TORONTO - Dwane Casey saw it coming. The Raptors head coach talked about it repeatedly in the 48 hours since the Raptors last took the floor but it was like no one heard him.
His message was simple: ‘We aren’t good enough to take anyone lightly.’
As simple as the message was, it still fell on deaf ears.
A team that had brought energy and focus and determination against the likes of the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and the San Antonio Spurs in the last week, brought none of it last night as they became the first team to lose to the Bobcats in Charlotte’s past 17 games.
The 98-91 final was the kind of result that left Casey shaking his head.
“Totally disappointed,” Casey said. “Our focus in the first half, that’s where it started. The lack of transition defence, the lack of guarding your yard in a one-on-one situation. I think we went in thinking it was going to be an offensive battle. We got our points but we weren’t guarding our guy at the other end.”
Any talk about the unsuccessful attempt to pull it out in the fourth quarter was met by a stop sign from Casey.
He didn’t see anything past a listless first half where various Raptors jogged back on defence only to watch stunned as any number of Bobcats ran by them for easy buckets. Casey counted as many as three of those.
“It was on all of us,” Casey said. “Defensively we allowed them to come in and no matter who it is to allow anyone to come in and shoot 50% is not our defensive focus.
“It didn’t start in the second half,” he said. “It started in the first half. Our lack of focus, our lack of attention to detail, whatever it is we didn’t have the same thrust that we had in our previous few games.”
Whether it was Reggie Williams going off for a season-high 22 points or rookie Bismack Biyombo holding his own private block party with seven in the game, the Bobcats seemed to get whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it.
A team that is shooting just over 41% for the year somehow came into the Air Canada Centre and shot 50%.
The Raps even had a one-point lead after the first quarter but Jose Calderon seemed to think that allowing the Bobcats to hang around just gave them the confidence to pull it out.
“I don’t know if they believed in the beginning but we started missing shots and they started making them and then it was tough for us,” Calderon said.
The Raps now have four days off before their next game. The original plan was to give the team Saturday off and then pick up the practice pace on Sunday.
The loss to the previously 3-26 Bobcats changed those plans.
The Raptors will be back in the gym on Saturday working out some of the kinks.
The native of the Republic of Congo, Biyombo, may not get the attention Kemba Walker does, but the big man’s defence around the rim that he showed last night made him very much deserving of some attention.
He started the game with back-to-back blocks on Amir Johnson forays to the hoop, and from that point on, Johnson was hesitant to even go to the rim.
Byron Mullens, the 7-foot rookie out of Ohio State didn’t make himself very popular with his teammates when he elected to take a 22-foot jumper with his team up by five and under five minutes remaining. The shot was short and the rookie heard about the difference between a good shot and a bad one when he got to the bench on the next timeout ... DeMar DeRozan took hard hit to the face when he collided with Corey Maggette in the third quarter. He was called for his fourth foul on the play so he had some time to shake it off and came back to the game in the fourth looking no worse for wear ... Walker may be a rookie but he certainly plays with poise. Down the stretch Friday night he looked anything but rattled with a key steal off of Leandro Barbosa who was making a drive. Walker came off the bench last night with D.J. Augustin back and healthy and starting at the point. Walker was a major contributor with 14 points and seven assists .., Crazy series late in the game as Ed Davis does his best to foul Biyombo but can’t get the call. Davis winds up knocking the ball away only to have the Bobcats recover it and go back in with another scoring opportunity. Paul Silas takes the hint and gets Biyombo out of the game.