Jazz 96, Raptors 94 – Box

The heartbreak that accompanies controversial buzzer-beating losses was mysteriously missing after Al Jefferston’s game-high sixth offensive rebound scored the tie-breaking points to send the Raptors to their third straight loss, and more importantly a tie in the loss column with the Wizards for the league’s fourth-worst record. The late questionable loose-ball foul against Evans certainly gives the Raptors a reason to feel aggrieved, and the accompanying outrage is likely to help cope with the defeat.

The 14-point fourth quarter lead which was built on the back of a very effective zone defense evaporated as soon as Utah adjusted by speeding up their pace and not allowing the Raptors to get set in the zone. In a week where the ‘hot hand’ was discussed a lot on this site, Calderon’s three late misses from downtown didn’t make much sense, since he was trying to ride his luck from the quarter before. DeRozan’s travelling violation epitomized the anemic fourth quarter offense, one which was devoid of team spacing or individual skill, and set the stage perfectly for Al Jefferson to cap off his night by scoring the last three Jazz baskets, one of them coming on a 14-foot sky-hook.

With Andrea Bargnani out, Ed Davis got the start and went about his business impressing everybody with his poise, effort and skill – the newly found confidence in the jumper being the main talking point of late. Four of his five field goals (12 pts, 5-13 FG, 3 reb) came in the first quarter and he was also playing the defense that will be his career’s hallmark. The damage inflicted by Davis was being more than offset by Al Jefferson (34 pts, 17-24 FG, 8 reb), who was the best player on the court all night long. Big Al had the jumper going, was working the offensive glass and was proving to be a tough customer in the post. He had 10 in the first, 18 at the half, and was the the driving force in the Jazz engine room.

The Raptors conceded their usual 57% field goal percentage in the first quarter but were down only 5 thanks to Davis’ contribution. Devin Harris and C.J Miles’ dribble penetration was putting pressure on the Raptors defense, which had already lost Amir Johnson to a left leg injury. The Raptors were conceding too many FTs and weren’t getting enough of their own; DeRozan was struggling to get the space or the calls by the zebras but still managed 5FTs and 7 points in the third. His frustration on borderline block-charge calls was evident and the four turnovers can be attributed to pure frustration and trying to create something out of nothing. The Raptors weren’t getting him the ball in catch-and-shoot situations and he was left to construct his own clean looks, something he’s not very good at right now.

The introduction of Evans (33 minutes, 11 rebounds) was soured by Johnson’s injury, but that didn’t stop the Iowa veteran from influencing the energy at the sparsely populated ACC, even though his minute total was stretched due to Johnson’s injury. The story of the first half had to be the Raptors’ 10 turnovers which were converted to 16 points by the Jazz. The lack of three-point shooting for the Raptors was translating to a lack of spacing, with players like Johnson and Calderon forcing the issue against a congested Jazz interior defense only to find themselves hit a wall, and then try to reset the play by throwing a low-percentage pass which was prone to being stolen, much like the paying customers’ money this season.

The Raptors bench was thoroughly outplaying the Jazz’s and thus offsetting the unstoppable Jefferson. The frontcourt of Fesenko, Favors and Cousins were proving to be too big for Ed Davis, whose influence on the game had been reduced to a trickle by halftime when the Jazz held a 52-50 lead. P.J Carlesimo spoke of slowing down Jefferson, playing defense without fouling, trying to get DeRozan in better scoring positions, and getting Davis involved like he was in the first. The overarching issue here was not mentioned – Jose Calderon. The point guard was having a poor game against Devin Harris, the defensive exploitations are a problem that we’re more or less used to, but as long as it’s balanced out by an adequate administration of the offense his contribution is considered positive. He had three turnovers in the first half, was not producing anything in two-man games with Davis, Johnson or Evans (granted, all three aren’t great partners on the PnR), and was misfiring on his jumpers.

