Raptors "splintered apart" in Utah rout
Because of some wacky deadline issues, here's what would normally be a second-edition story for the paper available to you here and now.
And, yes, we'll have the usual fare here for you in the morning.
SALT LAKE CITY – Nerves are frayed, tension is mounting, frustration is off the charts and now it’s time for the Raptors to somehow keep it all together.
It won’t be easy, there is no question about it, and after Friday night’s ugliness here, you have to wonder if the job can be done at all.
“I thought we splintered apart, didn’t stay together,” coach Dwane Casey said after the Raptors were drubbed 131-99 by the Utah Jazz.
“Tonight is the first time I’ve seen us give into whatever it was and that’s what we talked about in the team meeting. Hopefully that’s the start of togetherness; again, talk is cheap. We have got to get back to the fundamentals of basketball, whether it’s guarding the ball, rebounding, transition. Everything was exposed tonight from a team level.”
And for all the chatter about not getting too frustrated and staying the course, there were more sideways glances at teammates and open and evident frustration than there’s been all season.
Now with a 4-16 record a quarter of the way through the season and still two games left on this arduous western road trip, nerves are raw.
Casey kept the team about twice as long as normal after the game and said the discussion would stay “in the family.”
“Everybody said what they had to say and we have to realize this is time to step up -- everybody from myself to the last guy on the team,” said DeMar DeRozan.
“Everyone has to step up and play with pride because it’s getting out of hand right now.”
The Jazz simply did what they wanted against a Raptor team that looked as dispirited as it has all season.
Utah hit 13 of 23 three-pointers, dominated on the glass and led comfortably from about the middle of the second quarter on.
Even without Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors, they were able to score practically at will.
“We worked on a scrambling drill yesterday and we dared guys to shoot jump shots,” said Casey. “We’re going to get it fixed, whatever it takes, whatever seven or eight guys it takes to get it done, we’ll get it done.”
Paul Millsap had 20 points and Enes Kanter 18 for Utah while Andrea Bargnani led Toronto with 20 in a game that devolved into extended garbage minutes in the fourth quarter.
“It was a pick up game I think more than anything else down at the end,” said Casey. “That’s not who were are, that’s not what we’re going to represent with our organization; we have one of the best ownership groups in the NBA and we’re going to represent them the right way and that’s not how you represent them.”
Casey said before the game that he toyed with the idea of changing is starting lineup – replacing Jonas Valanciunas with Amir Johnson – but didn’t make a move after closer review of Wednesday’s game in Sacramento.
:I hinted at possble lineup changes, but again I think that would send the wrong message,” he said. “We want to be patient with our young kid (Valanciunas) and sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes he’s frustrated a little bit but he’s growing. As many mistakes as he’s making, he’s also growing.”
Besides, there was more than enough blame to spread around.
“That’s why you should always watch the film because he didn’t make as many mistakes as you thought he did,” Casey said. “Even though we gave up 56 points in the paint (agains the Kings), everyone had a little of that from top to bottom.
“We’re patient with Jonas and we’re going to keep the lineup the same. Again, if we get in trouble we still have Amir and Eddy who are doing an excellent job of bringing energy, athleticism, speed and quickness to the table in case we get in trouble.”