November 3, 2012
Raptors bounced in Brooklyn
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
BROOKLYN - Nothing has ever come easy in Brooklyn and it’s becoming quickly apparent that nothing will for these Toronto Raptors in this 2012-13 season.
Granted it’s still ridiculously early, but two games in the Raptors have shown an ability to play and even best teams widely considered their superiors.
At the same time they have had back-to-back games where they put themselves in a good position to upset a favourite and have then given it right back with a stretch of sloppy, sometimes overly generous, sometimes unlucky basketball.
Saturday night as Brooklynites turned out in full voice to welcome professional sports back to the borough New York city seemed to have forgotten, the Raptors, angling to spoil the party, had the Nets looking extremely vulnerable.
Up eight after a quarter and with the home crowd suddenly quieted, the Raps came out in the second quarter and gave back everything they had taken and then some.
A 16-point swing in 12 minutes turned the game on its head and even a spirted fourth-quarter comeback couldn’t undo all the damage.
The 107-100 loss to the Nets drops the Raptors to 0-2 but’s it’s a misleading 0-2.
All told, the Raptors have had two poor quarters, the fourth against Indiana and the second Friday night in Brooklyn.
In the first they showed an all-too familiar inability to close out a game.
In Brooklyn the downfall came in the second and managed to negate anything positive that came after it.
“It’s hard to run (taking the ball) out of the net, you’re not getting stops, you’re turning it over, they’re running down and scoring on you, that was our problem,” Casey said. “We had a good tempo going, a good pace going, a close game and then all at once we had those turnovers and they converted on them.”
Or as DeMar DeRozan summed it up: “We did it to ourselves.”
The Raptors won two of the four quarters and lost a third by a single point. But giving up 33 and scoring just 17 of their own in the second frame was their undoing.
What was surprising was that the downfall began with Casey’s second unit on the floor, a unit that throughout the pre-season and again in the season opener had been bailing out the starters.
‘I’m not down on the second unit, they did a good job for us, they got us back in the game in the second half,” Casey said. “As much as they dug us a whole in the second quarter, they got us back in the second half.”
Individually, the Raptors were led by their backcourt in this one with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combining for 53 of the 100 points the team scored on just 32 field-goal attempts.
Lowry wound up leading the Raps in all three categories with 28 points, eight assists and eight rebounds but also had the team lead with five turnovers.
“We’re playing hard enough to do what we need to do to win games, but we just have to try harder,” Lowry said.
As for that second quarter: “They made shots and we missed. The tempo changed. They picked it up a little bit and we fell into a bit of a slow down game. We just have to put four together. That’s it.”
“That was a big quarter, we had a stretch of mistakes there that got us in the second quarter.
Again, we got ourselves back in position, even with that bad quarter, we put ourselves in a position to win and we have to figure it out.”
For the Nets, the bulk of the scoring fell to centre Brook Lopez, who used an experience and a bit of a size advantage to its maximum finishing the night with a Nets high 27 points.
The Nets owned the paint all night outscoring the Raptors 52-34 in the shadows of the hoop and Lopez was no small part of that.
Also big for the Nets was sixth man C.J. Watson, who came off Avery Johnson’s bench for 15 points making six of his nine shot attempts.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson didn’t match the scoring damage of the Raptors’ backcourt duo combining for 33 points but Williams consistently got into the Raptors paint and was deadly finding the wide open man for nine assists.
The Raps have little time to regroup. They flew back to Toronto immediately after the game and will take on a Minnesota Timberwolves team that have been waiting for them in Toronto since a season opening win over Sacramento on Monday night.
DeRozan though said it’s far too early to get down over a couple of tough defeats.
“We got 80 more games to go,” DeRozan said. “Coach has told us, don’t get down on two. Nobody is going nowhere right now. We still have a chance. We just have to go home (Sunday) and get that win.”
They have certainly shown they are capable of doing it. It’s just a matter of maintaining that capability for four consecutive quarters.