The Raptors came crashing back to earth at the hands of the Sacramento Kings. Toronto was never as bad as it appeared when they were 4-19 and they aren’t as good as their recent stretch – winning eight of nine – made them appear. Tonight was one of the uglier performances of the season, as the Raptors starters couldn’t find any rhythm at either end of the floor.

Here are some thoughts on the game:

Kings 105, Raptors 96

-Toronto’s starting lineup only has one guy that can score consistently – DeMar DeRozan. This unit will never blow teams out in the first quarter because they don’t have enough offensive weapons. With Lowry, Anderson, Amir, Fields and Ross coming off the bench, Dwane Casey has made his reserves more dangerous than his starters. Most of the bench came into the game facing a seven-point deficit and they turned that into a five-point lead by the time the starters returned. By halftime, the starters had allowed Sacramento to regain a one-point lead. The starters opened the second half with another slow stretch and this time the bench couldn’t dig them out of the hole, as the Raptors were outscored 28-10 in the third quarter and the game was out of reach.

-I don’t usually believe in single game plus/minus as a good indicator of player performance but it told the story tonight and it’s been the same story in recent games. Starters Calderon, DeRozan and Davis all finished with plus/minus ratings of -20 or worse. Reserves Lowry, Fields and Anderson were +15, +8 and +5 respectively. Casey needs to add some talent to the starting lineup and there is no point in waiting for a losing streak to make that change.

-DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon are forced out of their comfort zone when they are asked to do too much. They have no choice but to try to do too much when they are on the floor with Aaron Gray, Ed Davis and Mickael Pietrus. Davis can score with his back to the basket but he isn’t a sure thing by any stretch. DeRozan and Jose combined for 8-of-22 shooting tonight to go along with a four assists and four turnovers.

-In my opinion, the starting lineup should be Lowry, Ross, DeRozan, Davis and Valanciunas (Amir for now) or Lowry, DeRozan, Anderson, Davis and Valanciunas (Amir).

-In three of the four games that Kyle Lowry has come off the bench, the reserves have significantly outperformed the starters. That was the case again tonight. I would be far more concerned about tonight’s result if the Raptors had given a complete effort, put their best foot forward with a healthy lineup and still lost by nine or more. Some tweaks to the starting lineup, a more complete effort from some of the starters and some better matchups for DeMarcus Cousins would have led to a far different result tonight.

-One of my favourite Raptors related stats is Toronto’s record when Alan Anderson gets 20+ minutes: 7-1 7-2. Anderson came into the game halfway through the first quarter with Toronto down by 7 and had an immediate impact, cleaning up a Calderon miss for an easy two and then jawing with DeMarcus Cousins – leading to double technicals. That play seemed to awaken the Raptors who went on a run following that altercation. Anderson continued to try and get under Cousins’ skin as they walked up the tunnel for halftime. Anderson is the type of player that you hate to play against but love to have on your team. His average plus/minus of +4.5 per game is no fluke.

- I 100% believe Landry Fields when he said “I’m not this bad” after discovering that he had a pinched nerve in his elbow earlier this season. The injury affected his shot, ball-handling and finishing ability. Since he returned from surgery, Fields has shot 10-of-14 from the field.

-I gush over Ed Davis in every game recap, but it’s so refreshing to see your power forward make a regular impact in the paint and on the glass every night. Davis finished the first half with 5 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks and many altered shots. For any number of reasons, it will be a travesty if Andrea Bargnani is handed back his starting job when he returns from injury.

-Quincy Acy played what I believe were his first significant minutes in the NBA in the second quarter and he looked serviceable. Acy competed with DeMarcus Cousins on defence and didn’t look outmatched on the glass.

-DeMarcus Cousins was the driving force behind this victory for Sacramento. As Joe talked about in his game thread, Cousins is the enigma of all enigmas. Tonight, Toronto didn’t have anyone that could guard him. Aaron Gray didn’t have the speed to match him and both Ed Davis and Amir Johnson lacked the size. Gray and Amir had especially rough nights, combining for 0 Pts (0-2 FG), 3 rebounds and nine personal fouls in 16 minutes.  Having Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani in the lineup would have been useful for defending Cousins.

-The biggest question that continues to circulate around this team’s fan base is “are the Raptors better off trading Andrea Bargnani for whatever BC can get?” Although I wrote several weeks ago that Bryan Colangelo’s only option was to trade Bargnani, the truth is, when you’ve won eight of your last 10 games, you don’t have to do anything. Would I trade Bargs for a lottery pick? Yup. But do I also think it’s possible he could be a positive factor off of the bench for the Raptors? Yup. Not likely, but possible.

