Raptors 81, Hornets 85 – Box

The Raptors did not get a fair shake from the refs yesterday afternoon. Questionable decisions have gone against them in their previous two outings as well, and on those occasions I shook my head and moved on, hoping it’s just lady luck being cruel. Yesterday there was nothing questionable or unlucky, it was blatantly obvious that the Raptors’ chance to win this game had been reduced by two calls that very well could have decided the outcome of this game. A win rewarding this effort would have been the icing on a cake, and as much the refereeing influenced the outcome, the first order of examination is internal.

The Raptors were good enough on the day to beat the Hornets despite injuries to Barbosa, Bayless and Kleiza, the refs, and a forgettable performance from Andrea Bargnani (42min, 4-17 FG, 11pts, 4reb, 2TO), who like any NBA center is liable to have a bad offensive game, but unlike any other NBA center is very likely to have a brutal defensive game. I can understand Triano sticking with Bargnani hoping he can catch fire in the fourth, after all he’s done that a few times this season. Sticking with a struggling offensive player for 42 minutes isn’t uncommon and is rarely up for questioning because usually these players are providing something or other somewhere else in the game. Not so much Bargnani whose 42 minutes on the court were marred by blown rotations, missed box-outs and a general disinclination to play any sort of defense. Hindsight is 20/20, but you stick Dorsey in there for 15 of Bargnani’s minutes and this is a win. I won’t slag on him, though, bad offensive games happen, too bad for the Raptors that when he’s having a bad offensive game it’s very difficult for him to have a positive impact elsewhere.

The first-half rebounding dominance supplied in large part by Ed Davis and Amir Johnson formed the foundation of the Raptors’ 44-37 halftime lead. With DeRozan and Bargnani sputtering it was left for the Raptors to hang their hat elsewhere, which is where Davis and Johnson came in. The Raptors were +12 in rebounds at one point in the first half and with 14 second chance points, the domination was total. The pick ‘n roll with Jose Calderon and Sundiata Gaines were working well, and the 1/4 combos also executed lobs effectively. Jose Calderon is attributed 7 turnovers in the game and those need to be looked at in the proper light. He’s running pick ‘n rolls with a rookie in Ed Davis and a guy in Amir Johnson who has never had an offense run through him consistently. The turnovers are expected, even more so given Calderon’s newly found aggressive nature. Credit also needs to be given for Sundiata Gaines for recognizing the types of players the Raptors have and quickly accustoming himself to their tendencies. He made a few passes from FT-FT passes that setup hoops for DeRozan and Johnson. And of course, he also did this.

The early goings had the Raptors benefiting from Marco Belinelli’s enthusiasm for getting back at his old team, he didn’t much of anything good and certainly didn’t make anyone regret the trade. Julian Wright on the other hand was in fine form, 11 points, 6 rebounds and great defense. The Raptors were ticking because of their defense with the +10 rebounding advantage leading the charge at halftime. Chris Paul was struggling to find his shot and didn’t look to get himself going, David West was the only Hornet getting his points efficiently, and even he was made to work hard for them. Marcus Thornton’s jumpers were completely off and they were getting no production from the guard spots. Emeka Okafor’s offensive rebounds were keeping them in it and it was a problem that wouldn’t go away.

The Hornets tried to come out hard in the third quarter with Paul and West, and the Raptors immediately pegged them back. Calderon and Johnson connected twice and Julian Wright had an impressive drive to push the lead back to 57-45 forcing New Orleans into a timeout. Not sure what happened after that because the Raptors energy level seem to fall, this happened right around the time Jarrett Jack started to impose his will on the game. Jose Calderon’s defense was poor, perhaps because of short-rotation and two-PG lineup fatigue, and he was unable to cope with Jack. Marcus Thornton, who couldn’t make a jumper to save his life, was played too tight by DeRozan which meant easy paths to the rim. Ed Davis didn’t get into the game till the 3:33 mark when Triano finally subbed off the ineffective Bargnani.

The Hornets, specifically Jarrett Jack, ended the third on a 6-0 run, stealing the momentum from the Raptors whose rebounding had taken a massive dip. They were -7 for rebounds in the third quarter and the negative trend continued into the fourth. But, just like they had done to start the third, the Raptors responded to the Hornets charge. DeMar DeRozan rattled off five straight points off of two Gaines assists and upped the lead back to 9, giving the Raptors a realistic shot at this. The combination of play that followed is what proved fatal, two Bargnani turnovers, two missed Bargnani jumpers and a Gains turnover meant no scores for five straight possessions. On the other end, Jack continued to put pressure on help defense and either scored or created points. At 70-68 the lead might still have been there, but the momentum had vanished.

