Jonas Valanciunas, the Toronto Raptors starting centre, was ill prior to last night’s tussle in Boston with the Celtics, but played anyway. JV gave it the old college try, but was clearly off his game. At least he had an excuse. His teammates were without one, and were universally dismal in a shocking loss.
The offense was so dysfunctional, I’m amazed the team cracked 80 points. 13 misses on 25 free throws? DeMar DeRozan was 4 of 9 from the charity stripe, and clanked a bunch of jump shots he’d normally make. In fairness, 23 points seems solid, and several of his drives led to highlight-reel buckets, but he would be the first to tell you he should have scored 35. The second unit provided no relief, except for John Salmons, who was 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Coach Dwane Casey, in desperation, called upon his scrubs. Steve Novak buried a pair of 3s, and distracted Boston’s defense, in 11 minutes. Landry Fields was on the floor.
The Raptors had no solution for a thick-bodied, savvy reboundin’ fool named Jared Sullinger. The Celtic power forward pulled down an absurd 20 boards, including 8 on the offensive glass to extend Boston’s possessions. This was the first game in which coach Casey wished he could have called upon Tyler Hansbrough (still sidelined with an ankle injury), who would have put Sullinger on his butt a few times, if nothing else. Tyler is our only bruiser, and sometimes you need a guy like that.
The Raps fell behind late in the second quarter, and continued their dismal shooting in the third. Boston wasn’t exactly lighting it up either (Jeff Green was 4 of 16), but given enough second chances, made some baskets and pushed their lead to 18 points. The Raps should be given some grudging credit for storming back in Q4, and four times closed to within 3 points, but couldn’t hit a big shot when really needed. With 45 seconds left, Kyle Lowry’s missed free throw was rebounded by DeMar, who attacked the basket – but instead of cramming it home to close the deficit to one, he fumbled away the ball. Sullinger grabbed it, and was hacked by Amir Johnson, who left the game with his sixth foul (which matched his unacceptable point total). That sequence typified the kind of night it was for the Raptors.
Kyle didn’t shoot well at all, but handed out 12 assists, several of them brilliant. A sad performance from Greivis Vasquez forced Kyle to play 42+ minutes. JV suffered all night, making but one bucket.
Mama said there’d be days like this. The Raptors have no choice but to flush this dreadful game down the athletes’ memory hole, and prepare to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
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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