-It’s important to put Toronto’s good stretch of basketball in perspective. The Raptors were never as bad as they were made out to be in the first 22 games, so when a number of things changed in their favour following that loss to Portland, their win streak isn’t very shocking in retrospect. This was a team that lost six games early this season in which they were leading in the final two minutes. Giving Bargnani’s minutes to Ed Davis and Amir Johnson helped spark this turnaround, without question, but that wasn’t the only factor.

The players-only meeting led to more cohesive and consistent play on both ends of the floor and the team also started to slowly develop confidence. There was a good loss to Brooklyn, followed by progressively better play against some weak opponents. There is also a chance that Jose Calderon brought some stability to the point guard position when Kyle Lowry went down. I’m not sold on that last theory and I emphatically believe Lowry should be the starter right now but I’m willing to listen to arguments that Calderon guided them down this path faster than Lowry could have. Toronto’s turnaround wasn’t as dramatic as people may think, which is why we shouldn’t be shocked by results such as tonight’s loss.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Kyle Lowry - 24 Pts, 5/10 FG, 4/7 3PT, 10/12 FT, 4 Ast, 3 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 TO in 28 minutes

Kings Player Of the Game: DeMarcus Cousins – 31 Pts, 11/18 FG, 9/12 FT, 20 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 TO in 33 minutes

The Raptors need to put this game behind them quickly with the Thunder coming to town on Sunday afternoon. The Raps then face six straight Eastern Conference foes, with four of those six matchups coming at home.

Comments (33)

  1. Hey Oliver,

    Why do you prefer the posted prospective/hopeful starting lineups instead of slotting fields in to replace mickael?

    • I’m still not really sure what Toronto has with Landry Fields. His shooting %’s dropped significantly in his 2nd year and although he rebounds very well and is an above average defender, his shooting and ability to create is below average. I think Anderson is a better player right now.

      That being said, I would fully support replacing Pietrus with Fields even though I think Anderson is the better option. Ross isn’t the best option either, but putting him in the starting lineup would be a move for the future

      • I do think your right about Anderson playing better right now. I’d like to test the waters on if Fields can be a better defender than Anderson. I also feel as though Anderson sometimes becomes a little to trigger happy but I like his swagger.

  2. Lowry, DD, T-Ross, Ed,Val.
    Can’t express how disappointed I was with Casey when the game was clearly getting out of control on the starters watch in the 3rd and he refused to make subs to halt SAC’s momentum. Especially considering they pissed away a cushy lead to end the first half.

  3. I am pissed off at how lowry is playing now to prove himself or whatever, this guy has become to pass friendly and that is not his game. He needs to drive the ball in the lane and attack, he is taking too many jump shots now and passing too much. When raps had that terrible third quater no one was driving. I think casey has the inability to put up the right rotations when they are needed to help raps win game, to make an run or when trying to maintain the lead.

    • Lowry played passive against portland. Today, he was better. Fact is, its pathetic that he is the only player that can consistently create his own shot and for others. He should be starting over calderon and playing 36 min/nite.

      • Very much agree with both of you. Lowry has been playing more passively of late but as AD says, he finished with 12 FT tonight which showed he was more aggressive. Against Portland, it was almost as if he was trying to make a point about being pass-first. Bottom line: there is no question that he should be starting and I worry that this will turn into a Houston situation if he doesnt get the starting gig soon

      • I’d point out that Lowry played aggressively again tonight and look what happened… Raps get blown out. The previous 3 game he is much more passive, all wins.

        We saw hero ball again tonight which means little team involvement. He got his numbers, his teammates didn’t.

        • @Rapsfan: What!???? his (Lowrys) team mates didn’t have “it” all night. what game were you watching?

        • Well, part of the problem was that it often took 3 attempts to make a shot. The Raptors were missing some really easy shots. Hell, outside of Lowry, everyone else really sucked at free throws. Free throws.

          FREE throws. Come on Raptors. You have to make those.

          Cousins only succeeded in the game because Amir/Gray kept fouling early. Although, I blame the refs for trying to ‘create a star’ for the league as much as I blame Amir/Gray. But this BS has been going on all season. They overcame it for 8 wins recently with good passing and efficient scoring. If they can’t get back to that, they’ll keep losing.