The Raptors’ infatuation with playing Thornton tight was unexplainable and it burned them dearly, the poor-shooting guard shot four FTs and when David West gave them the lead at 80-79 with 3:47 left to play, things looked bleak as the offense and defense had gone in the tank. The Raptors caught some big breaks with the Hornets missing wide open looks (three threes and a wide open jumper) that surely would have settled the tie. The Raptors could not capitalize, Bargnani continued his misfiring and even the usually patient Jose Calderon was coaxed into an ill-advised contested three. Bargnani’s troubles were compounded when Okafor kept on piling the offensive rebounds against him, he finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds, 12 of them offensive which more than made up for the Hornets shooting 39%.

The Raptors had a possession stolen from them with a minute left as the ball appeared to have gone out of bounds with West touching it last, the officials did not use the replay which would’ve overturned the call. DeRozan’s drive out of a timeout resulted in a foul and tied the game with 40 seconds left. The Raptors dropped in a weird sort of zone with Davis late in closing out West who calmly executed his expertise from 18 feet, defensive breakdown to say the least. The officiating looked to have dropped the ball again when DeRozan’s drive to the rim was deemed a turnover, after conferring they reversed the call allowing the Raptors another shot to tie with 19 seconds left. Triano chose not to call his last timeout and Jose Calderon inbounded the ball from the baseline to Amir Johnson in the post who was clearly fouled by West on his layup attempt. Replays proved the refs guilty but there was no whistle to be heard, after West made it a two possession game, Johnson ended up missing a jumper. Not the best shot in that situation. Game over.

It’s not a tough loss to swallow because there were good performances from Ed Davis and Amir Johnson in there, with DeRozan coming on late and giving it a fight. Triano’s late-game play calling again falls short, the Raptors are 3-7 in games decided by five points or less. I’m not going to slag on him because the team showed excellent effort and that’s criteria #1 when judging a coach. The bottom line is that the talent level on the Raptors is pretty low, and that the future of this franchise is being built on hope rather than substance. And this is where the good news kicks in, we’re another game closer to a top-three pick and that’s how talent is infused into franchises.

All in all, Raptors put in a good effort but get victimized. Up next is a trip to San Antonio on Wednesday.

  • http://twitter.com/Buddahfan Buddahfan

    You are going to have to get used to Johnson taking jump shots or become out of date with how the Raptors are playing.

  • TheR3dMenace

    Andrea was pretty brutal. Every player has off games though. I seem to recall that whenever he lays an egg like yesterday, as he is prone to do on occasion, the next game back he plays extra aggressive and usually beasts. That is a good thing.

  • Wulfers

    maybe the bad calls on the raps are a conspiracy to land us a lottery pick so we get out of this abyss of mediocrity we’ve been stuck in for years!

    • Brain Colangelo

      No – to give us first pick in a bad draft to keep the sizeable potential Cdn market for basetball alive a little longer.

    • barenakedman

      Who knows. I’ve seen non calls and bad calls before but usually they try to even things out. This year looks different as they are making a concerted effort to give the game to the other team. Anyway it could have a positive effect down the road and not just draft position. It’s like swinging a bat with a weight on it before you go to bat. Eventually the Raps will start getting the calls and it will be like the weight coming off.

    • Bendit

      There may yet be a few more Donaghies in the ref ranks.

  • JamesJ

    I can recall a lot of moments of D when Bargnani just stood and stared at the ball while it was coming off the rim, all the while Okafor grabbed O rebound after O rebound (12 offensive rebounds for Okafor. TWELVE. Fuck….). I can also recall Bargnani just flailing around attempting to contest shots, and that was just funny looking.

    I’m a fan of Barg but his poor performance was the factor that determined the Raps’ loss tonight. It’s a shame to watch the Raps lose since they clearly fought hard, what with the 7 man rotation and extended injured list and all, just to lose it the last few minutes. Questionable calls aside, and if Barg put effort on the defensive end and boxed out Okafor than this would’ve been a win.

    • Dookielover

      maybe bargs has had enough of gettin looked off game after game scoring 15 in the 4th and yet standin wide open wavin his hands while amir gets stuffed dd gets stuffed and jose turns the ball over…..just sayin.

