The Toronto Raptors lose the defining game of their season

The Toronto Raptors sure have a type when it comes to losing games. I think we just found the prototype.

The date is January 4, 2023, and the Toronto Raptors face the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors miss their first 15 field goal attempts in front of an increasingly silent Scotiabank Arena. Fred VanVleet is the only Raptor with a pulse for much of the night, finishing with 28 points, 12 assists, and 3 steals. He leads a furious comeback -- a would-be historic comeback, even -- that falls short in overtime. Toronto takes 28 more field goal attempts -- the largest differential of the season -- than their opponent but still lose in a bitter, hurtful way.

No, no. The date is January 17, 2023, against Milwaukee again. The Toronto Raptors allow the Bucks to score 44 points in the first quarter. VanVleet leads a massive comeback, scoring 39 points in the game. The Raptors pull within a single point in the fourth, as VanVleet scores nine in a row for Toronto, but the Raps eventually fall short. They attempt 15 more field goals than their opponent.

Or is it December 16, 2022? The Raptors lose to the Brooklyn Nets as they play a slovenly defensive game, culminating in a buzzer-beating triple conceded to Kyrie Irving over top of VanVleet, who finishes with 39 points. They take eight more shot attempts than their opponents.

Wait, no, I think it is February 1, 2023. The Raptors play a sluggish game against the Utah Jazz. Yes, that's it. I'm sure of it. They fall behind 10-2 before your beer even arrives at the bar, and rookie Walker Kessler has four blocks by the time of the game's first stoppage. The observant fan may well connect Kessler to the Raptors for the remainder of his career, as he was picked 22nd in the 2022 draft, and the Raptors traded their 20th pick in the same draft for Thad Young and the 33rd selection. They eventually selected Christian Koloko, who finishes with two points and two rebounds against the Jazz. Kessler ends up with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and seven blocks, doing much of his damage on the offensive glass against Young himself in the fourth quarter. The choices you make in history has a way of haunting the present.

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