Writing a recap for a game like last night is no easy task. This is my second attempt, as the first one read something like a play-by-play of sorts that looked at the ebbs and flows of the game itself. I didn’t want to subject anyone to read that after what the Raptors had just done.
Quarter by quarter the game changed. The Raptors easily handled the first 24 minutes, but led by just 11 at halftime due to a hot shooting performance by Tim Hardaway (19 first half points on 7-of-12 shooting) and a 0-for-7 display by Serge Ibaka.
From there things turned bad. If you didn’t watch it yourself, please try and avoid any footage that is available. The Knicks went on a 28-0 run in the third quarter and the Raptors failed to score a field goal until there were 3.5 minutes left in the third quarter. In total, New York won the third quarter 41-10, which doesn’t do justice for how awful it was to watch live.
It was the worst quarter I’ve ever witnessed the Raptors play, which is an impressive statement considering their history. They not only failed to score, they failed to simply create any type of open look. They not only failed almost every time in stopping New York from scoring, they failed to get the rebound if they did. The only things they found success at in the third quarter were repeatedly throwing it out of bounds without a Raptor anywhere nearby and somehow making Doug McDermott look like an elite defender.
The fourth quarter was an improvement of sorts, as Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam helped trim the lead to 6 at the midway point. From there the Knicks lead moved freely anywhere between 6 and 12, but Toronto never got any closer.
It was an admirable attempt at a comeback in the fourth, but the fact that they were in that position should be embarrassing. And that’s exactly what I expect the players themselves are feeling right now: embarrassment.
In many loses there are moments where blame can easily be placed, but yesterday didn’t feel that way. It wasn’t a matter of a few players who were missing their assignments or failing to hit shots. It would be easy to place some of the blame on Serge Ibaka for missing all seven of his first half shots, and having zeroes in every statistical category except for blocks (2) and fouls (2) at the break.
It’s not that simple though. Yes, Ibaka struggled on offence and it hurt the Raptors attack as a whole, but he was far from the only Raptor who hurt the team. Each player struggled to find their game for long stretches, including each and every player who saw the court during the decisive third quarter. It was a collective apathy and lethargic nature that doomed the Raptors, not the play of just one player or a few individual moments.
12 minutes of awfulness. For a full quarter they looked like a little league team against a group of professionals.
To sum it all up…last night sucked.