“I think Bryan was trying to light a fire under the players, saying it’s a lack of focus, that we have talent,” Casey said. “We do have talent. We have young talent that can compete in this league. … There’s a lot of room for improvement with the talent that we have and I think that’s what he’s trying to say: that we’re good enough to compete.”
After a first half that included great ball movement and stifling defense, the Raptors were up eight on the Nets at half time. The Nets seemed stunned, the Raptors were clearly excited, and Raptors fans were wondering whether the squad could keep up the intensity. They couldn’t.
Deron Williams: Another off night for the man who proclaimed that he hasn’t had a good game yet.
The Raptors already buried themselves with respect to competing for a playoff spot or anything significant this season, so the injuries aren’t crippling to what they could have accomplished this year, no matter what any optimist tells you. From a competitive standpoint though, the blows likely leave Toronto – already near the bottom of the league standings at 4-19 – with one of the NBA’s worst lineups.
Colangelo called the situation “embarrassing” last week and seemingly threw both Casey and the players under the bus in saying the woes were a result of “a lack of focus, attention to detail, consistency of competing” and certainly not a “talent issue.”
Toronto only had nine healthy bodies with starters Bargnani (ligament tear in elbow, and strained right wrist) and Lowry (torn right triceps) out. Amir Johnson served a one-game suspension for throwing his mouthguard at a referee, occasional starter Linas Kleiza was out with a sore knee, while Alan Anderson and Landry Fields continued to rehab injuries.
“Physically, mentally, emotionally. There’s so much more to basketball than just going out and playing 48 minutes. And we have a lot of guys who care so that makes it even harder. It’s kind of easy when you have guys that throw in the towel, but if guys are still working hard, guys are still trying as much as they can to buy in, we’re just, right now we’re just looking for answers, to stop the bleeding.”
In any other city, Colangelo would have been done and dusted already. But thing is, this is not any other city. It is a city where everybody – fans, reporters, media, team executives – thinks that, deep down, he or she could be general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I thought everyone who stepped on the court tonight competed. That’s all we ask for — play together the right way, play hard. There’s no consolation prizes in the NBA, we didn’t get the W, but I do like the way the guys competed tonight.”
This year is shaping up to be the worst of his tenure, which is saying something given Toronto is four years removed from the playoffs. In recent interviews Colangelo’s questioned the team’s focus and attention to detail, not so subtly shifting the spotlight to head coach Dwane Casey, the third head coach of Colangelo’s tenure and the guy he just inked to an extension. But Colangelo is taking most of the heat and rightfully so.
Many observers looked at the schedule upon release and with the Raptors opening with 15 of the first 22 games on the road, they felt the team would start the season somewhere below the .500 mark. But they are now 4-18, I am not sure many forecasted it to be this bad.
Former Raptor Joe Johnson [sic] led the Nets with 23 points while Ed Davis, who will be counted to carry the load in Bargnani’s absence, had a game-high 24 points and 12 rebound for the Raptors.