Turnovers and rebounding issues left the Raptors in a serious hole heading into the fourth quarter. They trailed by 17 with six minutes to go and should be commended for clawing their way back into this game. Defensive intensity and aggressiveness on offence brought the deficit down to one.

An admirable effort in a very difficult place to win on the road.

Nuggets 113, Raptors 110

- Kyle Lowry was moving much better tonight. His 11 free throw attempts and activity level on defence were an indication that he is fully healthy again. He’s showing the extra gear that was lacking when he first returned from his ankle injury and more importantly, he wanted the ball down the stretch. In losses to San Antonio and Detroit he was deferring to others far too often. He is the ‘closer’ on this team and he needs to have the ball in crunch time.

Kyle likes to help on defence, and sometimes he gets burned. In a one-point game with two minutes left, he strayed too far from Ty Lawson – an excellent shooter – who made Lowry pay. Lawson had made enough shots throughout the game (and his career) to earn more respect and there was enough help being given on that particular play that Lowry should have stayed home.

Interesting note from the broadcast – Lowry is one of four players in the league to average at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists per game this season. The others are Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. #Allstar

- DeMar DeRozan’s first quarter pass from the baseline to a cutting Lowry, was something he couldn’t have done earlier in his career. His no-look pass to Pietrus in the third quarter was also a thing of beauty. DeMar’s passing is a rapidly improving skill. He also put on a nice dribbling exhibition in the second quarter, where he beat Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee for a lefty layup. The fact that there is still so much room for development in his game is reason for great optimism considering how far he’s already come.

- I got sick and tired of seeing Corey Brewer running free on the fast-break tonight. He’s a good defender, but Toronto’s sloppy ball handling cost them at least 15 points. If the Raps make any sort of trade, I would like to see them get a reliable ball handler/passer in return. There are no distributors on this roster apart from the three point guards. The Raptors started the fourth quarter with John Lucas on the floor, just to try and get more ball-handling. This cost on them on the defensive end, as they couldn’t compensate for a Lucas-Calderon backcourt.

- Ed Davis (6 pts, 9 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk) continued to show he is a more consistent player than Amir Johnson. His rebounding, shot-blocking and hustle on defence were a big reason Toronto fought back in this game. I wouldn’t be opposed to giving Davis a look in the starting lineup over Bargnani. It would make the Raptors a formidable defensive group.

- Terrence Ross isn’t afraid to take big shots and that’s a very valuable quality. His three-pointer with three minutes left in the final frame made it a one possession game. He also buried a pull-up three on the fast break in the third quarter — a difficult shot. Ross continues to show better ball handling skills than I had expected based on his performance in pre-season and summer league.

- Mickael Pietrus made his first start for Toronto. He’s not in game shape, but teams respect his corner three-point shot and he’s not a liability on defence. Pietrus is an adequate starter, but I would still like to see Ross get that opportunity at the two-spot, sliding DeMar to the three.

- Andrea Bargnani had a good night shooting the ball (10-20 FG) but his terrible play on the glass continued (4 rebounds). There were at least four missed box-outs in the first half, punctuated by Ty Lawson taking a rebound away from Bargs and converting a floater at the end of the half – a very demoralizing bucket.

- I’d like to see the Raptors switch more pick and rolls until they improve their rotations. Bargnani does a decent job on guards – as seen against the Suns – and Lowry is physical enough to battle bigs. I also like it when Casey mixes in their zone. He has a knack for using it at just the right time to disrupt an opponent’s rhythm.

- Jonas Valanciunas‘ hard foul on Javale McGee in the second quarter was a great sign. His hustle, rebounding and defensive presence are there on a consistent basis, but if he can provide a mean streak for Toronto, his value will rise even further. His reverse jam on Faried was perhaps his best offensive move of the season.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Kyle Lowry – 24 Pts, 6/16 FG, 1/4 3PT, 11/11 FT, 3 Reb, 7 Ast, 3 Blk, 3 TO in 33:48

Nuggets Player Of the Game: Corey Brewer – 19 Pts 9/15 FG, 1/2 3PT, 5 Reb, 4 Stl, 1 TO in 20:47

The Raptors have two winnable games coming up. They travel to Sacramento on Wednesday before heading to Utah for a revenge-game with the Jazz. Toronto should have an advantage in the back-court against Sacramento, so their main concern will be controlling DeMarcus Cousins. Utah burned the Raptors in triple-OT earlier this season after forcing overtime on Al Jefferson’s second career three-pointer.

Comments (25)

  1. This seasons offence is the worst I have ever seen for a raptors team in a long time. It’s all one on one nonsense. There is no planned offence, no set plays. The teams we play pass it around and share the ball. This team really makes my head hurt. Jonas seems to be the only guy playing the game as a team player. I’m already feeling sorry for the kid because he plays the game hard and overall the right way while his teammates don’t. Am I the only one that feels this way? Anyone?

