The Raptors dug themselves another hole, rallied to grab a late fourth quarter lead, then found a way to lose another close one.
Let’s get to some thoughts on the game:
- When Dwane Casey made the decision to ride Andrea Bargnani in overtime against the Spurs despite his cold shooting night while Ed Davis sat on the bench, fans second guessed the decision and ranted about it, but also quickly forgot about it. They might not let it slide so quickly this time, nor should they. Bargnani was his usual lifeless self for most of the night, and his lack of effort played a big part in why the Raptors dug themselves a 13-point hole. Ed Davis, on the other hand, recorded a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes, and played a big part in the huge run the Raptors made to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Davis replaced Bargnani at the 5:36 mark of the third quarter with the Raptors down 72-60. Bargnani replaced Davis at the 7:06 mark of the fourth quarter with the team up 87-86. To summarize, over a ten-and-a-half minute span, the Raptors outscored the Kings 27-14 with Bargnani on the bench. So any claim from Dwane Casey or anyone else about the Raps needing Andrea on the floor for offensive purposes or for floor spacing is absolutely ridiculous. The Raptors were just fine with Bargnani riding the pine, and that should have been the end of it.
- While I don’t usually put too much stock into plus/minus, I think the stat tells a damning story tonight. Davis was a team-leading +9. Bargnani was a team-worst -18. Again, Davis gave the Raptors everything they could have asked for and deserves a ton of credit. You know what he apparently didn’t deserve, though? Crunch time minutes.
- The Kings absolutely abused the Raptors in the paint, and that was largely the story of this game, as Sacramento finished with a 56-30 advantage in that area.
- We started to see some signs against the Suns that Kyle Lowry might have been turning the corner towards being 100 per cent healthy again. We certainly saw those signs against the Nuggets. Those suspicions were confirmed tonight in Sacramento, as Lowry finished with a sparkling line of 34 points, 11 assists and five rebounds while going a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line. Over the last two games, Lowry is averaging 29 points, nine assists and four rebounds while converting all 23 of his free throw attempts.
Safe to say he’s back?
- So who saw Mickael Pietrus going off for 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting?
He scored, he attacked, he rebounded, he defended. Pietrus was great for the Raptors tonight and earned every bit of his nearly 40 minutes of floor time. I obviously don’t expect this from Mickael every night, but if he can continue to get back into game shape and settle into his role here, he can be an important player for this team as a glue-guy.
- DeMar DeRozan had a tough night at the office offensively (7/16 FG, 0/2 FT), but he continued to show his all around development by recording five rebounds, four blocks and two steals to contribute in other areas of the game. The Raptors need him to score more than he did tonight, but it’s nice to see that DeMar looks for other ways to impact a game if it’s not working for him.
Raptors Player Of the Game: Kyle Lowry – 34 Pts, 9/20 FG, 4/9 3PT, 12/12 FT, 5 Reb, 11 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO in 38:02
Kings Player Of the Game: DeMarcus Cousins – 25 Pts, 11/18 FG, 0/1 3PT, 3/3 FT, 13 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 4 TO in 36:32
I now fully expect this team to head back home after this five-game road trip with a 4-18 record – 5-17 at best. At that point, forget about playoff dreams or even trying to crawl back into the picture. The only thing left to play for will be individual jobs and respectability.