As predicted, the Raptors put together an undaunted effort against a team who is far more talented than them. But that’s the story of the Raptors this season – play lofty against the big guns, and play out of countenance against the minnows.
After all the exertion put forth tonight against the Hornets, the Raps have nothing to show for once again.
The Raptors were actually leading the Hornets by 12 in the 3rd quarter, but then the Hornets really started to clamp down on defence – showing why they’re one of the top defensive teams in the league. The Hornets forced the Raptors to turn the ball over 16 times, and held the Raps without a field goal in the final 4 minutes of the game.
On a night where Triano was getting production from a legion of his players, he could have really used more bearing from his biggest offensive weapon – Andrea Bargnani.
Bargnani had undoubtedly one of – if not his worst – game of the season, scoring just 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting, and grabbing 4 rebounds in a game-high 42 minutes.
“Our guys played hard, but enough of our main guys have to play a little better to steal a game like that,” Triano said. “(Andrea) just had one of those games. He has been carrrying the load for us, but it seemed like everything was in a bit of a rush for him today. We tried to slow him down and get him different looks, but obviously when you have as many guys out of the lineup as we do they will focus more of their attention on him. They did that.”
Although Triano cut Andrea some slack, he won’t catch much of a break on Raptors Watch tonight. It wasn’t just his lackluster offensive performance that hurt the Raps, it was his lack of rebounding and defense. Emeka Okafur, who was Andrea’s opposing nemesis, scored 17 points and grabbed a franchise tying 12 offensive rebounds. You can add that stat to the plethora of NBA players who seemingly have career nights on a night-in and night-out basis against the Raptors.
Former team mates Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack had the chance to face up against each other today – both having something to prove. Jack, who’s been playing a very limited amount this season behind Chris Paul, played 26 minutes – 10 minutes more than his season average. He deserved those minutes tonight too, as he scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Between Jack and Chris Paul, they were able to hold Jose Calderon to 0 points and 5 turnovers. However, the Spaniard did manage to dish out 13 assists.
The good? The usual.
The Raptors continue to develop their young players on what seems to be a lost season now. Ed Davis had another double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds), while Demar Derozan led the Raptors with 23 points.
Quotes & Notes from NBA.com
“It’s a big win, period. We’re on a winning streak, but we kind of got soft. … We had a lackadaisical effort in the first half. I tried to be a spark off the bench. … Around this time, you have to grind out victories, no matter how you get them. We’re not always pretty. It’s going to be ugly sometimes.”
– Hornets Jarrett Jack on the win
“It was tough to spread the floor (Monday). The Hornets are a team that likes to play in the paint anyway. We were content with going toe-to-toe with them and try to grind it out on the inside, but we have to have better play from our main guys to be able to grind out wins.”
– Raptors coach Jay Triano on not making excuses that Toronto only had eight available players Monday because of injuries
NOTABLE: Raptors forward Linas Kleiza (sore knee) didn’t play Monday. Former Hornets first-round pick forward Julian Wright started in Kleiza’s place. Wright finished with 11 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes. … Reserve guard Jerryd Bayless (sore ankle) also missed Monday’s game. It’s the second straight game Bayless missed with the injury. … Guard Leandro Barbosa (strained right hamstring), forwardReggie Evans (fractured right foot), forward Peja Stojakovic (swollen left knee) and forward Sonny Weems(back spasms) weren’t with the Raptors. … Hornets guard Marco Belinelli (sore ankle) did start after missing the past two games, but he only played 15 minutes because Williams said he saw Belinelli limping on the ankle slightly.
Next up: Wednesday @ San Antonio