The third quarter had the Raptors play inspired basketball, they played committed defense after getting a great boost by their zone defense, Joey Dorsey and James Johnson. Not surprisingly, Jose Calderon was empowering the offense which led to a better overall defensive effort, he had 8 points in the third including three mid-range jumpers that are often of the “bail out” variety which gives the entire team a lift. Jerryd Bayless’ great dirive and acrobatic layup gave the Raptors an eight point lead entering the fourth and the good news didn’t end there,

The Raptors bench won their battle 41-6, the key contributor was Sonny Weems’ 16 and Bayless’ 9, both of whom fired on jumpers to give the Raptors a 14 point lead with 8:21 left. The Raptors zone defense wasn’t allowing the Jazz to run their pick ‘n roll with any kind of space, something they had done very effectively in the first half. The Jazz did adjust though, they gave the Raptors a dose of their own medicine by pushing the ball in transition and setting up their offense early. Earl Watson running at the Raptors resulted in some breakdowns and the Raptors left their shooters open to a tune of a 12-2 blast where the Jazz dropped four threes. In this stretch the Raptors took five jumpers as their first option in their sets and it played right into the hands of the Jazz who were counting on long rebounds to get them going.

With the zone broken and the Raptors lead only one, Al Jefferson got the better of Evans for a defensive rebound and tipped it in. Jose Calderon went back to aiming his jumper and taking them out of the flow and missed, setting the stage for Jefferson to swish a sky-hook from 14 feet over Evans, it was fortuitous by all accounts. The Jazz’s three-point lead only lasted one possession when Jose Calderon’s drive found Barbosa in the corner and the Brazilian made no mistake. Tie game at 94, Jazz ball with 18 seconds left.

The final play wasn’t going anywhere for the Jazz and Earl Watson threw up a half-hearted three, the rebound appeared to be corralled legally by Reggie Evans, who was called for a loose-ball foul. The TV crew only managed to show one replay where it looked like a terrible call, but they only showed one replay, choosing instead to show close-ups of Triano’s face which was at best inconclusive. Typical Raptors TV production, honestly, at this point I’ll settle for these clowns being fired.

The final play was an isolation for Devin Harris who was defended fairly well but drove the lane and threw up a shot knowing it was a tough one, Reggie Evans again seemed to have position by the rebound was a little long and allowed Jefferson to get his fingertips on it – in at the buzzer. Jazz end the game on a 24-8 run. How ironic is that the Raptors concede three late offensive rebounds in a game where they welcome the return of their best defensive rebounder?

Overall, this was an entertaining game where the Raptors gave a good effort and were even +8 on the boards, ultimately though, it was the turnovers and sputtering offense (16 points in the fourth) that proved disastrous. They missed the interior defense of Amir Johnson the most, and DeRozan never quite finding his range dented the cause. Raja Bell is a pretty good defensive player, not sure he’s good enough to restrict DeRozan to 4-16, though. Credit to the Jazz for denying DeRozan the ball, testing his questionable dribble when he did get it, and then contesting his jumpers when he finally managed to get them off. DeRozan’s response was to drive the ball and get to the line, but as I already mentioned, the refs didn’t see it the way he did and the non-calls seemed to affect him mentally. He’s got to get past that, it’s too early in his career to worry about the refs, let alone rely on them.

Growing pains.

  • Copywryter

    I’d say that was definitely a foul by Evans. Hand-in-the-back and he sent the guy flying. Even watching the game at full speed it looked like a violation. Shame, because we came close to getting a W over a beatable team that’s missing starters and clearly in flux. You could tell the fans wanted this game.

    The Raps have a discombobulated offense without Bargs, but I still can’t decide if I’d rather see us score 100+ with him on the court and lose, or score < 100 without him (playing slightly better help defense and somewhat better overall effort), and still lose.

    Either way, losing leads like this is a painful trend and word is clearly out that we'll crack if a little pressure is applied. Not a great time to be a Raptors fan.

    • Nilanka15

      Reggie did nudge Bell, but let’s be serious, Bell reacted like he was just shot out of a cannon. He’s one of the leagues biggest floppers (along with Ginobili and Kirilenko), and he baited the refs into making that call.

      On the ensuing possession, Harris travelled before getting the final shot off. He picked up his dribble, pivoted, then switched pivot foots before releasing the shot…no call.

      Regardless, I can’t say I’m disappointed about the loss. The future is bright. The present most certainly is not.

      • http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress khandor

        re: “The final play wasn’t going anywhere for the Jazz and Earl Watson threw up a half-hearted three, the rebound appeared to be corralled legally by Reggie Evans, who was called for a loose-ball foul. The TV crew only managed to show one replay where it looked like a terrible call …

        The foul which Reggie Evans committed was against Raja Bell. The referee made the correct call on the play. Unfortunately, the replay only showed what happened after the foul had already been committed by Evans. The Raptors lost this game for other reasons which were not connected to this specific play.