          Start Lowry vs Westbrook. Just do it!

    • 24 points on 10 shots, with 4 assists? I think Lowry had a pretty good game.

      Toronto had a seven point lead with 3:30 left in the second quarter, when Calderon returned to the game. Over the next 11 minutes (until Lowry returned to the game), they scored just 9 points, including a 7-minute stretch when they did not get a point. Brutal:
      http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/shotchart?gameId=400278198

      • a small correction on the article (the Raps were up by 7 when Calderon enetered the game with 3 minutes left in the first half)….Tor and Sac traded one basket each, then Sac went on a 8-0 run, then went on a 20-0 run that stretched into the second half. He (JC) should of be yanked early in that second half – once it was shown that his offensive play was not there, Lowry should have came early and stopped the bleeding before the game got out of hand! Casey didn’t make the switch and the Raps were down by 19 by the time Lowry entered the game. Thank Casey and Calderon for not showing up tonight

  4. “I don’t usually believe in single game plus/minus as a good indicator of player performance but it told the story tonight and it’s been the same story in recent games.”

    convient how that works isn’t it.

    The story of this game was Demarcus Cousins and how he ate up the Raps. Toronto had a combined 16 minutes from their C’s tonight (one of which should be a PF). In response Ed Davis had to shift over to C.

    Those players unfortunate enough to be on the floor with Cousins were negative +/-s, those who spent less time on the floor against Cousins weren’t. If the starters and back up roles were reversed, +/- would say something significantly different.

    What last night did was expose just how weak the Raps big men are. Amir and Ed are solid players, but are PFs. Gray is nothing but a big body to collect fouls. Add that 2 of those 3 were in foul trouble and its not hard to see were the Raps weakness lies.

    I find it quite hilarious that the Raptors biggest need right now is another big man, while this entire offseason the prevailing belief seemed to be team had too many.

    Maybe Bargnani could be traded for a useful back up C.

    • Can they combine all of their below average big men and create some sort of super-big man?

    • I agree with your assessment of Cousins and his impact on the game. Before they trade Bargs I would see what happens when he returns. If he plays well problem solved if not they can still trade. Bargs showed he can play last year but a major adjustment for him was the new PG. Yes he can shoot outside which was where he was getting it from Lowry but he wasn’t getting it inside in stride where is he most dangerous. Fifteen feet and in at the right time a delivered ball from the PG is a pretty sure 2.

    • Yet Davis and Amir man-handled Hickson and an all-star in Aldrige the night before. Cousins is ripping up every big man in the league not just last night against our bigs. I read you a lot on other sites Rapsfan, I know you are a HUGE Calderon supporter. So much so, that you say some of the most laughable insightful things just to draw attention towards a or against Calderon. It’s ok to be a fan, but can’t take you seriously as a “basketball guy” when your insight to the game is Calderon bias!

      • I’m not blaming Amir and Ed, they are just playing out of position at C – and you give the perfect example. Portland. Their two bigs are both PF size, much like Amir and Ed, so they match up very well there. Cousins however is a significantly different story though, and when those two are stuck banging with someone significantly bigger than them its a problem.

  5. Ow is aaron gray still in the nba. Make a layup

  6. I’d rather see Quincy acy start over Arron gray. He flat out sucks. He is the main reason why Toronto struggled in the thrd. Missed all three layups didn’t play defence and fouled twice in 3 mins

    • Serviceable center is laughable- Why is he still in the league? Although maybe he injured himself in practice or something

    • Lol Aaron Gray is terrible. I font care how big he is, he should NEVER start for this or any other NBA team

  7. Lots of people fine tuning the engine here but I believe they are fine tuning an unfinished product. The reason? Inconsistency. A sure symptom of a young team. DD in his 3rd year is really improving in that area but he’s not here yet.

    MK becomes redundant withe improvement of Fields which was why BC went out and got him. As much as I like AG as a player in that he gives you what he’s got as much as he can on any given night as has been pointed out here by comments he is just too slow for the elite big guys in the league. And Cousins is an elite big man make no mistake.

    Casey has his reasons I’m sure for his rotations but I do agree with you on one point. The front line with Gray as centre and Davis as PF and MK your swing man is not enough scoring punch consistently. After watching Acey I would give him more of Gray’s minutes such as they are and I would put Anderson in place of MK.

