Raptors 113, Hawks 118 – Box

Here’s what cost the Raptors this game:

  • Greivis Vasquez trying to be a hero by jacking up anything he could get his hands without being reprimanded for playing utterly selfish basketball
  • Jonas Valanciunas picking up silly, silly fouls to take himself out of a pretty good offensive game he was having
  • Dwane Casey leaving Terrence Ross and Kyle Lowry out for an unnecessarily long period in the second, allowing the Hawks, who were on the ropes, to get back in the game
  • Terrence Ross having several brain cramps in key moments culminating in Kyle Korver getting wide open threes that he drilled
  • DeMar DeRozan insisting on taking jumpers, thus playing right into the hands of a salivating Hawks defense that gladly donated $1000 to charity for every jumper DeRozan took
  • DeMar DeRozan incorrectly believing that he can dribble the ball against even a moderately-set defense, eventually resulting in game-killing turnovers and possession suffocation
  • Jeff Teague absolutely destroying Kyle Lowry off the dribble every single time, and Dwane Casey not adjusting in the least, despite the Hawks’ secondary play being Paul Millsap doing face-up moves from the elbow
  • Amir Johnson needlessly pulling on Paul Millsap for an away-from-the-ball offensive foul with 14 seconds left it OT and the Raptors down 2

That’s essentially it. Do any of those things right and the Raptors come away with a win against a Hawks team that was playing on a back-to-back. The free-falling Hawks set against the backdrop of a yawning Philips Arena crowd would have you think that his made for pedestrian basketball, but as has historically been the case with the Raptors in Atlanta, the game was tight and tense.

The Raptors dominated the first quarter though Jonas Valanciunas, who was too quick for Pero Antic. Kyle Lowry carving his way to the danger-zone presented options and Valanciunas was the chief beneficiary with 11 points. The Hawks adjusted by having the slightly more mobile and much more physical Elton Brand guard him, and Valanciunas was neutralized and picked up a second foul, sending him to the bench. The Raptors interior defense stood tall and turned back several Atlanta drives, and Jeff Teague remained silent with Terrence Ross checking him on several possessions, but that all was soon to change. The Raptors, inconceivably, stepped off the pedal and took several low-percentage jumpers which led to Atlanta breaks. The nine point lead at the end of the first was too small a margin given the Raptors’ dominance which was reflected in a 19-11 rebounding edge and the Hawks’ 25% shooting.

The bench which had Tyler Hansbrough at the five and Steve Novak at the four looked shaky as a unit, but the cracks were covered early by Greivis Vasquez taking PG Dennis Schroder to task in the post and off the dribble. Vasquez is the much bigger player and it looked to be an advantage until Vasquez decided that he had the green light to shoot any time he had sight of the rim. He took 9 shots in 9 first-half minute and hit four of them. Many of his shots left you shaking your head and ask one of two questions: 1) why would you not continue swinging the ball instead of firing it up? 2) what makes you think you taking a contested, running, hook/floater is a good idea?

The Hawks exploited the Millsap/Novak matchup, and the latter was found out for his lack of rebounding and boxing out prowess in the second quarter. Dwane Casey gave the surging Hawks a big assist by benching Lowry for more than seven minutes to start the second, endorsing Vasquez’ cavalier play. Having had a chance to reflect upon his needless fouls in the first, Valanciunas came back in and promptly decided to box-out like a security guard at a concert, the iconic moment captured in this image:


That was foul number three which earned him a prompt seat on the pine and an opportunity for a deeper form of meditation, hopefully one where he’ll come to the self-realization that he’s his own worst enemy. Defensively, the Raptors had no answer for Jeff Teague who was obliterating Kyle Lowry and finishing against a height-challenged Chuck Hayes and a scampering Amir Johnson. I felt Ross might have been a good choice to guard Teague as he had had success against him in the first, but Casey chose to stick with Lowry who was being shredded. Tie game at halftime, Atlanta firmly latching on to the teat of Mother Momentum.  You could also sense the Raptors defense slipping – they were unable to exert any sort of pressure which could force turnovers and disrupt Teague and the flowing Hawks offense.  As an example of a frustrating defensive miscue, I’ve chosen this play from DeRozan which bugs me to no end.  He overplays the pass and it eventually results in a wide open three for the Hawks:

Direct Link

The lasting memory of the third quarter had to be Terrence Ross losing sight of Kyle Korver for two threes that made your blood curl and, if you were unlucky enough to have had a dodgy biryani dinner, projectile vomit right into the TV. Paul Millsap also decided to take advantage of the foul-ridden and thus hesitant Amir Johnson, and the stunted Chuck Hayes to go 4-5 in the quarter. Ross made amends by nailing a couple threes of his own, but Teague’s dominance off the dribble continued and Schroder managed to weasel a three late in the quarter as the Raptors advantage heading into the fourth remained a nervous two.

