A New Streak Begins? Raptors Fall to Bucks in Familiar Ways

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Raptors 74, Bucks 92 – Box

Fifty-two games into the season, just how predictable and monotonous have the 14-38 Toronto Raptors become? Well, as I started writing my post-game report for tonight’s ugly 92-74 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, it all felt a little familiar. With the Raptors now 0-9 in games that I’m covering, I poured a stiff drink and looked back at the other losses I’ve had the dishonour of handling. Allow me, then, to analyze loss #38 in terms of eight other losses…

November 8, Golden State 109, Toronto 102
“However, after watching the Raptors get outplayed by a tired Golden State Warriors team on the back end of a road back-to-back, I’m left only with a truth I knew to be so before this game, and even before this season, started. The Raptors are not a very good basketball team right now, and they are going to struggle to beat any team on any given night.”

November 16, Washington 109, Toronto 100
“We know that Jose Calderon has trouble with quick guards, but he played just 17 minutes and it was his offense that was of greater concern (1/8 shooting, and he is back below 40% for the season).”
“Barbosa is expected to return Friday, which should help the floor spacing but may impede the development of DeRozan we have seen over the past few games. While he only put up 12 points, he shot 5/9, and the volume was largely a fault of the team’s facilitators.”

December 6, Indiana 124, Toronto 100
“In other words, it’s getting a little tiresome to look for moral victories in ugly losses at this point, although I guess that’s the job description when covering a rebuilding team.”

December 14, Charlotte 97, Toronto 91
“His best buddy Sonny Weems was even more frustrating, displaying poor shot selection yet again en route to a 4/13 shooting performance. Sonny manages to look the part, playing with intensity and being in the right place a lot of the time, but he forces his offense far too often and the criticism that he thinks he’s Kobe Weems held true tonight.”

January 4, Chicago 111, Toronto 91
“Defense and rebounding have never been Bargnani’s strong suits, but you would think at this point he would have improved to a degree. His rebounding remains atrocious with the odd single-game outlier, but his defense seems to regress by the season, if that’s possible. His poor plus-minus rating, while not entirely reliable, is striking, especially considering just how efficient a scorer Bargnani has been.”

January 22, Miami 120, Toronto 103
“To take the next step, DeMar is going to have to find ways to draw contact at the rim – he is a master at avoiding contact, which is a skill of its own but should be balanced with drawing contact. He’ll also need a three-point shot eventually, as he’s 6-for-39 for his career, and you really can’t be considered an elite wing scorer without one.”

January 24, Memphis 100, Toronto 98
“And while a streak like that, one which doesn’t hold much weight in terms of franchise quality or value, shouldn’t mean so much – especially once it is 100 games past the previous record – it did. No matter how good or bad the team was, no matter if the team lacked a point guard or a big man, defense or rebounding, a franchise player or new management, we could always be relied upon to hit a three. And now we’re just another bad team in the middle of a rebuild.”

January 31, Indiana 104, Toronto 93
“In terms of tonight, the Raptors failed to capitalize on turnovers while getting dummied on the boards, allowing Indiana to escape with a win despite playing an extremely sloppy game.”

Now, I fully realize that copy and pasting 600 words from old articles leaves me wide open to criticism. However, at this point, does it really matter? I’m not trying to be a defeatist or a pessimist, but there are only so many positive spins or interesting angles to pull from a team that is generally considered to be the second worst unit in basketball (thank you, Cleveland).

Tonight was legitimately more of the same, as displayed above; it was a thorough defeat, with the team unable to score against one of the league’s better defensive units, and unable to push the tempo against the league’s fifth slowest team. Early, it looked like it might be a different case, as the first quarter rolled at a fast pace, with a combined 45 shots and seven turnovers between the teams. The Raptors shot themselves in the foot by shooting only 32% with their bonus chances, squandering four turnovers and five offensive rebounds, and trailing by seven at the first break.

