Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan - teammates soon?
Toronto Raptors 120, Atlanta Hawks 127 (OT)

The Raptors should make a video of the final 0.5 seconds and send it to the NBA for review. This is blatant cheating and it’s not the first time the Hawks score and time keeping staff have been under the spotlight for tilting the advantage towards the home team. It’s going to be a shame if we finish one game behind Philadelphia and end up facing Detroit instead of Orlando because the refs were too incompetent to check when the clock was started and instead chose to focus on when the ball left TJ’s hands – I’m shocked Mitchell didn’t throw a tantrum on this point. The Raptors didn’t play well for long stretches in this game but in the end they did win it, and sheer incompetency/cheating on the part of the Hawks staff robbed us of this one. It’s a good thing that Bryan Colangelo’s already on the line with the league office, Sam Mitchell had his thoughts on the early clock too:

“I don’t know what to say. It looked like an early clock to me. When we go in the room and look at it, it seemed like when T.J. caught the ball, four-tenths of a second was already gone. And the clock shouldn’t have started until he actually touched the basketball. Before he had touched it, the clock had started. They called the basket good [before the review]. Whatever complaint is possible, I’m sure we’re going to do that, then it’s up to the powers that be.”

Getting to the game itself, it was an all-offensive affair with defense showing up in 1 and 2 minute stretches all through regulation and overtime. The porous Raptor defense had the same issues it’s been having all season – shooters left wide open, players who can’t shoot played too tightly, dribble penetration, late close-outs, unnecessary soft-doubles, the whole shebang! The Hawks weren’t better and the first team to play a 7 minute stretch of defense would’ve won this game. The Raptors just couldn’t convince themselves of this and never looked to grind this one out on the defensive end, instead they put pressure on themselves to score on every possession and eventually the well went dry.

It’s awfully hard to win a game when you allow the opponent to shoot 50%+ and be -10 on the glass. You might be able to get away with allowing one of the two but when you’re not playing defense and not rebounding, winning becomes very difficult.

The PG play was superb with TJ and Jose playing alternate quarters until the final stretch when TJ took over – 26 points, 23 assists. We can blame TJ for missing the final couple shots but that’d be harsh. He had a quickness advantage against Josh Childress and was taking good advantage of it, Childress just made a defensive play on him in OT. The Raptors never did, we pretty much had to score on every possession down the stretch to win this game and that’s too much to ask of any team, let alone the Raps. As Jack Armstrong said in the Bobcats game: this team needs to have a defensive resolve which it can rely on in key stretches, it’s been missing all season and we need to find it fast.

There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that the Hawks were going to score with seconds left at the end of regulation. Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby had already gotten wide open threes, so when they got the ball back with 3 seconds left the only question was whether they’d miss their shot, rather than will we defend it well. Sure enough, down 3 TJ Ford closed out Mike Bibby but was too confused whether to foul or not, the shot was a no-doubter.

Josh Smith (24/9, 8-17) is a tough matchup for Chris Bosh (24, 5, 8-20), his length and size really bother him and even though Bosh got a pretty impressive dunk on him, Smith was the one who was consistently being a factor for the Hawks while Bosh picked his spots with varying levels of effectiveness. Smith’s two 3s in overtime were ones you can live with, he’s shooting 24% from three this season but stepped up and made the big shots, got to tip your hat to him. But it’s hard for any warm blooded Raptor fan to even think about overtime without reliving that half second over and over again. Ughh.

Let’s talk about defense, do we have the personnel to be good at defending the perimeter? Jamario Moon, Carlos Delfino and Anthony Parker are capable defenders who can keep their man in front of them. They each have their issues with strength (Moon), lateral quickness (Parker) but they can be qualified as good overall defenders. However, they keep finding themselves in positions where they are destined to fail. Take Delfino’s soft-double on Smith in the fourth quarter which allowed Bibby to make a key three – did he not realize that leaving Bibby open is suicide? How many transition threes did Johnson and Bibby hit today? Were Parker and TJ just being lazy in closing them out? My point is that while we don’t have the greatest defensive players on this team, give the athleticism and quickness of some of the players on this team, we should be better. Rebounding is another matter all together.

Offensively we played as well as we have in a while but at some point you have to make a defensive stand. We never did.

Liners:

  • Anthony Parker had a chance to ice this game with a wide-open three and he missed. He’s missed a lot of clutch threes this season, this is something that needs to change come playoff time.
  • Andrea Bargnani was having a pretty good game (17, 7-12) but was taken out at 8:34 of the 4th quarter and never came back. Thoughts? I’m thinking Sam Mitchell wasn’t too impressed with his three rebounds and how Josh Smith and Al Horford were getting rebounds while Bargnani was in the game.
  • Kudos to Sam Mitchell for coming up with a trick play where the smallest guy on the court was the one catching the alley-oop pass. It fooled the Hawks and won the game for us.
  • I’ve already said it a couple time but the Raptors failed to give the needed effort on the defensive end. The worst part about accepting this is that they played stretches where they showed that they’re capable of stepping it up but doing it consistently is the hard part.
  • Video of the robbery.