Morning Coffee – Sun, Nov 20

Bad loss to the Hawks...BAD AND FRUSTRATING!

10 things: Raptors fall asleep on game-winning layup in OT – Sportsnet

Two — Allowing the Hawks to score an open layup with less than four seconds while inbounding from their own basket requires a comedy of errors. The Raptors tried to deny the entry pass going to Trae by having Thad Young position himself away from his own basket, which makes sense given that Trae the biggest threat, but the rest of it was sloppy. The Raptors didn’t communicate their assignments, particularly as Trae got a head start after a give-and-go with Dejounte Murray, and he was able to break free for a 2-on-1 with only O.G. Anunoby in the backcourt. The most curious part of the sequence was Scottie Barnes leaving his assignment and rushing ahead into the frontcourt and getting nowhere near the ball. That’s what led to the mismatch in numbers on defense. It’s unclear if Nick Nurse had called for a trap, or if Barnes took the decision to gamble on his own. Either way, it was a massive mistake.

Raptors-Hawks observations: The highs and lows of a big night for Scottie Barnes – The Athletic

Defensive breakdowns

Barnes was at the centre of two major defensive lapses in overtime. On the first, he did not fight through a screen on Trae Young, whom he had been guarding well for most of the night. That left rookie Christian Koloko on Young, which is not fair. The Raptors, rarely hesitant to send a double-team or trap, didn’t on this occasion, and Young beat Koloko for a bucket. Bad execution, odd strategy. At the very least, Barnes should have left his man, Hunter, to help Koloko in a spot where he was overmatched and let VanVleet contest after Young passed.

Nobody will remember that play because the way the Raptors lost at the buzzer was utterly bizarre. After Anunoby tied the score with two free throws, the Hawks inbounded the ball to Young, whom Thad Young ended up trailing. Mistake No. 1. Barnes, who should have been the first helper, floated into a poor defensive position, blocked out by a Clint Capela quasi-screen. Mistake No. 2. Koloko, who should have switched off Capela at that point to run with Young, was a few beats too late. Mistake No. 3. That left Anunoby, who was guarding rookie AJ Griffin at the Raptors’ bucket, to either stay on his man and invite the Hawks’ best player to walk into an open jump shot or force him to make a pass to Griffin under the net. Anunoby probably wasn’t decisive enough, which was mistake No. 4. In Anunoby’s defence, you do not expect to be put in that position. He likely didn’t expect the Hawks to have a chance to make a second pass in that situation, and absolutely not that second pass.

And yet …

If you cannot get past the ending, that’s fine. The Raptors don’t get a win because they played admirably in a difficult scenario. They did not execute in various ways, and they paid the price.

Still, it’s hard to look at that performance, given the context, and be too disappointed. Most important, Barnes played excellently and attempted to take over the game in a manner most people have been waiting for. He did not make the right decision every time, as his 11-for-29 shooting will tell you, but he had a far better offensive mix than in recent games. The dump-off pass he dropped for Thaddeus Young late in overtime was sweet. That he came back into the game after suffering a left foot/ankle injury when he came down for a rebound — he sprained his ankle in the playoffs last season; his right ankle was bothering him leading into this season — shows how much he wants to win.

The matchup against Young is a good one for Barnes. The second-year Raptor has struggled at times defending on the perimeter, but Young doesn’t have blazing speed. He is more quick and crafty than fast, which allows Barnes to use his length to keep Young contained. He was by far the Raptors’ best defender on Young on Saturday, and that is big considering Young has handled VanVleet well in a few recent meetings.

Barnes had 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. It wasn’t perfect. It was painful, in more ways than one. Zoom out, though, and it should serve as one of the more important regular-season games in Barnes’ young career.

Hawks win on buzzer-beater layup from AJ Griffin, defeat Raptors 124-122 – Peachtree Hoops

Despite the Raptors being down almost half their roster to injuries, they kept it close with the Hawks in the first, with credit to their defense and multiple players making big plays. To end the quarter, the Hawks trailed 31-29.

