Toronto finds another way to lose

Toronto falls apart late in a heartbreaking loss to the Utah Jazz.

6 minutes and 17 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Scottie Barnes just had his missed layup put back with an emphatic slam by Chris Boucher and the Raptors lead has extended to 13. After some free throws from Kelly Olynyk, Pascal comes down and sinks a mid range jumper to push the lead back to 13, after a layup by Walker Kessler Pascal comes down yet again and cashes a mid range jumper for his 35th point of the night, it feels like it’s going to be a strong closing performance from Pascal as he just won’t let the Jazz back in. The Jazz at this point were simply dominating Toronto in the paint, even with new acquisition Jakob Poetl active Walker Kessler still found his way to seemingly unguarded rim attempts late in this game. 

Utah has cut the lead 6 and has built some momentum so Nick Nurse calls a timeout with 3 minutes and 39 seconds remaining, it’s been a bad stretch for Toronto after open misses from Gary Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuwa and the defense giving up easy looks at the rim but you are still leading with time on your side, surely you find a way to pull this one out. Out of the timeout Kelly Olynyk sinks a triple after a late closeout by Precious, and then Collin Sexton speeds his way to the rim which he had been doing all game, through Scottie Barnes for an and one layup and ties the game at 112. This isn’t ideal for Toronto but by no means is this game over, if there was ever a time to turn it up now would be the time. At this point Utah is on a 14-1 run and even so the game is still tied, there’s still a chance to win this game.

Suddenly there’s a sign of life! Scottie Barnes explodes his way to the rim out of the triple threat past Kelly Olynyk and draws two free throws which he sinks. This is immediately retaliated against by Lauri Markannen sinking an and one layup plus the free throw to take the lead, now you feel that sinking feeling that Toronto has made you feel all season long in games like this.

At this point Gary cant buy a shot, Pascal has gone cold, Fred is nowhere to be found, and Scottie is the only one who scored for the last couple minutes. After Scottie put in a tough layup to bring the lead down to two, once again Utah immediately responds with a basket of their own, Toronto can’t stop a parked car at this point, and the paint, which is the area of emphasis for Toronto, meaning they do all they can to limit the paint attempts of the team they are facing, is seemingly free real estate for the Utah Jazz, Walker Kessler dominated last game and he has continued that tonight.

Once again Toronto can’t stop the speed of Collin Sexton and he blows by Gary Trent Jr to earn some free throws which extends the lead to four. Now at this point the game is essentially out of hand unless you can sink a quick triple and play the free throw game to try and force OT or win outright. Fred is the inbounder on the next play, he tosses it in to Pascal Siakam then runs to Siakam’s man as if he will set a screen but he slips at the last second and pops out for a three, it’s the patented ghost screen that Nurse loves to use for Fred and seeing it at this point gives you the sense of relief that you get after a long flight lands safely. There may have been some bumps on the road but with this you can feel good. The ghost screen works wonderfully and Collin Sexton switches onto Pascal leaving Fred wide open, Pascal immediately swings the ball to Fred and it’s an … airball. That feeling of safety immediately turned to a feeling of horror as that was the final nail in the coffin for Toronto and they would fall to the Utah Jazz yet again.

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