      • Sek99

        Give me a break. Like Arse said, Bargnani only ever provides on the offensive end. If his shot doesn’t fall, he should at least look to get to the rim. Instead, he just watched on defense (like he almost always does) and kept shooting poorly. The guys a one way player, which makes him a liability when he isn’t on fire. By far the most frustrating raptor. . . either scores 30 and every tenth game actually gives a shit on defense, or just hurts the team on both sides of the ball. We were getting good looks inside with Amir and Ed, but we had to go back to the “face of the franchise” in the fourth, which cost us the game.

        • John_P

          Funny how you had nothing to say the previous 5 games when Demar was shitting the bed. Also can’t recall you ever criticizing Demar as a one dimensional player. This coming from the person who claims he doesn’t play favourites.

          • Sek99

            Uh, read some of my earlier posts. Demar is a terrible defender. I didn’t even really believe in the hype until he exploded for that stretch of games where he actually is looking like he has star potential. I’ve also said a million times that, no matter how poor Demar is on defense, it doesn’t affect nearly as much as having a poor defensive centre. Rip Hamilton isn’t known for defense. Still was a great player. Won a championship. Teams with poor interior defense haven’t. Also, I’m hopeful that his development won’t be as tumultuous as Bargnanis was, and therefore he’ll turn out alright. I also see something called ‘fight’ in Demar, that Bargnani almost never has. Demar is a decent scorer right now who can’t play defense. He’s also in his second year. I don’t know if Demar will ever be able to play defense, or even be a good scorer consistently, but he gets leeway because he at least looks like he gives a shit most of the time. Can you honestly, truly say the same about Bargnani? I’ll ask you one more question, would you rather have a good defensive centre and a good scoring shooting guard, or a good scoring centre and a defensive SG? Also remember, a good centre can cover for poor wings. And about the rebounding, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ed Davis and Amir are PF’s who are very light. Okafor is a true centre. Its hard to box out a 250 pound guy if you’re 2 inches smaller and 40 pounds lighter. Our 7 foot 250 pound centre can’t be bothered though, so it falls on PF’s to play centre.

          • mauricio

            stop liking your own comments faggot….

            • John_P

              Stop wacking off to little boys pervert.

              • JamesJ

                lol gross

    • John_P

      I also recall a moment in the game when Bargs was on the bench, and NO grabbed 5 straight O rebounds on the same offensive series, which was only stopped by a Calderon foul. Guess Davis and Amir are immune to criticism. We all like to close our eyes when that happens.

  • Milesboyer

    There is something called “enabling” ; (from Wiki) A common theme of enabling is that third parties (Triano) make accommodations for a person’s (Bargnani) harmful conduct (defensive defficiencies), the practical effect is that the person themselves does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do.
    This speaks to Bargnani’s lack of accountability and Triano’s lack of spine to do more about it.

  • WhatWhat

    Bargs’ game was so terrible that it makes me wonder if he’s playing injured or something.

    He didn’t just have an “off game,” he was completely fucking useless out there. EVERYONE else on the team played with a good defensive effort but him. I mean DD generally doesn’t play good defense, but you can see him trying at least. And Triano didn’t even have the spine to bench him, even after he’s urging him to grab a frigging rebound. There are days when his shot isn’t falling, but there’s no excuse for that disgusting “effort” on defense.

    • Statement

      Patience, patience, it’s only Bargs 5th year in the league. Imagine how good he will be in 10 years.

      Remember, it takes big men longer to develop. Just look at that Griffin kid, that kid needs 4 or maybe 5 years to become really good.

      • Ha

        Patience? Blake Griffin is better than Bargs already. It doesn’t take 10 years to realize how good you could be.

        • Statement

          I guess the sarcasm was lost on you

      • John_P

        It also must take SG that long to develop. Look at that Wade kid, he wasnt good untill his 5th season. Better days ahead for Demar.

        • Sek99

          Check McGrady and Iggy’s first few years. Players develop at their own paces. Can’t judge one player against the other. It’s safe to say that Bargnani has pretty much reached his ceiling at this point unless he stops smoking a pound of green before every game and plays defense, which most likely won’t happen, while DD is just now becoming a focal point of the team. Check back in 4 years before we can judge on the same scale.

          • John_P

            I would disagree that he has reached his peak, considering his numbers are still improving. I understand that players develop at their own rate, I was merely responding to that ignorant point which has no basis. Players like Wade, Lebron or Griffin are very rare and are obbviously more advanced. Comments like that by statement only reveal how little he knows about basketball.

        • Sek99

          Also safe to say that most players (except for Steve Nash) have peaked or are near peaking level when they are 5 year vets, while most two year guys are still seen as having reached or nearing their ceiling. All the other players who have star or at least near star potential in his draft class (Rondo, Roy, Gay, Millsap, Lowry) have proven they are pretty good players when given the minutes. I’d take any one of those guys over Bargnani. Not knocking Bargnani so much as saying hes done developing and DD still has time. I won’t say the same in 3 years. He still may be just as shit as he is now in certain areas. But Bargs is probably never going to be anything more than a talented scorer.