The news in the fourth came that Valanciunas’ lower-back had fouled out and would not return. I was hoping Casey to make a few adjustments on Teague but nothing materialized. It was rinse-and-repeat as he brought the ball up-court under no pressure, and lulled his way past Lowry opening up so many options that it encouraged the Hawks to move without the ball and present themselves. Other than Teague, the Hawks don’t have any effective ball-handlers in the lineup, and their alternate kickstarter play was giving it to Millsap and having him create outside-in. Teague managed to find himself matched up with Chuck Hayes multiple times in the fourth quarter and OT, which always ended in tears for the Raptors as step-back jumpers and drives became low-hanging fruit.

Perhaps having an eye on New Orleans, Casey sat Lowry for five minutes plus in the fourth. The game remained tight and I found myself coming to the realization just how important Patrick Patterson’s scoring and defense is to the team. Every time Novak was outmuscled for position, Patterson came to mind. Every time Hayes rotated to the perimeter, Patterson came to mind. Every time DeRozan got stuck in the paint with no outlet to pass to, Patterson came to mind.

With the Raptors down two and 35 seconds left, DeRozan, who had been mostly settling for jumpers, decided to go one-on-three with a behind-the-back dribble. Turnover. Obviously. Lucky for the Raptors they got a stop and Lowry drove to finish against a late help to take the game to OT.

In OT, jumpers, jumpers, and more jumpers.  Here’s the OT shot-chart:


Two poor ones by DeRozan which were capped off by some house-league ball-handling which wasted at least two possessions (I will not be GIFing those up as it will cause me migraines). Overall, he had 3 turnovers in the fourth quarter and OT, a host of jumpers that screamed settling, and never quite stepped up defensively like you would want a “star” player to do.  Defensively, the stops never came and the Raptors’ lack of size in the frontcourt showed as Atlanta got key offensive rebounds and second-chance points.  With the Raptors down two and inbounding with 14 seconds left in OT, the dagger came via an Amir Johnson offensive foul on Paul Millsap.  An uncharacteristic foul that sealed the game for the Hawks.  A shame it had to end like that.

The Raptors ended up shooting well for the game (49%) and were +10 on the glass.  Yet that didn’t matter as their defense was non-existent, as exemplified by the Hawks committing only seven turnovers all game.  That’s astonishing given the game went to OT and the Hawks average 15.3 turnovers a game for the season. Simply put, the Raptors did not apply enough pressure on Jeff Teague, failed to repel their big men in the paint, thus rendering their own high offensive output meaningless.  Even more importantly, with the game hanging in the balance, they couldn’t manufacture good shots.  You can blame that on DeRozan settling or Casey’s drawing board, or any other factor, one thing is for sure: I’m done writing about this one. Let’s move on and let it be said that, given the margin of the game, if this shot would’ve gone in….

Game notes courtesy of Associated Press: Teague previously scored 34 points at Cleveland on Dec. 26. … Toronto C Jonas Valanciunas left the game with a lower back sprain and didn’t return. … The Hawks lost rookie G Dennis Schroder, who sprained his left ankle while hustling back on defence in the fourth quarter. … Carroll took an elbow near his left eye and had to be taken back to the locker room to get four stiches. He finished the game with a bandage over his wound. … Atlanta C Pero Antic and Lowry picked up double-technicals in the third quarter for jawing at each other after a play that left Antic sprawled on the court. The big man tried to draw a charging foul on Terrence Ross, and both players went down in front of the Hawks bench. As the teams headed to a timeout, Antic and Lowry picked up Ts.

  • RaptorsInThisB****

    Amir Johnson’s pulling on Antics arm at the end of the game, still baffles me

    • jacobd4

      I’m sure he thought he was gonna get away with it, I’ve seen him do it 100 times before and get away with it. In the Brooklyn game we won on the game winner, the second last play was a wide open lay up for Salmons because Amir threw the help defender (Kirelinko I think) out of the way. He does it alot.

    • Chewwy No Matthew

      Amir has been doing this a lot during the season. He was getting away with it earlier in the season but lately officials have nailed him for it. What I find baffling, is that Amir’s laziness creates a situation where the call is so easy to make. It also takes away potential baskets. It is not in any way a basketball play and Amir needs to stop. When you watch it, it looks terrible. All I think is what is Amir thinking when he does this? Sloppy

      • RaptorsInThisB****

        Yea I understand he does it alot but that one was retardedly obvious! Lool atleast be a little more discrete. ..

      • Stizzl


  • Nilanka15

    Ugh, the long twos. When will they be banned?

    I can’t help but shake my head 3-4 times a quarter whenever someone launches a long 2 (regardless of whether the shot goes in). Such poor decision-making does not bode well for the playoffs where each possession needs to be cherished like gold.

