Let’s be clear about one thing: No one, not even the most optimistic/delusional Raptors fan would have predicted a Toronto win tonight, so I’m not going to write this blog as if the Raps let one slip.
They are not supposed to beat Utah at all, let alone in Utah, where the methodical Jazz run like clockwork.
Having said that, the effort the Raptors put forth in the second and third quarters, and to an extent in the fourth, was good enough that had it been sustained for 48 minutes, would have given them at least a fighting chance.
Twelve minutes of running around like chickens with their heads cut off (and let’s be honest, that’s what the first quarter looked like) to open the game buried the Raptors. They found themselves down 19 points after one quarter, giving up an inexcusable 41 first quarter points.
The bench came through in the second quarter to alleviate some of the deficit, but the real bright spot for the Raptors was the third quarter, where the duo of Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan looked unstoppable offensively and Toronto’s defence held the Jazz to just 36 percent shooting in the third. The Raptors even chipped the Utah lead down to one.
The knockout punch came at the end of the third. Trailing by two, the Raptors gave Deron Williams two free throws, which he made. DeMar DeRozan then stepped out of bounds attempting a half-court heave, and with 1.7 seconds left off the ensuing in-bound, C.J. Miles banked in a three-pointer.
What looked like it might only be a two-point deficit heading into the fourth quickly became seven.
You know the rest of the story. The Raptors couldn’t hang with the Jazz in the fourth, and found themselves sitting at 1-3 by the end of the night.
At this point, just keeping the games in L.A. and Portland respectable to close this road trip would be an accomplishment.
Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 36 Min, 26 Pts, 8-19 FG, 2-3 3pt, 8-9 FT, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Blk
Jazz Player of the Game: Deron Williams – 41 Min, 22 Pts, 7-14 FG, 0-4 3Pt, 8-9 FT, 8 Reb, 14 Ast, 2 Stl
Goat of the Game: Linas Kleiza – 21 Min, 4 Pts, 2-6 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 3 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 TO