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    Late surge not enough, Raptors drop 3rd straight

    The last time the Toronto Raptors played the Sacramento Kings, they had their biggest comeback of this season. On Friday night, despite a strong 4th quarter push, Toronto came up short, dropping their 3rd straight 124-126.

    The Raptors slow defensive start was the difference in the loss. They gave up 36 points in the 1st, putting them in a hole down 12 in the first 12 minutes. Though their offence picked up in the 2nd, they could not contain the three. Harrison Barnes led Sacramento with 26 points and 4 made 3’s. Buddy Hield added 5 more from deep and scored 22 points. The Kings shot a blistering 44% from beyond arc and 55% from the field. They had the lead after the 1st and the Raptors couldn’t come back from it.

    For the 4th straight game, Toronto has played undermanned. OG Anunoby and Norman Powell sat out due to injuries and those loses were felt. Both had been playing some of their best basketball all season. With two key guys out, it was next man up.

    In the loss, Pascal Siakam had his best shooting performance of the season. He put up 32 points in 37 minutes. Unfortunately he has struggled from the free throw line. Despite getting there 14 times, he converted just 10 of those attempts. In a game decided by 2 points, Toronto has to make their free throws. They are averaging 80% from the line with 3 less attempts per game. They have struggled to get to the line, and can’t capitalize when they are given the shot.

    Fred VanVleet continued his solid start with another great night. He scored 26 points, had 6 assists and 5 rebounds. He got to the line and made 9 of 10 free throws. VanVleet’s career year has gotten him his first All-Star consideration. In his first start of the season, Terrence Davis put up 12 points and 6 assists in 18 minutes.

    With a late push in the 4th, Toronto made a game of it. Their defence held Sacramento down to 22 points in the final 12 minutes. They were right there, down to the final possessions. But with 4 seconds on the clock, Kyle Lowry was called on a (second) technical foul that sealed the win for the Kings. After the game Nick Nurse shared the explanation he got from Natalie Sago about the call on Lowry: “She said that he said something that she couldn’t let go by. She wouldn’t tell me what that was”. When asked about the incident, Lowry admitted he does a lot of complaining, but “definitely didn’t think it was warranted”.

    It was a tough way to lose, but that wasn’t the reason Toronto lost. Their defence wasn’t there. They gave up 104 points in 3 quarters. They mounted a comeback, but it was little too late. If the Raptors want to win, they have to play a complete 48 minutes. Toronto is 0-9 in games when they are trailing going into the 4th. 12 minutes of great basketball isn’t going to win you games. They have to start playing from buzzer to buzzer.

    Game note: Yuta Watanabe has been a pleasant surprise off the bench. He scored a season best 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting, to go along with 6 rebounds and 2 steals.

    Next up… Toronto faces the 8-12 Orlando Magic. Tip off is 7pm Sunday at Amalie Arena.

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