    • Zimdim

      Demar gets to the line a lot but takes too many long 2’s. Even when they’re dropping I’m shaking my head.

    • What the

      long twoos will be ban when Gary Forbes is back on this team sir

      • Nilanka15

        What the…?

  • Paul

    No idea why Casey didn’t try Ross on Teague. Would have meant Derozan on Korver, but that would have been less of an issue IMO.
    Also, Hayes was obviously useless last night. No idea why he stayed in so long.

    • robertparish00

      Great minds think a like. Or even Lowry on Korver, just babysit Korver on the 3 pt line.

  • MoPeteRules

    demar is like a junkie, except when he relapses he isn’t getting high, he’s playing iso-ball. his teammates and coaching staff need to give him an intervention. please demar, accept their gift and spend a few days understanding how iso-ball is hurting you and your teammates.

    • GetLicks

      Which is why he got 6 assists last night, riiight. And please tell me, RR basketball experts: Who the fuck is he supposed to pass to? Especially when he’s in the bench lineup of Vasquez, salmons, Hayes and Novak. DD, unfortunately, is not Lebron James. He can’t completely carry a team to victory when NO ONE else is stepping up. Willam Lou’s grades last night, and Zarar’s blowup right after the loss pinning it on Derozan is embarassing. You guys need to get your shit together on here.

      • what the

        what was the topic the other day ” the raps aren’t gonna every game down the strech” then we lost and its blame casey and KOmar

        • GetLicks

          Exactly. This Atlanta team was playing great ball before Millsap went down, so the fact that we lost to them in OT on the road, without 2 of our key big men is nothing to be ashamed of. This team is what, 11-5 in their last stretch of games? Yet after every fuckin loss the torches and pitchforks come out. I expect that from the readers, but NOT the authors. Very childish shit, from people who think basketball can be completely broken down by advanced stats & analytics.

          • DDayLewis

            Not entirely sure why you’re creating these strawmen out of our positions.

            • GetLicks

              Ha. Possibly because RR authors should be conducting their writing & analysis with a more level-headed approach, rather than picking a new whipping boy loss to loss. Small-time writers have small-time careers, stop feeding the idiots.

      • MoPeteRules

        i wasn’t pinning the loss on demar, just making a point that the one-on-one iso ball that leads to mid-range jumpers (which he averages under 40% shooting) is certainly not helping the team. you’re right he had six assists, but i think the reason he gets so much flack is a result of him deciding to dominate the ball a la lebron james in late game situations. who you made clear that he is not. we know how great the raptors play when they buy into team basketball, and some of the late game (and clearly, most notable) plays didn’t reflect any of that. but i agree that there’s need to stop the presses because of the result. lowry was battling the flu, jonas and patterson were out, and we had novak and chuck hayes battling down low. ps. #freelandryfields

        • GetLicks

          My comments about pinning the loss on Derozan were more directed to RR authors. He does things that irk me as well, but I think he gets blamed a lot more than he should. Without him, last night’s game would have been ugly.

      • FLUXLAND

        That’s really funny stuff.

        When I was saying the same thing about Rudy Gay – doesn’t see anyone worthy to pass to- people were crucifying him. But now DD suddenly doesn’t have someone to pass to?

        Anyway, the loss may not be entirely on him, but if you’re the team’s ALL STAR RESERVE, and you’re chucking up shots that are not conducive to winning (or just because you think you’re Kobe), you’re going to get the lion’s share of the “blame”.

        If anyone needs to get his shit together, it’s your hero.. or are you under the impression ALL STAR RESERVE status suddenly relieves him of any responsibility?

        • GetLicks

          Who the fuck was talking to you anyway? This is a raptors fan site. Shouldn’t you be reading the latest Kobe injury update?

          • FLUXLAND

            Now now… don’t get your panties in a bunch. This is a public site, so you should expect anyone to reply to you. Especially when you wanna tell the writers on here to get their shit together because you;re getting all emo over your hero.

            Calm down, son.

            • GetLicks

              Oh and I guess you figured you’d score brownie points by coming to their rescue? I don’t think they need a hero buddy, so you can remove your nose from outta their ass.

              • FLUXLAND

                No, I could care less. In fact, none of them hold me in any high regard, don’t worry.

                It doesn’t change the fact there’s zero reason to slam people who are offering you something for free. Go ahead and disagree, but save your “this is how you should be writing” crap for your Hello Kitty diary. No one gives a f.

