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I originally thought about outlining last night’s game against the Houston Rockets by highlighting the offensive play of the Toronto Raptors (3-12) as “The Good” and everything else the club did as “The Bad”. I decided it was a little overly simplistic, but you get the idea.
In Houston’s 117-101 win, the Rockets were essentially allowed to execute in all facets of their game. They shot well (53%), found plenty of open looks on the perimeter (13-26 from three-point range), got to the basket (46 points in the paint), pressured the ball (16 Raptor turnovers) and attacked the glass (12 offensive rebounds, including nine in the first half). In short, they pretty much did what they wanted.
On the Raptors’ side of things, a 49% (42-86) shooting percentage couldn’t make up for a porous defence that was highlighted by 38 points allowed in the third quarter. It’s telling that the club made almost half of their shots and still managed to trail by as many as 27 points.
Ross’ Dunk Contest Audition
To be fair, Terrence Ross deserves more credit for his Tuesday night performance than calling it simply a dunk audition. The rookie had a well-rounded, career-high 19 points on 9-17 shooting that included some tough jumpers in addition to dunks. But damn, were those dunks ever impressive. I counted four emphatic slams that made me take notice amidst what was otherwise a hard-to-watch game, including two transition jams that saw Ross take off from just inside the free throw line.
Just That Easy for Rockets
I’ve mentioned all the stats above (well, except for the fact that Houston held a 16-0 edge on points off of turnovers at halftime), but the lax defensive effort from the Raptors really needs to be pointed out. It’s simply jarring to see how many open looks the team afforded the Rockets and how many times Toronto fell for the same ‘drive into the lane and kick the ball out’ play from James Harden, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons. And I haven’t even touched on the many instances of failure to box out attacking forwards and keep them off the offensive glass. Leo Rautins and Matt Devlin chalked up the year-long defensive struggles to new personnel still learning Dwane Casey’s system, but it goes beyond that. I never would have considered the possibility that the team’s defensive commitment would falter with Kyle Lowry on board, but that seems to be the case thus far.
Bad Kind of Emotion from Lowry
Count me among those who thought a return to Houston, where he left on less than ideal terms, would offer a positive spark for the emotional Lowry. While it was clear that the game meant an awful lot to the 26-year-old, he couldn’t harness that emotion productively. Lowry was one of Toronto’s few poor shooters on the night, making just three of 10 shots (including none of three attempts from the perimeter, at least two of which were forced). He also turned the ball over three times and generally looked like he was trying to do too much. His sprint back to the locker room at the half (evidently to avoid having his frustration boil over on the court) offered a clear picture of a player struggling to maintain his composure.
- The next time a Raps’ supporter tells you that the club isn’t getting any breaks, be sure to show them this video from last night’s game. Thanks, Omer!
Don’t look now, but the West-leading Memphis Grizzlies are sitting at home waiting for the Raptors to arrive for tonight’s tilt (8:00pm, SN). Mike Conley has been battling flu-like symptoms, meaning that former Raptor Jerryd Bayless may get his second start against Lowry, another point guard facing a former team.
Prediction: Grizzlies 109, Raptors 100 (10-4 this season)