Toronto Star

Raptors are missing the point

Sluggish Toronto almost steals victory before breakdown in final seconds

- DOUG SMITH SPORTS REPORTER

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.”

 ?? STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR ?? The Raptors are not giving a timeline for the return of Kyle Lowry, who bruised his tailbone in a nasty fall Monday.
STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR The Raptors are not giving a timeline for the return of Kyle Lowry, who bruised his tailbone in a nasty fall Monday.

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