Okay, fine. You want a recap of the Toronto Raptors‘ devastating 116-117 overtime loss to the Boston Celtics? It evolved from the disappointing style of play we’ve grown far too familiar with over these past months to a nail-biting, blow-trading finish. The Raps played flat-out poor defense in the first half yet managed to secure a tie at the break. In the final two frames the home team orchestrated a more focused effort in part to effective scoring from DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams. DeRozan hit a series of clutch shots in the final minutes to pull his team back into the game, but his performance was matched by Celtics guard Evan Turner. In the extra five minutes the Raps appeared poised to win following a valiant showing from Tyler Hansbrough and further offensive contribution from DeRozan. In the end, in the wake of Sweet Lou’s ice-cold three to give Toronto a one point lead, rookie Marcus Smart executed a painfully-easy tip in off an Isaiah Thomas miss to award Boston the W. It hurt. The Raps are 45-32 on the season, identically matching their record at this point last season. Let’s get into the grades before I cry even more.
Post-Game Report Card:
Toronto shot 48.2% from the field tonight. As previously mentioned, it was really the atrocious defense that killed the Atlantic Division champs. DeRozan recorded 38 points, including a 10-12 outing at the charity stripe. As a whole this game was concerning for the Raps, but given DeMar’s recent string of scoring dominance, we have at least one positive takeaway. Williams put up 27 points of his own. Hansbrough contributed an impressive 18 points in 35 minutes after starting due to Amir Johnson‘s lingering ankle ailment. The biggest offensive liability for Toronto might startle you. Seriously, I suggest sitting down before you read this next sentence…
Terrence Ross scored four points in 30 minutes of action. 1-3 from the field. A bewildering three attempt in the final seconds of regulation with time on the clock and plenty of options. I’d like to say that Ross needs to get it together before the playoffs, but what are the real odds of that happening? Let’s just hope the team finds other guys to step up in place of his inconsistency.
Isaiah Thomas led the C’s with 25 points and converted a number of crafty drives in the fourth quarter. Turner finished with 18 on 9-17 shooting. The emerging Canadian Kelly Olynyk made noise in his homeland with 16 points off the bench. In essence, Toronto failed to match its opponent’s energy in the first half and suffered the consequences until the final buzzer in OT. Perpetrators include Ross (stuck in an eternal slump, lit up by everyone he guarded), Greivis Vasquez (legitimately forgot the definition of defense, lit up by Thomas) and James Johnson (not really responsible but played 15 minutes because that’s how it goes). Without Kyle Lowry and Amir this team has primarily been forced to adjust on offense but their defensive play has similarly suffered. There’s a clear lack of interior protection and pressure around the perimeter. Just watch the final play if you don’t believe me.
Raps “won” the battle of the boards 46-44. Jonas Valanciunas led the way with 14 rebounds. Patrick Patterson and Hansbrough come in second with seven apiece. But Toronto failed to box out Smart in the end, so their meaningless victory on the glass was pretty much reversed.
Game Ball: Marcus Smart
Heads up play by a consistently-aware player. I’m not expanding on this one. My heart hurts too much.