From there things slowed to a crawl, and it somehow helped the Raptors shrink the lead to two at halftime. The Raptors had a small uptick in shooting percentage in the second, but were out rebounded. At half, the only thing keeping the Raptors in the game was 10 points off of 10 turnovers. That advantage disappeared completely in the second half as the Raptors forced just three the rest of the way and lost their rebounding edge (50-44 final tally), allowing Milwaukee to slowly pull away.

Andrew Bogut once again had his way with the Raps, putting up an impressive 14-5-3-1-5 line on 6/8 shooting in just 30 minutes. His services weren’t required as the game wore on, giving the Raptors reprieve from his crisp post passing and his inhabitance of the Raptors’ paint, much to the disinterest of Andrea Bargnani. Four other players scored in double figures, and four other players added five or more rebounds. As it usually is, Milwaukee’s offense was a painfully slow and balanced attack, just 17 assists and two three-point field goals, but a lot of lengthy possessions ending in two-point scores.

The Raptors couldn’t find their collective stroke all night, and it seemed more their own doing than that of Milwaukee, the leagues sixth best team in terms of defensive efficiency. The Raptors went 0/10 from long range and shot just 36% overall, weighed down by poor shooting nights from Amir Johnson (1/7), Sonny Weems (2/10), and Jose Calderon, who had one of the worst statistical games of his career.

Jose managed just six points, four rebounds, and seven assists to go with six turnovers and 2/15 shooting. It was Jose’s third highest turnover output of the season, but in the other instances he also recorded double digit assists. The quantity of shooting was also rare, as Jose has shot 15 or more times only once this year, a 10/16 performance. To find the last time Jose had a shooting game as bad as 2/15, I had to go all the way back to November 16 (1/8). Furthermore, the last time Jose took 10 or more field goals and made two or less was November 7, 2008, a 2/10 performance at Atlanta. This, by all accounts, was Calderon’s worst game as a Toronto Raptor. Maybe he recognized a match-up I failed to see, or maybe he could feel his team needed a scoring touch tonight, but this was borderline unacceptable, and depressingly TJ Ford-esque. Sorry Jose, I love you, but wow.

Bargs may take his usual flack as well, both for poor defense and rebounding (just five boards), and his mediocre 9/21 shooting night. Still, nobody else but DeMar was scoring, and for whatever reason he wasn’t seeing a lot of the ball in the second half, so Andrea mixed in some post-ups with his usual jump-shooting. It certainly wasn’t his worst game, but that is by no means an endorsement.

As mentioned, DeMar was inexplicably low on touches tonight. After shooting 6/7 in the first half, he took (and made) just one shot in the third quarter. A few late buckestspushed his total to 9/13, good for 18 points and another promising effort. DeMar chipped in with seven rebounds as well, and he now has 27 rebounds over the past five games, a small but appreciable small-sample improvement.

What was curious late in this game was how long Andrea and DeMar stayed on the floor in a blow out. They were not removed until there were under three minutes to play, leaving DeRozan at 39 minutes and Bargnani at 37. With Triano admitting that they have taken too large a taxing and a travel day before a game tomorrow in San Antonio, it seemed short-sighted to keep them out there with more healthy bodies than usual on the bench (Triano went as deep as Solomon Alabi, and Leandro Barbosa returned to chip in 25 minutes and give the coaches 11 usable bodies).

Then again, it’s the 42-8 Spurs tomorrow, so the difference those minutes will have is probably negligible.


  1. Few reasons for this game loss:

    1. By everyone not named Demar & Andrea – a 13 for 52 shooting (.025)

    2. Jose – not being Jose.

    3. ZERO for 10 from the 3pt line. Teams are playing off us, like they play off Reggie. That said, no reason to improve our 3 point shooting until next season – as the draft is calling us.

    On a worrying note, Sonny & Demar went 0-0 from the Free Throw line – one less shot (attempt) than last game. Can’t mess with that development.
    As for Bogut’s line, take away his Blocked shots, and it was pretty ordinary. He was 6.6 rebounds below his season average, and 3.5 Offensive rebounds below that season average (3.5). Unfortunately, it’s those 5 blocked shots (and other altered opportunities by the Raptor Offense), that were not just ordinary.

