TJ Ford, villain or hero?

Toronto Raptors 106, Golden State Warriors 117

Good fightback by the Raps but in the end it’s awfully hard to beat the Warriors at their own game. We fought valiantly but came up just a few chucks short of pulling a memorable victory at the Oracle. The Warriors just wouldn’t miss, they shot a blitzkrieg-like 56% and were hitting everything in the fourth quarter (73%). Our perimeter defense barely resisted and fell for the first drive-fake every time conceding Golden State an open 18-footer at their command, which Baron Davis and Monta Ellis did well to exploit. We tried to stay on pace by trading baskets and had TJ Ford leading the onslaught in the fourth but eventually the well dried up for him and a couple TJ misses and a Bargnani turnover was all it took to turn a 1 point lead into a 7 point deficit. Seeing how we were down 20, there’s a moral victory somewhere in here.

Anthony Parker had another solid performance (22/9) but took only two shots in the fourth which TJ had long before decided to be the time where he’d take the game over singlehandedly yet again. TJ went 4/9 in the quadrant and kept the Raptors in the game but in an entirely different manner than how the very effective Kapono/Parker/Delfino/Humphries/(Ford/Calderon) lineup had shaved the lead down from 20 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Perhaps if we’d just stuck with team ball and had decided to continue to trust our teammates, our successful strategy of moving the ball around a porous GS defense would’ve also worked in the fourth. But this is a trend we’ve seen over the last couple weeks, TJ coming in and getting a high shot and point total but the Raptors end up losing the game because he eventually runs out of gas and points. A team high 18 shots off the bench for a team high 23 points. To his credit this time around he did have 8 assists but it’s hard to look at that after yet another fourth quarter where it was all points, no assists. Villain or Hero? You decide.

Andrea Bargnani needed more touches, his four turnovers weren’t very glamorous but he was 5-9 FG and looked to do the right thing on offense every time he had possession. Very similar to the Laker game, Bargnani needed to be involved in the plays early and often because Don Nelson’s side didn’t have a clue on who to put on him and Bargnani did well to exploit both size and quickness mismatches. If a better distribution of opportunities had fallen his way, he would’ve been in line for a bigger night. We can blame the others for not giving him the ball, but at some point you have to demand it by giving them a succinct message about how you won’t tolerate Delfino looking you off. Michael Grange made an honest post about some of the things that went wrong last night, I like his take on Kris Humphries, nothing that you didn’t already know but good to see it brought up:

This is a good example of why his playing time can be so erratic: Early in the fourth he hustles and draws a foul on a loose ball situation; hustles again and forces Golden State to lose the ball out of bounds after an offensive rebound on the same trip. So far so good. Then he takes a fading 18-footer with 20 seconds on the shot clock, which would be a bad shot for Bosh, and is unthinkable for the Hump, but he’s not always thinking.

The Raptors stayed in this game by shooting 50%, holding their own on the boards (38-40) and by going to the FT line. The technical area where this one was lost was perimeter man defense, missed rotations underneath and 17 costly turnovers leading to 21 points, a 54-38 points in the paint drubbing and a 23-5 ass-kicking in fastbreak points. Before the game even started it was known that the first team that would decide on playing defense would win the game. That wasn’t the case, neither team slowed down or picked up their D, it just so happened that we went dry before they did. The Raptors (especially the second unit) deserves a lot of credit for not folding after being down 20 early but slowly chipping the lead away in a professional and patient manner, not by jacking up threes.

You can’t really complain after this one, GS is leaner, meaner, more athletic, more talented and have a game plan, however crazy it is. They want you play an up and down game where the shot-clock is only 16 seconds long and any shot as long as it’s open is a good one. We got suckered into playing their game and although we competed, the chance of us winning in such a high-wire affair was always low. The alternate would’ve been to slow things down and force half-court execution but I’m not sure we would’ve fared much better. This was Sam’s type of game, no plays, just do whatever the hell you want but make sure you rebound. Simply put, the better talent one.


  • Monta Ellis can get any shot he wants anytime he wants it. He tore us a new one in the first three quarters and Baron took over in the fourth.
  • I watched this entire game on mute. Sure, I missed a few things here and there but overall the experience was far more enjoyable, will do it more often. Any stupid Chuck/Leo convos?
  • Coming up is Denver which should be another L and after that is our only chance at a W in Sacramento. For those counting, the Wiz are 2 1/2 game back.
  • The Warriors came into the game as the best offensive (110.80 PPG) and worst defensive (107.64 PPG) team in the league. On this night, we beat them to the worst defense award.
  • If you happen to have a sick fetish for Primoz Brezec and want the Raptors to desperately resign him before he turns his back on us and goes on to join the Knicks and become league MVP, you might want to check out I don’t know who’s behind the site but I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s Brezec himself.

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