The Toronto Raptors fought their way back from a 14 point first half deficit to build a 12 point lead in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t contain the Pelicans down the stretch and ended up losing 95-93 on a driving layup by Tyreke Evans with 1.6 seconds left.
“We got to find a way to get jump started at the beginning of the game or find a group that’s getting jump started,” Head Coach Dwane Casey said after the game.
The struggling Terrence Ross got the quick hook in this game as the Raptors starting small forward was nearly invisible in 10.7 first half minutes going 0-3 from the field for 0 points.
“It wasn’t all T Ross’ fault, but I did think that Greivis (Vasquez) came in at his position and gave us a spark,” Casey said.
Vasquez started the second half in Ross’ place and finished the game with 16 points, 4 made three-pointers, 9 assists and 2 steals. However, he will most likely be remembered for failing to stop Evans on the final play of the game.
“We had talked about putting James (Johnson) on (Evans),” Casey said.
“Greivis did the best job, other than that last possession, of all our guys during the game and that’s why we stuck with Greivis on (Evans). He did a good job of containing him, making him score over a big body, I thought he did a good job (overall).”
Casey didn’t have a lot of other options to go to than Vasquez in this game. Ross was M.I.A. and James Johnson was having an off game as well. Johnson is the Raptors best wing defender and Casey went to him to start the fourth quarter and he promptly turned the ball over twice and picked up a technical foul in 3.7 minutes. In hindsight, Casey should have brought him back in as the Raptors lead was unraveling, but it’s pretty easy to understand why Casey didn’t believe this was Johnson’s night.
There is no time to mourn another game that got away. The Raptors are in Milwaukee on Monday to face a pretty solid Bucks team that’s a couple of games over .500 on the season.
“We are playing in mud right now,” Casey said. “Confidence-wise, we got to come out believing you are going to make a play offensively or defensively. Somehow, someway we got to get back to playing basketball and not feeling that weight of the world on our shoulders.”
Casey is now openly musing about what to do about Ross, but with the losses piling up and Ross regressing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if Vasquez or Johnson is back in the the starting lineup.
On Pro Bball Report last week: Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas DeMar DeRozan and Kobe Bryant All-Star discussions, Lou Williams struggling, James Johnson gets serious, Celtics and Cavaliers set trade market prices, the availability of Tobias Harris, Wilson Chandler and Thaddeus Young, Knicks Quincy Acy shines, Elijah Millsap signs, Larry Sanders walking away, Raptors NBA Player-of-the-Month, the Hawks dominate and more.