        • sleepz

          Wade went #5. DeMar went #9. Not a DeMar fanatic at all but you should try comparing apples to apples in an effort to make your points and defend Andrea’s honor.

          • KJ-B

            Wade went #5 in 1 of the TOP 2 drafts of ALL TIME TO BOOT!!!

            • John_P

              Paul Pierce?

          • John_P

            Ok so when did Paul Pierce get drafted? Whats your excuse now? The rules of criticism only apply against Bargs in your worlds.

      • JamesJ


  • Valit

    Everybody in Raptors land are praying for a top 3 pick considering as a given that we will land a superstar (or two). Just for some reality check.. the pick(s) could be total flops, will not want to come here or would stay a bit and then hit the “greener pastures”. Let’s be cautious before we are ” ego-inflating” some kids and let’s show more patience with what we will have for sure in the next 2-3 years.

  • Dcoghina

    “…the future of this franchise is being built on hope rather than substance.” – truer words have never been spoken, Arse. Let’s see what we got mid-season.

    – Bayless,DeRozan and Weems should not be in NBA based on current skill level and production. A PG who can’t pass,an SG who can’t shoot, and an SF who avoids contact on top of atrocious defense. Two other organizations issued the same verdict for Bayless. I see only hope and no substance for these three players.
    – Andrea may be the worst rebounding C in the history of NBA. He absolutely needs a strong inside presence and rebounding C to play alongside him.
    – the upcoming draft sucks, the same as the last two, with very few notable exceptions.
    – the management and coaching failed to produce the ingredients for a successful team. All we have about them is hope they will turn the ship around almost against the past experience.

    – Amir could be an excellent energy big off the bench. He is not a starter due to his fouling rate and size.
    – Davis is the most intriguing prospect we have: he has excellent defensive awareness, rebounding positioning and shotblocking abilities. Could he develop into a complementary player to Andrea? In order to find out I’d start him already alongside Andrea.
    – Andrea proved to be a reliable first scoring option, thus accomplishing his offensive potential. He is a piece to keep surrounded by the right type of players.
    – Jose is playing to his potential when he’s relatively healthy and without the combo guards to hold him back.
    – Wright has the potential of a defensive stopper at only 23 yrs old. If he develops a 3 point shot he could be our Bowen. The brass though seems to favour only offensive players so his future with us is doubtful.

    All in all there is much more hope than substance with this squad as presently constructed. Of course anything can happen in the future and predictions could be changed 100%. I still hope for the best notwithstanding the bleak present. I’d presonally not extend Colangelo however I don’t see it happening with our current ownership.

    • knickz

      great point about jose…i don’t understand why ppl seem to think we need a new pg…these guys make it seem like jose is old and washed up…the team lacks a real big men and a sf like rudy gay

    • RapthoseLeafs

      [” … Could he develop into a complementary player to Andrea? In order to find out I’d start him already alongside Andrea.”]
      If you watched them on the Court together – and not so much this game, as AB sucked – you can see Andrea directing Davis to get better position. That’s a new aspect of Bargs, that I’ve enjoyed seeing more often lately. On a number of those occasions, Ed Davis got an easy enough basket in the paint.
      As for Amir, I agree that Johnson is much better suited coming off the Bench.

  • sleepz

    I know the popular sentiment is to blame the refs, as some of the calls were questionable, but doing that gets lame very quickly. Poor teams employ poor excuses.

    Not into blaming indivdual players either today cause its pointless. The Raps were fortunate to even have a chance to win the game considering they were in a never ending zone while N.O. missed WIDE open shots all night long. It was effective for a time but still sad to see them employ this zone defence in an attempt to stop the other team from getting lay-ups. This was one of the main reasons for all the offensive boards.

    If the defence is so bad the coach has to resort to making zone their base defence this slate needs to be wiped clean(again) and start fresh. I don’t mind losing if you’re playing the right way.

    I honestly feel like the ‘development’ these young players (strictly related to scoring) are receiving now isn’t going to serve them well in the future. ‘Enabling’ is what another poster referred to it as, which is an accurate description of the majority of this team.

    • Theswirsky

      You can find bad or questionable calls in every game, and when its your team you’ll notice them alot more.

      But simply put, you can’t ignore the calls that were blown last night especially coming that late in the game.

