Make no mistake, that was a completely winnable game last night. When I saw the Wiz wearing their 80’s Wales Conference jerseys, I thought it was an omen. I thought the Raptors were going to cruise to a win. So much for that.
Caron Butler…remember, we mentioned him? Said that nobody really talks about this guy enough? Yeah, well, maybe the Raptors hadn’t heard about him, because the guy didn’t have a hand in his face all night. You simply can’t give a guy with that kind of talent open looks all night. He is going to kill you. When the Raptors actually managed to close him out from the perimeter, he just put the ball on the ground and walked around for an easy layup. No support from the weak side, nobody sliding in to fill the lane. It’s bad enough when you have a guy like Roger Mason Jr. showing up all of a sudden, bitch-slapping you with every chance he gets, but it’s that much worse when a guy you know you should be covering is playing scrimmage out there.
Forget missed assignments (although there were plenty of those), but the Raptors just didn’t play smart defensively. There were far too many good looks for all of the Wizards out there. I don’t even know how the game stayed that close considering that the Wizards shot 56.6% from the field. Oh wait, I know…the game stayed close because the Wiz shot 61.9% from the line.
What is going on with Bargnani? The Wiz were going small the whole night and Bargs looked like he had a giant defending him. Even more embarrassing were the moments when Andray Blatche was on him, or when he was (inexplicably) double teamed, you could almost smell the fear/panic on him. 2-13? Adding to his shooting woes was that a good portion of those shots were forced, off balance and/or entirely missed the rim. I don’t think his injury could have been that much of a factor in his shooting problems. He looked completely miserable.
It is far too early to even be discussing this, but if Jamario Moon keeps logging 40+ minutes, showing that he is a vital part of the Raptors and keeps pulling down double-doubles, there is going to have to be some ROY consideration. 16 points, 13 rebounds and tons of energy. But here’s what I like too: 5 personal fouls. I know, you’re saying, “What? You like that he almost fouled out?”. Yeah, I do. He is active on defence, he isn’t going to give up a lot of easy baskets (well, occasionally he misses an assignment, but hey, he’s a rookie) and for a guy who isn’t built like a tight end, he plays remarkably tough.
It can now be made official that TJ Ford is NOT 100% out there. Ford does not look comfortable on either end of the court. When you see TJ hesitating on taking the ball to the rim, you know something’s not right. When you see him booting balls out of bounds on breakaways, you know he’s not 100%. That’s why I found it strange that when TJ was clearly pressing, trying to compensate, Sam let him stay in, struggling along. This is where Sam has to recognize that TJ isn’t sharp and needs to be eased back in. Given, he only played 13+ minutes, but it might be time to make sure TJ is really okay before they put him in there and he does some serious damage to whatever is ailing him.
Speaking of Sam, WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT COMING OUT OF THE FINAL TIMEOUT? Just when we might start to forget how bad Sam is at drawing up a play out of a timeout or how bad the Raptors are at executing plays out of a timeout, we get another prime example. The Raptors came out of their final timeout with 16 seconds left on the clock, ran around for 6 seconds like spiders sprayed with Windex and then Kapono hoisted a rushed 3 with a guy in his face. Clang! At least the ball ended up in Kapono’s hands, but did that really look like a play that was drawn up? What it looked like was a mess.
In what is becoming a recurring theme, we have to point out (again) that the Raptors do not work inside enough. The thing with jump shots is that they’re great when you’re hot, but when you’re not, when you miss, you are not fouled that often, so you have to count on getting a rebound. We all know how good the Raptors are at rebounding, so it is then even more important for them to work inside. Even if you miss, there is a good chance you are going to be fouled, giving you another chance to put points on the board, points that are going on without time coming off the clock. You also get the other team in foul trouble, which helps down the stretch. It’s not rocket science, it’s nothing new.
Anyway, would have been nice to keep things rolling, as the Raps will have (after the Bobcats…and let’s be honest, that’s no gimme anyway with the sketchy Raps) the Suns and the Celtics coming up, some real tests. It would be nice to have Bosh back for the Celts game. I would think that they will try to get him back for the Suns too, but I actually think the Raptors can run with the Suns without Bosh in the lineup. If the Raps have to go up against the Celtics without Bosh…well, not such a sunny disposition.