    Disagree on the PG idea for many reasons. If Lowry can stomach it I would leave them as they are. His time will come. Some saying Lowry too passive are missing the point. And that is? If Lowry scores 30 a night and the team loses defeats your purpose. That is? To win. One final point. Jose is most effective when he is on the floor with guys who can score. He has a gift for putting the ball in their hands when and where they want it. Now look at your front 3 starting. Injuries are hurting them big time.

    They played poorly maybe because the other team took them out of their comfort zone but in the end Cousins was the difference in this game. They had no answer.

  8. TFC could use Bargnani to pry away a future soccer propsect from Seria A.

  9. I said on this site after the Portland game that Lowry was looking TOO MUCH like Calderon. Calderon has to play the way he does to stay in the NBA. He is slow footed, no defence awareness, cannot: break his man of the dribble, create his own shot, hit contested shots, take over games when needed…these are just a few important things he lacks. He survives on his high bsktball IQ, floor awareness and great passing skills. He will hit three’s and open jumpers but on a average basis (according to league numbers). He is said to be a leader but to me, what’s leading a loser team for the past 6 years to nothing!??!. Last time the Raps made the play-offs it was TJ Ford who was the starter and lead us there.

    Lowry (to me) was playing like Damon Stoudimire did when he played here, before he got hurt – Ironically before Lowry lost his starters job, there numbers were similar. However I agree, Lowry needed to take less chances on the defensive end by playing straight “D” and stop taking chances for steals. There were plays where he needed to involve his team mates more and add a bit more of “Calderon style” into his play….the team had a meeting and that was discussed and brought to his attention. The media and fans blew up Lowry’s play when the Raps went on a winning streak calling him “selfish” and criticized his play blaming him and Bargnani for the losses while blowing over the top sunshine up Calderon ass. So Lowry is now doing what he is told – good on him, for this alone he deserves his starting gig back and prove he can make the adjustments while the team is playing better.

    This site has always said Lowry deserves the chance to show he can be the starter the team wants, after his latest injury return…and I totally agree. I want Lowry to continue to be assertive, to be a “little bit” selfish but not too much. I want my PG to break the defense down, take his man of the dribble, hit contested shots in the defenses face, this team has missed that for a long while. Last night was a good time to be selfish, no other Raptor could score – so take the team on your back for one game and try to get us back into the game for a chance to win.
    Lowry needs to add a bit of “Calderon style” to his game NOT play like Calderon. I don’t want to see anymore ZERO points from Lowry this year, just not his game. The Raps can win with Lowry being him while making the few adjustments. He has earned that right to prove himself!

    • Where is TJ today?… He got injured and couldnt hold the starters job in Indiana. Now He is retired.

      Damon Stoudimire? Got benched in Portland and they did everything they could to get rid of him.

      Where is Mike James? …Got traded like 10 times and is now Playing somewhere in China or the D-League. All this after being the leading scorer and top point guard in Toronto.

      Lowry? Gambles on defence, ball chucker and always wants to be the Hero. Not to mention has already gotten injured 3 times this season. Losing the starters job seems to be what he does best (Houston and Toronto)

      See a Trend?

      Calderon has his shortfalls…but he plays within his capabilities and lately that has put us in the best position to win. Consistency and winning is all i care about. With a record of 2-15 as a starter Lowry has not demonstrated any of that. I dont get why so much love for Lowry. Unless you love losing

      • @King of Futbol:

        TJ Ford never ever was the same after his spinal injury, wasn’t even close to what he was before that injury. If you want to brag about Calderon being better then a guy with major spinal injury that ended his career early, to make your point then that is just sad.

        D. Stoudimire was an all-star who led Portland to many play-offs and play-off wins – if want to boast about how he played during the end of his career to make your point about Calderon then that is just sad too.
        Question – how many play-off games has Calderon started, won or even played in? let alone compared to D. Stouds.

        And, I agree Mike James was a bum – so what! Calderon is better then Mike James…most of the league was and is! Comparing Calderon to this guy is a joke of a point.

        You’re comment on Lowry being a ball chucker is ironic seeing’s Lowry has a better life time shooting percentage the JC, averages more points per game, more rebounds and almost as many assists while playing defense. BUT you’re allowed your opinion!

        Also – to help me understand, why is it a bad trend when Lowry is in “head to head” competition to maintain his starting role on different teams, but Calderon (by your example) has done the same thing his whole career, yet its not a bad trend…why is that? Do you forget that Calderon was traded from this team – Toronto didn’t want him. MJ sent him back!…forget that part of history!?!