It was a slow start to the second for the Hawks, as the offense began to get stagnant and the Raptors started to knock some shots. AJ Griffin continued to make the most of his minutes and went coast-to-coast for a layup.

Midway through the quarter, the Hawks started to find some offense with the starters back in and chipped away at the Raptors lead. Unfortunately, it seemed like every time the Hawks would inch closer, the Raptors would answer with a slight punch of their own. Heading into halftime, the Hawks trailed 62-55.

The Hawks came out with better energy in the second half and went on a mini-run to take the lead. From there it was a back-and-forth game as both teams continued to trade buckets. Young started to get into his bag early in the half and knocked down this shot to give the Hawks the lead.

De’Andre Hunter was able to find his way into the paint and finish with multiple defenders around him.

Similar to the first half, the Raptors were able to make a push at the end of the quarter, and they went into the fourth quarter with an 89-82 lead over the Hawks.

John Collins knocked down his first three of the game in the fourth quarter to keep the Hawks in striking distance.

Young continued his solid night with this up-and-under at the rim.

With 3:21 left in the game, Hunter took the ball coast-to-coast to cut the Hawks deficit down to three points. Two minutes later, it was Hunter again that knocked down two big free throws to tie the game at 109. On the Hawks next offensive possession, Young was fouled and hit two free throws to give them the lead.

It came down to the wire, but neither team could take the victory in regulation, which means it was time for some free basketball.

Griffin was the star of the Hawks in overtime, hitting two shots and getting a crucial offensive rebound early in the period.

It looked like the Hawks would walk out with the victory easily, but Hunter missed two free throws to give the Raptors another chance. The Raptors indeed took that chance and hit two free throws to tie the game with three seconds left.

It was then up to the Hawks to answer and they did. Murray found Young as he went downhill, and the threw a lob pass to Griffin for an easy layup to beat the buzzer and give the Hawks the victory.

Scrappy Toronto Raptors drop heartbreaker to Atlanta Hawks, lose on 124-122 OT buzzer-beater – Raptors HQ

Despite being short-handed, the Raptors managed to keep up with the Hawks to start the game. Much like in the movie Hustle, Bo Cruz’ defense was the difference to start the game. His deflections, defensive reads, activity, and ample scoring punch kept the Raptors in the game early. However, the Trae Young-Clint Capela combo was hard to stop, as the two combined for sixteen points in the first period. The Hawks managed to force the Raptors deep into the shot clock midway through the first, building a 16-10 lead. However, Scottie Barnes, Malachi Flynn, and O.G. Anunoby finished the quarter strong, with Barnes’ out-of-balanced three-pointer giving the Raptors a 31-29 lead after the first period.

The Raptors had a solid second quarter, and if there’s any doubt or frustration about Barnes, this game, just through two quarters, should make the fanbase forget about all of that. Barnes was in his element stretching back to the latter part of the first quarter, as his defense, three-point shooting, passing, and aggressive drives to the basket were on display. I mean, look at him baptizing Clint Capela to give the Raptors a 51-43 lead:

Unfortunately, the Hawks’ defense hunkered down, forcing the Raptors into difficult half-court sets, while the Young-Capela looked unstoppable, with a 12-4 run to tie the game at 55. Luckily for Nurse, Thaddeus Young probably had his best quarter in several years, putting up 14 points and two steals to give the Raptors some breathing room. That was enough to compensate for Anunoby’s troublesome quarter that saw him pick up his third foul via a bogus call. The Hawks had a chance to make it a one-possession game at the end of the half, but Trae Young was called for an offensive foul on his corner three attempt — his leg kicked sideways, catching Barnes on his closeout, and a furious coach Nate McMillan got a tech in the process. To add salt to injury for the Hawks, the next possession saw Barnes go coast-to-coast (again!), this time, to go for a layup to beat the buzzer. The Hawks converged on him but were whistled for goaltending, giving the Raptors a 62-55 lead at the half.

