Raptors 93, Jazz 97: Raptors let Drake down on OVO night

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 26: Kyle Lowry
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 26: Kyle Lowry /

On the promotional OVO night, the Toronto Raptors failed to take care of business, blowing a late lead to the Utah Jazz.

With 2:24 remaining, the Toronto Raptors were in control of the game. Kyle Lowry had just hit an important free throw, which, according to ESPN.com, increased the Raptors win probability to over 94-percent.

With their chances looking so far gone, instead of giving up, the Utah Jazz doubled down. First, Derrick Favors hit a put-back bunny. Then rookie of the year candidate, Donovan Mitchell hit two important free-throws to make it a two-point game, and with 4.8 seconds remaining Ricky Rubio hit the dagger three, giving Utah a two-point lead. After that point, nothing was the same, and a DeMar DeRozan miss essentially sealed the game.

The Raptors came out sloppy to start the game. The Jazz, a poor offensive team, sliced through the lane at will, seemingly getting every shot at the rim. At one point in the first-quarter the Jazz lead had grown to 10. Although the Raptors were able to cut it six by the end of the period.

The Raptors put the clamps on in the second quarter. The Jazz scored only 15 the entire quarter, and a late-quarter push helped the Raptors grab the lead into the half.

The Raptors continued their play into the beginning of the third, at one-point increasing their lead up to 12, before the Jazz came battling back. By the end of the quarter, the Jazz grabbed the lead again, scoring 30 in the quarter overall.

Then after an exciting back-and-forth for the majority of the fourth-quarter, the Raptors meltdown happened. If you were not able to watch the game, believe me, do not watch the highlights (You can thank me later).

For Toronto, it was a disappointing night from their All-Star back-court. The two players the team views as their corner stones combined for to shoot just 25-percent from the field and were thoroughly out played their Utah Jazz counterparts.

A silver lining for the Toronto Raptors was the play of Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas has been a monster as of late, as he appears to be playing with more life than earlier in the season. On Friday, he notched 28 points and 14 boards on an insanely efficient 12-of-16 shooting.

For the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell continued his phenomenal rookie campaign, scoring 26 and outplaying DeMar DeRozan. What a time to be alive for Jazz fans who after watching Gordon Hayward leave, are gifted another superstar drafted late in the lottery.

Perhaps the most significant takeaway from the game is the Raptors offense in crunch-time. This season, the Raptors have relied less on isolation for a more egalitarian style offense filled with player and ball movement. That went out the window against the Jazz, as much of the late game offense featured DeMar DeRozan isolations and long jumpers.

Up six late against a below .500 opponent, there was no excuse for the Raptors to blow this game.  The one seed might come down to one or two games between Toronto and the Boston Celtics, and if the Raptors fail to get the one seed they will certainly look back at this game as one that got away.

Next: Ranking the Raptors Trade Value

But if you’re reading this it’s too late, and unfortunately, there is nothing Toronto can do now. The Raptors play next against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday for a 6 PM ET start.