Another Q4 lead, another winnable game – another loss. Brilliant play from Kyle Lowry, & a healthy contribution from Mikael Pietrus, was insufficient to overcome the continued shooting woes of Andrea Bargnani.
The turtle derby between 2 struggling teams began well enough for the Raps, as balanced scoring pushed them to a 7-point lead. Not surprisingly, however, DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings’ massive Centre, was causing all kinds of match-up problems for Jonas Valanciunas & Andrea Bargnani. Both sat down early with 2 fouls. The Kings were able to manage a tie entering Q2, which turned ugly for the Raps. Their shooting was off, & the Kings converted defensive rebounds into repeated quick-strike buckets. Lowry suffered through a pointless quarter & DeMar DeRozan wasn’t getting any calls despite repeated attempts to drive the lane. The low-scoring Kings had piled up 55 by half-time, good for an 8 point bulge. They stretched that to 14 midway through Q3, as Bargnani was missing easy shots while John Salmons buried consecutive 3-balls. The Raps switched to a zone defence, which clogged the middle for the Sacramento big men. Lowry continued to drive & pass, & the comeback was on. Pietrus was scoring outside & in, several times receiving a pass & putting up a quality shot before his defender could react. He also slammed down a highlight-reel special, taking but 1 dribble from the foul line before elevating past the startled Kings. Ed Davis ripped down numerous defensive boards, & quick passes aided the fast break. The Raps were back within 2 as Q4 commenced. Lowry continued his marvellous play, drawing fouls almost at will. He was perfect from the line on 12 attempts, & is now 23/23 in the last 2 games. However, Cousins was re-inserted & picked up where he left off, scoring inside against the smaller Raps. He had 25 points & 13 boards on the night. The game was tied at 97 when Tyreke Evans buried consecutive 3s. The 6-point margin was too much to overcome, despite Lowry hitting a deep 3 off the glass. None of the desperate shots afterwards were close, & the Kings eased to the win.
Lowry has good reason to be seriously miffed at his teammates. The little guard poured in 34 points, passed for 11 assists (it should have been higher – make the open looks!), & even grabbed 5 rebounds. What more can one man do? The hapless Bargnani was 0/6 from distance, & 3/14 overall. If his slump continues, Coach may have little choice but to insert Ed Davis as the starting Power Forward. Pietrus added 21, & will be a huge help if this game was not a fluke.
The Raps visit Salt Lake City on Friday.
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.