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Lackluster outing for sure and more than half a season left!

No, they didn’t play particularly well for any sustained period and, yes, they missed Kyle Lowry and, sure, there’s probably a better than average chance they’ll lose their next two games.

And you know what?

The sky won’t fall, the season won’t be over and – get this – there will be HALF OF IT left by the time we get to Philly for Monday afternoon.

So, long season, blips gonna blip, kids gonna kid, games are gonna be lost. Get used to it, it’ll happen again.

But digest this from last night.

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Can’t foul what you can’t catch

Yes, the Raptors probably should have fouled down the stretch – especially with less than three seconds to go – because they had one to give and creating another inbounds situation would have been the right thing to do.

But when you blow defensive assignments as badly as they did on the Ellington layup, you don’t even give yourself a chance to catch a guy to grab him and tie him up.

Now, Casey wasn’t pointing fingers because that’s not his style and the players weren’t about to publicly rip a teammate because that’s not what you do but it wasn’t hard to see that Pascal Siakam was involved in it and it was OG Anunoby who was flying at Ellington at the rim and, well, kids.

But as was pointed out in the story, there were more than enough mistakes in the first 47:56.9 to more than justify a Toronto loss.

Whither Norm

Yes, Norm Powell missed a big, open three-pointer that might have been the dagger and, sure, he should have made it but I’m not gonna rip a guy too much for missing a shot because everyone does.

It’d have been a big one, sure, but he didn’t make it and sometimes that happens.

If there was one thing, though, that would give the Powell People cause to feel good it’s that he worked at both ends, was more engaged and less jittery than he’s been in the last three weeks or so.

He’s still going to be the odd man out in the main backcourt/wing rotation when Lowry gets back but at least he showed Casey a little bit in his 24 minutes. The six rebounds and two blocked shots are representative of defensive work and that’s what they need from him whenever he gets on the court.

Silly, silly man

Basketball’s a physical game and I am sure James Johnson can get on your nerves and his strong and maybe he gets a bit too close and leans a bit too hard and maybe he delivers a subtle shove with an elbow, like about a hundred guys in the NBA have done at some point.

But Serge Ibaka’s been around long enough to know that even if he’s goaded into some kind of escalating confrontation the very, very, very last thing he can do is throw a punch.

So, yeah, brain cramp in the heat of the battle? Maybe. Irresponsible move by a veteran who should know better? Undoubtedly and all he did was hurt his team – you think his presence at the rim might have changed a couple of Heat layups or offensive boards in the fourth quarter more than Pascal Siakam did? – for last night and for Thursday.

I cannot imagine the league not suspending him for at least a game and, given that this is the second punch he’s thrown in a half a season, I wonder if they might make it two, just to set an example.

I’m sure he was contrite after but he’s got to be better than that.

More? A bit but then I gotta loaf for a while before I head out to schmooze with the folks at the G League Showcase, which is a great place to see and be seen.

You should come by.

This would have to go on a short list of best cover performances of all time, right?

I’ve got a crazy few days coming up – Super Secret Gig included – so I don’t know when I’ll get to actually answering mail but I sure like to read it and it’s that time of week, isn’t it?

So get your typing fingers going, stop by askdoug@thestar.ca and let me know what’s on your mind.

Please and thanks.

To answer the question of how NBA players and teams feel about Toronto, know that the Cleveland Cavaliers played in Milwaukee on Monday and don’t play again until here on Thursday and instead of flying home, they came here to hang out and practice.

So, they’ll be well rested and well acquainted with the charms of the city by the time the game rolls around.

Oh, how I wish there were more athletes who are caught doping with had as much self-awareness and class as Canadian golfer Brad Fritsch.

Not sure if you’ve heard the story but Fritsch found out he’d been taking a banned substance in some diet supplement, told on himself and is fully accepting of the three-month suspension set down by the PGA Tour.

It’s like a breath of fresh air after listening to athletes of all ilk deny, deny, deny when they get nailed for performance-enhancing substances, even if it was an inadvertent ingestion through some over-the-counter supplement.

If more did what Fritsch did, I’m sure many would find the same reaction from fans: Forgiveness, appreciation for honesty and support.

How, golfers as a whole are a different ilk because the very nature of the game is about self-policing and honour. Play the ball how it lies, etc., etc., etc.

This takes it another step and good on him for doing the right and honourable thing. Admit it, explain it, move on from it.

A lesson to be learned and emulated for sure.