In what should come as no surprise, the Spurs ended the Raptors’ winning streak in pretty easy fashion.
Here are some brief thoughts on the game:
- The Raptors hung around and traded leads for the majority of the first half, but a 14-4 Spurs run to close the half left the Raps down seven at the break, and while that obviously isn’t an insurmountable hole by any stretch, it really did feel as though that bit of separation was all San Antonio needed. Toronto had it within three midway through the third quarter, but again, it was pretty evident that the Spurs were in control and that shouldn’t have surprised anyone given the talent discrepancy between the two teams.
- I won’t take much of your time on individual performances, because for the most part, there wasn’t much to talk about. Not a single Raptor really stood out in a positive light, and other than “Long-two Linas” Kleiza’s five points on 1-of-8 shooting in 16 minutes, no other Raptor was noticeably terrible either. They were just each – to a man – not good enough.
- Ed Davis got off to a good start in this game and by the end of the first half, looked primed for another double-double against the Spurs this season. The highlight of that first half performance was this monster jam on Tim Duncan…well, kind of “on” Duncan:
Unfortunately, like most of his teammates, Davis didn’t do much of anything in the second half (grabbed one rebound).
- Landry Fields finally saw some game time and looked great in his first two minutes of action since early November, scoring a nice push shot in the lane and grabbing a couple of rebounds in those first couple of minutes back. The problem is that he didn’t do anything in the next 17 minutes and finished with that lone bucket and two rebounds to go with an assist and two turnovers in 18:39 of floor time.
- While Landry’s numbers weren’t impressive, I am already convinced that Fields deserves Kleiza’s minutes. That’s not a snarky joke at Kleiza’s expense or a backhanded compliment to Fields, either. I’d actually like to see Landry pick up the extra minutes while seeing Kleiza demoted to garbage time specialist. As I’ve said before, there’s the odd game where Kleiza gets hot and hits some big shots to earn extra minutes on that particular night, and we’ve seen him do that a few times already this season. But then there are the 10 or so games in between those hot shooting nights where he does a whole bunch of nothing on the floor, so I’d prefer if players who can contribute in other areas besides shooting and giving the refs death stares get those consistent minutes from here on out.
- Speaking of questioning the officials, you’re more than allowed to do so in regards to this game, as long as you don’t cite the refs as a key reason the Raptors lost. Toronto lost this game because they simply weren’t good enough and I don’t believe more balanced officiating would have resulted in a Raptors W, but there were far too many cheap one-sided calls on Wednesday night that contributed to the Spurs taking 29 free throws while the Raptors only attempted 12.
- As you’re probably aware by now, the Raptors announced that Jonas Valanciunas will not require surgery on the fractured metacarpal bone in his right ring finger, but that he is still expected to miss four-to-six weeks. This isn’t the type of injury that should cause anyone to worry about Valanciunas’ future, but it’s still disheartening to see the big rookie have to miss so much time. He’s been one of the most consistent Raptors from an effort standpoint (not by production) and has shown a great ability to learn on the fly and adapt quickly. It would have been nice to see how much further he could get in the new year instead of simply waiting for him to return from injury.
Raptors Player Of the Game: Amir Johnson – 12 Pts, 6/8 FG, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk in 23:56
Spurs Player Of the Game: Tim Duncan – 15 Pts, 6/11 FG, 3/4 FT, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Blk, 3 TO in 27:00
With the predictable result in San Antonio out of the way, the Raptors will close out this short road trip and the 2012 portion of their schedule in New Orleans on Friday night and Orlando on Saturday night, and those two games should give us a good indication of how far this team has come, if they’ve gotten anywhere at all.
The team that started 4-19 and looked incapable of beating the Washington Generals on the road would lose these next two games, maybe even in embarrassing fashion despite some weak competition. The team that we hope started to come together during the five-game run would at worst split these two games, if not win them both. So which of those two teams is the real 2012-13 Raptors?
We knew we likely wouldn’t find out much in a road game against the Spurs, but in two games against teams (Magic, Hornets) that would have been considered “beatable” before this season from hell started, we should get some answers.