    In other words, he was pretty much average on the Offensive side (if that), but fabulous on the Defensive side.

      • Teams are adjusting to Demar. They are playing off of him and clogging the lane when he touches it to prevent the drive. He is adjusting by relying on his mid-range game. If he keeps going 10-13 and 9-13 shooting jumpers they are going to have to start playing up on him and the FTAs will go back up.

        Blindly driving to the hole hoping to get fouled is stupid. I actually like that he has made an adjustment after struggling for a couple games. It shows growth.

    • Milwaukee’s team took the identity of it’s city: scruffy, scrappy, and built like a truck (with uglyholes and chips and all). Bogut with a broken arm took that to exception.

      What’s Toronto’s identity of a team?

  2. That one part of the game where we got something like 4 straight offensive rebounds was quite something. Jose kept taking shots and missing, reminded me of a highschool basketball game..

    On another note, DeMar continues to look great, an efficient 9-13 I believe? And he’s sticking that jumper with consistency (ahem haters?), and his good shot selection has seen a great improvement. And Bargnani…..ugh, much less efficient on shooting (9-21), not much more to say…. Amir had a great night defensively with the 11 boards, while Weems was a non-factor.

    Anyways, no problem boys, keep losing in 13 game increments and Perry Jones or Irving will find a new home north of the border come this summer. Go Raps. And of course..here’s hoping there WILL be a 2011/2012 NBA season…get er done Stern!

  3. Jose had a horrible night shooting, but comparing him to tj ford COMPLETELY misses the point. He wasn’t forcing shots even a little. He took so many shots because the Milwaukee points absolutely couldn’t get through screens to save their lives. The shots he took couldn’t have been more open, with the exception of the layups that he missed, which were contested but still good shots.

    I can’t explain why he missed all those open looks, but they were all good shots.

  4. What was curious late in this game was how long Andrea and DeMar stayed on the floor in a blow out…
    With Triano admitting that they have taken too large a taxing and a travel day before a game tomorrow in San Antonio, it seemed short-sighted to keep them out there with more healthy bodies than usual on the bench”

    Further examples of how Triano shows zero awareness, mentally checks out of games repeatedly, and misses opportunities to develop players that can use it.

    • Look at what Timofey Mozgov is doing now, even though he started off the season like a scrub, and was forced to give a mid-air BJ to Blake Griffin…

  5. I’m never, ever asking Jose to shoot more again. In fact the whole team sans DeRozan was trying to build a replacement for the World Trade Center with all those bricks.

    • Honestly, he must think that he is Kevin Johnson or Stephon Marbury back in the day…Problem is, he`s not nearly as talented–last night was all about no accountability for #7 and Calderon…The next time, I see Jay Triano clapping his hands like a circus clown after those two wreck the show, I dunno–the inmates are running the asylum and TRIANO MUST GO!!!!!!!! (Yesterday)…Why on earth does he get so much rope, and they choked out SAM MITCH for so much less and he WAS A BETTER COACH?????

      • It was all about expectations. Smitch’s team was expected to be much better than their 8-9 record (after all, Colangelo went on record ,after acquiring Jermaine O’Neal, saying that it was the best team he’s put on paper).

        This year’s team was expected to be complete and utter shyte.

        Smitch didn’t meet expectations, and Triano is meeting expectations.

        • nah, Nilanka – because one was a dummy placed by the GM to protect his golden son and his ego while the other wanted to win. Notice that the team Triano got last year was the best team, Sam Mitchell never got.

