The Toronto Raptors were getting booed at home once again. Brooklyn’s Nets had brushed aside a Q4 run by the home team and made a push of their own, outscoring the Raps 18-8 to pile up a 15-point margin. Steve Novak was fouled on a 3-point (what else?) attempt, and drained the free throws. Kyle Lowry, who was full value, made a pair of steals for layups, and the comeback was on. Even Rudy Gay, in the throes of another poor shooting night, made his only 3-ball, while Brooklyn was firing blanks. With 10 seconds left, the Raps inbounded, and the ball found its way to Amir Johnson, who hoisted a corner 3 for the win – short. Brooklyn, which didn’t make a bucket in the last 5:22 of the game, still walked off the winner.
All of this drama should have been avoided, but the Raps played down to the level of their woeful opponents. I don’t remember seeing so many easy opposition hoops in the paint since Andrea Bargnani was our glue-footed centre. Kevin Garnett was scoring and passing effortlessly, ending with 12 points and 4 assists. Andre Blatche also feasted on the Raps’ ineffective interior defense, scoring 24. Joe Johnson is always tough; he scored 21.
The Raptors offense was woeful off the tip. Apart from Kyle Lowry’s 2 3-balls, no Rap made a bucket until DeMar DeRozan got hot more than halfway through Q1, with the Raps “stuck” ten. DD made all three 3s he tried, and worked his magic in other ways to end the Q with 13 points, on his way to a game-high 27 on 9 of 15 shooting, plus all 5 free throws he tried. While DD was a model of efficiency, Rudy was the antithesis. He consistently dribbled himself into crowded places, and was charged with 7 turnovers. Balance that dismal number against his 3 lonely baskets, and the team was ripe to fail.
At least we saw a few shots of “Novakcain” [20-second timeout: this term was coined by Knicks announcer, and former great guard, Walt Frazier, to describe the effect on the New York team when Steve Novak would enter a game, drain a few quick threes, then leave.] Novak, playing his first decent game in a Toronto uniform, was 2-4 from distance, and missed a tip-in of Johnson’s failed 3 at the buzzer. His contributions are welcome, particularly now that coach Dwane Casey has severely shortened his bench. D.J. Augustin and Landry Fields had brief, ineffective minutes; Aaron Gray and Julyan Stone never saw the floor.
Losing a home game to an injury-riddled 3-10 Nets team is very sad. The Raps need to get back on track in a hurry, as the two-time defending champion Miami Heat are in town on Friday night.
Putbacks: What was Amir doing on the floor with 10 seconds to play and a bucket needed to tie?….Former Rap Alan Anderson didn’t do much harm, missing all four 3-balls he tried….Five second-unit guys to begin Q4, when we’re down 5 points? The deficit was 9 when that experiment was mercifully ended.
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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