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:

Spurs 100, Raptors 80

- 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.

Comments (11)

  1. Kleiza is doing a good job on defense where he is a capable defender for the 3 and 4, esp. on one-on-one. But I cannot argue with you about his very poor shot selection. He is in reality a better shooter than 1-8 would indicate but he did lose his shot completely with all the family woes that he is having. And shooting out of spin moves doesn’t help. I just don’t understand what is it with Casey not to tell him to drive to the basket (EVERYTIME!) instead of shooting those ‘long two Linas’ shots.

  2. You seem to strive for a semblance of objectivity, yet your nicknames for players you don’t like belie your attempts. “Long-two Linas” actually shoots way more threes and inside shots than he does long twos. You might label DeRozan “Long two DeMar” and it would be more accurate, but it doesn’t fit into your bias. And I daresay Kleiza’s overall game, factoring in his shooting and rebounding, is going to be on average better than Fields. But I’d love to see Fields show what he did in his first season.

  3. Can’t agree with the the Fields/Kleiza comparison you make. Keliza does have poor shot selection issues but he can take the heavy banging. What has Fields shown you that he should get so much time? People whine about the 8 mill Jose makes. How about this guy? I agree Amir should have had more time on the floor as he was their best player. I would like to have seen Jose with a bout 5 more assists but to me it looked like the team, was not moving on offence. DD was not cutting or slashing. He has fallen in love with his 20-25 foot jumper. He has got to get to the line because MK is not going, nor is Davis.

  4. I would love to see a pilon out there other than kleiza. I can’t stand seeing him on the floor the guy acts like a superstar and complains about every call. He should be on the bench

  5. How does Kleiza NOT get trashed by everyone here…he’s shooting 33% this year! 2.6 rebounds in 20 minutes on the floor…bargnani gets TRASHED everyday! It’s hard to shoot THAT Bad in the NBA….he one or two “blue moon” good games a year and we get stuck with his crap the rest of the season…he doesn’t get steals, blocks, assists…

    Once the raps STOP giving minutes to Kleiza and Pietrus is when we know we have a decent team..call me crazy but a rotation of calderon, lowry, DD, Anderson, Davis, Val, Bargs and Johnson is not bad at all..

  6. @Hope Caper: Its comical to hear the “Jose fans” talk him – The Raps lose and its the offense (other players) that weren’t moving, no fault of Jose. BUT when the Raps win, Jose ran the offense extremely well…The others didn’t win the game, it was Jose who won the game.

    • Because in their five game winning streak Jose was near the top of the leader board; he is simply not a good defender and I believe he does not have the endurance to start and pay as much as he has. A troubling dilemna for the Raps but I still believe Jose is over-paid and the Raps should look to trade and get some value for him. I think he along with another player on the Raps could get a 1st rounder. Trade that guy Gray; he is just a bench warmer anyways.

  7. I also think the Spurs would have beat the Raptors heads up, but did they really need the refs help to do it? This anti-Raptor bias the officials seem to be displaying this season (and this season alone imho) is really getting quite annoying.

    Yes, Amir was the best player. But he is probably still suffering from the sprained ankle. I’d say he even played too many minutes in the game considering how the team was so down about the ‘reffing’ and their own teammates shooting.

    I don’t know if Fields should be playing yet, as he seemed unwilling to shoot.

    I think we should have seen more Alan Anderson in the game. He was a big part of all of those 5 wins in a row. Stick with the hot hand Casey. I don’t care if Fields or Kleiza make multiples of his salary. That stain in on BC’s hands. Casey should only be focusing on winning, and if that means sitting overpaid players and playing AA, then just do it. I want to see winning ball, not BC’s mistakes.

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