DeMar DeRozan was banished to the bench, bearing the brunt of the coach’s wrath, a player whose lack of effort reflected most of the team.
“He’s not playing very well," head coach Jay Triano said. “He’s not playing very hard. We have to create more a sense of urgency with all our guys.”
The Raptors showed no ability to defend a night earlier in getting blown out in Oklahoma City and it carried over into Monday’s meeting with a Rockets team that isn’t big but plays with big hearts.
On Toronto’s first possession, they ran an excellent high-low sequence to take advantage of its size.
Rasho Nesterovic made a perfect entry pass to Andrea Bargnani, who sealed his man, but rather than dunk the basketball, Bargnani tried to finish with a finesse move that came up short.
Out of sync almost from the opening tip, the Raptors slowly began to get dismantled, offering little resistance and no sense of wanting to compete.
About the only player who competed was Marcus Banks, the beneficiary of Calderon’s absence. Banks was on the floor in the fourth quarter with a unit that included Patrick O’Bryant and Marco Belinelli, players who actually played hard.
Bosh has opened the door to staying because he hasn’t said that he was leaving.
An open-minded individual, Bosh will explore all options, which is what he should and must do.
As he watches his team, Bosh can’t be pleased with what he sees.
He sat on the bench as the Raptors simply got over-matched by Portland and then watched as the Raptors self-destructed against Cleveland in crunch time.
There are those who will have you believe that the players haven’t been able to step up because they’ve been playing in Bosh’s shadow.
With so much of the offence running through Bosh, so much is expected and demanded of him.
About the only player one hears instructing players where to go on defence and when screens are coming is Bosh.
If no one is capable of elevating their game without Bosh against an opponent of any quality, then the Raptors have very worrisome problems.
Even on those rare nights when Bosh had a sub-par game, there was someone who stepped up, a core piece who made a shot a second-unit player who provided energy and a lift.
DeRozan, who was scoreless with one rebound in 15 minutes, admitted to being frustrated by the whole state of his game but not surprised things aren’t going well 59 games into his rookie season.
“It’s just frustration at a frustrating time,” he said of the kicking incident. “It just seems that nothing’s going our way right now, we have to find a way to get back on track.”
“That’s not bothering me too much,” he added about his personal struggles. “I knew it was going to cone eventually, you have to deal with it, get through it. I can’t let it bother me. Just have to worry about trying to help out the team.”
The already short-handed Raptors were dealt two more blows, one before the game and one early in the second quarter.
Calderon got a gash on his elbow Sunday night and got treatment in Oklahoma City but it stiffened up on him during the day Monday.
“They’re being cautious about an infection,” Triano said.
And Turkoglu stepped on the foot of Houston’s Jared Jefferies on a drive to the rim early in the second quarter. He hobbled to the locker room to have his left ankle re-taped and came back to finish the first half. But it got worse during the intermission and his night was done.
The Raptors have two pretty good point guards. Jack is really reasonably priced for a starter. Calderon is quite expensive for a reserve. It may make sense to keep both. On the other hand Toronto may have needs great enough to consider parting with one or the other. Calderon was a hot topic last off-season. Jack hasn’t been brought up, but wouldn’t the irony be delicious?
Like the Rockets on Saturday, the Raptors came in short-handed, with Chris Bosh (sprained ankle) and Jose Calderon (cut elbow) out. Like the Rockets on Saturday, when Shane Battier battled flu-like symptoms, the Raptors lost Hedo Turkoglu, who sprained his left ankle and sat out the second half. And like the Rockets on Saturday, Toronto was playing the second half of a back-to-back on the road.
But like the Jazz, the Rockets moved the ball so well, they found open shooters and chances at the rim. They hit their first 10 attempts, scoring 23 points in 5½ minutes before they missed a shot.
Even after Toronto rallied in the second quarter to close within six, the Rockets blew the game open as if they could have at will. The Rockets scored the final 10 points of the first half, with Brooks and David Andersen hitting 3s to give them a 68-point half — their high for the season — and a 21-point lead.
To their credit — if you want to call it "credit" — the Raptors were without Chris Bosh (ankle) and Jose Calderon (elbow). Both look like they could return later on in the week, but until then it’s going to be a struggle for the Raptors. The starting five scored just 31 of the team’s 92 points. I’d point you to a few of the bench’s notable lines, but they were all garbage time stat-lines. The Raptors need Bosh back — and badly — seeing that they also lost Hedo Turkoglu in the second-half with a sore ankle. It’s a great time to see the Raptors on your schedule.
