Sometimes the Raptors amaze me, but lately, that amazement hasn’t come on the positive side. More often than not, the Raptors have amazed me with some startling futility.
After looking like they had solved their 3rd quarter woes, the Raptors came out against the shorthanded Bucks and laid up a nice egg in the third quarter, scoring 12 points, which was preceeded by an almost as depressing 17 points in the 2nd quarter. It doesn’t take a seasoned NBA vet to tell you that when you score a total of 29 points over two quarters, especially two back to back quarters, you aren’t going to win many games. When you score 55 points over the last 3 quarters, it’s almost a bloody guarantee.
The Raptors couldn’t have asked for a better opponent last night than the Bucks. The Raptors had won 3 in a row coming into the game. They were making up ground on the Bucks for the last playoff spot. They had a chance to face the team they are chasing, a team that only ran 8 players out last night. EIGHT! And one of those eight was just making a return to the lineup. But where was the passion? The Raptors didn’t look like a team that had anything on the line and pretty much sleepwalked through the game. Don’t talk to me about the Bucks D, because we saw the real Bucks D in the first quarter. We saw Charlie V exposed time after time in the first quarter. This was the Raptors just not having enough balls to go out and take an opportunity that was presented to them.
The one highlight was the play of JO. I still don’t really want to see him moved out of town, because of the variety of things he brings to the Raptors. Last night, we saw him get a T after arguing what was clearly a bogus offensive foul call, but what I loved was how he took a hard foul against RJ. He wasn’t going to let him get an easy bucket, he was going to make sure he paid for it. When Charlie V tried to get up in his face, he pretty much made Charlie look like the small man that he is. While Charlie V had another great game against the Raptors, at least JO showed some fire, that the game meant something to him. If only the Raptors could get that same sort of fire going through the whole team.