In a beautiful sense of irony, Toronto’s season in which they find clever ways to “tank” games to garner more lottery balls was a rousing success during Canadian Forces night.
With Toronto wearing their camouflage jerseys on Canadian Forces Night – and some players wearing equally horrible camo kicks – the Raptors showed an inability to battle through adversity in the fourth quarter and lost to the Chicago Bulls 94-83.
DeMar DeRozan exploded out of the gate scoring the first five points of the game for Toronto. He then added nine of Toronto’s first 15 points while going an impressive 4-6 from the field.
Things continued to roll early in the second quarter as DeRozan had 15 of Toronto’s first 31 points. He did this while shooting an efficient 7-13 from the field.
DeRozan finished the game with 23 points after being slowed down by a creative Bulls defence.
“They kept on switching up the match-ups,” Casey explained to me. “(Luol) Deng was on him some. Ronnie Brewer was on him some. Kyle Korver, who is a great lock-and-go guy was on him some. They started switching out onto their big guys onto the pin downs that we have for DeMar and that was effective.
“That’s what you’ve got to have someone else step up and take things over. I thought DeMar did have it going and we were trying to go to him in those situations, but again, Chicago is not chopped liver. Again, we competed for I’d say three and a half quarters of the game.”
Things were going smoothly for Toronto until the fourth quarter hit. With a 69-62 lead heading into the final quarter, Toronto collapsed.
Sorry, let me rephrase that: it was an epic collapse.
Chicago opened the quarter on a 22-3 run fueled by the strong play of John Lucas (12 points) and Kyle Korver (10 points).
What’s ironic is that all of the points Lucas and Korver scored were the only points either played score during the course of the entire game.
Toronto wasn’t able to regroup from this late surge from Chicago as they were held to a 13 points in the fourth quarter. Just shy off the season-low they scored against Chicago earlier this season.
“They came down and made tough shots,” Casey told the media when asked about Korver and Lucas. “I thought (Kyle) Korver got going. He and John Lucas did a heck of a job of making their shots. In those situations where you know a championship team is turning up the screws you have to make every play.”
Besides Korver and Lucas, the failure to hold onto the lead in the fourth quarter comes down to Toronto’s inability to execute during key stretches.
“They had a 15-3 run at the nine minute mark that changed the game,” a frustrated Dwane Casey lamented to the media after the loss. “They are one of the best defensive teams in the league and I thought we went toe-to-toe with them until that mark. That’s when they turned it up. We didn’t execute and I thought we had some good looks in those situations but we didn’t knock ‘em down.”
Sure, this loss is one of the tougher ones for Raptor fans to swallow, but at least they can take solace that it helped the team earn some more lottery balls.
It’s just a shame Toronto didn’t show more fight on a Canadian Forces Night.