  • Buschfire

    what happened to Morning Coffee?!?

  • Guest

    Keep the lottery march going! Keep losing after a tough effort. Sit Amir and Andrea and go with the Dorsey/Evans dwarf frontcourt.

  • the511

    Having flown a fair bit over the years, I’ve noted that while not always, but certainly now and then – after longer flights, especially when piled one on the other – I’d be sort of bumping into walls for days afterward. So I was prepared for a worse game by some than what we actually saw. (Just saying.)

    DeRozan usually keeps his cool while playing through the referee-hazing that seems to go on in the league, so I’m not too fussed about seeing him show a bit of frustration on occasion. He’ll learn … and eventually, start getting more calls his way … I really goddam hope, anyway. (I sometimes, paranoically worry that it’s a Raptors bias [against us] instead of a youth bias. Can’t blame me considering how calls have so often gone this year. Imo, anyway.)

    Hard for me to imagine that ‘tanking’ is something that players themselves would have any notion of (whatsoever) … but, once I accepted the possible reality of how it may’ve been done by other teams in the past, it got easier to figure how it’s not totally out of the realm of what-might-be that management could be … judicious, about how hard to push (or not push) certain players to dress while under the weather to one extent or another. If it were so, the knee-jerk reaction – ok, mine – might be along the line of thinking of it as being distasteful to say the least … but, considering the real-world, hard core aspects of the whole thang, we need ping pong balls, badly. No matter who’s in the damn draft. Truth be told though, I feel mucky having even just said that. I wish it was summer.

  • hateslosing

    I’m starting to wonder how this team would look if we removed Bargs on a permanent basis. It’s only one game but we really killed Utah on the glass last night and there were times in the third where or defense looked good for a couple plays in a row. I’m not trying to say that we are a better team without Bargs, or offense certainly sputtered at times, but I can’t help but wonder if we could be better long term without him in the line up.

    Great to see Evans back, I still love him and Dorsey out there. Those guys play for keeps.

    • Ol’ Dirty Raptor

      Seeing our defense look good for a “couple of plays in a row” doesn’t say anything. Plus the raps only outrebounded Utah by 4, and two of the key plays in the comeback came down to Utah offensive rebounds so I don’t see that we really killed anyone on the glass.

      i’m all for trading AB if the right deal comes up (I would love this, actually), but everyone seems to actively look for reasons to hate on Bargnani every game by highlighting a couple of few-minute stretches where the team plays well without him on the court, and uses this as proof to say why he stinks.

      By this logic, our defense in the 3rd may also be because Amir Johnson got hurt and was unable to play the 2nd half.

      • hateslosing

        Very true, I actually thought of the Amir Johnson thing as I was writing and decided to finish it anyway. I’m not looking for a reason to hate Bargs, but it was so nice to see our defense lockdown for a stretch and get stops by smothering their offense instead of our normal crappy token D. You’re right that it could have nothing to do with Bargs being out, it could be that maybe Reggie being back energized the team or something. Whatever it is, it’s what I want from this club all the time. I am happy at this point whenever we hold a team to under 100 even if we lose because it means that our defense was better. I’m not saying taking Bargs out will make our defense better, but I would be curious to test the theory short term.

        Maybe you can explain this to me but do team rebounds get counted in the total rebounds category or should they be added on after? you said we outdid them by 4 which is true if you take the sum of our “total” rebounds and out “team” rebounds; however, if you look at total only we out rebounded them by 8, which is much much better.

        • Ol’ Dirty Raptor

          I totally see your point, and there’s enough evidence out there that energy is not ABs strong suit..but I think we also did see the positive effects a player like Reggie had on him at the beginning of the season.

          I still think it comes down to on-court leadership. This team has NEVER had a proper leader in the history of it’s franchise. I do think you’d see a change in Bargnani’s energy if you paired him with a teammate like KG who demands so much. Either he’d take a step, or he’d shrivel under the pressure, but at least we’d know. Obviously it would be better if he were self-motivated enough to bring it every night, but the vast majority of nba players aren’t pushing it 100% every play of every game, so some just need different forms of motivation.

          wrt rebounds, team rebounds may be cheaper, but they still count. It’s not like every rebound grabbed by a player is in traffic either. Offensive rebounds is probably a better metric that would show effort, and we did beat the Jazz by 3 in that category, so you may have something.

