.

- I’ll say it again…every bucket Jose Calderon makes for you, he gives back at the defensive end. Jose got caught standing in no-man’s land (AGAIN) early in the 2nd quarter and gave up a three-pointer as a result. He promptly cashed a three at the other end.

- You can probably say the same thing about Linas Kleiza. His atrocious lateral quickness was on display as Chandler Parsons had a straight line drive against him in the 2nd quarter for an easy layup. If he is forced to respect an opponent’s three-point shot, as he should with Parsons, then he doesn’t have the ability to stay in front of them off the dribble.

- For some reason Dwane Casey continues to push out the two point guard lineup, as he appears to feel there isn’t enough playing time for Calderon if he only plays with the second unit. In my opinion, Calderon doesn’t deserve any more minutes. Toronto has 6 five-man units that are better than the best Calderon-Lowry unit, and yet they continue to play significant minutes together. As we talked about on Monday’s edition of RaptorBlog Radio, Casey needs help with his offensive tactics.

- It’s hard to believe that Kyle Lowry is playing at full strength. Ever since he returned from his ankle injury, he hasn’t been the same player at either end of the floor (7 pts [3-10 FG], 8 reb, 5 ast tonight). He isn’t able to stay with point guards on the defensive end and he isn’t able to beat them on the offensive end. Nobody has ever questioned his effort, so you have to think the ankle is slowing him down. Tony Parker got the better of him on Sunday and there is no other reason for Jeremy Lin to do this to Lowry…

- Amir Johnson  jacked up his fifth and sixth 3-pointers of the season. I get a sick feeling in my stomach every time I see him prepare to hoist these shots. If Amir thinks this will give him a leg up in the battle to be the first big man off the bench, he is sorely mistaken. Speaking of the battle to be that 3rd big man, Ed Davis had another solid effort tonight. He was 5/6 from the field and also recorded 4 rebounds and a block in 21 minutes of action. Although Amir made a couple nice passes, Ed took another step ahead of him tonight. The mid-range jump shot was Amir’s biggest advantage over Ed, but that advantage isn’t as big as it used to be…

- Team story of the first half was points off turnovers. Toronto gave up 16 points off turnovers in the first half and didn’t manage to score any themselves. They also gave up 9 offensive rebounds in that half.

- The third quarter was a defensive disaster for Toronto. The effort level appeared to drop as Houston poured in 39 points. The drive-and-kick game was the main problem as the Rockets made 7 three-pointers in the quarter – most of which came as a result of dribble penetration by Harden or Lin. Toronto won the fourth quarter (the only quarter they won), but they never closed the margin to make it competitive.

Raptors’ player of the game: Terrence Ross – 19 Pts, 9/17 FG, 1/4 3PT,  5 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 TO in 35:44

Rockets’ player of the game: James Harden – 24 Pts, 9/19 FG, 4/8 3PT, 2/3 FT, 6 Reb, 12 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk, 4 TO in 43:36

Things don’t get any easier for the Raptors as they travel to Memphis for a date with the NBA-leading Grizzlies on Wednesday. Memphis has a league-low 2 losses this season and their frontcourt of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph might be the most imposing tandem in the league. If Toronto is going to keep this game competitive, Bargnani and JV will have to match the physicality of Gasol and Z-Bo.

I’m eying Friday’s home game against Phoenix as the spot for Toronto to break out of this losing streak.

Comments (22)

  1. It doesn’t matter if Ross is starting or not and I sure as hell don’t expect Casey to bench McGuire who is developing into one of his favourites but there is no reason for Ross not to be playing 20+ minutes every game from here on out even when Anderson/Fields return (Again, I don’t expect this to happen but I hope it does).

    I know it was a pick up game type pace today but I loved what I saw from Ross, his athleticism combined with his shooting touch sure gives you some hope as a fan. I don’t even think it’s a stretch to say that he’s already the best three point shooter on this team considering that he can get his shot off a lot easier than someone like Calderon.

    • I just don’t think he will get the consistent minutes we both want for him unless he’s starting. I think that’s part of the reason why JV started from day 1. It’s easier to monitor minutes for starters.

      I don’t necessarily agree with you that Dom is becoming one of Casey’s faves. He hasn’t played over 25 minutes in any of his starts and he has a total of 4 points in the last 5 games. Only 10 minutes tonight. He was really just made the starter by default. Casey opted for Fields and Anderson before him.

      Good point about Ross getting his shot off easier than Jose

  2. There are five glaring (but simple) things wrong with this team:

    1) No defense at all -at all! The intensity that was there last year is missing 100% this year.I don’t see the same focus and it stings the most because it is a step backwards for this team and the identity it was building.

