The Raptors are now officially a team in turmoil. The low-scoring Sixers were the beneficiaries of a Raptors offensive collapse in Q2, & despite giving the Raps a glimpse of a comeback after Q3, held on to beat the home side. The Raps’ record falls to 1-5, with little positive on the horizon.
I have been watching this team since the days of Mighty Mouse in Skydome, & I’ve seen some bad play, but nothing compares to last night’s second quarter. The Raps were outscored 32-7, which flatters them. They took 20 shots, & made 2. The normally tolerant Raps’ fans were booing the home side lustily as yet another jumper clanked off the iron. The Raptors honoured Remembrance Day by wearing their Canadian Forces camouflage uniforms, & they worked well – the Raps weren’t recognizable as a professional team during Q2’s interminable 12 minutes.
There were lots of enjoyable non-basketball moments for visitors to the ACC. The Raptor mascot spoofed Elton John, Canadian women Olympians received a shout-out, half-time featured an excellent performance by a colourfully-attired East Indian dance company (sponsored by Nav Bhatia, Superfan) – all was good, except the game.
It started well enough. Jonas Valanciunas was a force on the boards, Andrea Bargnani buried a 3 on his first shot, & with 3:13 to play in Q1 the Raps had a 10 point margin. The offense began to sputter at that point, with Terrence Ross’ 3-ball the only bucket before the buzzer. Let’s pretend there was no second quarter, & skip to the third, in which the Raps punched back. The long balls finally started to splash, as Jose Calderon made a pair, AB chipped in, & JV rebounded. When DeMar DeRozan buried a 3, the Raps were back within 7. Jose beat the buzzer with a spectacular drive & dish to Amir Johnson, who slammed it home. The score was 69-62, & hope had returned…but was quickly dashed. DD’s shooting went sour, again, & the 76ers’ lead ballooned back to 12, on a pair of Dorrell Wright 3s. The Raps never threatened again, & were reduced at game’s end to the deliberate-foul option, which seldom works, & didn’t here.
Alan Anderson started in place of Landry Fields, who didn’t dress [20 second timeout: Coach, have you been reading my articles?]. Sadly, Alan didn’t finish, as he badly turned his ankle on a drive, & was carried off the floor by Aaron Gray & JV. Kyle Lowry, whom we need desperately, was in street clothes again. Let’s hope his ankle heals sufficiently for him to play in Monday’s Utah game.
Andrea led the Raps with 23 points, Jose had 14 & 11 assists, & JV had 8 boards. The game’s leading rebounder was Evan Turner with 12, & his 76ers won the team board battle 46-35.
The Raps bench, which I had called as a team strength, has so far been a disaster. John Lucas’ mind-mindbogglingly bad shooting continued with a 1/7 night. Linus Kleiza, returning from a leave of absence, played like he was still elsewhere. Dominic McGuire has provided no energy, shooting, or defense – nothing to justify the Raps keeping him on the big team. Amir Johnson had 1 basket last night & Ed Davis none. At least young Ross hit a couple of 3s, but needs a lot of work on ballhandling in the NBA.
Next up: a tough Utah team. Two questions (1) Is there any sports team with a more incongruous name than Utah Jazz? (2) Can we salvage a win before the road beckons?
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.