Those few of us who remained at the Air Canada Centre last night, watching a crazy game enter its third overtime period, were fatigued but still hopeful. Despite the decimation of the Toronto Raptors’ roster (Terrence Ross, gone since Q2 with an ankle sprain, Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson and Kyle Lowry, all fouled out), there was still a chance we might prevail. DeMar DeRozan, ably assisted by Greivis Vasquez, was brilliant, but it wasn’t enough. A 3-point advantage evaporated after a 3-point play and consecutive turnovers, and it was the visitors who celebrated. The Raps’ amazing inability to win OT games on their home floor continues.
This game had everything: extra time, appearances by every Raptor (didn’t you used to be Landry Fields?…are we the only team with two masked players, now that Nando De Colo is on the floor?), lead changes and ties by the boatload, brain cramps (Jonas Valanciunas, what were you thinking?), more players fouling out (5!) than you’d see in 10 games, endless referee consultations and play reviews, timeouts longer than forever [20-second timeout: I've never been at a Raps game when they have run out of "entertainment" during stoppages - no more contests, giveaways or visits from the Dance Pak after about the halfway point of OT2.] There was some fine ball on display as well, by both sides. Greivis Vasquez played 38 gritty minutes, and scored 26 points. He “lost” a basket in OT2 when JV couldn’t let well enough alone, and committed basket interference on a Vasquez floater that hit nothing but net. We’re not in Europe, JV, you can’t touch the ball in the cylinder. Our big guy’s rebounding was solid, and it’s a mystery why coach Dwane Casey sat him so much.
The departure of TRoss, after he had already drained 3 of 5 tries from long range, was a severe blow. Not only did we miss his shooting, but the cat-quick Wizards’ guards were able to exploit our defense. John Wall and centre Marcin Gortat played pick and roll all night, both ending with 31 points. On Wall’s last basket, he was defended by Tyler Hansbrough, who had no chance of stopping Wall’s drive.
Kyle’s deep shooting woes continued, as he made 1 of 5, after 0 of 9 in Cleveland. His grit and hustle more than made up for his struggles, and he managed 18 points and 10 assists. DD’s 34 points cost him dearly, as he was pounded mercilessly on his takes to the basket.
Here’s hoping Dwane Casey declares today’s Raptors practise an optional one. There are a lot of banged-up players who need some rest and recuperation, and we’ll need them all on Sunday afternoon. The Golden State Warriors are in town.