Raptors lose but last night really wasn't just about last night

So they didn’t win but they could have and they tried something that didn’t work and, you know, if a Ben McLemore is going to make eight threes in a game, you’re probably going to lose.

And when it comes to put the loss to Houston in true perspective, I’m going to listen to Fred VanVleet.

“It didn’t go our way. If we would have scored 11 more points we’d be geniuses and the defence is the best thing in the world and we would have been Harden Stoppers. But, you know, we lost, so it didn’t work. You go back to the drawing board and lace them up again and we’ve got a tough team on Sunday.”

Yeah, they’ve lost two straight and there’s a really tough one coming up in Philly after a couple of days off but, believe me, they are not going to over-react, I’m not going to over-react and whether you take my advice or not, I’ll say you shouldn’t over-react.

You will, but you shouldn’t.

And we’ll wrap that one up with this and then get on to the matter of the final 61 games of the season.


THREE POINTERS

Lessons for another time

You know when last night’s going to help the most? In some random playoff game for a few minutes in late May or maybe early June when the Raptors need to change the tempo of some game and junk it up and bit and do something unorthodox.

Trust me on this, they will have held the tape of last night back and they will learn from it what works and what they need to tweak and Nick and his staff will teach it when it’s needed and these guys are smart enough to put into practice without having worked on it a lot.

And if you think last night was just about last night, you haven’t been paying attention.

“I’d have to look at the film and see what we could do a little better,” was how Nick put it. “If the result turned out the other way around, we’d probably say it was a great experiment. We’ve got to look at it a little more closely to see. I’d never run that scheme before, at all. There’s probably a lot of polish we could put on it to make it better. But it was interesting, interesting.”

So when they do the same thing in some critical Game 4 of a playoff series or in the third quarter of Game 3 of some series that’s tied 1-1 and it befuddles the opponent for five or six or seven possessions and the momentum of the game changes, remember that last night was all about the long game.

Norm doing his thing

I love what Norm Powell’s doing of late. Taking advantage of offensive opportunities when they present themselves, being aggressive without being foolhardy and I can see him being a 18-point a night guy off the bench playing 24-26 minutes and finishing the odd game in the small forward role when they need offence more than defence.

And then he fouls James Harden taking a 30-footer with one second left on the shot clock and you go, “NORM!!!!”

But Powell’s gonna be Powell and he’s got, I think, what this team needs.

He had a couple of very nice in-traffic drives and maybe he rushed a three-pointer or two by not getting his feet set – there was one in the far corner across from the Houston bench late in the game that jumped out at me – but, overall, he’s been good more often than usual in these last 10 games or so.

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A challenging rule

It’s not that game entirely changed or was hanging in the balance when Fred VanVleet took a three-pointer with about 75 seconds left in a six-point game and seemingly was fouled.

But it was a huge turning point when the Rockets challenged the call and had it reversed, turning a Raptors chance into an offensive-foul turnover.

On replay, it looked like VanVleet may have kicked his leg out while shooting to instigate the contact but it was awfully close and I bet the same play happens a couple of times in every game and goes either uncalled or unchallenged.

I think the one thing I hate more than anything about this coach’s challenge thing is that nothing seems 100 per cent certain either way on any call, there’s enough grey that arguments can be made often for the call to go either way.

I really, really hope it’s a one-year experiment that dies an inglorious depth this coming summer.

Okay, gotta get out of here and get to other pursuits to fill the snowy day. I’ve got a morning flight tomorrow to Philly so I won’t be around here.

That means this is the last chance to remind you to fill up the already quite filled Sunday mailbag by clicking on askdoug@thestar.ca and typing your little hearts out.

TORONTO STAR

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