The scoreboard says Toronto lost by only nine but the game was nowhere near as close as the final total suggests. Thanks to a late run in garbage time when the game was well out of reach, the Raptors were able to disguise the blowout defeat to those who missed the contest.
31 points and 20 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins was too much to handle for Toronto, as the team had no way of containing the big man. Cousins dominated the second half after the Kings led by 54-53 at the break. Sacramento used a 20-0 run that extended between the second and third quarters to pull away from the Raptors and walk away with only their third road victory of the season.
It became the perfect the trap game for Toronto with the team admitting at the beginning of the day that they had an eye on their Sunday opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Coach Dwane Casey denied the team was looking ahead to the Thunder in his post-game press conference but it was obvious in their performance that they overlooked the Kings.
This was not the same Raptors team that used hard-noised defense and team basketball to win eight of their last nine games. They looked sluggish and a step slow defensively while returning to the one-on-one style of offense the fans saw Toronto play in the first month and a half of the year. As a result, the team saw their five-game home win streak and three-game win streak come to an end.
With the Raptors’ recent success, the buzz was beginning to return around the fan base who had been frustrated with the team’s start to the season. After looking like a different team as of a late, the lazy effort against the Kings only reminded the fans why Toronto is where they are in the standings. Especially considering Sacramento held a 20-point lead in a game where they didn’t have Tyreke Evans or Marcus Thornton.
The Raptors now head into their next game trying to bounce back against one of the best teams in the league. Fans were optimistic around Toronto hoping a win against the Kings could carry momentum into a competitive contest against the Thunder. Nobody was suggesting the team was about to pull off an upset, only that the game would be much closer than the 108-88 loss to Oklahoma City on Nov. 6.
That optimism is all but gone now after the Raptors couldn’t capitalize in a must-win game on home-court, against a team that was 2-13 on the road and without key players coming into the contest.