Lemon Face: The Raptors Without Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh, please have a little heart for our neighbo(u)rs up north. Watch the game against the Rockets from Monday. This was a pathetic display of defense and basketball by the Raps. This is what it’s going to look like if you leave this summer. That’s a horrible thing to do to a group of people. I hear Toronto is a lovely city so that can’t be the problem. And the money looks funny so you probably always feel like you’re playing Monopoly. That doesn’t sound too bad either. Don’t do this to Canada. Don’t do this to the Raptors fan. Just suck it up, sign another three-year deal and tough it out. Thank you.
Without Calderon’s penetration and range, as well as Bosh’s scoring and glass-cleaning, Toronto often settled for mid- or long-range jumpers. Once the Rockets picked up their defensive intensity, the Raptors’ shots stopped falling and their point total stopped rising.
By halftime, the Rockets had 18 assists on 23 baskets and four players with at least nine points. So it wasn’t much of a surprise that they shot 63.9 percent and generated their highest point total (68) of any first half this season.
But while Houston’s offense was on fire throughout, it was its defense that put away the game.
After Toronto pulled within 45-39 on a Sonny Weems fastbreak dunk with 7:50 remaining before halftime, the Rockets started putting more hands in the face of Raptors’ shooters.
This, combined with Houston’s sizzling shooting and quick ball movement, led to a 32-11 run that put the Rockets ahead 77-50 with 8:55 left in the third quarter.
Toronto continued to throw up bricks from there, allowing Houston to extend its advantage to 36 en route to the victory.
"I’m really proud of the way the guys responded after the tough game in Utah," Battier said. "It helped that they didn’t have Bosh and Turkoglu got banged up early, but it was a nice performance on the heels of a tough week last week."
It’s vital for the health of the NBA that New York field a lively, contending team. A formidable franchise in the city would boost league TV ratings and merchandising prospects. The Knicks could do for basketball what the Yankees have done for baseball. From a marketing standpoint, the Yanks are this country’s greatest sporting brand. If the NBA wants to be a true global game, the Knicks must be worth showcasing, too.
But the Knicks are in a tough spot. To improve in the NBA, they have had to shuffle their roster to clear payroll and create salary-cap room. Under cap rules, to sign two marquee free agents this summer at the starting maximum salary of $17 million or so — say, LeBron James and Chris Bosh – the Knicks must renounce the rights to all their free agents. They would also have to renounce the rights to Lee and terminate his Bird Rights, an exemption that lets a team re-sign its own player for any amount up to the maximum allowed salary, even if it’s over the cap. Plus, the team would forfeit its midlevel exception, a slot worth some $6 million. If the Knicks do snag two max-level stars, their only remaining players will be Gallinari, Chandler, Toney Douglas and the ever-enigmatic Eddie Curry. Any other newcomers would have to settle for the NBA minimum.
– “Chris Bosh has to come back – ASAP.”
– “The Houston back court was spectacular.”
Good teams win on the road. Good teams adapt when they’re shorthanded. The Raps looked nothing like a good team at all last night.
It was just a straight up blowout. Kevin Martin jumped on the Raptors in the first quarter and that pretty much sealed the deal on the game. Martin scored 15 of his 28 points in the first when the Rockets scored 37 points in the opening quarter. The Rockets set a season-high 68 points in the first half as Houston cruised their way to a victory Monday night.
After a monster first quarter, Andrea Bargnani decided that was enough for the rest of the night and didn’t again period. It’s not entirely his fault to be fair. Teams are really focusing in on him without Chris Bosh. But Andrea has to realize he’s the best player on the court for us. And he will in time. I feel like these last three games are the first three games of him taking the next step. It’ll be interesting to see him develop.
It’s times like this that it becomes terribly difficult to remain a loyal and true Raptors fan, but luckily the Raptors do have two positives to take from this experience: (1) they now have 3 days off, hopefully more than enough time to finally heal Bosh and hopefully Calderon, (2) all the teams below them are playing just as poorly. Despite losing the Raptors managed to not lose any ground on either the Bobcats or Bulls who were also both in action and managed to lose, both on their home courts.