After a week that saw the Raptors take a modest step forward in their development, it’s hard not to view Tuesday’s 108-88 road loss to the Thunder as anything less than two steps back. Some quick hits from the second biggest blowout of the night south of the border.
– We’ll get to the result in a second, but the greater concern has to be for point guard Kyle Lowry, who left the game in the second quarter with a right ankle sprain that looked absolutely awful in real time after he landed awkwardly on the foot of Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (hat tip to @cjzero for the screen grab).
Expect an update after Lowry gets reassessed on Wednesday.
– Given the huge boost Lowry provided the Raptors in week one of this young NBA season, it would be too easy to chalk up one of the toughest losses of the Dwane Casey era to his absence after halftime. The reality is that the Jonas Valanciunas controlled the tip for Toronto and things never really got much better from there.
“They were ready to play and we weren’t,” said head coach Dwane Casey post-game. “Bottom line is I didn’t recognize our team tonight. We didn’t come out with the approach that we normally do.”
It was after that stretch mentioned by Raptors radio analyst Eric Smith that the wheels absolutely fell off for the visitors.
During a span of just over 10 minutes of floor time spanning the first and second quarters, Toronto made just one field goal courtesy of a Dominic McGuire jumper. That stretch put the Raptors down 18 points and their offence, which had been looking much improved to start the season, simply couldn’t dig out of a hole that deep — particularly with Lowry in the locker room.
The Thunder obviously deserve its due here, as the Raptors may have caught what Casey referred to as a “Wet Hen” at the worst possible time on Tuesday. The home side was a whopping 36-9 coming off a defeat over the last two plus seasons and after a loss to the Hawks at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday, they came out with purpose against the Raptors.
– Tough night to find too many bright spots, but if you want two, look no further than the greenest members of the team wearing red and black. Jonas Valanciunas continued his baptism by fire as a starter and despite being on the wrong end of a Kevin Durant slam in the first quarter, the big man continued to show tremendous resiliency on his way to a team-high 18 points (6-8 FGM-A, 6-6 FTM-A) in 32 minutes of work.
“I though Jonas Valanciunas competed. I thought he came out with a lot of fire, didn’t back down. I was proud of that. We’ve got to get five or six guys with that same approach. That same attitude.”
Terrence Ross may not have received the same amount of burn as fellow rookie Valanciunas, but the eighth overall pick in the 2012 Draft made his 14 second-half minutes count with 10 points (4-7 FGM-A, 2-3 3PT FGM-A) to go with two rebounds, a steal and an assist. Hear more from Ross on being ready for any opportunity at floor time below.