Raptors give up 14-point lead in loss to Jazz

TORONTO, ON–Utah overcame a 14-point fourth quarter deficit, and scored a tip in buzzer beater to beat the Raptors 96-94. 

The Raptors were in tight against the new look Jazz, without the familiar faces of ex-head coach Jerry Sloan, and point guard Deron Williams.

It was the first game following the back-to-back losses in London and although the Raptors got 3 days off, they still felt the effects of the five-hour time difference, eight hour flight, and the inevitable jetlag. 

Toronto met Utah at a fortunate time, with the Jazz missing Mehmut Okur, Andrei Kirilenko and Paul Millsap due to injuries. The Raptors were also missing Andrea Bargnani due to illness, and Amir Johnson, who sprained his ankle in the first half and did not return.

Toronto took an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter, and increased that lead to 14 with eight minutes left in the game. They must have been feeling the effects of the long trip over the Atlantic as they crumbled in the end. Al Jefferson broke the hearts of every fan in the ACC as he tipped in the game winning buzzer beater to cap a 24-8 run that ended the game.

Al Jefferson, the player of the game, led his depleted team with 34 points and 8 rebounds. Devin Harris and C.J. Miles also added 23 points apiece.

Without Bargnani, Derozan was left to shoulder the load for the Raptors offense.  Following two straight 30-point performances in London, Derozan struggled with his shot scoring 17 points from 4-16 shooting. Calderon also added 14 points and 6 assists.

The Raptors were given a boost by the return of Reggie Evans. Reggie, who had not played since November 26th against Boston, picked up where he left off, grabbing 11 rebounds off the bench.  The Raps bench played well, at times better than the starters, Sonny Weems leading the second unit with 16 points . Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star had reported earlier today that Sonny has been disappointed with his lack of minutes since the acquisition of James Johnson.  Although this was Weems’ best game since the trade deadline, he still settled on too many jump shots, and will need to further prove himself to coach Triano if he intends on receiving more minutes.

The Raptors fall to 17-47 on the season, and play Indiana at home on Friday night.

Game Notes: The London experiment did not end with the triple overtime marathon on Saturday against the Nets. One of the things the NBA wanted to look at was how teams would react to games after travelling to and playing in Europe. If the NBA is ever to expand into Europe, it would cause great difficulties in scheduling, as teams would need extra time to rest after a grueling 8 hour+ flight and the five hour time difference. Both the Raptors and Nets were given three days rest since the Saturday game in London, with the Raptors losing and the Nets winning 94-90 tonight against the Golden State Warriors.

Photo Courtesy: Yahoo Sports


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