Another loss is the micro problem. The macro issue is the complete emotional unraveling of this squad in the face of any opposition — whether from other players, the officials or, much of the time, themselves. By the end, Kyle Lowry had taken what is becoming his nightly technical for arguing. To watch him on the court, he has never committed a foul in his career. Rudy Gay was left complaining to everyone within earshot at every break in play. A great deal is made of “vocal leadership” in sport. It’s rarely mentioned that it can take away just as much as it adds.
Now, at some time I’m going to sit down seriously and try to come up words to fully describe this season but that’s for another day because – yikes!!! – there’s three weeks less a day and 11 games to go. But when we were talking to Dwane after the game, he came up with the sentences that almost perfectly describe what transpired last night and what’s transpired most of this season. “We didn’t respond when they got physical. We were looking for calls and they’re not calling them.” Drops mic. We’re done here, nothing to see, time to move on, folks.
The Raptors are a team of chuckers. When they’re going in, no one’s complaining, but on nights like tonight when the shots aren’t falling, it’s really tough to win. DeRozan, Lucas III and Anderson, the chucking ‘big three’, went a combined 11-30 from the floor
Jonas Valanciunas is more impressive every time he steps on the floor. He went toe-to-toe with Atlanta’s all-star Al Horford. JV showed a variety of hook shots that he was not comfortable using early in the season. In the first half, he was backing down Horford at will. Horford is an undersized defender, however he plays with very good position. The 19 points were the second most JV has scored this season. Fans will be happy with the 8+ minutes he received in both the third and fourth quarters.
Jonas Valanciunas led the Raptors with 19 points and eight rebounds. Rudy Gay logged a double-double in his return from injury with 15 points and 12 boards. DeMar DeRozan added 14 while Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson also finished in double figures with 13 and 12 respectively.
Welcome to the plight that is the Raptors, a team that plays in spurts, a team that has absolutely no chance of winning when not enough stops can be summoned, when there’s not enough fight when a challenge has to be met. When the visiting Atlanta Hawks found their shooting rhythm in the second half Wednesday night, the Raptors suddenly found themselves in trouble, deep trouble, earning the wrath of the home crowd that quickly headed to the exits. Fans gave up on this night with roughly four minutes remaining on an evening when the Raptors actually played decent basketball. Unfortunately, it was for only one half. To say the Raptors quit would be cruel, but their play in the final quarter told a sad tale of a team that is nearing the ranks of sad sacks.
“Toughness is a big part of this league,” Casey said. “If you don’t have the mental and physical toughness, he gives us that experience in there. (Jonas Valanciunas), as much as anything else, had some breakdowns defensively in that stretch (without Johnson), but again it’s the only way he’s going to learn. Amir is that experienced guy who’s been in those situations, in those mid-screen-and-rolls … We missed that toughness, what he brings to the table.”
“It has been great to see Datome practicing and verify his leadership and his positive influence on the team. He has been working hard and he’s playing with so much confidence,” Colangelo told Italian newspaper Il Corriere dello Sport. “He has certainly caught the attention of NBA scouts and he has already expressed his desire to play in the NBA. His biggest challenge will be to understand what may be the best role for him in USA: small forward or power forward. He should get the most out of this experience if he will be able to live it. Anyway, the athleticism and shot from outside are his greatest strengths.”
“Frustration…. We let frustration get to us and they took advantage of it.”-DeMar DeRozan “That was bad” – Jonas Valanciunas. It was so bad in fact, that the Raptors were booed off of their own court. It’s proving to be a torture-some end to this season.
In my 15 Years as a Raptors Broadcaster, I must say this is the quietest it’s ever been as far as fans venting their frustrations and media uproar. Not sure how to read that. I just hope they aren’t becoming irrelevant and folks have just accepted that it is what it is and thrown up their hands. Hopefully, it’s more a sign that folks are patient and hopeful that they’re getting closer to turning it around. Not sure how to read it. It promises to be a fascinating off-season to watch. Fingers crossed it starts to turn. Winning is a whole lot more fun than this.
Here is the thing though pride can be a double edged sword. Bryan Colangelo has a lot of pride as well and his pride in his pick of Andrea Bargnani has been an anchor on this franchise. He had pride in his re-signing of Jose Calderon as well to a contract that far out weighed his worth. He likely has the same pride in the extension he gave to DeMar DeRozan, the acquisition of Rudy Gay maybe even in signing Linas Kleiza who now collects a roster spot.