Toronto Raptors 105, Denver Nuggets 137

My puke bucket was full midway through the first quarter. After suffering through a few more minutes of watching the Raptors get their ass absolutely spanked by the Nuggets, Jack Armstrong dropped a gem, and I’m pseudo-quoting:

If your plan is to outscore teams and you start playing the better ones, you’re not going to win.

If you stuck around to watch the fourth quarter (which is my duty as a blogger), you would’ve heard him drop another one:

If the Raptors matchup against Washington, Cleveland, Orlando or whoever, do they have what it takes to win 4 games? I’d say ‘no’. Can they stop a team by playing “down and dirty”? I don’t know.

O wise Jack, you see right through the facade of this team. We can beat the bad teams but once you stick us against an opponent of half-decent quality, we’re in deep trouble. The flaws of this squad were apparent and out in the open for everybody to see. We knew Bryan Colangelo’s experiment had holes but that they were this big, we didn’t know. And even if we did know, didn’t want to believe. This West coast trip is showcasing just how misconstrued the idea that the Raptors have any sort of depth really is. Take Bosh out and we’ll struggle in the D-League, that’s not even hyperbole, we lack the strength, ability and desire to compete at a consistent level against above average opposition. If you stick this team in the West, we’ll be bottom three every time. Colangelo has a lot of work to do and it’s got to start in the upcoming draft and off-season. If there’s one good thing that comes out of a loss like this it’s that you get an indication of who the people you want to weed out are and who’s still competing in the face of adversity.

This insufferable display of deplorable defense was a sight to behold and remember. I have not seen a Raptors team play this bad in a long, long time, I remember this Clipper game from ages ago (forget which year, maybe even 10 years ago) where the Raptors got embarrassed and blown out of the building. I thought I’d never see that day again but today matched that. We gave up 79 points in the first half, we couldn’t prevent a single Nugget from penetrating the lane. We couldn’t rotate out to any of their shooters, not even the first one out of the pass. We never covered the guy leaking out, we never provided help when a teammate was beaten (hell, we didn’t even bother calling screens out), we couldn’t take away the drive or the shot, we just laid down and waited Denver to pummel us in every which way. And they did, they killed us like we haven’t been killed before. Utter embarrassment and humiliation. Total degradation.

There’s nothing much to say, if you saw the game you know how bad it was. But I’d like to touch on how unmotivated, unprepared and lacking a plan this team came out tonight. There wasn’t an emphasis on doing a singular thing, we couldn’t contain Iverson, ‘Melo, Camby or anybody else on the Nuggets. We allowed every single player to have a great game and didn’t have an idea of just how we were going to try to win this game. Double Iverson? Front ‘Melo? Get Camby in foul trouble? Force Anthony Carter to create? Force perimeter jumpshots? Collapse on ‘Melo? These are just some of the strategies that we could’ve used but we did nothing. We played man-defense for most of the game and got burned every single time the Nuggets put the ball on the floor. We never stood a chance because we didn’t have a damn clue on how to even approach this game. Typical freestyling, only this time even the effort wasn’t there.

Calderon and Ford both stunk and TJ played as disinterested as ever. They combined for 9 points and Bargnani had 6 in 13 minutes. Rasho and Parker carried the load, the latter’s 15 points coming almost entirely in the first quarter. That’s when this was still sort of a game, by the time it ended the score was 44-23 and garbage time had officially begun. The rest of the game was a display of Denver athleticism, creativity, desire and skill. The Raptors ended up looking like clowns with careless turnovers, forced passes, lazy defense and not to mention body language that would’ve made Zack Randolph blush.

Sure, Bosh is out but how hard and how long can you ride that excuse? I don’t care if you’re dressing 8 players and 3 of them are gimps, you still have to come out and compete. Nobody has a problem that you get blown out by 30, it’s the way you get blown that says a lot too. Speaking in intangibles, this team lacks toughness, grit, desire and emotion. Speaking in basketball terms, they lack the lateral quicks to stay with opposing guards, they lack the agility to play interior defense, they lack the physicality of playing a gritty hard-nosed contest and finally, they lack the instruction to do any of the above. Chris Bosh is injured but that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to lay an egg every time.

Sacramento is our only shot of winning a game on this trip, they’ll be playing a back-to-back (Phoenix) and we’ll have a days rest. No excuses.

Liners:

  • Jason Kapono was put in to guard Carmelo Anthony.
  • What is Kleiza’s problem? He was jawing at Jay Triano for a good 10 minutes and got T’d up for it.
  • Chuck/Jack much more enjoyable to listen to than Chuck/Leo.
  • Denver leaked out on every possession but the Raptors never adjusted.
  • Aside from a couple blocks, Anthony owned Moon and penetrated at will. Iverson got into the paint at will, almost embarrassingly easily leaving Ford and Calderon a glimpse of what true talent looks like.
  • Wasn’t there talk of a VC for Iverson swap years back? Should’ve probably made that if it was on the table.
  • Another Friday, another loss. This is the 6th straight time we’ve lost on a Friday night, the last victory was at home against Milwaukee on January 25th.
  • If there’s one thing i expect to see from a Sam Mitchell coached team it’s a consistent effort. Screw the X’s and O’s but the effort should always be there because he’s supposed to be a motivator before a basketball coach.
  • Circle March 23rd on your calendars. That’s when we play Denver at home. How the Raptors come out in that game after tonight’s humiliation will speak even greater volumes about this team.
  • Nights like these test your Raptors fanhood.

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