I’m starting to believe that the Toronto Raptors are the unluckiest team in the league. One possession away from a win, and Al Jefferson hits a 3 to tie the game. That’s right- Al Jefferson, a career 4% three point shooter. They ended up falling to the Utah Jazz 140-133 in triple overtime, and tonight was definitely the most painful loss of the season thus far. The team played together, and worked hard, and played well enough to win. They needed this one badly to stop the bleeding, and came up short, falling to 1-6 on the season.
Yes, it’s easy to blame the refs, but the Raptors are just going to have to live with not getting calls when they need them. They had the game right in their hands- a double digit fourth quarter lead evaporated, and down the stretch they couldn’t seal the deal. Sounds like a few other instances this season.
The solution? The Raptors aren’t in for moral victories- at this point, they need to get wins, no matter how. Their biggest problem tonight was their inability to close, and this is due to their lack of a go to guy down the stretch. DeMar DeRozan was absolutely phenomenal tonight with 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. He showed flashes of the ability to be a closer, but still lacks the confidence, and isolation moves. Having Kyle Lowry back will be huge to take the pressure off him, however as DeRozan continues to emerge as a player his ability to finish should improve.
The Raps as a whole are typically not good in late game situations, as lack of clutch players and bad play calling tends to continuously sink them. This is something that cannot be stressed enough as these are the games that the Raps will have to win if they want a playoff shot. At this point, it’s one game at a time, starting tomorrow night against the Indiana Pacers.
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