        @Johnn_19 and K of F:
        to say that the team is better based on just winning records alone is not only sad but extremely laughable!
        So you are both suggesting that the team meeting after the Portland loss had nothing to do with the turn around? Your suggesting that it was Calderon who all of a sudden made the team play better defense, made the team a better three point shooting team, made the team a better rebounding and protecting the rim team? All of this happened because JC started at the PG spot and the team started winning – he changed all of that!?! Your suggesting that all those games before the Portland team meeting, when the team was losing and Calderon was coming off the bench, he couldn’t help improve this team but low and behold make him a starter and the team is better just because of him starting? No one else on the team improved their game, it was just that Calderon needed to be the starter! Your suggesting, the team meeting had nothing to do with nothing – just “poof” Calderon starts and the team plays the same as it did all year when it was losing, only now because of JC being a starter and not a bench player they are winning – all because of Calderon starting! Are you both suggesting this?
        The team turned around their play after that team meeting in Portland – the same game Lowry went down. Lowry heard his team mates concerns and since he has come back he has shown he listens. Now with the team playing better (not because of just Calderon but because of the “gut check” team meeting and everyone else realizing they needed to improve too) Lowry deserves a chance to show he can play and win with a team that has checked in.

        • “You’re comment on Lowry being a ball chucker is ironic seeing’s Lowry has a better life time shooting percentage the JC, averages more points per game, more rebounds and almost as many assists while playing defense. BUT you’re allowed your opinion!”

          Career numbers

          Jose – fg 48% 3pt 39% TS 57% assist 40%

          Lowry – fg 42% 3pt 33% TS 55% assist 29%

          Have your own opinion but think about actually doing some research before posting numbers.

        • Mike James was a bum.

          TJ ford did get injured. But im not crying over a millionaire who plays basketball.

          Damon Stoudemire was a Pot Head and played with sheed and pippen just to name a couple of potential hall of famers (not sure how much leading he did there)

          What good is Lowry to the raptors when he spends half the season in Toronto (just like he did in Houston) on injured reserve?

          Calderon is steady and plays well with what he has. No one is calling him a superstar… but he is a leader who does his job. Dont hate because he is winning.

  10. I know this isn’t NBA, but this sums up Jose’s defensive “ability”

  11. re Sacremento, Raps shot 38% as a team & 67% FT’s as a team, having no one to defend Cousens, with Amir fouling out in 10 mins with no impact except fouling, end of story in one sentance.
    Untill Jonas and Andrea return Raptors will struggle against teams with players like Cousens, that’s life right now like it or not. The only way to beat such teams is to out score them, and games with under 40% shooting as a team WILL NOT DO IT.
    Rap’s with Lowry starting are 2-13 and with Calderon are 10-8, as long as it’s working, no need to change it. In any event if you expect Rap’s to win every game, you are bound to be dissapointed.

  12. Those who think Calderon should be the starter are ignoring some very basic facts. Namely:

    1 – The win streak has a lot more to do with Bargnani going down than Lowry. The team switch in the front court is what has galvanized this team, and you can see that because the Raptors are better with Lowry now than they were with Lowry before. Lowry is not the problem.

    2 – You have Calderon for one year, and you have Lowry for two. Calderon has already proven he cannot lead this team to the playoffs. Why not give Lowry, who is a superior defender by a large margin, a shot? What do you have to lose? Your downside is not making the playoffs, which is what the Raptors have always done with Calderon.

    3 – Calderon has some trade value right now. Ship him out. If Lowry proves he can’t do it, ship him out next year. Sticking with a high assist, low defense, aging PG who has proven he can’t make a team good enough to make the playoffs is not the answer. Re-signing Calderon would be even worse. Raptors are not a playoff team, and they need to start looking for legit building blocks. Find out if Lowry is one now that Bargnani is not screwing up the whole team, and if he’s not, move on.

    • Lowry has trade vaule as well and could easily be shipped out for some decent pieces, perhaps a 2nd round draft pick. It is Bryan Colangelo doing the dealing after all, and he seldom win’s any deals for us in a long long time. What an over rated GM.

  13. Im not sure if lowery should be a starter because he is a ball stopper . The raptors are at their best when players get the ball in motion and jose does a better job or running the offence. That being said i think lowery should get more minutes the jose but as a 6th man to give the team a spark off the bench. Also fields should be moved into the starting 5 because he is a fantastic rebounder and off the ball player.

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