    • Agreed. Aside from jonas running around setting picks, there is very little movement on offense.

    • I think their offensive play design leaves a lot to be desired. It’s essentially post ups and screen-rolls from the top of the key. They rarely manufacture easy buckets coming out of timeouts. They don’t run a lot of off-the-ball screens. And there isn’t a lot of depth/layers to their set plays.

      We talk about Casey’s offence in this edition of RaptorBlog Radio:
      http://blogs.thescore.com/raptorblog/2012/11/26/raptorblog-radio-heartbreak-city/

    • Agreed 100%, I commented on the game thread with the same exact concern.

    • Maybe, some time, people will be so brave to even put in doubt what Casey is doing (or NOT doing). Facts are:
      1) he was JUST a defensive coach in Dallas, because
      2) he not able to work on offense
      3) he just cannot manage a game. Thing – in fact – that Carlisle was doing in that champion team.

  2. Thank you, at least I now know I’m not going crazy and what I see is really happening. I really wish they could institute the offence from the 06/07 season (the year they won the division). That was was a fun team to watch. The ball movement was a thing of beauty that season. Man it’s been 6 years since we had a good team! The years fly by. I can’t believe Colangelo has been given this long of a leash to produce a winner. I mean OKC built a solid team in that time by drafting, playing their young guys and sticking to a plan. All Colangelo has done here is plug a leaking pipe repeatedly rather than replace it. The team is in worse shape now than it was when he got here.

    • I think the way Presti built OKC is excellent but let’s be real, he got some luck (Portland picked Oden) and didn’t just stick with his young guys (traded Jeff Green).

      Having said that, the results are what tthey are in OKC and Colangelo has been terrible.

    • OKC/supersonics were pretty sh*t for more than a few years.
      7….i think?

      building a team takes a lot of time and a bit of luck.

  3. Does Casey have a free pass this season or can it get bad to a point where we start to question whether he’s the right coach for this team? Yes, they’ve been competitive but wins are wins and it’s frustrating to see a team like Orlando that was supposed to struggle this season look so much more cohesive and active. This was supposed to be a “gritty defensive team” but they looked completely foolish on d at times last night.

  4. Regardless of how this season ends for the Raptors; with the Raptors presumably missing the playoffs yet again, the most disturbing thing is how bad this team sucks! I don’t just mean the way they are playing right now, but their overall goals; I mean this team sucks too bad to even suck enough for them to get a first round draft pick, as they will likely make just enough of a push for them to be screwed out of draft position again with Colangelo’s genious trade ideas.- I mean even a monkey could do at least half the job Colangelo has done- which isn’t much. That alongside with the ridiculous tenure Colangelo has had means to me that this franchise doesn’t have a plan; that they are fine with being the NBA’s bottom feeders for years to come.

    THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE; TO THE FANS WHO PAY GOOD MONEY TO WATCH THIS GARBAGE, TO THE CITY OF TORONTO; WHAT SHOULD BE A BEACON OF HOPE FOR HIGH CALIBRE TEAMS TO COMPETE; AND LASTLY TO ME, THE DISGRUNTLED CANADIAN BASKETBALL FAN WHO HAS BEEN FORCED TO WATCH COUNTLESS “HIGHLIGHTS” OF THIS SAD TEAM THAT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE THE EFFORT TO BE COMPETITIVE. Sorry about the caps right there, I just had to let people know I am serious. At least these sports broadcasters have the ability to convince people that Colangelo should be fired, yet they scuander this opportunity and continue letting this team suck with the promise that things will get better.

  5. I coached basketball for 30 years and although not at the pro level, I think I know a little about the game and watching Casey’s coaching I think he makes many tactical and strategic errors. I could not understand all the hype around him at the end of last season. He’s proved nothing to me so far.

    • IF YOU WERE A COACH YOU SHOULD KNOW YOU NEED THE PLAYERS FIRST AND FOREMOST AND COLANGELO HAS PUT TOGETHER A LOSING TEAM….REMEMBER PRIMO WAS CHOSEN #1 AND RAPS FANS ARE PAYING FOR IT!

      • Please people, stop blaming BC for andrea’s pick at #1 that year. Only 4 other players were a better choice a d it was Aldridge #2, Gay #8, Roy #6 (who didnt last long) and Rondo #21 which mean that 20 other teams passed over.

        I think AB is a legitimate choice now that we know the complete result of that draft after 6 years.

        Im not saying at all that im a fan of BC, but i usually like is draft picks. Look at JV. 5th in 2011 but would had been a 2nd if picked in 2012.

