Even another fast start wasn’t good enough. Milwaukee shrugged off an 18 point deficit the Raps built up in a superb Q1, & used their greater depth & size to claw back to within 2 at the half. The Raps nudged ahead in Q3, & still retained a 1-point lead with 4 minutes to play. In crunch time, the Bucks were lights-out with their shooting, a painful contrast to the home team.
This game exposed several critical flaws in the Raps’ paper-thin roster. Our front court has been woefully weakened by the absence of Jonas Valanciunas & the failure of Aaron Gray to provide adequate support. But that’s not a criticism of either Ed Davis or Amir Johnson, both of whom played sparkling games. Our most glaring problem is the vacuum that exists at Small Forward. Landry Fields played 29+ invisible minutes; 1 each of basket, free throw, rebound. His jump shot looks dreadful; flat & wide of the mark. In contrast, Luc Mbah a Moute & Mike Dunleavy (a gunner coming off the bench – Mommy, can we get one of those?) combined for 25 points. Alan Anderson, our other option at SF, was probably overdue for a dismal game. He missed all 5 of his 3-ball attempts, ending with 5 points. Linas Kleiza didn’t dress, again. The situation calls for some radical rethinking.
Back to the bigs. Jim Boylan, the new Bucks coach, looks like he’s an old-fashioned “let ‘em play” type. He took advantage of the Raps’ lack of size by bringing rookie John Henson off the bench, which paid dividends. Henson, the tallest player on the floor [he's a beanpole; reminds me of Keon Clark], poured in 19 points, grabbed 6 boards & blocked 2 shots. Boylan seemed content to allow his tiny scary-quick Guards, Monta Ellis & Brandon Jennings, to shoot or drive as they see fit. Ellis & Jennings rewarded their Coach’s faith with 17 & 19 points, respectively, & looked in control the whole game.
The Raps’ brilliant start was spearheaded by Jose Calderon. He poured in 15 points, including the only 3-balls any Raptor was to make all game. Jose was dishing too, ending the quarter with 4 assists. However, in Q2 the Bucks refused to allow our Guards to shoot from outside. Kyle Lowry couldn’t get anything rolling for himself on offense, & was held scoreless. Terrence Ross had 3 consecutive turnovers before he was lifted, not to return. Quincy Acy needed to sink 2 FTs just to allow the Raps to escape the quarter with their slim lead.
This match wasn’t all bleak. Davis & Johnson, as mentioned, kept the Raps close. Ed poured in 20 points, & Amir 23, & they combined for no less than 26 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan, who was quietly efficient, matched Amir’s points. But when 4 players score 86 points, & the rest of the team 10, a positive result is unlikely.
The home stand ends at 3-3. The Raptors travel to Brooklyn for a Tuesday night tilt with the Nets.
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.