November 25, 2012
Raptors lose another heart-breaker
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
Anyone looking to second guess Raptors head coach Dwane Casey had to be very quick about it on Sunday.
Casey, as soon as the first such volley was thrown, openly invited any and all to second guess his decision to bring back a struggling Andrea Bargnani and put a red-hot Ed Davis on the bench.
It happened with 4:34 left in regulation.
At the time Bargnani was 1-for-11 in just under 22 minutes of play.
Conversely Davis had 15 points and 14 rebounds also in just under 22 minutes.
Bargnani played the final 14:26 making one of his next eight shots and pulling down two more rebounds.
In a game where almost all of Toronto's key offensive contributers couldn't find the bottom of the basket — Bargnani chief among them — the decision to go back to the team's best shooter having his worst day came down to a trust that he would eventually shoot his way out of it.
Unfortunately for the Raptors, Bargnani never did, shooting a career worst 2-for-19 including seven misses from three-point territory, many of them unguarded.
Even shooting just 36% as a team, the Raptors still forced the game into overtime and then a second one before Tony Parker and Danny Green put it away making the shots the Raptors could not in a 111-106 double OT win for the visitors.
"You can second-guess me for not getting (Davis) back in but I have to go with Andrea," Casey said. "Come hell or high water he is our guy. He just got 34 points (in a loss in Detroit). He was doing a good job on Duncan. You want to second guess me, that's great. Go ahead. That's what I'm here for."
Casey had multiple justifications for going back to Bargnani. He was getting better defence on the a longer Tim Duncan with Bargnani even if he wasn't getting scoring.
And then there was the hope that eventually the guy who couldn't miss in Detroit would appear.
There is no question Bargnani and Calderon right now are the team's best three point shooters but both were struggling to find the range Sunday.
Davis never has and never will be a three-point threat but the energy he brought, the inside scoring he brought and the rebounding and second-chance possessions he brought are all parts of his game on Sunday that were missed in the closing minutes and the overtimes.
Bottom line for Casey was that if he was going to be second-guessed it would not be for having his best shooter on the bench, stone-cold or not.
Shooting weren't the Raptors only woes on Sunday.
Twice in the overtime they failed to get the ball inbounded. Once a savvy Tony Parker stole it. Another time the Raps turned it over when it was deemed they did not get it in within the allotted five seconds.
"That time is when you have to have that razor-like focus and get open and set your screens and come aggressively to the ball," Casey said. "You can't tiptoe. Those are the things that are the mark of a young team and a team trying to find itself and that's what we are right now."
But Casey also saw a team that isn't that far away.
"I know it doesn't look like it and it sounds like a broken record, but we are getting better," Casey said. "That is one of the best teams in the league and we are that close from breaking it open. We just have to clean up some things. We have to get guys collectively producing on the same night and we will be cooking with gas."
Lost in another tough loss for the Raps were stellar efforts not just by Davis, but DeRozan too who had a team-high 29 not to mention the season-high 22 points rookie Jonas Valanciunas poured in.