    2) We are totally missing a position out there with no SF. It is like we are playing 4 guys against their 5. I don’t understand why Casey and BC can’t see this. The facts is they do see it and do nothing about it – which also stings,because of the high hopes going into this season, the position that needed the most attention is still the biggest problem. Even with Fields healthy he is NOT the starter we need, he will make a good backup SF who can spot start if needed and can contribute in important minutes, but not start.

    3) Exit Stage left: Calderon and Bargnani. This era of these guys is OVER – I’m so affraid BC will never see this. JC is playing like any average 2nd tier PG (he had two good games with Utah and Indy -but nothing close to level since and it is frustrating and has been frustrating with this him on this team too long now) AND I haven’t even mentioned he is getting 10 million plus which is ridiculous to play that way. With AB, I long for the day to have a rebounding, shot blocking, rim protecting, no fouling PF with decent defense back. And that guy right now is Davis, time to start him. No need to worry about his offense, he will average 12pts+ 9 Rebs+ per game, if starting…what does Casey want!???
    4) Non producing contracts: In total Raptors team salary 61 million – Between JC, AB, LK and AJ they equal 31+ million towards the cap. HALF the teams payroll. Not enough production in those players for the cap hold up, they need to be traded for new talent that will produce better.
    5) A real All star. Yes Lowry is a borderline all-star ( I believe he is an all-star), but defenses know that and with-out no other real super star (DeMar just coming into his own this year) its easy to defend the Raps at the end of games by focusing on Lowry. They need a heavy weight at the SF spot-like a Rudy Gay. Add Gay a healthy Anderson or Fields and this team doesn’t need last second shot often at all, they be up by enough!.

    That being said, the coaching has to be a big concern – I know its early in the season,but too many gaffs and questionable calls in such a short time. The disappearing act of the defense is the most concerning and is NOT exceptable anymore. I don’t buy into the “there are too many new players in this team this year. We are slowly starting to get it”….Bull shit!!! Casey taught a whole team last year when he got here as the new coach and they got quick – so what gives!?? Who’s fault is this that this team looks lost almost every single night on defense….lost. Gone is the consistent intensity on defense over coming the offensive lacof scoring, gone is the below 100 opponents scoring, gone are the multiple steals and defensive stops, gone is that identity of a hard working defensive minded team, gone is that changed culture Casey spoke of…Gone! As short as it was; Gone! The team this year looks to score and match the other team(s) punch for punch on offense. This is so obvious to see – it is not rocket science and its not working!. I’m just a fan, but its clear last years team and this years team have a different face. The two new rookies are both playing good defense, not fouling and are known to be defensive players, Davis is strong on “D”, you drafted to take over Brags when needed and now its needed….play them! The team NEEDS Casey to be a leader and to start displaying this culture change and holding players accountable thing he talked about so much last year. OR he will be on the same path as he did in Minnesota. After a good first year, a horrendous start in his second year cost him his job before the season was over.

    • Great comments James but I don’t agree about Casey and the defence. It’s currently ranked 20th in efficiency which is only 8 spots lower than it was last season and we’ve only had a healthy Lowry for 3 games. Those three games were good defensive efforts. It’s also the toughest portion of the schedule right now so I wouldn’t read too much into the drop-off. Casey still has their ear. Individually, DeRozan and Calderon improved this season defensively. Bargnani is the same or worse – it’s hard to tell.

  3. TRADE:

    To Toronto – Gasol and Blake plus a first pick

    To L.A – Calderon, Bargnani and Amir and a second pick

    Salaries are very close, maybe a throw-in of 2-3 million per year coming to T.O to equal money, but no one big.
    This works for the Raptors why: They get a legit scoring, all-star, championship PF who can teach Jonas. Ed Davis becomes the 2nd PF and now knows his role and what he needs to bring every night and can settle into a consistent routine with Gasol. Gasol is a FA after next year -so the team isn’t committed too long at 19 million per clip. We get Blake as our two PG and in my opinion not much of a drop off from Calderon. He too has only one year left after this one.

    This works for L.A why: They get a good backup game controller who will play well under D’Antoni at PG with JC. Cap relief after this year. Bargs will spread the floor with Howard down low and Kobe in the back court and he too should thrive in D’Antoni’s system…AB sure wouldn’t have to worry about rebounding too much out there with Howard around. Amir is an upgrade over Hill, that’s simple. Both Bargs and Amir have one year after this year on the contracts and both have early termination clauses

    • Davis’s role would not change if this trade happened….. he already is the backup PF and he knows exactly what his role is. You cut up Calderon in your previous article, and then go on to say he’d be a good fit in a backup role with the Lakers, and that Blake would be a downgrade. Gasol can’t run the floor like he used to, his knees are shot. Who is JV’s back up now that Amir is gone? That’s right, Aaron Gray. I agree it would be a releif to see AB and JC gone for good, but this trade will deplete the raptors lineup, and they will be a worse team as a result. Also, this trade scenario offers nothing for the future of such a young team. I liked some of your earlier comments, but your way off here Youngjames.

