Chalk up another loss for the Toronto Raptors.
This time, the Raps squared off against a championship caliber San Antonio Spurs squad and managed to push them to double overtime, but ultimately fell 111-106. Jonas Valanciunas posted a career high 22 points along with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks and had some huge plays down the stretch, scoring key buckets against Tim Duncan and swatting Duncan on a huge play at the end of the game. Considering how Valanciunas more than held his own against one of the best power forwards of all time in his rookie year, it’s exciting to think about how good he will be once he reaches his full potential. DeMar DeRozan led the team in scoring with 29 and had some big buckets; however, if he shot better than 11-28 it might have been a different outcome. Ed Davis was the biggest surprise of the day, scoring 15 points along with 14 rebounds- in less than 23 minutes.
With Davis playing so well, this starts to put pressure on other big men- namely Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani responded with the worst game of his career, posting a 2-19 shooting performance along with missing multiple key shots down the stretch and in overtime that would have won the Raptors the game. Considering the tough luck the Raptors have been facing, another close loss down the stretch isn’t what they needed.
The Detroit Pistons loss hurt more, but this one stung quite deeply as well. The worst part is the Raps 3-11 record could easily be 7-7 or better. The inability to close games has been a huge problem and if this team can’t figure it out soon, the season may be lost. DeRozan hasn’t been able to consistently close, Kyle Lowry has missed his share, and Bargnani hasn’t shown the ability to close either. The solution is to spread the ball around, yet down the stretch and in overtime the Raptors continued to rely on Bargnani despite having an awful game. Bargnani shouldn’t have even been on the court at this point considering the energy and efficiency Davis was bringing to the court.
It may be Andrea Bargnani’s last stand with Toronto. I’m not just suggesting this based on tonight’s game- it’s the way he fits in with the current squad. Let’s face it- Bargnani doesn’t hustle. He doesn’t rebound, grab 50/50 balls, and isn’t a leader. While Bargnani can score, that’s all he’s shown in his career thus far, and at the age of 27 in his 6th year, his game has likely hit a peak. At this point, considering what he’s offered the Raptors thus far, it may be worth exploring the market and see if the Raptors can pick up a positional need a fill a hole. With the emergence of Ed Davis this season, it may be time to expand his role and explore other options for Bargnani. While having a scoring big is almost a necessity, Valanciunas has shown the ability to do just that- while providing other positives.
If the Raps can pick up a valuable asset for Bargnani, they would be wise to take it and run- as Bargnani’s value likely isn’t getting any higher.
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