Raptors 93, Pacers 104 – Box

This is getting to be ri-goddam-diculous. I certainly have no right to be hoping for victories from a 13-35 team, and in general I don’t, but to get as unlucky covering games as I have is a bit much. Yes, the Raptors fell to 13-36 after a 104-93 loss to Indiana, but just as importantly to me, they fell to 0-8 in games I cover for this site.

The binomial probability of a 13-36 team going winless in an eight game sample is approximately 8.5%. It gets worse when you see that the opponents I’ve covered are: Golden State, Washington, Indiana, Charlotte, Chicago, Miami, Memphis, and Indiana. These teams have a combined record of 179-192 (double counting Indiana), and only three currently project to make the playoffs. The point is, it’s not like I’ve been covering a tough stretch of schedule. The losses have also been by an average of nearly 11 points, so these generally aren’t close games either.

Why am I talking about my own personal streak of ineptitude instead of the Raptors’ current 12-game losing streak? For starters, because the Raptors’ deficiencies have been beaten to death on this streak, and I figured the commenters could take a crack at me instead of the team to give the guys some reprieve. Maybe this nugget will spawn a conspiracy theory about me, or at least have me called an idiot/moron/racist/waste of bandwidth, etc. Still, if I were writing as poorly as the Raptors were playing, the rest of the guys on this site would have given me the boot by now.

Tonight’s effort was standard fare of late, with the Raptors hanging close but never really threatening, down as many as 20 but keeping it close to the 10-point range for the most part. And wouldn’t you know it, Andrea Bargnani had a bad game! Bargs continued his frigid shooting, going 3/15 on his way to 12 points with a whopping five rebounds. Bargs was also a team-worst -14 on the plus-minus scale, and looked largely disinterested (which, of course, I determined with a very strict set of observatory principles).

His partner in shouldering the scoring load, DeMar DeRozan, also had an off-night. DeRozan posted the same 3/15 shooting mark, but added a bit extra to the game with a 10-5-4-3-2 line, and had just a -7 rating. DeMar didn’t necessarily look bad in this one, just out of rhythm, but he also wasn’t at all aggressive.

Together, Bargnani and DeRozan have now combined to shoot 27/102 over the past three losses. These are supposed to be the two best scorers on the team, so this is clearly an issue. Whether ill-timed synchronous cold streaks or due to some larger issue (Sonny’s return to the starting unit?), this is something that needs immediate fixing if the Raptors are going to keep from becoming the Cavaliers of the North.

The Raptors are at Atlanta next, and if a win evades them at home against Minnesota, the remaining five games before the break look ugly (at Milwaukee, a guaranteed loss because I’m covering the game, vs. San Antonio, Portland, Blake Griffin, and Miami). That seven-game stretch includes some sub-.500 teams and five home games, but Minnesota is the only opponent you’d circle as a likely win (uhhh….oops). I won’t be so grim as to suggest the losing streak could grow to 19 heading into the break, but it’s highly unlikely the Raptors improve on their position of 27th overall (29th in the Hollinger Team Rankings) before then. We`re rebuilding, and we expected this, so I`m hesitant to complain. That said, it can be exceedingly difficult to remain positive in the short term when trying to keep the bigger picture in mind, especially when that bigger picture is far from clear or certain.

In terms of tonight, the Raptors failed to capitalize on turnovers while getting dummied on the boards, allowing Indiana to escape with a win despite playing an extremely sloppy game. The Pacers turned the ball over 25 times, but forced 16 of their own and won the rebounding battle 56-38. They also got to the line at a better rate (28 attempts to 21) and dialed up more threes (eight to one), outplaying the Raptors pretty thoroughly and completely.

No Pacer jumped off the screen until the second half, when Roy Hibbert`s ability to gain position low in the post did damage and Paul George`s scoring ability surfaced (seriously, this guy can fill it up, and is one of only three qualified rookies with a better PER than our own Ed Davis). Hibbert finished with 24-and-11, while George had 16, 12 of them in the fourth stanza.

Outside of DeMar and Bargnani, Sonny Weems also looked bad early, found his touch in the second half, but also turned the ball over five times. He still looks extremely tentative on the floor and is either very rusty or still injured. Julian Wright should still be starting to provide the defensive boost (and he was the only player with a non-negative plus-minus tonight) Sonny can’t.

Amir Johnson gave us a scare when he tweaked his ankle landing on Danny Granger in the third but returned shortly after. Overall, Amir played his usual high-energy game, scoring 18-and-8 primarily around the rim. He continues to be an efficient source of production, and he definitely still has room for improvement to make his Liston-justified contract even more Liston-justifiable.

