After being down by as many as seventeen in the 4th quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Toronto Raptors managed to grind their way back in the late stages of the game. While being down by two with roughly four seconds to go, Rudy Gay made a buzzer-beating layup, to help accomplish the comeback, and force the game into OT. What would’ve been quite the victory for the Raptors on this Sunday afternoon, turned into another heartbreaking loss.
After what was an atrocious offensive output vs the Chicago Bulls on Friday night, the Toronto Raptors came out firing in this one. Shooting a whopping 63% after the 1st quarter, the Raptors were making shots at a much-higher rate than they’ve been accustomed to. Thanks in large part to Portland’s lack of interior D, the Raptors took great advantage in that, as they got Jonas Valanciunas involved early, and attacked the basket with force. However, as the game progressed, their shot-selection became deficient, including their offensive-sets. Unlike the Blazers though, the Raptors were just 3-17 beyond the arc, and were unable to keep intact with Portland along the perimeter.
As the game progressed, the Raps offense started to slow down significantly. Dwane Casey’s puzzling line-ups might have had something to do with that.
Despite playing one of the league’s elite defensively on Friday night, the Raptors took note of absolutely nothing from the Chicago Bulls in terms of a defensive standpoint. While the Raptors managed to find an early flow offensively, their defense lacked every bit of that right from the get-go. Although the Raptors were producing on the offensive-end, their defense did not allow them to put a strangle hold on the game early. Instead, it allowed the Blazers to trade punches with the Raptors, as well as getting in rhythm offensively themselves. This was a huge setback for the Raptors defensively as it allowed Portland to catch fire from deep (15-31 from 3PT today), where they shot a respectable 41% from beyond the arc prior to today’s affair. Closing out shooters, and keeping a body on them was another major concern for the Raptors today, as they looked like a bunch of lost dogs on the defensive end, watching the likes of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, and Nicolas Batum hurt them along the perimeter.
As a whole, the Raptors have been pretty good from a rebounding standpoint this season, and were solid this afternoon as well. Grabbing a total of 51 (15 offensive), the Raptors out-rebounded one of the league’s best in terms of crashing the glass. Most notably for the Raptors from a rebounding front, was an offensive-rebound late in crunch-time by Landry Fields off of a missed free-throw. That escalated to a DeMar DeRozan dunk, which forced the Raptors to cut the deficit to two (later tying the game at the buzzer).
Game ball: Rudy Gay
Starting the game off with a monstrous first quarter (10 points, 5-5 shooting), it appeared as if Rudy Gay was in store for quite the performance this afternoon. Finishing the half with just a total of 12 points, Rudy Gay came out in the second-half absolutely cold. Going a stretch where he was just 1-8 from the floor, Rudy Gay altered his shot-selection (which saw him go 5-8 during that stretch), where he helped the Raptors come all the way back from a 17-point deficit in the 4th quarter. While his late game heroics were a great sight, it wasn’t enough to lead the Raptors to a victory, but enough for the honors of today’s “Game Ball”. Gay finished the game with 30 points (12-27 FG), and hauled in 10 rebounds for the double-double as well.
Jonas Valanciunas posted 19 points (8-11 FG), and 9 rebounds on Lithuanian Heritage Day at the ACC