  6. Jose’s god-awful performance can only be explained one way: Prior to tipoff, Colangelo took Jose aside and told him he’s officially on the trading block…

  7. “he thinks he is Kobe Weems” — I missed that commentary in December BUT it still rings true… Well, I`m not sure how many of the RR played highly competitive sports on a high level–but what happened last night with DeRozan not smelling the ball in the 2nd half and for the last 3 quarters really is sooo typical of an in-fighting losing group…

    Teammates who are intimidated by another teammate`s game or sudden growth, often freeze that person out to shine some light on their own–IT SUCKS FOR THEM THOUGH because when guys try to play above their ability at the expense of their most talented player IT ONLY MAKES THE SELFISH PLAYER LOOK STUPID a la last night … Said b4 will say it again, when you suit up for an NBA game, the entire L is watching not just the city of Toronto…

    These idiotas of the Basketball mind, have yet to realize that there`s only a handful of players in the League that can do what DeMar is already starting to do this early in his career–that kind of talent scares other teammates, but players look stupid in fighting the inevitable…What do you think other GMs are saying of ol Bargs, Weems and Co. when they read the Box score and see the shooting percentages…He was not getting the ball and he was hot? What were his teammates doing then? Where was the coach?

    It`s simply a poor strategy in a game where there are only 5 players on 1 team on the court at one time to not take advantage of that kind of ability…This is not soccer where the best player is finishing and touching the ball maybe 15-20 times a game… N.o B.oys A.llowed Basketball means you check your ego at the door and -play the right way- DeRozan`s a shooting guard, so it means he`s there to shoot…

    What a team of losers is what I thought to myself as I switched to Court Surfing midway thru the 3rd!

    The funniest sight of the night was Brandon Jennings picking Jose Calderon at will in the 1st half because he recognized early on, and probably through watching tape, that Jose isolates Bargs to the detriment of the team on the strong side to start off the game, and NEVER passes to the weak side where DeRozan is–I could literally see the TOs comin b4 they happened…FOOLISHNESS!!!

    • Great post KJ. Having never played “highly competitive” sports myself, it still seems obvious now that you point it out. Although, I must challenge you when you say that Jose was among those on the team out to get his. I think we have a strong enough sample size to demonstrate that he’s a team-first guy and not out to get his own. He definitely was not going to the hot hand last night, but that might just be him playing the mandate set upon him by the management.

      • The fact that you have to bring up the “management” factor into the constructive argument, is further evidence that nobody on the team quite knows what’s going on… And players do not sense structure they freelance in very obvious and embarrassing ways…

        Why do you have a ‘Head’ Coach then? It just plain to see that there’s a lot amiss, and for this team to look as if they’re still in training camp mode, injuries be damned, is a horrendous testimony to the ineptitude of this MLSE to evaluate and coach any talent that do possess in player assets… Honestly, I think to myself more and more everyday that BryCo is not making trades to “help us out” without getting an extension–@ this rate unless he can get Durant back for #7 I vote to can his overpaid behind!!!

    • This is the second and the last time I’m replying to you. Contrasted to streetball, in NBA players follow the coaches’ strategies and tactics. In our team of very disciplined players (except Weems and partially Bayless), Triano calls approx. 80-90% of the plays. Calderon is following Triano’s instructions probably to the letter so any concerns you have about our tactics during the game should be addressed directly to Triano. Not that it matters anyway.
      Yesterday’s game was odd at many levels none of which you touched on your comment. Psychology babble has nothing to do with yesterday’s game. It’s like after 3 days of rest and 2 full practices we were trying to reinvent ourselves, individually and collectively (Jose volume shooter? Amir 1-7? Wings with no FT attempt?). I don’t know what’s going on however something has changed during the mini-break.

      • Skilled players break plays all the time eg. Kobe/Michael in the triangle–don’t think that there aren’t options in every play call, if a defender falls down and a guy is open underneath the rim, do you still run the play??? It’s called common sense, not everything is done by the book–that’s why it’s called Real Time decision-making in Real Life… You really don’t have to respond…but thanks for the disses, misses and fake kisses, your criticism only helps!

  8. What happens if JT is back coaching next year? 1.Great results with (finally) a healthy line-up and more experience. 2. 5-10 more wins and missing the Playoffs….again.

