The Toronto Raptors looked like they were down and out. Portland’s youthful Thomas Robinson had just crammed the ball home, pushing the visitors’ margin to 17 with 8:18 to play. Improbably, the Raps refused to fold, as Kyle Lowry finally hit a 3-ball after missing his previous 13 attempts over 2 games. Despite fine play by DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay, the Trail Blazers still held a seemingly comfortable 11-point lead at the 2:42 mark. The Raps kept pushing; with 41 seconds left, the ‘Blazers’ paint-clogging centre, Robin Lopez, fouled out. The stage was set for Rudy Gay to drive down the open lane to bury a game-tying layup as the buzzer sounded. Much joy ensued.
That’s the end of the good news, folks. The Raps slipped ahead briefly with Rudy’s only 3-ball of the game, followed by 2 free throws, but the ‘Blazers’ superb sophomore guard, Damian Lillard, buried a crazy-long 3. That keyed an 11-0 run by the visitors, and the fans at the Air Canada Centre, so pumped by the improbable comeback just a few minutes prior, starting filing out of the building.
“All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others” Animal Farm, George Orwell.
“Change animals to baskets“ Raptors Rapture, Brian Boake
All the good work of the Raptors came undone because of one fatal weakness, the inability to find reliable 3-point shooting. Portland made 15 of 32 long balls to Toronto’s 3 of 17, and even the Raps’ 8 additional made free throws couldn’t overcome such a huge disparity in both makes and percentage. (Steve Novak and Austin Daye, our stretch-4s, are a combined 2 of 15 from distance this season. Novak was pointless yesterday, when he was really needed, and Daye was in street clothes.)
The second unit was again of little value. Dwight Buycks needs to learn that a point guard has three jobs: pass, score and defend. We’d be happy if he could do one of those. Terrence Ross missed his 3 shots in the first half, then was shut down. Landry Fields made one basket. Tyler Hansbrough was his usual fierce self under the boards. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets some starts ahead of Amir Johnson in the near future.
The Raps enjoyed a solid outing from Jonas Valanciunas, who didn’t back down from contact, and found his way through Portland’s giants to score 19 points. DD had his second straight excellent outing, pouring in 29 points, many of them on acrobatic spin moves to the bucket. Rudy makes us crazy a lot of the time, but he can’t be faulted on this game; 30 points and 10 rebounds is impressive.
The Raps have now dropped both of their overtime games, a weakness which has bedeviled this franchise from Day 1. They are off to Philadelphia on Wednesday to face a schizophrenic 76er squad, which we fervently hope they can defeat in 48 minutes.
Putbacks: Kyle Lowry had a minimum double-double of 10 each points and assists…only 2 other Raps recorded assists, DeRozan and Johnson…the only thing inhibiting me from calling out the ‘Blazers as title contenders is their weak bench – 4 players picked up DNP-CDs [Did Not Play - Coach's Decision]
Brian Boake is Senior Editor 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.
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