The first game of a new era in Raptors basketball ended like so many before – with Toronto losing a heartbreaking game in the final seconds and the officials playing a big part in the finish.
Now here are some thoughts on the game…
- We’ll start at the end. After a bit of a scramble, Alan Anderson came out with the ball and took an absolutely pathetic shot with still so much time left on the game clock (around eight seconds) and the shot clock turned off. While I’ve praised Anderson in the past for his journey from China to 10-day contract to legitimate NBA rotation player all in less than a year, I’ve got to say, his veteran presence is starting to become a burden with some of the horrible shots he takes in close games.
Having said that, DeMar DeRozan fought for the offensive rebound among Hawks bigs and got ridiculously hacked right in front of a ref going back up for the potential game-winning shot. No call. Just the latest example in a long line of comically incompetent NBA officiating.
I’ve been telling fans to stop talking playoffs until the Raptors prove they can win games like this, and a lot of close losses have been their own doing, but if you’re Dwane Casey and Bryan Colangelo, whose jobs hinge on winning games, how do you feel about the refs being the direct difference between being 6.5 games out of eighth and 3.5 games out of eighth right now (Remember that the NBA had already admitted twice before tonight that they missed game-changing calls)? Actually, THIS is how Casey feels, and I don’t blame him or disagree with him one bit for losing his cool. “I’ve been in this league 18 years, and I’ve never seen as many missed calls at the end of the game to cost us the game.”
- Before the refs put their stamp on this game, it should be noted that the Raptors blew yet another double-digit lead en route to this loss and that the Raps have now lost 10 games this season in which they were winning or tied in the last two minutes. Hopefully inserting Rudy Gay into this lineup does something about that.
- The third quarter was a back-breaker for the Raptors in Atlanta, as they blew a 10-point halftime lead by shooting 5-of-18 from the floor in the third frame and being outscored 30-14 in the quarter.
- Of course on the day that we all speculate that Gay and DeMar DeRozan won’t be an effective wing combination because neither can really shoot the three, DeRozan hits two three-pointers, with his only miss from deep on the night coming on an attempted halfcourt buzzer-beater in which he was fouled. I still stand by my opinion, but I just thought it was ironic.
- In addition to acquiring Gay and trading Davis, moving Jose Calderon in the three-team deal effectively handed the offensive keys over to Kyle Lowry and to a lesser extent, John Lucas (until the Raptors can find a more suitable backup). The pair combined for a very un-Calderon like seven assists and five turnovers against the Hawks, but they also scored 33 points on over 48 per cent combined shooting, with Lowry adding 10 rebounds for good measure, so it wasn’t all bad.
- Bryan Colangelo joined the broadcast for a short time during the second half and when asked if he was done making moves this season, his response was a very defiant “no.” Later in the evening, Colangelo told NBA TV that while he won’t trade Andrea Bargnani in a bad deal just for the purpose of trading him, discussions have taken place with Bargnani and his agent with respect to a change of scenery for the enigmatic Italian big man. Basically, if you thought the Rudy Gay trade finally coming to fruition meant that the rumours would die down for a while, think again. This may have just been the beginning.
Perhaps the best part of Colangelo joining the broadcast was when he talked about his phone conversation with Gay this evening, quoting Rudy as asking “why didn’t you just draft me in the first place?” I already like this guy…
Raptors Player Of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 23 Pts, 8/16 FG, 2/3 3PT, 5/6 FT, 4 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO in 34:51
Hawks Player Of the Game: Al Horford – 22 Pts, 10/15 FG, 2/4 FT, 10 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Blk in 43:54