Raptors' Road Record is Really Rotten

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst INovember 26, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 16:  Chris Bosh #4 of the Toronto Raptors watches as Boris Diaw #32 of the Charlotte Bobcats grabs a rebound during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 16, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

On the road, losing with the Raptors. Their road record is now 2-7.

To be fair to Toronto, the NBA handed them a very tough opening road schedule against eight Western Conference clubs to start the season.

And to be fair, the Raptors have been very good at home in the ACC. Plus, no one could realistically be disappointed ahead of time if they knew the Raptors would lose games to Western Conference playoff teams on the road.

But losing to the Memphis Grizzlies isn’t the mark of a team hoping to make the playoffs.  And losing badly to the 5-9 Charlotte Bobcats can only be described as a major disappointment, even on the back-end of a back-to-back.

Wednesday night's blowout loss, 81-116 to Charlotte, was a Bobcats record.  Not something the Raptors should be proud of.

And the game wasn’t typical of any of Toronto’s games so far this season.

The 81 points scored by Toronto is 25 points below their season average and 10 points lower than any game they have played to-date.  And this comes the day after the Raptors scored 74 points in a half against Indiana.

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A scoring drought of this magnitude warrants some investigation.

Against the Bobcats, the hot-shooting Raptors, averaging 47 percent on the season, hit on just 34.5 percent of their shots.  The main causes were:

Target No. 1: Chris Bosh

For the second game in as many nights, Chris Bosh’s shot only found the bottom of the basket five times; a 5-14 night on the heels of Tuesday’s 5-19 performance.  Bosh has still been grabbing rebounds at a career-best rate, but the Raptors rely on Bosh’s scoring, and when he isn’t going, a lot of other things have to go right to get a win.

Target No. 2: Jarrett Jack

Chris Bosh’s college buddy bailed out his teammate on Tuesday with a 7-7 shooting performance.  But on Wednesday, Jack was 1-9 with two turnovers early in the second quarter, while the game was still under control.

Unfortunately, these early turnovers helped to fuel Charlotte’s fast break game that just kept getting stronger as the night wore on.

Target Number 3: Marco Belinelli

Belinelli was cold from the floor for his second game in a row.  But unlike Tuesday, when he made up for his 1-4 shooting by going 8-10 from the line, on Wednesday Belinelli was 2-9 from the floor and 2-2 from the stripe

Target Number 4: DeMar DeRozan

Normally it isn’t fair to point out a poor shooting performance by a rookie.  And the loss to Charlotte had little to do with DeRozan.  But DeRozan usually takes five or six shots per game; on Wednesday, he was 4-12.

Of course, getting blown out usually requires more than just poor shooting.  And lots of other things went wrong for the Raptors.

The Raptors gave up twice their season average in steals to the Bobcats.  Charlotte took 13 balls away from the Raptors and boosted their steals average to 8.1 per game.  And it seemed every steal led to a Bobcats fast break lay-up.

Uncharacteristically leading the Raptors with poor decision-making was Jose Calderon with six turnovers. The Bobcats pressured the Raptors ball-handlers and the Raptors coughed it up!

Unfortunately, Jose was also one a few Raptors doing anything right.  His 3-6 shooting and eight assists did help keep the Raptors in this game early. Maybe he should have shot more?

And Jay Triano seemed lost, frustrated, and confused by Charlotte’s refusal to give this game to the Raptors.

After watching Jarrett Jack start the second quarter 0-3 with two turnovers and Jose Calderon get two more turnovers after replacing Jack, Triano thought the best move was to finish the quarter off with both his point guards on the floor together.  No surprise, this didn’t help.

Perhaps more surprisingly was that Triano’s only reliable scorer in the first half barely saw the floor in the second half.

In the first half, Bargnani shot 6-10 for 15 points, leading the Raptors in scoring.  Playing only eight minutes in the second half and getting just two shots, Triano benched his only effective offensive threat.  And he did it while the game was still well within reach at 68-59 Bobcats in the third quarter.

With an explanation that smacks of desperation, Triano had a lineup of Amir Johnson, Antoine Wright, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Jarrett Jack, and Sonny Weems to close out the third quarter.

Triano says he was looking for energy.  Maybe there is energy in that lineup, but who exactly is going to be putting the ball in the hole?

Is it any real surprise that the Bobcats went on a scoring spree in the second half of the third to go up 85-67?

The fourth quarter began with Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Chris Bosh, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu on the floor.

As anyone who follows these posts or has read Hollinger’s analysis of the Jack-Calderon lineups knows, everybody scores more against the Raptors when Jose and Jarrett play together.

Plus, down by 18 points, where was the Raptors’ leading scorer in this game? With Bosh unable to hit a shot, why was the hot-shooting Bargnani nailed to the bench?

The Bobcats cruised to 35-point victory in the fourth, with the Raptors who got to play barely putting up a fight.

To put the game in context, this is just a road loss on a back-to-back, but it is still a bad loss.

Maybe the Raptors’ players were suffering from the effects of playing back-to-back games, but one doesn’t expect the coaching staff to be out of it!

However, all will be forgotten with a good outing against the Celtics on Friday and a win Sunday at home against the Suns.


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