  9. KJ – its like you were in my living room last night hearing me scream at the TV for the raptors for forgetting about Derozan. It was unbelievable how Triano kept calling play after play after play to Bargnani on the left side of the court while Derozan was pushed to the corner rightside. it was half-pick-and roll to Bargs. One after the other. Then when Bargs got out with foul trouble deep into the 3rd quarter you wonder why DeRozan wasnt as efficient. The coach and the PG’s (it wasnt just jose by the way, it was Johnson as well) continously do a terrible job of mixing the offense to create more plays for the more efficient and hot hand players. It feels like the days of Chris Bosh are here again, just in the form of Andrea Bargnani. Throw it to the PF and hope he can create something from the elbow.

    Do you think Colangelo see this? Is Colangelo a sitting duck until he gets his extension?
    Makes me mad and sad all rolled into one


    • Agreed +1 mil… The only problem with that argument is that Chris Bosh is a former ALL NBA talent, Olympic Gold Medalist as well as a 6 time All Star… The word is out on #7–He ain’t no CB4!!! And Colangelo’s gonna get canned for that miscalculation most likely…

      I’m glad for this forum because it’s good to know that I’m not ‘seeing things’ when other folks like yourself describe what I’m thinkin’ and how I’m reacting to this now used-to-losing basketball culture…It SUCKS Man!!!

    • So true. DD was the leading scorer early and he was helping to keep it close. When they decided to make plays for everyone else(Bargnani), it went downhill. I even forgot DeRozan was playing and thought he was benched.

    • I hate that two-man Bargs/Jose set. You can’t call it a pick-and-roll, because there’s no rolling with Bargs in it, nor a pick-and-pop, because 1) our screens suck 2) the spacing is awful and 3) Bargs likes to check on his pasta sauce for at least five seconds before he gets back to making a decision with the ball.

      It’s just 10 seconds off the shot clock.

      Did I mention I hate it?

  10. No Roll Call? Even AltRaps thought “awww F#%$ it” at his house or did something much more productive last night. I saved 1 hr by turning off this game during the 3rd quarter….

  11. It’s hard to believe that after losing 14 of the last 15 games, we’re actually distancing ourselves from Cleveland, lol.

    So looking at my intended draft target (Kyrie Irving), even if we don’t land a top-3 pick, it seems unlikely that Cleveland, Minnesota or Sacramento (having Mo Williams, Flynn/Rubio, and Tyreke Evans respectively) would take another PG like Irving….unless they go in with a plan of drafting the best available player.

    No point to my post, just thinking outloud…

  12. I think one thing this franchise has been seriously lacking in its 16 seasons is management stability. Gotta have it if you want success. A coach every 3 years and 5 GM’s (excluding Embry’s interim stint) is unacceptable. We have to build an identity as a franchise before we can expect an identity from our players. Right now our identity is non-existent or at best that of losing. Needs to change. And that starts with management.

    We must resign BC and keep Triano on to show the players that THEY are accountable for their play and that they must live up to the standards placed upon them by their coaches and the management. Once that is in place then we can start to think about winning a championship.

    • if you’re trying to show players that THEY’RE accountable for their play, how does re-signing a GM who has, to date, failed in their role send that message?

      how about just making players, coaches & management accountable? too simple?

      • Yes, it is. Yertu, get with the program. The stability canard is the corollary to “the Raps will never find anyone better than BC”. It’s my favourtie dumb reason why the Raps must re-sign BC.

        Stability is great when performance is excellent. When performance is poor, you wonder what benefits stsbility brings.

  13. It amazes me how focus our fans are on individual players and not the team. One night is Jose, the other night is AB, third night is …. This is a team that lacks identity, system and accountability.

    This is why one night one player shows up and the other one does not. This is why one night we play good and the other night we play like we are Cleavland.

    Bucks got an identity, tough, scrappy and ready to fight. Just like their GM and their Coach. We are missing that.

    Stop focusing on the players and ask why we are in this mess.

    • Just because problems exist at the very top of this organization, it doesn’t mean individual players shouldn’t be scrutinized after poor performances.

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