Raptors: One game, two players and a lot of composure lost
Different city, same late start, same deadline issues.
So here you go; instead of seeing a fresh gamer in the late edition of the paper, you can see it here.
PORTLAND – Dwane Casey was dejected, Bryan Colangelo looked ashen, the players once again were dragging themselves around another locker room after another one-sided defeat.
The Raptors lost a game, they lost some players, Amir Johnson uncharacteristically lost his cool and if there’s been a lower point for this franchise in the last five years than Monday night, it’s hard to remember when it was.
With another long stretch of dull play marked by bad decisions, loose ball handling and a lack of effort, the Raptors fell 92-74 to the Portland Trail Blazers here, wrapping up an 0-5 western road trip that got increasingly ugly as it unwound and limping home with a 4-18 record that’s among the worst in the NBA.
It was about the same as so many games this season, it’s getting ridiculous. The Raptors were okay to start, had stretches where they were competitive and at the first sign of adversity they went into a shell.
And there is no easy fix. Coach Dwane Casey pointed to the short-handed lineup he was forced to use for long stretches of Monday and that may have been factor on one particular night but the funk that’s enveloped this team as the road trip wore on is troubling.
And if Colangelo tossed around words like embarrassing and disappointing about the third game on the journey, one can only imagine what he thought after his team lost its 10th game in 11 outings and 11th straight on the road.
The frustration level that had been building for days finally got to Johnson, who was thrown out of the game midway through the third quarter.
Johnson was wrestling with referee David Jones over the ball following a Trail Blazers free throw; Jones finally had enough, hit Johnson with a technical and threw him out of the game.
Johnson had to be restrained by teammates from going after Jones but did get an arm free enough to take his mouthpiece out and throw it at the official.
The league will undoubtedly come down with a suspension for Johnson tomorrow; the length of which cannot be estimated.
It was the first public display of disgust by a player but Johnson has been too valuable on too many nights to cost his struggling team like that.
“It’s out of character, my teammates know me, fans know me if they’ve been watching my career, I never lose my cool,” said Johnson. “I never say anything to the ref or get mad, the only techs I ever got were for hanging on the rim or slapping the backboard.
“Before every free throw, I always go rub the ball and give it right back to the ref. The ref didn’t let me have the ball and we kind of got into a tug of war. No words were really said and from then on he ejected me out of the game and I kind of lost my cool from there.”
It came at the worst possible time for the Raptors, who lost Andrea Bargnani to an elbow injury after just eight minutes and Kyle Lowry to an injury to his right triceps that sidelined him for the second half.
“We had so many guys go down, Andrea and Kyle and I don’t know what happened with Amir, he kind of lost his mind there a little bit,” said coach Dwane Casey.
“We can’t have that. On a night when we’re short-handed and we’re in a situation where we’re scrambling, we just have to have more discipline than that.”
But even with the guys leaving the game and Johnson’s ejection, the Raptors showed all the same atrocious traits that have marked so many of their losses.
When things got difficult they caved; when they needed someone to step up and dominate, no one could. They made mistake after mistake and ended up losing badly to a team that was missing two starters in Nik Batum and Wesley Matthews.
“Get everybody healthy, that’s the No. 1 thing. We’ve got go from A to Z and get people healthy,” said Casey.
“Linas (Kleiza) is out, (Mickael) Pietrus is still gimpy, now Kyle’s out, Andrea’s out; we’re going to have a makeshift crew and hopefully be ready by Wednesday.”
The Blazers got 30 points from LaMarcus Aldridge, who dominated a ravaged Toronto front line.
The Raptors got 20 from DeMar DeRozan and 14 from Ed Davis but the stats really don’t matter, they were out of the game by the middle of the third quarter.