Letdown In New Jersey

 


That’s our #RTZ Tweet of the Night winner @KevinRashidi above, who summed it up very well. The numbers suggest that the Raptors’ 98-84 loss to the Nets on Wednesday was about an offence that receded dramatically after halftime in the second game of a back-to-back. Not surprisingly, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey chose to make it an example about defence, physicality and mental toughness.

“Back-to-back, three games in three nights, it doesn’t matter,” said Casey post-game. “This is the NBA and that’s what we’re paid to do is perform each and every night we walk on the floor and I just didn’t see that in the second half.

“In the first half, I thought we competed and looked like we wanted to belong. The second half, we just didn’t meet their toughness.”

You want to talk toughness? Look no further than Nets forward Humphries, who exposed that sluggishness from his former team. Humphries turned in a relentless performance to the tune of 16 points and 21 rebounds. Half of those points and 12 of those boards came in the second half, where he also added all three of his blocks, his three total steals and two of this three assists on the night.

You want to talk about proving you belong? Glance down the Nets’ bench at Gerald Green, who appears absolutely starving for an opportunity to get back to the NBA after an exodus that’s taken him from China to the NBA D-League and back.

Best known for his jaw-dropping athleticism with dunks involving baked goods and more recently, his stunner of a windmill alley oop, Green is battling to stay in the NBA after the second of his two successive 10-day contracts with the Nets ends. With his second performance of 26 points during his brief tenure, he’s making a solid case to stay.

There were moments during his 16-point outburst in the fourth where Green elevated so high and so quick that Raptors defenders had little choice but to either foul him or hope his jumper would be off. They frequently did and it rarely was as Green powered the Nets to a gaudy 61-24 advantage in bench scoring.

Some of the Raptors have used the words “playoff” and “hunt” in the same sentence of late and Wednesday’s result offered a harsh lesson in hunger, consistency and most importantly the defensive focus required to win a single game, let alone string together a stretch of wins needed to get to the post-season.

“There’s going to be nights where you can’t buy a bucket and tonight was one of those nights,” said Casey post-game. “We had wide open looks, but then your defence has to buckle down and make sure it carries you. That’s why you have to play defence in this league to win a championship.”

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