WASHINGTON, D.C. - Give the Raptors an ‘A’ for resiliency and late-game effort but they still get a failing grade for their starts.
But head coach Dwane Casey wasn’t handing out any A’s last night. This is a man who has reached his limit with grown men who can’t give him the consistent effort, the most basic standard of acceptance of any professional in any line of work.
“We had an unprofessional start and I don’t have an explanation for that,” Casey said after the Raptors dug themselves a 15-point hole in the first half before eventually fighting back to force overtime and then lose, 111-108.
It marked the second loss of the year by the Raptors to the Wizards, a team that is just 3-19 against the rest of the NBA.
As thrilling as a fourth-quarter comeback can be, Casey could not and would not get past yet another lifeless start.
“You have to go off on them at halftime to get them to play and it should never have to get to that,” Casey said. “That’s why I was disappointed even with that second half comeback.”
Casey summed up the start as a “bad exhibition of basketball.”
“As good as we were in Miami and Friday night against this team, it was the opposite end of the spectrum in the first half,” he said.
The Wizards’ 15-point lead was built on 59.5% shooting in the first 24 minutes.
Only Linas Kleiza’s 16 first-half points even kept them in the game.
In the second half, Casey went searching for a five-some that could get him back in the game and found a few sparks in the case of veteran Anthony Carter and, to a lesser extent, Jamaal Magloire.
“I was searching I was just looking for five men to come out and play basketball,” Casey said.
While the fresh legs helped chip away at the lead it was Jerryd Bayless and Kleiza who were primarily responsible for overcoming the deficit and forcing overtime.
Bayless was a monster from the three-point line, hitting a career-high six of his 10 attempts including four of five in the fourth quarter.
Kleiza had four threes of his own and was a dead-eye 11-of-16 shooting in the game. Both players hit season-highs with 30 points.
But there was nothing to celebrate after this one, just a lot of soul-searching.
“It’s something we have to correct,” Bayless said. “We’re digging ourselves such a deep hole and it’s very tough to get out of. We have to do a better job and have a better effort when we come out.”
The problem is this is nothing new for this team. In the past 14 games, the Raptors have taken a lead into the second quarter on just two occasions. It’s almost to the point where you have to start wondering if the Raptors are allergic to a first-quarter lead.
The deficits aren’t all as big as the 10-point one they built after 12 minutes Monday night, but there have been some doozies.
“I’m just looking for a professional effort from everyone,” Casey said. “We have to learn how to play winning basketball for 48 minutes. We have shown excellent spurts in certain situations but we have not tied 48 minutes together to play winning basketball.”
INCONSISTENCY OF IT ALL
DeMar DeRozan drove into the teeth of the Miami defence like it wasn’t there Sunday in Miami.
A night later the desire to get to the rim didn’t seem to be as great.
It’s no secret that DeRozan’s big offensive games come on nights when he gets to the line a lot. Sunday he was creating contact and getting to the line. Monday in Washington he reverted too often to those long range jump shots that look great when they go in but look like the low percentage shot they are when they don’t.
DeRozan wound up with a modest 15 points Monday night, but looked no where near the player he did a night earlier in Miami.
KLEIZA COMING ON
Kleiza has quietly found his shooting range again. In the past three games Kleiza has been on fire from the three point range hitting 8-of-his-past-13 from distance. In the two games before Monday’s 30-point effort, Kleiza had 17 and 15 points. It’s all part of the Raptors finding the scoring to replace Andrea Bargnani and Kleiza to an extent and Bayless even a little more, are the ones filling that gap.
Last night’s referee crew included a guy named Sir Allen Connner. We’re not sure if he was ever knighted, but it is one way to make sure you get at least some respect in the game ... Lost in the disappointment was the fact that the Raptors had a stunningly good night shooting from three-point range. As a team they were 13-for-26 from beyond the arc. That’s 50% shooting and 10% better than they shot from the field for the game ... The three points the Raptors scored in the overtime was a franchise low.