          • hateslosing

            I know they count, what I meant was when you look at the box score are they included under the total rebounds column or are they counted separately.
            I’ve always wanted to see what Bargs could do if he had a strong motivator playing beside him, but I don’t think it will ever happen. It’s so hard to find guys like that, you have to get extremely lucky.

      • C.d.G.

        Ol, Dirty Raptor:
        “I’m all for trading AB if the right deal comes up (I would love this, actually)….”

        Surprise, surprise:
        I really think AB would love it too, man!
        Don’t you think he may go somewhere else and got learned about something more? Thuth is, what Jay Triano asks him (and Derozan, too) it’s just scoring. The two guys would get much better under better use and teaching. Somewhere else.

    • the511

      I’ve wondered the same thing … but more so lately, I’ve come to the similar point that others have, thinking that having Bargnani to come off the bench – as opposed to just trading him (but this, I guess, would depend more on what we’d actually get for him) – could be our best option. But to my eyes, the way the team has played without him, especially early in some of the games he’s sat out, the ball has moved real well.

      • James

        Triano would never bring Bargnani off the bench lol, never ever ever.

  • voy

    long term better with or without Bargs?

    depends who else gets put on the team and how the young guys develop. Presently, with the current players and the current stage of their development they certainly are not better. Yeah the Raps may have looked ok at times but keep in mind Utah was missing AK47 and Milsap (who represent 40% of the jazz’s scoring and a significant portion of their rebounding), and we still lost on our home court. The Utah lineup was pretty brutal and they still came back on us down 2ble digits in the forth.

    • CalgaryRapsFan

      they were also missing Okur… missing their starting C, starting SF and their #1 backup big

    • RapthoseLeafs

      Not to be a stickler, but AK & Milsap represent 29% of the scoring & 34 % of rebounds. Never-the-less, Raps should’ve beaten this team. Fortunately they didn’t.

      • voy

        Hey, Rapthoseleafs. You’re right. Thanks for catching my mistake.

  • Bo4

    The more I see of Bayless, DeRozan, J. Johnson, A. Johnson & Davis on the floor together, the happier I am. That’s our core, and the priority should be them learning to make it work ASAP …

    • RapthoseLeafs

      Demar & Davis (as part of the core) are what keep me optimistic. I like Amir, and he’s definitely got drive, but I get concerned about his health. He hasn’t looked right for awhile. Personally, this ankle injury might be the tonic to give his body time to rest & repair itself.

      Bayless could be a decent backup, but timing is not working for him. If we manage to grab Kyrie, I’m guessing Bayless will be gone. Unfortunate for him, that injury might’ve taken him out of the picture (for Raptors future), IMO. All depends on the draft though, and what BC can snag with trades/FA signings.

      As for JJ, the sample size is way too small. Not sure of his potential, but I think he could become a decent SF back-up.

  • http://twitter.com/Liston Tom Liston

    It shouldn’t have come down to this play (as Arsenalist breaks down well in the post), but Harris did travel as many suspected.
    I asked the great Rob Mahoney to break it down – he did here:

  • Milesboyer

    Perfect outcome our future. With about 20 games left, I’d be happy with alot of one point losses and maybe a few more wins just to keep morale from completely hitting rock bottom.
    It was good to see J. Bayless finally looking like an NBA player – why he can’t do that on a more regular basis is beyond me. I’m glad to hear someone else complain about the camera crew. Watching those stupid under the basket angles is like looking at a circus through a pinhole – who the hell thinks that’s a good vantage point? (once a game to change it up maybe, but not every fifth play) – it’s not an art film, it’s a freakin’ basketball game. Panning to guys faces for five minutes while a play is happening is just annoying.

    • ey

      LMAOO so true about the camera mans

    • Nilanka15

      +1. There’s nothing more frustrating than being forced to watch Triano’s facial expressions while the ball’s been inbounded and play has already begun. Just awful production quality.

      And don’t even get my started on the telecast intro/theme music…

    • RapthoseLeafs

      Does this ever get addressed by the media. Has RR ever called out the production crew on these mindless “peephole” shots. Maybe they think we get excited by another Erin Andrews video ……. although she is cute. lol

      When it happens, I feel like road rage is overcoming me – it pisses me off to no end.