After one game of a tough ten game stretch, things are not looking so good. The Toronto Raptors blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-98. The score is not a good indication of how the game went. The Thunder rested their main players in the fourth quarter.
The Raptors came out with energy but their defence was anything but spectacular and they couldn't buy a bucket. They were missing open shots and ended up shooting only 35.7% from the field compared to the Thunders 47.3%. The Raptors only had three players score in double figures and were a terrible 7-30 from three point range. There were two bright spots, Andrea Bargnani came out fired up, he had 4 rebounds in the first six minutes and was playing the way the Raptors need him to play, aggressive. He had 16 points. The second bright spot is more of a ray of sunshine. Jonas Valanciunas had a coming out party of sorts. He finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds and played with hustle the entire night. If the Raptors played like that all night, the game could have been a lot closer.
The Raptors leading scorer Kyle Lowry went down in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. He only had 2 points after averaging 23 points a game the first three games. The more important thing is how long will he be out for?
During every basketball season, you will see games like this where nothing is falling and your opponent seems to be hitting everything. How you bounce back from a loss like this says a lot to the strength and heart your players have. Coach Dwane Casey preaches defense, when you have strength and heart, you don't allow 108 points or 47.3% shooting. Casey said he "didn't recognize" his team.
With a game Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, they have little time to dig deep inside to find strength and heart. With Dwane Casey in charge, they have the right man to help his players find the strength and heart needed to bounce back from such a lopsided loss. Look for the Raptors to come out strong against the Mavericks.