Quick Reaction

Quick Reaction: Raptors 74, Trail Blazers 92


Toronto Raptors 74 FinalRecap | Box Score 92 Portland Trail Blazers
Andrea Bargnani, C 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +3In fairness, this should probably be an incomplete – but pre-injury he was jacking up shots in typical Bargnani fashion and contributed to the Raptors’ dismal start. That said, he was the only Raptor who played passable man D on Aldridge, and it’s never good to see a player injured, so hopefully it’s not serious.
Jonas Valanciunas, C 34 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | -14Jack Armstrong made a salient point (I know – it was a weird night) when he said that Jonas “wants to play hard all the time, but doesn’t know how yet,” and that was particularly evident during tonight’s game. He was torched on D (partly due to Aldridge, partly due to overcommitting on help defence, and partly due to fatigue) and found himself in routinely bad rebounding positions, but never stopped working, even when the game got comical in the later stages. He’s clearly exhausted, but he can’t bring himself to slow down, and that unbreakable will gets no worse than a C, in my books.
Kyle Lowry, PG 17 MIN | 0-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 PTS | +2Again, I hope he’s not seriously hurt. But, like most of the Raptors, he made a lot of bad decisions with the ball when he was in – when he wasn’t forcing up long jump shots, he was barreling to the rim, which ultimately led to his injury. Also had major issues guarding Nolan Smith, which is unacceptable for someone known as a solid man defender.
Mickael Pietrus, SG 38 MIN | 3-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -8Made some good decisions with the ball early, posting up an overmatched Will Barton for a couple easy scores, but looked for his shot too often down the stretch and was the subject of a demoralizing Aldridge block for good measure. Not his best performance, but if we’re expecting anything more than this from him, there’s a(nother) problem.
DeMar DeRozan, SG 43 MIN | 7-16 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | -11I felt bad for DeMar at the end of this game. Clearly feeling the strain of multiple 40+ minute games and carrying his team offensively through big stretches, his exhausted legs just wouldn’t let him bring the Raps back one last time. Mixed up his offensive game nicely and in addition to his regular adventures at the rim was the Raptors’ strongest mid-range shooter on the night – a testament to his maturation as an offensive player, as well as the unbelievable ugliness of this game.
Ed Davis, PF 24 MIN | 3-7 FG | 8-8 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | -19Was physically outmatched by Aldridge, but still battled him in the post on both ends and actually had comparable stats to him after the first half. The only Raptor besides DeMar who was able to get into the lane with any effectiveness, and was the Raps’ best player until he was inexplicably sat by Casey through most of the second half. Note to the Raps’ coaching staff: if the game’s over after three, those extra two fouls don’t really mean a thing. I almost feel bad for mentioning this because he did have a really solid night, but he was posterized by Luke Babbitt late during Portland’s dunk-fest in the fourth, which is notable just for its ridiculousness factor.
Amir Johnson, PF 10 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -9The Raps could have used his size on Aldridge in the fourth, but, alas, sometimes you just have to fight a referee over a dead ball and throw your mouthpiece at him. Strangely, though, it fit perfectly in the narrative for this gong-show of a game.
Aaron Gray, C 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +3Maybe my post third quarter “Aaron Gray for MVP” tweets were a bit premature, but he came in after Amir’s rejection and was the best version of Aaron Gray we could expect, drawing charges, “running” the floor, and finishing the slowest reverse layup I’ve ever seen. Godspeed, Aaron Gray. Godspeed.
Jose Calderon, PG 32 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 12 PTS | -20Was actually reasonably efficient on offense when he looked for his own shot, but continued to make some poor decisions with the ball, throwing a lazy, unforced pass to DeMar in the third that was three feet over his head. Only one turnover, but as a distributor I hold him to a high standard because he’s proven he can play up to it. That said, he’s looked distracted these last few games, but had a reasonable offensive performance tonight (and showed some nice chemistry with Davis late). Was literally the only Raptor shooter I felt remotely comfortable with shooting the ball outside of 15 feet.
John Lucas, PG 12 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -16That’s a lot of zeroes in a box score line.
Terrence Ross, SG 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -1Another rough night for Ross, who seemed to be trying a bit too hard early to get himself going, which led to a case of “Bargnani-itis” and the wasted possessions that come with it. Drove through the lane with ease in garbage time in the fourth, which makes you wonder why he didn’t try that when the game was still in reach.

Five Things We Saw

  1. A lot of ugly, ugly shots early. Decimated by injuries, Portland was in a major funk to start the game, and you had a feeling that any offensive pressure at all by the Raps could put this one to bed early. Instead, the Raptors wasted possession after possession by jacking up long-range bombs early in the shot clock, missing almost all of them, and allowing Portland time to establish themselves in the post, where they proceeded to kill the Raptors for the rest of the night.
  2. Put any inclinations to bed that you may have still had about this team having the potential to return to their impressive defensive numbers from last season. The Blazers, featuring LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, JJ Hickson, and a bunch of players that on paper had little business getting minutes in an NBA game, continually drove the lane, torching the Raptors on play after play and eventually just tossing alley-oops for what seemed like the entire fourth quarter. I understand that there’s fatigue issues at the end of a long road trip, and the team dealt with injuries and an ejection, but when you can’t put up any resistance at all against guys like Sasha Pavlovic and Luke Babbitt inside, there are far bigger issues at play.
  3. How’s this for a stat: Portland went 0 for 20 from behind the arc – and still won by 18. That basically tells you everything you need to know about how unwatchable this game was from a Raptors’ standpoint. Truly one of the ugliest games of the season, certainly for the Raptors, but quite possibly in the entire Association.
  4. I hope Ed Davis enjoyed his extended minutes tonight, because with Andrea injured and Amir facing a suspension, he’s going to see a lot of them on Wednesday night. The bright side? We finally get to see some extended time of a Jonas/ED front line. The downside? Guess who’s the first big off the bench? That’s right folks, it’s Aaron Gray!
  5. Let’s do our best to end this on a positive: the road trip from Hell has finally ended. The Raps head back home to the ACC for 13 of their next 19, starting with Wednesday’s tilt against the Nets. It’s hard to see how things could get any worse, so let’s just go glass half-full and say they’re bound to get better. Somewhere, over the rainbow…
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