The Raptors opened the second half flat. The Hawks got a nexus lane to the cup, and their transition defense was non-existent. Worse, the Hawks kept the Raptors in the half-court and got nothing to show for several possessions. Trae Young’s trifecta capped off an 11-6 run to give the Hawks their first lead since the first quarter at 68-66, but the Raptors got their bearings defensively. Anunoby wass back bulldozing defenders and taking candies away. Barnes looked locked in, putting up 11 points and three assists in the third period, scoring at the end of the quarter for the third consecutive time as the Raptors held serve, 89-82.

With his most aggressive game of the season, Barnes started with an aggressive post-up to open up the final period. It looked like the Raptors were about to pull away, but Justin Holiday made a banked trifecta, and Hernangomez’s dunk rattled through the hoop as he hung on to the rim, forcing the reps to call an offensive goaltending. AJ Griffin’s layup cut the Raptors’ lead to 95-90. Tampa Bay Flynnsanity and Anunoby kept the lead to at least three possessions until an unfortunate play where Barnes got injured. Trae Young and Barnes’ legs got tangled, and Barnes had to be taken out. Meanwhile, the Hawks completed an 8-0 run to tie the game at 109 with 90 seconds remaining.

Trae Young then grifted for Flynn’s sixth foul to give the Hawks the lead. Anunoby got to the line on the other end to tie the game, and the Raptors managed to stop Trae Young’s floater. Nurse called for a timeout with 18 seconds left, starting with an Anunoby isolation against Hunter. Anunoby missed his middy, but Koloko got the offensive rebound, and kicked it out to VanVleet with six seconds left. VanVleet drove to the basket, dumped to Barnes at the buzzer, but Barnes missed what was essentially a wide open layup. Whether he tried to rush at as the clock was winding down, or he was off balance because of his ankle, or both, we’ll never — and off we went to OT!

The Raptors were showing signs of fatigue even before the overtime period. The extra time showed just that, as the Raptors’ defense was half-a-step slow, not to mention failing to secure crucial boards. Griffin’s floater over Koloko gave the Hawks a 118-115 lead, and it took a while before the Raptors got something from their offense, with Barnes’ assist to Thad Young. Trae Young got Koloko on a switch the next play, pushing the Hawks’ lead to 120-117, while Koloko got fouled on the other end, splitting his freebies. The Raptors sent Trae Young to the line and he promptly made both, while the Hawks allowed Anunoby for a quick dunk with eight seconds left. De’Andre Hunter missed two freebies the other way, and the Raptors called for time to setup a kamikaze Anunoby drive, earning him a trip to the line to tie the game with less than four seconds left.

Neither side had a timeout left, but the raptors fell asleep as the Hawks inbounded the ball. About as bad a defensive breakdown as you’ll see had Young streaking away from four Raptors defenders with Griffin on the opposite side of him — leaving Anunoby with a 2-1 mismatch between Trae Young and Griffin. Griffin completed the easy alley-oop from Trae Young as time expired.

Raptors See Scottie Barnes stay Hot in OT Loss to Hawks – Sports Illustrated Toronto Raptors

For a moment, it looked like Toronto might hang on to win it in regulation. Christian Koloko batted out an offensive rebound to VanVleet, one of Koloko’s seven offensive boards on the night, giving the Raptors one final shot at the win. VanVleet drove deep into the paint and found Scottie Barnes, but the ball wouldn’t drop, rolling around the rim before popping out.

In overtime, the Raptors got crossed up trying to stop Trae Young in the final seconds. A pair of O.G. Anunoby free-throws helped Toronto climb out of a four-point hole late, but some miscommunication left AJ Griffin, son of Raptors’ assistant coach Adrian Griffin, wide open under the basket for the game-winning bucket off a savvy find from Young.

Even in the loss, the Raptors got another long look at exactly what this roster looks like all the way to the bottom. What Saturday showed is just how deep Toronto’s rotation truly is.