          • What the

            KObes injury ? you mean KObes’ FAKE injury, some Tim Duncan shit going on there we don’t roll like that we develope our own transthingy

        • What the

          HI FLUX, KOmars’ superduper fan here, how is the allstar name KOmar gonna be like KObe if he doesn’t put up shats like the old man, give hime some time, I keep telling you and Nilanka15 every chance I get that the allstar is not done yet. I understand that you guys can’t wait for KOmar to hit those last sec. shat like your boy KObe but FLUX ,trust me Casey,KOmar and the video guy are working on it, it has only been a few months since the Gay trade don’t rush things the transthingy is coming soon, enjoy the ride.

          • FLUXLAND

            LOL…5 years in, and he needs more time? When will we reach the DD development ceiling? Can you ask the video guy and get back to us? Thanks!

            • What the

              FLUX FLUX tell me when did the allstar get a chance to do the KObe, when ? Bosh ,Calderon ,Barnie, Rudy all these guys were before him…”when will he reach…” he’s still young Flux he’s not 50 like the old man…we ganna get rid of thiss video guy because he’s not showing Val videos of his one hand rebounding,Ross not going to the basket and a back point guard who thinks he’s S. Curry/MJ

              • FLUXLAND

                Ah, yes.. the “he’s only 14 years old argument”. Umm, he should never get a chance to do the Kobe. No team would ever run their stuff with DD in the Kobe role. C’mon, now.. let’s be real.

            • What the

              I wonder if KOmar is crying like KObe did when he didn’t have any help around him… and look who the kid is taking to the playoffs with no bench and two second year players wining rec. on the road for the first time in franchise history, top 10 in the NBA ,3rd in our Conf. and a lot of other good stuff but no you want him to be like KObe and LBJ right off the bat come on FLux be reasonable, we got him when he was raw and now look at him

              • FLUXLAND

                He got help and got management to ship it out, because their games were so similar. Well, except for the whole closing out games thing, I guess.

                Right off the bat? Trust me, I am not the one that’s delusional about his game, talking about he’s Kobe and all. And I am not impressed over his “development”. 5 years …for this? Dude, c’mon.

  • jakdripr

    *sigh* That’s back to back bad basketball from our team. Let’s hope a tip to new orleans helps fix some of these issues, especially the defence since it just hasn’t been there these past two games. Also I don’t know what’s going on with Demar but he needs to make some adjustments because he’s been mia for a while now.

  • Hassan Mehmood Khan

    we can see how important Patterson is

  • Guest

    For me, the big thing that stood out is that without better depth at the C, we will continue to be exploited. I’m less worried about Amir vs. Patterson vs. Hansborough vs. any other PF. But the drop from a non-foul trouble JV to a foul-trouble JV or Hayes has been a big problem for the Raps. Even the smaller Millsap exploited the open floor.

  • Roarque

    Flu like symptoms in Kyle’s coverage of Teague. Stuff like this happens during a season and these guys play on a razors’ edge of skill matching. I don’t plan to lose any sleep over it. More unsettling is the prognosis of Mr 2Pat – sounds like his nerve problem is extending into the future. Yikes!
    Please tell me whose Corn Flakes Landry pissed on to put him through this purgatory? I mean, seriously, what did the guy do to deserve this humiliation?

  • http://batman-news.com Phil A

    I still don’t understand why Chuck Hayes was in the game in the 4th. I understand that Patterson was not available last night but why not put Hansbrough instead? He defends the pick and roll much better than Hayes and provides the fron court with a lot more size.
    Derozan is my guy and I love how he’s improved his game every season but I think the next step in his development is shooting off the dribble. I can recall several times last night when he settled for a long 2 when he could have easily taken 2-3 dribble forward and taken a much more efficient 2 point shot.

    • asifyouknow

      Probably because Chucks butt takes lots of room in that paint…lol

  • Tanks-a-lot

    “Jonas Valanciunas picking up silly, silly fouls”

    Nope. He was simply penalized for playing against Elton Brand.

  • asifyouknow

    Zarar Siddiqi quote:”Greivis Vasquez trying to be a hero by jacking up anything he could get his hands without being reprimanded for playing utterly selfish basketball”

    Good, about time, wish he would it put it up 25 times…I assume you seen the game. Except with a few exemption he had no choice because no one was moving around.

    He is playing with a second unit that is hard to lead, they are not playing well right now, Salmons has a bad back and Patterson is out.

    This proves what most of us should know, before the trade you couldn’t win because there was no bench, the last few games the bench has disappeared and you have lost 3 of the last five.
    As much as some of you fans want to run Vaz , Salmons and Hayes out of town (you all are in love with Patterson)Toronto can’t not be a consistent winner this season without the boys from Sacramento.
    Lets hope they all come back soon healthy or your playoff time is going to be 4 and out.
    Greivis Vasquez shoot the hell out of that ball my friend..lol

  • jeeves

    amir’s good for a couple of these every other game: http://on.nba.com/1fItGGb

    • jeeves

      4th clip