Washington Wizards 110, Toronto Raptors 106

That hurt. That one really, really hurt. It hurts me to see us suffer through offensive sets relying on Jose Calderon to do something to bail us out on every possession. Calderon’s exhausted trying to makeup for the pathetic excuse of an offense run by Sam Mitchell which doesn’t have a head or a tail to it. We’re freelancing on every possession, every single one. Sam’s idea of a play is to give Jose the ball, run a high screen for him and see if anything comes of it. The other option is to have Parker come off a baseline screen and go up for a fadeaway. That’s pretty much all we were running all game long so it’s not a shock that Washington defended the Parker fade to perfection on our last meaningful possession in overtime. When we needed a score, we failed to get one. The staple of the Sam Mitchell offense. The messed up part is that we ran that exact same play at the end of regulation and Washington had defended it really well!

Let’s get the Sam bashing out of the way, we had a chance to win this game in regulation. Three things happened in the fourth quarter which prevented us from doing that. Number One. The Raptors had ended the third quarter on a run and had managed to build a 6 point lead. You don’t need to be head coach to figure out that Washington was going to come out in the fourth quarter at full-force. Sam chose to start the fourth quarter of this crucial game with the struggling TJ Ford who played a key part in Washington’s 9-0 run to start the quadrant. On the quarter’s first three possessions Ford took two ill-advised shots and turned the ball over. Washington was back in this game and here to stay. Number Two. Down 2 at 1:59, the Raptors called a timeout to setup a play, what came out of the timeout was confusion followed by a Carlos Delfino 25 footer with the clock running down. On the ensuing possession, Delfino was caught on the switch against Jamison and a double-team was left begging, Jamison scored easily leaving me to wonder why we aren’t pressuring a team that’s shown all game long that they’re susceptible to it. Number Three. Why the hell are we going underneath a screen for Roger Mason Jr.?

Andrea Bargnani had a great game with 27 points but was largely invisible in the fourth quarter and OT going 1-5 FG in that stretch. Even then he had a commendable game but it was somewhat ruined for me when he unnecessarily fouled Antawn Jamison with 30 seconds left in a one possession game to make it a four point lead and more importantly, make an enemy out of the clock. A dumb play by Andrea that prevented us from getting another chance to tie this game in OT. Bargnani came out aggressive and hitting his shots and continued his good play into the second quarter. But as the half ended so did his effectiveness, Andrea went 2-6 FG for the rest of the game and wasn’t a very big factor. But 27 points out of Bargnani in an important game is great news and along with Moon’s play, one of the few positives on the evening.

A lot has been made about the depth of the Raptors team and how we can sustain with Bosh being out. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Washington Wizards: Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Antonio Daniels, Darius Songaila, Nick Young, Roger Mason, Andray Blatche, Dominic McGuire. That is called depth. It doesn’t matter to these guys that they’re two best players are out, they have a good coach and a solid supporting cast that understands their role and plays within it. Eddie Jordan has done a tremendous job with this group of players who play aggressive, hungry and most of the time, smart. In shartp contrast, look at us with Chris Bosh out. But we shouldn’t be shocked that we lost this game, our best interior defender, best rebounder, best scorer and best player wasn’t playing, thus exposing the false facade that is the depth on this team. But hey, we’re waiting for cap room to plug our holes, right? When is that? 2008 summer? 2009? On that note, it’s good to remind ourselves that we’re not the only ones with cap room.

Sam, you going to ride the Bosh excuse?

“There are just certain plays Chris can make and others can’t make. You can put the ball in his hands and create matchups that other players just can’t.”

How about Anthony Parker?

“We miss Chris every game, but that’s not an excuse. We just didn’t execute down the stretch.”

Execute what man? Don’t you just mean that the Raptors didn’t make their shaats? Let’s not use the word execute like we have a plan against a depleted team like Washington.

The Raptors were freestyling all night long with Calderon at the helm. He was getting caught up in some weird switches where Blatche, Haywood and Songalia often ended up guarding him and he took full advantage by driving to the rim and causing a little chaos. Delfino stepped up with 17 but all his points seem to come from one-on-drives, deep unexpected threes or just plain old-fashioned hustle points. I’m convinced that Carlos Delfino doesn’t know a single Raptors play (if one exists) because his game is completely detached from any offense we might run. He’s like that guy at school who doesn’t come to class, doesn’t do his homework but surprisingly, does pretty okay on the tests. Watching our offense is like scratching your nails against the blackboard, it’s a pain. Everything is predictable and guardable. The opposing team has complete control on what shot they want us to take and when push comes to shove, they can have their way. If it weren’t for Calderon’s penetration and a hard-working Parker, all 5 Raptors would be standing on the perimeter watching the wind blow.

It’s only appropriate that we got killed 49-38 and gave up two huge offensive rebounds in overtime which led to 4 crucial points. Jamario Moon’s man defense on Antawn Jamison was good all game but in the second half Jamison decided to play outside-in and kept cutting from the top of the key towards the rim and the Raptors never adjusted to his off-the-ball movement. Great adjustment from Eddie Jordan. We would’ve gotten blown out of this game if it weren’t for Washington turning the ball over 22 times to hand us 31 points. Many of them were caused by occasional great Raptor defense but many were unforced. Our perimeter defense wasn’t that bad but we were instead getting exposed underneath through backdoor cuts and East-West Washington movement. We played good defense in stretches in the third and fourth quarter but what good is a defense if it can’t come up with a stop when you need it the most?

The Raptors lose the season series against a team they could very well end up tying in the standings. It’s nice to win season series’ against the Indiana’s and NY’s but so far we’ve lost two of the three important ones: Orlando, Washington and soon we’re going to lose Cleveland. Talk about not showing up in the important games. Again, why am I shocked? Without Bosh, we’re a mess. It doesn’t look like Bosh will be back for the West coast swing and I’m guessing if we don’t beat Seattle, we’ll be 1 game under .500 when we arrive back home.

Till later.

Liners:

  • Calderon didn’t have a great shooting game but it was because of him that the Raptors got back in this one in the third quarter. He’s the only Raptor that showed an ability to break down the Wiz defense and get to the rim. His shot count told me that he wanted to prove something after Arenas’ blog comments.
  • Jamario Moon had his second straight good defensive game. If he can just continue do the little things right on defense and add a drive to his game, he’d be a much better asset. He often turns down the open lane for a jumper which should be a crime given his athleticism.
  • I’m a big TJ Ford fan but his play today was worth of a wet puke. For all his quotes of being a team player, he sure doesn’t show it at times.
  • I like how Chuck Swirsky qualified a legal Antawn Jamison drive as a travel but on the very next possession kept quiet about a blatant Andrea Bargnani travel. Same for him questioning why Jamison wasn’t in the game in the third but remaining silent on Calderon’s absence.
  • Considering the Raptors shot 39%, we should be thankful we were in this game. Usually it takes a 45%+ FG for us to have a shot. Washington turnovers made up for a lot of our offensive problems and we did end up taking up more shaats (99-82)
  • Off-season super-signing Jason Kapono 2 points in 7 minutes, thought I’d throw that in there.
  • Another Friday, another loss.

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