Toronto Raptors Proving They Aren't A Good Team With Third Straight Loss At Home

By Michael Roberts
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors lost a valuable opportunity to secure wins at the Air Canada Centre by closing out a four-game home stand with a 112-98 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

The Raptors only won once during the homestand, watching their overall record fall to 6-10 before they head out on a three-game western road trip. Toronto began the home stand with a 96-88 victory over the Washington Wizards, but lost three straight games that would have been significant victories for the club.

Despite leading the Atlantic Division entering the week, the Raptors tipped-off a key division battle with a dismal effort against the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets didn’t have Deron Williams, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko or Brook Lopez in the contest, meaning Toronto had a great opportunity to defeat the team most expect to win the Atlantic Division.

The Raptors looked as if they didn’t take the shorthanded Brooklyn lineup seriously as they came out flat and lost 102-100, while making Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce look like they were still in the late 1990s.

The win could have a done a lot to prove that Toronto was a legitimate contender for the division title, but all it did was confirm that the Raptors aren’t near the top-four level in the conference standings. Teams that intend to compete for division titles don’t lose on their home court to division rivals who are missing four of their best players.

Toronto could have rebounded from the Nets loss with a strong showing against the two-time defending champions Miami Heat in their next contest. However, it hardly looked like LeBron James was trying when he led the way with 27 points in a 90-83 Heat victory. Nobody expected the Raptors would defeat Miami, but they still could have put up a better fight or maybe even hit a free throw.

Toronto went 19-for-32 from the foul line in the contest, including consecutive misses by Rudy Gay in the final three minutes that would have made the contest a one-possession game.

The Raptors capped-off the disappointing home stand when they let Denver’s bench score 72 points in the Nuggets’ victory. Toronto didn’t exactly come out with the type of performance GM Masai Ujiri would have liked to see from his club. Ujiri was playing Denver for the first time since being let go by the Nuggets in the summer. It would have been a late Thanksgiving present by the Raptors players to their GM if they could have defeated his former team.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find success when the home team lets the visiting squad shoot 50 percent from the field in the game. As a result, Ujiri was forced to watch his former team defeat his new team by playing the unselfish team-first basketball he helped create for Denver when he traded away Carmelo Anthony.

All three losses follow the same trend as the Raptors struggled to move the ball on offense. All three opponents had 20 or more team assists, whereas Toronto didn’t record 20 team assists once in any of the losses. The Nets, Heat and Nuggets combined for 78 team assists in their wins over the Raptors, while the home team only combined for 52 team assists.

Toronto refuses to feed the hot hand offensively, as one-on-one competitions occur far too often when the club has possession of the ball. Once a player starts finding his rhythm offensively with consecutive buckets, he’s quickly forgotten about as there’s no effort made in continuing to get him the ball.

DeMar DeRozan had 27 points with two minutes left in the third quarter against Brooklyn, but was never given the ball in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets on the other hand, recognized Nate Robinson was hot coming off the bench and fed him the ball constantly as he led Denver in scoring with 23 points in their win.

Good teams know when to feed the hot hand, which is why the Raptors are proving they aren’t a good team.

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