Last night the game resembled a game you might have seen last season. The Raptors were not playing defence but were scoring fairly well. In terms of Demar DeRozan it had to feel like the past as well facing long time friend Brandon Jennings and having his dad on hand watching the game in the stands. For those who are not aware Jennings and DeRozan have played together as kids coming up on the AAU circuit. So it was a game that he was more than likely hyped up for. Demar was showing off his new found ability to make the three point shot hitting back to back threes in what was an up and down, back and forth first quarter. While it was a great start for the Raptors on offence, it was not the start they were looking for on defence. Despite that the Raptors did for the first time since January 13th have a lead after the first quarter 29-28.
In the second the Raptors lack of defence would catch up with them. In our preview of this game one of the keys was to identify shooters and be aware when they were on the floor. If the Raptors were aware, they sure couldn't stop them. Mike Dunleavy was looking like an All-Star at times in the 2nd. Carlos Delfino the former Raptor looked like he couldn't miss for the majority of the night. That along with a solid game inside from Drew Gooden who had 20 points and 14 rebounds on the evening. The 2nd quarter was the best of night for the Bucks as they out scored the Raptors 30-22 and took a 7 point lead into halftime.
The Raptors would show there only signs of life on defence in the 3rd quarter of this game. The Bucks who are by no means an offensive juggernaut came back to earth slightly. They were missing some shots after making a large percentage of them in the first half. James Johnson sent a few back on the night as well with 3 blocks in the game. Raptors had by the end of the 3rd clawed there way back to 3 points down trailing 76-73.
The Raptors would only find bad news in the 4th quarter of play. Jerryd Bayless who had really started to come into his own since returning from an ankle injury, would re-injure that ankle and not be around to finish this game. The Raptors once again despite being slightly better on defence had let to many guys feel confident early. Carlos Delfino made an amazing three in which the Raptors on the play actually played good defence. It just seemed it was going be that kind of night for the Bucks. In the end they would pull away and get the 6 point win. They would do it with 6 players in double figures scoring, led by the former Raptor Carlos Delfino putting up 25 matching the total of Demar DeRozan who scored another set of back to back threes in the 2nd half. But it was in the end not enough as the Bucks won 105-99.
Some fans at the ACC seemed more upset that the Raptors only got 99 points and no pizza for them. What they should be upset about is the fact the Raptors home record is just 3-7. I have long made a point that this promotion needs to change. Have fans get pizza if the Raptors hold a team to under 80 or something like that. It has been proven over and over again that a number of fans are not mature enough not to boo if they are denied pizza which costs like 3 to 4 bucks. So change it and make it about something that is positive in stopping teams from scoring. That is something the Raptors didn't do in this game.
People will say that this is me being negative and not objective. However, despite this game being close for large portions of it, I never felt like the Raptors would win. Why I felt this way was unlike teams of the past, this Raptors team can not outscore people. When you factor in Bargnani not being in the line-up that only adds to the point. The Bucks even though they are a lot like the Raptors based on the style they want to play, being defensive minded, do have the capabilities and options to be able to score.
Beyond DeRozan's 25 the Raptors got a nice overall game from James Johnson that had 15 points. Kleiza and Barbosa continued to be the main scoring options off the bench with 12 for Linas and 11 for Leandro. But the Raptors have to get back to playing defence if they hope to win games. Dwane Casey was quoted as saying "We have lost our pride in guarding a yard." The Raptors have just been making life more difficult for themselves of late. Even though they have 6 more games at home it gets tougher before it gets easier. Next up is the Boston Celtics who humiliated the Raptors the last time they met, after that the face the L.A Lakers, Knicks and Spurs.
If this home stand does not go well it pretty much will secure the Raptors the seat at the lottery, that almost everyone expected them to have heading into the season. But they still might not be bad enough to have the greatest odds in the NBA Lottery. It is almost the worst case scenario you could have imagined for the Raptors. Not good enough to be good but not bad enough to be horrible.