        And TRoss was underrated as we all start to see. My only complaint with TRoss pick is we already have DD at the SG position which mean he cant be a starter unless we convert one of both into a SF which I doubt will happen.

        I personnaly think they are better than their standing show us. We’ll see if its coaching staff or players skills that blow the most deeper in the season.

        • So you believe all the blame should be put on the coaches? It may have been believable before but now that the team has gone through a few coaches- I believe it is the talent that is laughing. Also A.B. @ #1? No wonder people think the Raptors are a joke. He doesn’t defend, he doesn’t rebound. He is a scorer, I will give him that much but he is about as useless as anyone in the league on the defensive end- which is tragic for a seven-footer.

          • I’m not saying AB is flawless. He has huge weaknesses that he never been able to fix in 6 years in the NBA. I’m just saying that at the time, in 2006, it was legitimate for BC to draft him as #1 considering the whole draft picks this year was weak and only a few picks that year became better players than Andrea.

            I’m not blaming everything on the coaching staff. But obviously, there is a problem with the offensive tactics and plays that the team use. They look static and barely move the balls as much as they should.

            And in defense, players such as Brewer get through the defense like a knife in the butter for an easy layup and it’s becoming ridiculous. That, I would blame the players. But for the offense, the bench rotation, who start, Calderon+Lowry at the same time on the court, no playing time for Ross before the 15th game, no playing time for Ed Davis before the 18th game, etc etc, this is the coaching staff that decides it.

            Specially in clutch time, when they are down for 1, 2 or 3 pts, they look lost, and always take the worst shot possible such as last night. This is, in my own opinion, 70% coahing staff’s fault, 30% players. And it happens too often.

        • COME ON HAKOON THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE SAID 4 PLAYERS BETTER THEN PRIMO THAT WE COULD HAVE HAD!

  6. Kyle Lowry’s 11 free throw attempts were not an indication that he is getting better. It is an indication that we’ve had our first mostly fairly reffed game of the season.

    DD’s passing is a bonus. DD’s D still needs work. Starting to earn the extension for sure!

    Why the F was Jose on with Lucas? Damn it Casey. Tell him he is the backup PG and his minutes are getting cut. Let him sulk, or start playing D and fouling when it is necessary. Way too many times McGee just walked past Jose for a monster dunk. Foul him Jose! Don’t watch it happen! If Jose didn’t end the game with 5 fouls, he isn’t doing his job.

    Fun watching T-Ross grow as a player.

    Love seeing Pietrus sinking Threes! That is what was missing from Fields play.

    Ed Davis should get a few starts with Bargs as the 6th man. Try it out Casey. Bargs almost always sucks the first 5 minutes of games anyway. If Bargs isn’t going to put in the effort on D, then we just have to play him only when he theoretically has an advantage – like against second stringer PFs.

    JV. Love watching this kid grow into the position as well. Far from there yet, but he really looks like he will become something special for the team!

    Lastly, DD should have given the ball to Kyle.

  7. To be honest i really don’t know whats happening this year. On paper, this is raptors team is MUCH stronger than last years (lowry, ross, jonas, improved demar, healthy bargs) yet he have won just over 20% of our games when last year we won 33%(nothing to brag about). We have the personnel to be a playoff team but we don’t hustle, or close out games. I understand that no one is happy with colangelo but it isnt entirely his fault. This team should be competing in the weak east. Is it Casey’s fault for not getting his guys to give it their all? I really liked what he did last year–but this year we can’t win a game with improved personnel.
    What do you guys think is the reason why the raptors cant win games?

    • This is, for me, a complete mystery.

      Everyone, not just the Raptor’s managers, thought that with a top draft pick, future star center like JV(who is playing alot better than anyone could expect before the start of the season), a top starting quick and strong defender PG in Lowry, the addition of a new lottery pick who is able to shoot like T.Ross and Landry Fields(even with his bad contract) to add some depth in the rotation, we would win a lot more games. No one can deny it.

      May I say something odd? Am I the only one missing James Johnson and his solid defense ? I personnaly think we lack his defensive skills specially at the SF position.

      Because other than his departure, the team looks exactly the same as last year. (im not counting Bayless or G.Forbes on purpose, they had no impact). with the additions of strong pieces named above.

      So, this remains a mystery.

      Maybe the city is just doomed…

      Look at the Maple Leafs!!! o_O

  8. Just to add on to what i commented earlier, COLANGELO CANNOT BE BLAMED. in the last 2 years he has drafted a great centre, acquired an all star point guard for only a top 3 protected draft pick and made a smart pick with tross. Look at the contributions being made by the guys drafted after him. NOTHING from guys like rivers, lamb, terrence jones etc…
    (Wish we lost one more game and got barnes). The raptors struggle are from their chemistry, coaching and effort —not the team that colangelo has assembled.

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