LOS ANGELES — One of the few good things to emerge from the rubble that was Wednesday’s blowout loss in Utah was a nine rebound night from Andrea Bargnani.
The way the Raptors came back from a 23-point deficit to make it a one-point game was encouraging, but road teams, even the good ones, which the Raptors clearly are not, can’t afford to begin a game by being down 41-22 after the first quarter.
One of the enduring images of the loss was provided during a timeout when Reggie Evans huddled with his beleaguered players.
While Bargnani is the undisputed go-to guy on offence, Evans is the one who has taken ownership of the team, a guy who is simply too indispensable to even ponder a trade.
The time will come when Evans must be moved to make way for the team’s young power forwards, but now is not the time.
“We’re not doing what the coach wants us to do,’’ Evans said, his language more suitable to any audience when compared to the colourful words he expressed to his teammates during the timeout.
“We weren’t playing weak side, we weren’t helping each other out. I was just letting the guys know. I was putting the thought back in their heads, how we got to do this, this and this.
“When the ball is on the strong side, we got to help the weak side.”
On the ball, off the ball, the Raptors head into Thursday’s late-night tip against the Lakers, a team that can’t defend over the period of an entire game.
When this four-game road trip began on Monday in Sacramento, the Raptors were forcing turnovers, getting back in transition, communicating and defending in taking a 33-16 lead.
In the ensuing three quarters, the Raptors yielded 95 points.
In Utah, the Jazz shot 56.5% from the field, a season high by a Toronto opponent this season.
It could get even uglier against the Lakers and in Portland on Saturday when the road swing ends.
“We have to come together as a unit,’’ said Evans, who was limited to a season-low six rebounds in Utah. “We have to be there for each other on the defensive end without having to come together in a huddle.”