The Toronto Raptors lost 94-88 to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. Defeat may have been snatched from the jaws of victory during the 3rd Quarter, but the Raptors have issues which go beyond their many injuries.
The score was actually flattering, due to poor Free Throw and Three Point shooting from the Nets early on, the injured status of stalwart Center Brook Lopez, and the baffling inconsistency of Joe Johnson and all-world Point Guard Deron Williams.
Ed Davis and Jose Calderon both had double-doubles for the Raptors. Calderon finished with 10 points and a stellar 15 assists, continuing the success he has had as a starter this season. Davis proved he is well on his way to becoming the solid pro he has been expected to be since he was a lottery draft pick in 2010, adding 3 Steals to a 24 Point and 12 Rebound effort.
As has often been the case, the Raptors lost the game in the 3rd Quarter, due to turnovers and poor shot selection, which they had avoided in the first half. Johnson, C.J. Watson, and former Raptor Kris Humphries spearheaded a 31-19 edge which made the 4th Quarter redundant, and the closeness of the score misleading.
However, the biggest loss of the day was the announcement of long-term injuries to Raptors starters. Starting Point Guard Kyle Lowry, the Raptors prized off-season acquisition, is out for 10 days with a partially torn tricep, which sounds like a very hopeful prognosis. De facto franchise player Andrea Bargnani may be out much longer with a torn ligament in his right elbow, as well as an injured wrist, incurred during a terrible fall during a horrible loss to Portland.
Calderon and Davis likely would not have put up those numbers if it weren’t for these injuries. Terrence Ross was exposed as the raw rookie he is; without the shooting which made him a top-ten pick this year, he is not yet an NBA-ready player. Deep bench players Aaron Gray and John Lucas III had their moments, but were over-matched in heavy minutes to which they are not accustomed.
Second Round draft pick Quincy Acy was called up from the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Developmental League, specifically to fill the 9-man minimum roster requirement as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement; I apologize for using this phrase. Although likely to stay on the main team through weekend games against Dallas and Houston, he is very unlikely to play.
With a 4-19 record, it seems the Raptors will not challenge for a playoff spot in the highly competitive Eastern Conference. The long-rumoured trade of Bargnani is impossible at the moment due to his injury. Dealing Calderon and his high-priced, expiring contract is unfeasible, at least until Lowry returns to form.
Due to the transaction which landed Lowry from Houston this past off-season, the Raptors may not have a first-round draft pick with which to rebuild next Summer. Since the draft pick is conditional on the Raptors result in the draft lottery, it is also not usable as a trade chip.
Stay tuned to this space for the deconstruction of the deconstruction of the Toronto Raptors.