You could forgive the Raptors if they weren’t necessarily looking forward to their Western Road trip. Every year the Raptors seem to get caught napping in the sun. At least once, and sometimes twice in a season, a crucial West Coast trip puts the team behind the eight ball. Maybe it’s the sun, the time off or the hot women in bikinis (and who could blame them really) but every year the Raptors seem to go on a crucial Western trip and lose their focus coming home empty-handed.
This is the time of year the Raptors need to take advantage of their opponents. Teams like Sacramento and the Lakers are not playing at 100% at this point in the regular season and the Raptors need to seize these opportunities. Toronto could very well come into a Western Coast trip and surprise a still rusty team and add up some extra W’s. At the end of the season, you look back at these opportunities and think “what if?”. It is important to tally up as many early W’s as possible as they only become harder and harder to come by as the season goes on. This is one of those wins that will feel so much worse later on in the year when wins mean the difference between playoffs and lottery.
The Zan for Three
Early Energy, Late Nap
The Raptors came out like a steamroller in the first five minutes of the game. I cannot remember the last time I saw the Raptors come out of the tunnel with that much pounce. They drove to the rim, got to the line and scored the majority of their buckets in the paint. Where was it in the fourth though?
There is always worry that on the first night of a West Coast trip a team will have some fatigue, but the Raps came out like Gangbusters. They had a 33-16 advantage after the first quarter, but what was more telling was the way in which they did it. The Raptors got to the line 13 times in the first quarter. Points were scored in transition and the team wasn’t afraid to get dirty.
In the second half however they forced the issue (Jarrett Jack I’m looking at you), they let Evans have a field day and finished with lazy jump shots allowing the Kings to battle back. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around the Raps had nothing left in the tank. It was like all of a sudden they realized it was midnight in Toronto and they had to work in the morning….oh wait, that was me.
Reggie Freaking Evans
I can’t stop writing about this guy. I openly questioned his starting spot but after three straight games in double-digit rebounds , don’t I have egg on my face? He is simply playing great ball right now. He lifted his team early in this one with 10 boards in the first quarter and brought the energy back when he re-entered the game. I don’t always like his game, but so far this season I cannot find a bad thing to say about one Reginald Jamaal Evans.
When you’re up 17 points you have to look for the jugular and go for it. Tonight the Raptors gave the Kings a second life and with a player as gifted as Tyreke Evans running the show you need to finish a team off when you get the chance. The Raptors didn’t and they got burned, absolutely burned.
Plus the Foul…
Is there such a thing? The Raptors deflected balls and broke plays up many times in the game, only to have them end up in the hands of a Sacramento player. The Raptors started the game playing very aggressive and took a commanding lead off of their defensive effort, but they also lost because of defensive miscues, bad shot selection late in the game and shear dumb-luck. There will be lots for Jay Triano and PJ Carlesimo to be happy about, but they will also be wondering how their defensive oriented team let a 17 point lead slip through the cracks.
Zan of the Night
I know much will be made of Tyreke playing while sick and getting 28 points or of Reggie’s night of endless rebounds, but Omar was the difference. He hit every big three a player possibly could and each one felt like a dagger in my chest. That is what you want out of a shooter. Casspi was 50% from 3-pt land and frightened me every time he had the ball. This win is on him.
Not Zan of the Night
I’m not a fan of games that are called by Leo. I love Jack Armstrong and I will fully admit my bias. Leo knows his game, but he just doesn’t have a voice that makes you feel anything other than boredom and indifference. Add to the fact that Samuel Dalembert was in the game and we had to listen to Team Canada anecdotes all night. It used to be overwhelming man love he bestowed on Dalembert, but after Samuel’s team Canada fallout, it has now become cheap shots. Not needed on a Raptors broadcast. For Shame! Seriously though, the only thing worse than watching the Raptors lose a game in the dying minutes is listening to Leo Rautins call it. Great start to the Sportsnet One Era! Yikes!
Oh California! You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.*** Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald *** Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Zantabakherald