The best player on the floor for Toronto might have once again been Ed Davis. Davis already does a lot of things well, and as the season progresses I find myself having to temper my growing expectations. He makes quick decisions on offense and gets his shots off around the rim quickly, while his basketball IQ on the defensive end (rebound positioning, block timing) is at a high level for a rookie big-man. He scored 13 points and added seven boards and three blocks, shooting 6/9. He has raised his field goal percentage for the year up to nearly 58%, and while his usage rate limits his scoring average to just over six per night, he has performed and improved such that I’m ready to nearly guarantee he becomes a 15-10 guy with two blocks. Is it just me high on Easy E, or is there a growing optimism all around Raptorland?

The optimism more or less ends there for tonight, as it’s a taxing endeavour to constantly search for silver lining. The Raptors lose their 12th in a row, and things will hopefully reach their worst at Atlanta before the streak ends against Minnesota….so long as I don’t end up covering the game.

Site Note: Rapcast #92 comes a little later.

  • KJ-B

    Hard Luck Blake…

    Ed Reminds me of a Joakim Noah type–that’s the comparison/expectations we should be making… Great collegian, unexpectedly well-suited to the pro game with those cat like reflexes and unorthodox tendencies…

    Now, for the tough part…

    This Raptors team is not very good. Jose Calderon is way too comfortable with Andrea Bargnani to keep feeding him at the expense of just about every1 else minus Clarence Weems, are they roomies???? It seems like the two of them are saying, “We’ve been here the longest and DAMN that DeRozan guy for stealing all the pub on NBA.com and league cirles–who cares if he’s been going off; let’s get ours!”

    Like Amir but I don’t love him… The guy we love is SPECIAL ED!!!!!!!!! This guy is the sort of player that Torontonians, in particular on the NBA landscape, are repeatedly drawn to like as if it were an addiction…L-O-V-E that hustle like lovers want chocolate on Valentine’s Day, KEEP IT UP LEFTY!!!!!!!!!

    So, that being said, I’m now of the opinion that the only two players who should be controlling the destiny of this franchise on and off the floor are named: DeRozan and Davis… “DOUBLE D”!!!!!

    Get rid off every1 else and get a coach with a system that can develop their skills (cough, cough *ever heard of Alex English anyone???*, feature them in marketing ads, give them the bulk of the minutes down the stretch and get rid of the rift raft on this squad–What doesn’t kill them Jose, Sonny, Bargnani will only make em stronger… ((Amir Johnson is a nice player, but eventually Ed D will have to take over and might be able to help a contender down the line… @ this point he needs to stop worrying bout Davis takin’ over if he sits out because last night he could’ve been the difference with Amir’s minutes in the 2nd half–it was a mistake to not reward Ed with the start as Jay is prone to do with Sonny for just smiling in his direction))

    The only other guy potentially worth keeping or replacing on this squad is the Brazilian Blur, who’s probably great trade bait…TRIANO HAS LOST THE TROOPS…

    • Daniel

      Kid, stop writing only to hear yourself. Stop shouting at people by using the capitals as if you have some undeniable truths to be shared. It is great to be able to express your opinion however this blog invites dialogue and not monologues. Your blurb has no meaning and brings no value to the discussion:”…ever heard of Alex English anyone???…” – do you realize how stupid you sound?

      • KJ-B

        Daniel, Daniel, Daniel…when’s the last time you’ve said ANYTHING THAT MADE SENSE???? YOU’RE THE CAPITAL USELESS RAPTOR FANGIRLLAND!!! [cap that]

        • KJ-B

          Ooops… I have to write “to hear myself”… WHAT ELSE CAN I WRITE ABOUT TO hear MYSELF??? I NEED TO BLURB SOME MORE, HOW DO I STIR UP THE CAPITAL OF USELESS FANGIRLIA FURTHER??? YOU GOT ME THINKING–HOW DO I DIALOGUE AND NOT MONOLOGUE… Daniel, I am sorry that you feel shouted at, oK Kid? The undeniable truth I have to share today is: YOU CAN’T ARGUE WITHOUT INSULTING ANYONE BECAUSE YOU’RE A LITTLE kid OF A MAN…

          If you don’t like reading/’listening’ to rants, go live in a hole, it’s pretty quiet down there!!!

  • voy

    Blake, dont you know I drove all the way from ThunderBay to read this article. What a disappointment. You could have at least sprinkled some rainbows and unicorns in the body of your post.

    I think the difference between the pacers and the raps was evident from the get-go:

    (1) Hibbert repeatedly posting up, the much smaller, Amir, vs Andrea on the perimeter trying to take juicebag hansborough off the dribble.

    (2) Pacers contesting our shots vs us 2ble teaming any scrub with the ball leaving other dudes wide open for an embarrassingly ridiculous amount of time (the only thing more embarrassing is me being too lazy to spell check embarrassingly).

    (3) the pacers running these things called “plays”. yeah, they’re apparently supposed to help you get higher % shots; vs what we did…whatever that was…I dunno, brick contested shots off the backboard and hope ED cleaned up the mess?

