Raptors are missing the point
Sluggish Toronto almost steals victory before breakdown in final seconds
The last-second flurry, with the blown defensive assignment and defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in as dramatic a fashion as is imaginable, will be what drives Raptors fans today. They’d be best to remember the first 471⁄ minutes
2 of a 90-89 loss to the Miami Heat as more indicative of how the night at the Air Canada Centre unfolded.
There were more blown assignments, awful rebounding, stagnant offence and bad shooting — so much so that stealing a win like they almost did would have been the Raptors perpetrating fraud on the sport.
“We always focus on the last few possessions but the stuff was building up, the lack of ball movement, spacing, cutting, playing with force, we didn’t do it,” coach Dwane Casey said after Toronto saw a 12-game home winning streak come to an end.
“We dug ourselves a hole, shot ourselves in the foot.”
The absence of Kyle Lowry certainly diminishes what the Raptors do and how they play and cuts a deep swath through the roster.
They looked discombobulated most of the night and absolutely missed their allstar point guard.
But they were also hammered 64-37 on the boards, gave up 20 offensive rebounds for 17 second-chance Miami points, were beaten to nearly every 50-50 ball and generally played in slow motion.
“I mean, the whole game is completely different without Kyle. It’s everything. Everything,” said DeMar DeRozan, who had 25 points, including a basket with 3.1 seconds left that gave Toronto an 89-88 lead.
“You can kind of tell with our ball movement, (it) wasn’t all the way there like it normally be when Kyle’s out there. Like I said, he’s a general on the floor. He sees things when they need to be called. That’s no excuse.”
Still, the Raptors had a chance to win, losing when Miami’s Wayne Ellington took advantage of an egregious defensive mix-up to finish a game-winning layup with 3⁄10ths of a second left.
What made it worse was the Raptors had a foul to give on the play but Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby were so far from Ellington they couldn’t touch him in time.
“It wasn’t executed,” Casey said. “I’m not . . . (I) don’t know exactly who made the mistake but, again, we had a foul to give down the stretch, we wanted to make sure we executed.”
The game was costly in another manner, likely taking Serge Ibaka out of a key Thursday game at home against Cleveland after he and ex-Raptor James Johnson were ejected in the third quarter when they exchanged punches during a dead-ball situation.
There was clear video evidence that punches were thrown and the league will rule on what suspensions will be handed down.
And DeRozan and Goran Dragic exchanged words after the final buzzer.
“He must have thought I was trying to hit him or something after I shot the shot,” DeRozan said of a court-length heave after Ellington’s basket. “I don’t know. “
Lowry, meanwhile, is being listed as day to day after a hard fall late in Monday’s eventual win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Trying to grab a rebound of a missed Delon Wright shot, Lowry was knocked to the court from midair and landed hard on his back.
He stayed down for a few minutes to collect himself, then tried to walk off under his own power. He crumpled to the court a couple of times before being carried to the locker room by teammates Jonas Valanciunas and Lucas Noguiera.
Lowry had X-rays in the arena that were negative.
“It’s an example of Kyle busting his butt for the team,” Casey said, refusing to put a timetable on his return. “I’m not going to even speculate. That’s going to be him. (He) could come back tomorrow, come back Friday, come back Thursday, come back Saturday, I don’t know.
“When his body lets him know, he’ll be back.”