  4. What people don’t realize is that the Raptors’ good defense last year was built off of the absence of Bargnani. With Bargnani on court they were 3.3 ppg worse, i.e. had he continued to play, they would have ranked 26th or 27th and not 14th.

    Consequently, people have the illusion that they’re not replicating last year’s defense.

  5. I want to see a line up of, JV, ED, T. ROSS, Derozan and Lowry for a good portion of the game. That’s our best line up……………..PLz stop this 2 point guard bullshit.

  6. Can we not just say the Raptors still suck and be over with it. Fire Colangelo.

  7. Amir Johnson should’ve been benched for the rest of the game the instant he took his second 3. There’s no excuse for standing on the 3 point line at any point during the game, let alone after his first ridiculous chuck up. We already have one guy in Barney who does that and offers nothing in terms of rebounds, though he can actually shoot. Amir’s purpose on the court is his rebounding hussle, Casey’s gotta get the point across to him.

    I think if we finally end the Barney experiment, and send Jose off with him, we’re actually on the right track. Til then, all the players suffer.

  8. Our starting line-up needs to be Lowry, DD, TRoss, Ed, and JV. No ifs ands or buts. Barg comes in off the bench (assuming we can’t trade him which should be the FIRST priority). Calderon and Fields and a little Amir round out a 8/9 man rotation.

    Oh, and fire Colangelo. Yesterday.
    I can only wish…

  9. What a brutal season. Less than a month in, and already the fanbase is reduced to trade bitching out management and making fantasy trades. Ugh.

    • That’s because its deserved…This group of players sucks – has sucked for a while and still suck! so what’s your answer smart guy? Another 6 years of Bargnani/Calderon (offering only 1 play-off appearance in that span)…another 6 years of Colangelo not talking “rebuild”!????

      • I agree it’s deserved, that’s why it’s brutal. First season in a while with some grounds for optimism and it’s been crushed mericlessly.

      • Still, I’m glad you think I’m smart.

  10. “Our starting line-up needs to be Lowry, DD, TRoss, Ed, and JV”

    ++ !

    • Thanks for sharing. We’ll hopefully be hearing from the Blogfather on a podcast in the near future

  11. This is my first time reading this blog. I just wanted to express my appreciation for finally, after 15+ years as a Raptors fan, having the opportunity to read insightful analysis about the Raptors. In terms of the team, JV looks fantastic, he truly is the anti-Bargnani. But its Ross who I think will ultimately save Colangelo’s job. His game looks effortless. Outside shot we already knew about, but his handles are really impressive. Unlike DD, whose star status (or lack there of) has been forced upon him and game always seems forced, Ross looks to have all the tools. Including, the foot speed to guard other 2s. The mistake of management was to pretend this was a competing team. We’re not in the REbuilding mode, we’re in the building mode. We need to develop our young guys! The best way to do this is, TRADE Bargnani and Calderon immediately! Their defence is terrible and killing this team. For years we’ve seen this hurt our team. The Gasol trade would be ideal but we should literally take anything. Also, let Ed Davis come off the bench and grind. Best way dor him to develop. Starters: Lowry, Ross, DD, Gasol, JV. Bench: Duhon, Fields, Klieza, Davis, Johnson. Do this, 2nd Round. Do this BC and you save your job!

    • Nice take Dan and thanks for the kind words. BC appears to have done quite well in his past few drafts, considering we don’t really know what the ceiling is for any of DD, JV, Ed or T-Ross. He should also be praised for the Lowry trade. People calling for his head are overreacting imo. The record is not an indication of what this team is doing. They’ve lost 5 games that they were leading/tied in the final 2 minutes.

      Couldn’t agree more about the defence of bargs and calderon killing the team but I’m not ready to move AB, yet

  12. Ross looks a lot more comfortable out there now that he’s gotten time to adjust to the NBA. One thing I like about his game is that he isn’t really forcing anything either, letting the game come to him. Which is what I think Lamb and Rivers do far too often, and is a big reason why I didn’t want them.

    I would have liked to see him as the future SG instead of DeRozan, but if he plays anything close to last night, he could be a really good 6th man for this team.

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