    I gotta believe, Andrea is hurt. I mean, I could be wrong, I dont have the ability to read Andrea’s mind like others here who KNOW he is not hurt but only lazy, or only cares about his 20, or who takes a perverse pleasure in ruining familiy outings from Thunder Bay. Whatever it is, he’s gotta play better. Jay needs to say, park that ass in the post and dont move it. If you are too hurt to play in the post then here is a week off. Go bang the snot outta your girlfriend, drop mill$ on rippers, lead a revolution in Egypt, write a television pilot about an Italian private eye and call it “Bargs, Private Eye-Talian”, whatever. And if you are not injured, you’re coming off the floor next time more than 50% of your shots come from outside of 10 ft.

  • WhatWhat

    I’m still trying to figure out what’s more mind-blowing: Andrea playing 32 minutes that game, or Ed playing 24.

  • Nilanka15

    Bargnani is no longer the “shinniest turd in the bowl”. He’s the sea-sponge turd (after many fermented beverages) that usually needs about 3 flushes to completely eliminate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Radpoy Alex Taylor

    Way to go Blake, hopefully you get out of this funk real soon…

  • tmk

    I do agree, him and Amir have been really the only positives in this terrible season. But maybe its just me, and I hope not, but when I look at Ed Davis, I see a “I’m soo ditching this mess the second my rookie contract is over” look on his face. Maybe its just his quiet self.

    • Nilanka15

      When the final year of his rookie contract approaches, the Raps might’ve improved enough to be a playoff contender again, with Davis shouldering a big portion of that responsibility. He may thrive under such a situation and decide to stay. We’ll just have to wait and see how the next 2-3 years play out.

    • smushmush

      and why would he not do that? If I were Ed Davis too, I would want to leave this shitty turd of an organization with Favoritism and no accountability.

      As I said before, I don’t blame Bosh and LeBron for leaving – they had terrible organizations(even more so for Bosh with Sports Illustrated writers and sports reporters in games lending the fact that Bosh had no help whatsoever under the used car salesman BC and what’s more, the respected Bill Simmons ranked BC on the same level with the atrocious David Kahn lol).

  • Hound

    I have asked numerous times, but I am not quitter. So here goes, can someone please give me a logical explanation of what a trade for bargs would bring us. I am open to the idea, but until now I only hear the “get rid of him” talk without a reasonable assumption of what we may get in return.

    Also, who do you think is the bigger problem for this team, Bargs or Triano? Or maybe JT/BC together.

    Interested in hearing thoughts.

    • Nilanka15

      Assuming he wasn’t a BYC player, there probably isn’t much to get back in return at this point. Bargnani’s arguably suffering through the worst stretch of his career (at a time when his team has needed him the most), and thus, his trade value is probably pretty low compared to earlier this year. Here’s hoping a championship-calibre team on the cusp, looking for a Jamal Crawford type offensive spark of a 6th man to sure up their playoff roster, comes calling for Bargnani.

      I think the best we can hope for is any combination of young (potentially unproven) talent, expiring contracts and draft picks.

      • Hound

        Then why would we trade him. I don’t want anymore low picks or sonny weems’ on the roster. I think I would rather take my chances with a new coach/GM that may make bargs accountable. After that doesn’t work then trade him for low picks etc. It just doesn’t seem that trading him now is in the best interest for long term success. Let’s try to build a team where he can be a 6th man type and score 15 in 20 minutes etc. But he needs a coach who will be in his face constantly. And if he is hurt right now, sit him down!

        • Nilanka15

          The only problem with that plan is where we get the rest of our talent from. Let’s assume that DeRozan and Davis blossom into legitimate NBA starters in 3 years, and we add another stud (or two) through the draft. By the time these players reach their primes, and develop any semblence of cohesiveness, Bargnani will be in the decline of his career, and will most likely be even less valuble in the trade market than he is today.

  • OTFP

    WHY IS WEEMS A STARTER

    WHY IS THERE NO EFFORT

    WHY IS THERE NO ACCOUNTABILITY

    f this team

    • Noxleno

      LOL. Straight Up.

  • AJ

    Why the hell did Bargnani make Roy Hibbert look like he was frickin Dwight Howard….It’s Roy Hibbert! Come on!

  • KJ-B

    iN Other news: ED DAVIS IS NOT IN THE ROOKIE/SOPHMORE CHALLENGe….Steupse!!! Derrick Favors and Wesley Johnson aren’t even on the Rookie ladder on NBA.com … NONsense!!!!

  • KJ-B

    Excuse me, sorry… RR Rent-a-cop of Syntax –don’t take ‘urself’ seriously– and you’ll find a friend or two Multipalz…

  • KJ-B

    ahahahaha!!! Good sport MP!!! U gotz jokes eeh????