One day after debuting at Las Vegas Summer League with a win, the Toronto Raptors came out flat against the Denver Nuggets and were handed a 110-82 loss on Friday afternoon.
In their second game in as many days, the Raptors came out flat to start and allowed the Nuggets to race out to a 32-15 lead after the opening quarter. With summer league coach Jesse Mermuys going deep into his bench throughout the game, Toronto couldn’t slow Denver’s Gary Harris (game-high 33 points) and Quincy Miller (23 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc).
After a solid first-day debut, Raptors rookie Bruno Caboclo finished with 11 points, three rebounds, an assist, steal and turnover and six personal fouls. Playing a game-high 29 minutes, Caboclo shot 3-for-10 from the floor and 1-for-6 from beyond the arc. Despite the off-shooting performance, Caboclo continues to intrigue, particularly on the defensive end of the floor where his 7-foot-7 wingspan seems to allow him to cover the entire floor in the blink of an eye.
Second round draft pick DeAndre Daniels finished with 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting, looking much more comfortable than the day before. Dwight Buycks also bounced back from a rough outing on Friday to lead the Raptors with 21 points.
For the second straight day DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were sitting courtside with their families to watch their teammates. During Mermuys’ post-game media scrum, Lowry decided to jump into the mix, grabbing a microphone and jokingly grilled his assistant coach about the loss.
Overcoming A Language Barrier
Caboclo said after the game that the biggest difference for him has been the intensity of the NBA game, even in this summer league environment. Lucas Nogueira was spotted communicating with Caboclo in both Portuguese and English in Saturday’s game, providing a helping hand when a specific term or word was lost in translation.
Although Caboclo might have to focus more than his English-speaking teammates, Mermuys said the learning curve is steep for every rookie.
“It has helped [to have Nogueira translating for Caboclo], but DeAndre Daniels played at the University of Connecticut, won a national championship, speaks perfect English and it’s still difficult for him…overall, we’re throwing a lot at him and we’re throwing it at him on purpose so when he comes to training camp in September he nows what we’re doing and he has a jumpstart.”
As Mermuys and the rest of the Raptors coaching staff get used to communicating with a rookie who is learning English, the time in Las Vegas has proven invaluable. Despite the lopsided loss, Mermuys was pleased with the effort shown by the team’s 20th pick in the draft.
“It reminds me of what we’re here for and what we’re here for is to develop Bruno and we’re here to get him experience,” Mermuys said. “As frustrating as that loss was, I’m sure he got better and he learned a lot from it and that’s what it’s all about. He’s taking english courses during his off time and we don’t have a ton of off time, we practice twice a day. He’s got a ton of schemes coming at him, technical terms coming at him and he’s still trying to get better, working on his English barrier in his off time. He’s doing a great job. I’m very pleased with his effort.”
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey agreed with Mermuys while also praising the defensive effort from his team.
“I like where our defence is, our presence, our focus,” Casey said. “I think one thing that set in today was fatigue. These guys have been working very hard for about a week and a half, and it showed today in shooting and defensive rotations. I like where they are. I like the focus. I like development of our young players. I like a lot of things.”
As for what he has seen from Caboclo after his first two games, Casey again talked about his length on defence. He also took extra time to emphasize how impressed he has been with the 18 year-old’s ability to pick up what the coaching staff is telling him despite the gap in language.
“A lot of times we mistake not understanding English for ignorance,” Casey said. “And that’s not the case. You tell him one thing to do something, and he gets it right the next time. That’s so important. He rarely makes the same mistake twice. All he’s got to continue to do is play. Get stronger.
“I love that people said he’s two years away from being two years away. Those people don’t know anything about basketball if that’s what they think. He has just as much talent as a lot of these guys.”