Thad Young started things off for the Raptors with the kind of impressive passing and skillful inside scoring he’s become known for as of late. At this point, it seems unthinkable that he began the year outside the Raptors’ rotation with a trio of DNPs before finally gaining Nurse’s confidence. With all the injuries, he’s become indispensable for the Raptors, keeping Toronto’s offense going with 14 of his season-high 17 points in the first half alone.

“He is a great vet,” Juancho Hernangomez said of Young earlier in the week. “His IQ is really high. He knows how to pass. He knows how to cut. He knows when he gets in the post, he knows because he’s been in the league 15 years.”

After that, it was the Malachi Flynn show off the bench. The 24-year-old responded to a DNP on Wednesday night with the best game of his season. He nailed a pair of three-pointers in the first half, both off impressive finds from Scottie Barnes. He then weaved his way through the Hawk’s defense, using a screen from Christian Koloko before lofting a floater through the hoop.

That aggressiveness carried over in the second half, where Barnes found him again for a catch-and-shoot three-pointer and hit another crafty floater from the free-throw line. Flynn then showed off his playmaking skills late in the fourth, finding O.G. Anunoby in transition to stick the Raptors to a seven-point lead.

He did, however, foul out in the fourth, finishing the night with a season-high 17 points, five rebounds, and a trio of assists in 28 minutes.

Considering how well Banton was playing prior to his ankle injury, Toronto is going to have some tough decisions to make at the backup point guard spot when he comes back. Flynn has so far been outside Nurse’s good graces for the better part of the last year, but the third-year guard has shown enough to push for Banton’s minutes and maybe more when everyone returns to full strength down the road.

Raptors lose heartbreaker in overtime in Atlanta after Barnes misses potential regulation winner | Toronto Sun

Understandably Trae Young got a lot of attention on the inbound that still found its way into his hands via a touch pass from Dejounte Murray after Clint Capela sprung him with a solid screen.

Young, already under a full head of steam ran away from the Toronto defence and then just had to hit the wide-open Griffin for the buzzer-beating winner for a 124-122 OT win.

It was heartache for the Raptors who were down two starters and three of their top reserves off the bench and still really had control of this game for most of the night.

Without Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. as well as Chris Boucher, Dalano Banton, and Otto Porter Jr., it was Scottie Barnes and Anunoby leading the way.

Barnes had one of those all-around great Barnes nights with 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

The downside was yet another tweak of his already banged-up left ankle that forced him to miss crucial minutes as regulation wound down.

Barnes came down on Trae Young’s foot in a mass of bodies under the Toronto basket with just over four minutes remaining in the game.

He wound up going back to the locker room but returned with just under two minutes to play.

Barnes, maybe still feeling that ankle, had a glorious opportunity to win this one in regulation for the Raptors as VanVleet found him uncovered coming across the baseline with less than three seconds remaining and the game tied.

Barnes was a little strong with the layup which went off glass and off the far rim failing to fall and forcing an already fatigued Raptors’ club to play five more minutes.

Griffin, a rookie out of Duke, actually had eight of his 17 points in the overtime to help Atlanta pull this one out.

Given the circumstances, this was one of the Raptors better efforts all season.

Nurse basically played seven players with Khem Birch and Jeff Dowtin Jr. logging just four minutes apiece and Ron Harper Jr., the Raptors other two-way roster player along with Dowtin Jr, there only in the event of an emergency.

The Raptors started their three remaining healthy starters along with veteran Young who was making his fourth consecutive start and Juancho Hernangomez who joined the starting five for the first time this season.

Young, as he has been since the injuries started piling up in Toronto, was outstanding going off for a season high 18 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes.

Hernangomez, another high-IQ player the likes of which the Raptors seem to gravitate towards, was also solid with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Reserve Malachi Flynn enjoyed his best individual performance of the year with a season’s-best 17 points before he fouled out in the dying moments of regulation.

The Raptors will now have three full days off before the schedule resumes and the timing couldn’t be better.

Barnes looks like he could use some time to let his ankles heal.

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