Toronto Raptors 100, Atlanta Hawks 88

I’d rather take a loss than see TJ Ford carried out on a stretcher, needless to say it brought to mind the Mark Madsen collision which ended up breaking Ford’s vertebrae. Coming off a stinger injury which made him miss about two weeks, this was the last type of hit that Ford needed. There’s zero intent on the part of Al Horford who by his own admission was completely tricked by TJ’s decision to reverse the ball rather than go straight up with it. It’s nice to see Sam Mitchell come out to the other side of the court protesting the foul for the sake of protesting it. There was nothing malicious in the air but Sam’s concern for TJ is well evident. Let’s just hope he gets better, the word used by Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker to describe TJ on the ground was “scared” as in he’s scared about history repeating itself. Hopefully it’s just that and nothing more.

There was a funny quote coming out of Chris Bosh in the post-game when asked about TJ’s move on Horford:

“[Shrugs] Usually he goes up like a wild man but this time he was in control”

See, even Bosh thinks TJ’s out of control at times, not just everybody watching the game. Speaking of the game, TJ was simply phenomenal with 26/2/8 and led the Raptors charge while making Anthony Johnson wanting to retire at halftime. When TJ decides to break the defense down, there’s nobody that can stop him, and if his jumper’s working on the same night, lines like this get produced. CB4 manly 20/13 provided the presence underneath but at times Bosh was guilty of sticking to the perimeter, we’d talk about it a lot more if this game ended up being a loss.

The game-ball however goes to our defense on Johnson, Johnson and Smith who had 6, 23 and 6 points, respectively. JJ’s points came late but were part of a mini-ATL run that never looked to really bother the Raptors. Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Carlos Delfino get credit for playing extremely tight man-defense and collapsing in the paint every time Smith went inside. The pick ‘n roll defense was superb with the Raptors switching 1-3 consistently thus taking the pick ‘n roll away from the Hawks. The Hawks had some big wins this season against PHX, DAL and ORL so they’ve shown that they’re a good team and the Raptors should take some satisfaction getting one in their building.

Andrea Bargnani’s return was rustier than an old nail in an abandoned 16th century house. Try 0-4 with 0 points on for size. But he needs practice and Mitchell gets that:

“You look at our schedule, until we get practice time … you have to kind of let them work their way into shape before the game. He (Bargnani) has been working on his own, running and stuff He’ll have to some extra running, do some work. Keith (D’Amelia), our strength coach, has been doing some good work with our guys when they’ve been out, working them.”

In short, Bargnani needs a few games to regain his rhythm. There’s a good bet Jorge Garbajosa won’t play this season after having surgery but I’m inclined to care less. With Jamario Moon, Carlos Delfino and Joey Graham all stepping and performing Garbjosaesque, there’s little cause for concern on fans’ part. Jorge can take all the time he wants to get back to 100% and know that when/if he comes back it’s going to be a dogfight for minutes.

So as Bargnani and Bosh come back, Kapono (wrist) and Ford go out. Rotten luck for the Raptors. It’s Dallas tonight, time to erase the memory of blowing a 24 point lead. If you need something to cheer you up you might want to check out Darrick Martin’s future in the NBA. Thanks for reading, grab the feed.

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