What should the Raptors do? Should they remind you they’ve been this devastatingly horrible before? Should they give you a history lesson? Seriously, what should they do? Should they accept their role as the worst team in the NBA? Maybe they should just disappear. Ah, who really cares, anyway? Toronto’s horrendous start to the season continued tonight at the ACC with another loss, this time 101-96 to the mighty Charlotte Bobcats, who came in with a 1-6 record and having lost three straight.
The Raptors trailed much of the night before rallying to grab an eight-point lead late in the third, then flushed it away at the hands of Stephen Jackson and Tyrus Thomas in the fourth. Jackson was quiet much of the night, but made 4-of-6 shots in the quarter, including a pair of threes to give the Bobcats the lead around the midway point, and finished with a team-high 20 points. Thomas scored 12 of his 14 in the fourth and Gerald Wallace chipped in 19 points, 14 boards, five assists and four blocks for Charlotte, which won for the first time since an 85-83 win in New Jersey last Wednesday.
For Toronto, Andrea Bargnani made his first four shots of the game, then spent the rest of the night reminding us that he’s nowhere near the type of player that can carry a team, making just four of his final 15 attempts and finishing with 23 on 8-of-19. Down 99-96 with under 10 seconds remaining, Bargnani was stripped while trying to get off a potential game-tying three, all but ending any hopes of this one being different than any other night.
If any good can be taken from a home loss to the Bobcats, it may be from a pair of strong performance from Sonny Weems and Amir Johnson, who’ve made cases over the past week or so that they deserve a shot to crack Jay Triano’s starting five. Weems had 20 points on 8-of-12 in 37 minutes off the bench — a performance made all-the-more impressive considering the four points, two assists and five fouls DeMar DeRozan contributed in 21. After averaging 15.6 points in Toronto’s first five games, DeRozan has chipped in a total 14 and eight rebounds over the past three. Johnson, meanwhile, had 16 and nine rebounds off the bench, and again looked like a far better option than Reggie Evans, who managed to grab 10 boards but is becoming a bigger offensive liabilty every time he’s on the floor.
As far as DeRozan goes, I wouldn’t so much as say he should be yanked from the starting lineup just yet. These are, after all, the Raptors, and they certainly don’t seem to be heading anywhere anytime soon. Keep him in, I say, and think about bumping Linas Kleiza, whose inconsistent season continued with a four-point effort, for Weems. That’s not to credit DeRozan, though — I still find it hard to believe that a player can make it this far at such a young age, being a lottery pick, and have nothing even close to a mid-range game. Get in the gym and shoot 10,000 a day, if that’s what it takes. Just give us something, because at this rate he’s not going to be an effective player in the NBA.
If 1-7 with five straight losses wasn’t bad enough, it only figures to get worse for the Raptors — up next is a four-game road swing, with dates in Orlando and Miami on Friday and Saturday to get it started. Maybe now might be the time for Toronto to disappear, come to think of it…