      Call them excuses if you like… but they still happened. Every now and again the dog actually does eat some kids homework.

      • sleepz

        Do you think the Raps could have won that game with the calls the way they were? I certainly do.

        Are you certain the Raps would have won the game if they got the “questionable calls” in their favor? I’m not.

        • Theswirsky

          that doesn’t change the fact that bad calls were made… and they did have an impact on the game. Whether they the Raps could have won regardless of the calls, or would have lost if the calls were for them really isn’t relevant.

          Bad calls did happen and the Raps lost 3 opportunities because of that. (well Raps lost 1 opportunity and NO gained 2… but we’ll keep it simple) Not to mention the possible change in events because of them.

    • Chuck Taylor

      From the ownership team down to the players are tied with the NBA Rules so they are reluctant to protest about the refs (well they can but they’ll get slapped with high amount of fines).

      If any of our RR readers will go attend Raps games, forget about having “Killer B’s”, “Matt and Leo Rocks”, and anything same ol’ desperate-for-attention signs. Why not be creative this time. Bring signs like, “We Want Fair Calls” or something like that. Be friggin creative!!!

      Time to strike back!! Otherwise, you’re a puss and gay.

  • dribbles

    I literally shat a turd this morning that looked better than Andrea’s game yesterday. I should have fished it out of the bowl and sent it to Triano so it could get 40 minutes of PT.

    Tom Thibodeau has benched Carlos fucking Boozer more often this season for poor defensive play than Triano has benched Andrea. Dorsey is sitting on that bench. Do you think maybe, you know, as an NBA coach, you might be more bothered about Okafor grabbing offensive boards like he’s stealing candy from a baby. That’s not even a metaphor. That’s what was happening. I can take the losing this season given the circumstances, but I can’t take this kind of bullshit. And if Julian Wright disappears again when Kleiza and Barbosa come back, so help me god I’m going to stop watching this clown show. The Toronto Raptors, where talent (perceived or imagined) gets rewarded and effort is ignored.

  • Homer the giant

    My Question is with only 4 bench player which 3th one is a rookie, who else Jay suppose to plug into the rotation at the end of the game instead of andrea?
    I am not defending triano but heck , if we had a good back up , yes kick Andrea out

  • AC

    We simply don’t know if “blaming the refs” is appropriate or not statistically. It may well be the case.

    Sure, you can say that excuses are for losers, but when a team with our record is closely competing down the stretch with a team with NO’s record (or any team for that matter), a referee’s impact on the game can cease being an excuse and start impacting whether, in fact, we win or lose.

    It would be interesting (although I don’t know if such information is readily available) to have Raptor wins and foul rate differential with opposing teams correlated with individual league referees and determine if there is any statistical significance. Is this something that can be covered in a future “Statophile” segment?

  • Chuck Taylor

    First of all, thank God RR don’t have that stupid Roll Call avec twitter-style one liner blurts anymore!!

    Second, I don’t care about the refs has no love for us. Yesterday it was an MLK day in the US. As Liston said, despite Raptors being hated by the league, but it is not as bad as to what MLK and NOLA went through. So there ya go…

    Give them a chance to lift their spirits up once in a while – esp the African-Americans.

  • Dookielover

    yesterday was as blatant as it gets in terms of refereeing AND regardless of how brutal bargs played lookin like mfing emar erozan’s numerous games this season…the game was diverted from us with some odd fucking calls.

    • John_P

      Yeah I love how these morons come out of hibernation to criticize Bargs, yet I havent heard one of them once say anything negative about Demar, despite the fact he’s laid eggs all season.

  • Sek99

    This game never would have been close if Kleiza was playing. . . just saying. Refs gave New Orleans the game, but we don’t execute well in close situations anyway. Even Jose makes stupid decisions at the end of the game. Down by 4 with no timeouts and 10 seconds left, you NEED a quick three. Nothing else will do. Not a full court drive on their centre. Stupid. We’re gonna get raped by SAS. This is gonna be a tough road trip. Also read in the paper how Colangelo is going to be part of the future because his propensity to make big trades increases sales, even if almost NONE of them work out. That’s just great. And Triano isn’t going anywhere as long as Colangelo is here. Miserable. Never going to go anywhere until we preach defense. Look at the Suns talent level, Joe Johnson, Nash, Marion, Stat and they still never made the finals. Where the fuck do we think were going, even in 5 years with a superstar, with Bargnani, DD, Ed Davis and Bayless? It would take a shit load of development to be even near that teams talent. But, oh well. Guess I’ll just have to outlive Colangelo and Triano until they retire. Sounds like fun.