Raps leave 'yard' unguarded

Bucks forward Carlos Delfino goes to the basket in front of Raptors forward DeMar DeRozan at the...

Bucks forward Carlos Delfino goes to the basket in front of Raptors forward DeMar DeRozan at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Feb. 8, 2012. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:54 PM ET

TORONTO - They took a different route to get there, but the end result was the same for the Raptors on Wednesday — a loss, this time 105-99 to the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.

After getting on his players for their continuously poor starts to games, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was looking for something different.

“We have to push for that consistent production. But we can’t wait until halftime … we’ve got to do that from the jump ball,” Casey said before the game.

Well, many of the first- quarter issues were solved — the Raptors held an advantage through one for the first time since Jan. 13. But the second quarter was a different story as Toronto’s defensive execution completely disappeared against the league’s top-scoring bench. The Raptors allowed 58 points through two, a season-high, allowing the Bucks — most notably Mike Dunleavy Jr. — to launch uncontested jumpers.

“I just mentioned to the team that we’ve lost that pride of guarding our yard, what we established in training camp has slipped,” lamented Casey.

“All of the little things that are important in getting stops, we’ve slipped.”

Luckily for the sparse crowd, DeMar DeRozan came to play. DeRozan had the outside game working, nailing a pair of threes in each of the second and third quarters to keep the Raptors close to the Bucks. He finished with a game-high 25, 10 more than No. 2 scorer James Johnson.

Former Raptor Carlos Delfino led Milwaukee with a season-high 25 points, while Drew Gooden gave Amir Johnson and the Raptors all kinds of trouble, particularly early on.

The loss dropped Toronto to 3-7 at home and 8-19 overall.

MOVING THE BALL

The Raptors moved the ball well in the first half, assisting on 14 of the 18 made baskets. Jerryd Bayless had five assists through two, Jose Calderon seven.

Bayless really was distributing well. most notably in the second quarter when he poked and prodded the defence until he found Ed Davis open for a monster slam. But he also had some turnover issues before exiting in the third quarter with a sore left ankle.

Calderon looked for the pass too much, at one point kicking to Bayless instead of attempting a layup … Calderon, just 35.7% from the field and 1-for-8 from three in his previous five games, was 3-for-11 against the Bucks ... Milwaukee got to the line 37 times, to just 17 for the Raps.

HOME SWEET HOME

After battling through the league’s busiest road schedule, the Raptors are happy to be home for seven straight.

“Sleeping in our own beds (is) something we really haven’t done,” Bayless said of the early sked.

Casey said finally having a chance to practise should help eliminate some of the defensive issues that have crept in.

“We’re going to get back to the basics (with practice time). Defensive nuances that we really had dialed in in training camp. That’s not an excuse, that’s reality. That’s going to be a precious amount of time for our team.”

Toronto’s mental errors continued against Milwaukee. Besides leaving players open, after blowing two crucial chances to grab defensive rebounds recently, the Raptors somehow couldn’t corral a rebound in the dying seconds.

James Johnson agreed with his coach that a scarcity of practice time has hurt the Raptors and it showed when Dunleavy got hot.

He said a lack of “mental rest” has led to many of the defensive miscues because things aren’t being processed as well as they were earlier.

“It was frustrating that we didn’t understand what they were doing, the scheme and we weren’t talking it out. He was just getting those wide open looks,” Johnson said, adding the squad shut down Dunleavy later on because there was time to discuss what wasn’t working at halftime.

DAVIS MISSES AGAIN

Davis wasn’t pleased when he was left off of the all-rookie second team last season.

He deserved the spot Utah’s Derrick Favors claimed.

Davis said he wouldn’t lose any sleep about it, but would remember it, like last year’s slight.

“I’ll remember it. It is motivation,” Davis said.

“Everybody wants to make all-star, everybody wants to be the best. If you don’t want to be the best you shouldn’t be in this league. I’ll make all-star one day, so I’m not worried about it.”

Davis pointed out that teammates James and Amir Johnson didn’t make the rookie or sophomore all-star game, either.

“I didn’t even play when I was a rookie or sophomore,” James Johnson said.

“Neither did I,” added Amir.

Brampton’s Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was named to the rookie roster for the game in Orlando.


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