Every afternoon I go into my NBA App, to check out the slate of games for the upcoming night to better plan my league pass schedule. My rules to picking games are as followed:
- Do the Raptors play that night? If so – Raptors > Everything
- Which teams haven’t I watched enough of this season?
- What’s the best matchup of the night?
As NBA fans we love storylines, we live for the Russell Westbrook revenge tour stopping in against the Golden State Warriors, we simply have a love for games that drive us someway emotionally. So far this season, the Raptors have become a must watch league pass team. Even a game when the 2-5 Kings come into town, in such a young season can be interesting to turn on for any fan. Would DeMar DeRozan keep his 30ppg streak alive? What will DeMarcus Cousins do? Will he have a great performance? Or will he let the referees get the better of him like he’s prone to do sometimes? How will the crowd react at the return of former Raptor Rudy Gay? All these questions would be answered for us, unfortunately they weren’t the answers Raptors fans were looking for.
The Raptors started off the game at a disadvantage, as their starting centre Jonas Valanciunas would be sidelined due to a left knee contusion. Rookie Jakob Poetle would start at centre, his first start of his NBA career. The increased minutes going to the rookies, was very troublesome for the Raptors in this matchup. Valanciunas would be facing off against the Kings best player, low post master DeMarcus Cousins, who was looking to turn things around for his team in the midst of a four game losing streak on their Eastern Conference road trip.
The first quarter, started off with some sloppy play by both sides. Cousins did a great job on the offensive end, passing out of the double teams quickly, creating great ball movement for the Kings. Unfortunately though, the Kings weren’t able to capitalize on their open looks, going down 19-9 early in the first. The second unit for the Raptors was yet again the spark that got the them going, but it wouldn’t last long. The Kings would make it a three point game after one at 23-20.
The Raptors would head into the break up by six, which is uncomfortable territory considering how much the defenses were hedging and trapping DeRozan and Lowry in the pick and roll. This was evident with DeRozan, who had his streak of 30+ points to start the season snapped last night, scoring 23 points on 7/20 shooting from the field. DeRozan continues to get to his spots on the floor, although his shooting touch may have dipped a bit, theres no doubt that the presence of starting centre Valanciunas was missed. Providing another scoring option, and taking some of the defensive attention off the backcourt.
In the second half, the Kings turned this game into a constant highlight reel for Cousins and Gay. The Kings would outscore the Raptors in both the third and fourth quarter to seal the deal and win 96-91. Cousins would finish with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and figure out early that the rookie bigs were no match for his skills and athleticism. Gay would finish the game with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and hit two threes. Gay who is in a contract year has really stepped up his game this season, finishing with this 5th 20+ point scoring night this season.
This was a pretty upsetting loss. Yes the Raptors didn’t play inspiring basketball on both ends of the floor, allowing Gay to get to the basket at will, yet missing a ton of wide open shots of their own, and some easy layups around the basket. It’s still very early in the season, and even though the Kings are a team the Raptors should beat nine time out of ten, in the grand scheme of things this game acts as a learning moment for some of the young players who picked up big minutes tonight against one of the best big men in the league.
Rookie Report –
Pascal Siakam had his best offensive game of his young career, scoring ten points, and grabbing six rebounds. The Kings were slow to rotate on Siakam cutting hard to the hoop in the pick and roll, ending in a lot of of alley-oop opportunities. Siakam continues to go above and beyond on what his role was perceived to be when he was drafted, playing a total of 23 minutes tonight.
Poeltl would start the game but got in early foul trouble (eventually fouling out in fourth), playing 18 total minutes and scoring six points on 3/4 shooting from the field. Poeltl would see his playing time decreased due to the season debut of Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira, who came in set great screens, played within his offensive skills set, and provided some good rim protection throughout the game.