No, this wasn’t the worst shooting performance of the year by the Raptors. It just felt like it.
For the game the Raptors shot a woeful 36% from the field. Five games ago in Minnesota they managed a worse shooting night, but only marginally. That night they missed the target 67 times. Last night it was just 55 misses.
When three fifths of the starting rotation is shooting worse than 20% from the field, even a good team is going to struggle.
For the Raptors, who cannot be considered a good team, that is the formula for a definite loss and it was by a 92-74 count to a Milwaukee team that has struggled offensively more than any team in the league this year.
These Bucks average a league worst 91.3 points a game.
But less than two weeks after giving up 116 to them in overtime, the Raptors came in here and gave up another 92 which is still a tiny improvement on their seasonal average.
Had the Raptors come even close to what they normally score, it could have been a good game.
But not when starting point guard Jose Calderon hits just two of his 15 attempts. Not when starting small forward Sonny Weems goes just 2-for-10 and certainly not when starting power forward Amir Johnson limps in with a 1-for-7 night.
“It’s disappointing because we didn’t have enough guys play well,” head coach Jay Triano said. “We had three of our starters really struggle shooting the basketball. I think we battled defensively to stay close and stay in it hoping that we would get a run going or somebody was going to make some shots, but when you’re struggling like that confidence kind of waned as the game wore on.”
In actuality, the Raptors were equally bad in the first and second halves.
They shot 35.6% in the first half and actually improved to 36.6% in the second.
“They contest shots and they are physical with you and that takes your confidence away,” Triano said.
Some wayward strokes were more conspicuous than others. Jose Calderon, Toronto’s starting point guard, missed 13 of the 15 shots he attempted. On one first quarter possession he jacked up three consecutive jump shots and missed all three — this on a night he coughed up six turnovers to go with his seven assists. Meanwhile, Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson, the starting forwards, went a combined 3-of-17 from the field.
It was enough to make the Bucks, who came into the game ranked dead last in the NBA in field-goal shooting percentage and shot a relatively sizzling 46 per cent, look like a high-octane juggernaut.
So much for the theory that a Toronto roster on the relative mend and a three-day break between games would leave the Raptors rested enough to take a credible shot at avenging an overtime loss to the Bucks on Jan. 28.
“We can’t afford to have two or three guys have subpar games,” Jay Triano, the Toronto coach, said. “Our margin for error is very small, and we have to make sure everybody plays well if we’re going to stay in games and win games.”
Toronto lost its 10th straight road game. Andrea Bargnani scored 23 points and DeMar DeRozan finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for the Raptors, who were seeking consecutive victories for the first time since Dec. 3.
“It’s a tough season,” Bargnani said. “It didn’t become a tough season today. It’s been that way the last couple of months.”
Toronto, coming off a 111-100 victory over Minnesota on Friday that snapped a 13-game losing streak, got guard Leandro Barbosa back from a right hamstring strain. He played nearly 25 minutes and had eight points.
“It was nice to have him back in the lineup,” Toronto coach Jay Triano said. “He provided an offensive threat with his quickness to the basket. It’s going to take a little bit of time for him to shake the rust off. I was pleased with the way he played the second half.”
Barbosa looked very much like a man who sat out for about three weeks. Coming into the game at the end of the first quarter, he got into the paint almost immediately, only to have his first layup attempt swatted away by Bogut.
In the second quarter, his ball-handling proved unreliable, resulting in a few turnovers. His first three-pointer found more glass than iron. In his shaky return, he finishing with eight points.
In the first half, he had plenty of help in laying bricks. Calderon missed nine of his 10 first-half shots, only connecting on a fast-break layup; Sonny Weems was two for seven early, and the normally efficient Amir Johnson was just one of five.
However, as has been the case recently, Johnson did plenty of other things to contribute to the Raptors’ cause. He had eight rebounds in the first half alone, grabbing three offensive boards on a single possession. (Calderon negated that with a slew of misses, however). Johnson’s tireless work helped the Raptors stay within a bucket at the half, down just 40-38.
It was a very different feel from two Fridays ago, when the Raptors lost in Toronto to the Bucks, allowing offensively anemic Milwaukee to shoot 55% from the floor. The game went to overtime, even if the Raptors did not deserve it.
“We couldn’t stop [Carlos] Delfino from getting to his right hand, which is his thing,” Raptors coach Jay Triano recalled on Monday. “We couldn’t stop [Corey] Maggette from getting to his right hand. We put a couple things in today in practice to see if we could do that, but for the most part, when those guys get to the right, they’re bigger and stronger and they just kind of run us over.”
Maggette had 16 points and nine rebounds. Delfino was a less productive four of 11 from the floor for nine points off the bench.
Fourth quarter defense. The Bucks led just 66-58 entering the fourth quarter. Coach Skiles ran a smallish Dooling/Salmons/Delfino/Mbah a Moute/Ilyasova lineup to start the final period, and they worked wonders even as their defensive anchor, Andrew Bogut, sat.
Andrea Bargnani scored on the first two possessions for the Raptors, but then picked up his fourth personal foul. All the Bucks did then was shut out Toronto for a full six straight minutes. No baskets, no free throws, nothing. Ilyasova blocked Demar Derozan, Dooling continued to fluster Jose Calderon, and Mbah a Moute was all over the glass. The Raptors are not offensive genuises by any means, but they are not slouches on that end either. And so after all sorts of well-earned worry stemming from four straight games of opponents making more than half of their shots from the field, the Bucks took back a bit of their defensive swagger here at home (Toronto shot 36.0 % from the field in the game and 31.6 % in the fourth quarter).
The Bucks played their best quarter of the night (outscoring the Raptors 26-16) without a single second from Bogut, Jennings, or Maggette.
The Spurs keep on winning. Detroit is still basking in the glow of the Spurs visit. The Spurs are headed to Canada. They have a coin in Canada called the "Tooney", it’s worth two Canadian dollars. Canada doesn’t have a bill smaller than 5. Canada loves hockey. Toronto is as far south as the French Riviera. More people live in Toronto than in Canada’s four Atlantic provinces combined. I have several friends from Canada, they all live in the US.
Center Andrea Bargnani lead Toronto with 23 points.
The Bucks led by two at halftime and then outscored Toronto, 11-2, to start the second half and take a 51-40 lead. Toronto turned the ball over on its first two possessions of the second half and the Bucks converted both into layups.
The Raptors closed to within seven after a layup by Leandro Barbosa with 3:14 left but two free throws by Maggette and a three-point play by center Andrew Bogut gave Milwaukee a 64-52 lead
Toronto then scored six straight before a layup by Keyon Dooling put Milwaukee ahead, 66-58, after three quarters.
The Raptors were within six early in the fourth quarter before Salmons hit a three, Ersan Ilyasova sank a jumper, and Mbah a Moute scored on a put-back to give Milwaukee a 75-62 lead with 9:03 remaining.
After a timeout, a layup by Salmons and a three-pointer by Carlos Delfino gave Milwaukee an 80-62 lead with 6:15 left.
After another timeout, Delfino scored from the lane for a 20-point lead.