Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan - teammates soon?
Toronto Raptors 89, Charlotte Bobcats 79

An ugly game in an empty stadium on a lazy Sunday adds up to a win against a team we should have beat. No surprises here except for Jamario grabbing 9 boards. We got destroyed yet again by the guard penetration of Augustin and Felton, the former looking particularly sharp tonight (but then again so did Jameer Nelson in the playoffs). Though they played well together in Brown’s Super Small Ball Experiment Extraordinaire, Augustin’s going to challenge Felton for that top spot by season’s end. But who cares, because they’re the freakin’ Bobcats and more people show up to Paris Hilton’s birthday party than they do to see a Bobcats home game. It’s sad, particularly because this is supposed to be basketball country. Slow clap for Michael Jordan, everyone. 

The Raptors have an uncanny ability to provoke deja vu. Once again, we couldn’t protect the perimeter, hit the easy ones, and had to watch Jermaine sit with foul trouble (though I know some reading this applaud our $20 million center sitting).

But, I still sleep well at night. Why? Because we have CB. The Mighty Mighty Boshtone. And this season, that means more than one man has ever meant in Raptor country. More than Mighty Mouse. More than Half Man/Half Amazing. Despite 36 horrible minutes of team basketball, there is a beacon of light zipping, zagging, and dreadlocking all over the court, leaving trails like a Victoria Day sparkler. And it would have been just as bright had solid 4th quarter play by Will(ie) Solomon and Bargnani not saved this game from the L column.

Will Smith did it between “Fresh Prince” and “Independence Day”. Jay-Z did it between “…Life and Times” and “The Blueprint”. Steve Carrell did it between “The Daily Show” and “The Office”. Our boy Nash did it between Dallas and Phoenix. And somewhere between last season and this one, Chris Bosh made The Leap. My guess is it was on that podium in Beijing where Bosh made the transition from good to great. From start to superstar. From Captain to Leader. You can see it, hear it, and if you get close enough, probably even smell it – that passion, that fury, that “not tonight” look he gets where you know he’s about to go OFF. 

This game was headed for an L all the way till the end of the third quarter when Bosh decided that there was no way he’d let the Raptors lose this one. No way. That’s when he started D’ing up everybody he could set sight on, drain every jumper he took, drive on every opportunity and most importantly, picked up the intensity levels of everybody on the team from Moon to Bargnani. The Bobcats had nothing to make up for Bosh’s determination to will his team through and the rest is history. Bosh goes 100% on every play of every game, and as a coach, as an employer, as a fan base, that’s all you can ask. And before you say “that’s what he’s supposed to do”, answer me honestly: How many people do you know who give 100% at their job? That means no phone or email on company time, no web surfing, lunch at your desk, and no chit-chat. Let’s put it this way: if you know someone like this, you probably don’t like them. And so before we consider it a given to go hard every minute you’re on the court, appreciate how truly difficult and commendable this is. 

Bosh has no ceiling, in my opinion. The same can’t be said about our squad, however. As currently constructed, we have no one on our team that can cover ANY of these players:
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Dwayne Wade
  • Paul Pierce
  • Joe Johnson
  • Tracy McGrady
  • Vince Carter
  • Jason Richardson
  • Manu Ginobili
  • Richard Hamilton
  • Stephen Jackson
  • Kevin Martin
  • Luol Deng
  • Brandon Roy
  • Jamal Crawford
  • J.R. Smith
  • Ronnie Brewer
  • Rudy Gay

And I’m sure I’m missing a few. Not being able to guard the perimeter means easy looks, means out-of-sync defence, means trips to the free throw line. It’s the pin on the Raptors grenade. If we have it, we’re safe. But pull that pin…and blammo

Andrea came out and put together a great all around game. His 18 points don’t make me as happy as his three blocks and overall intensity. As much as Bosh carries this team, each victory there seems to be another role player who comes up. Tonight it was Andrea but at this stage in his development he still can’t be counted on nightly to contribute… though in this guy’s opinion, it seems like he’s getting closer this season.

A paragraph needs to be said about Jamario Moon. I don’t know what their head-to-head record was in high school but in the pros Moon’s shut him down good. Wallace was a non-factor and it was mostly thanks to Moon. Not only did Jamario manage to hit his quirky little jumper a few times he also bothered Wallace to no end and came up with a key fourth quarter block that punctuated a fourth quarter that might’ve been the best quarter of basketball we’ve played this season.

Before we get to tomorrow night’s game, I need to say something about Jermaine O’Neal. I think he’s a good addition. I was skeptical at first, but I see his value now. There’s no denying he’s brought an attitude on defense, active and imposing and physical, but on offense…STOP FADING AWAY! Instead of posting up, spinning, and heading for the rack, he takes his little fadeaways from 6-10 feet. So not only does he not get to the line, but he’s heading away from his target taking a lower percentage shot. This is unnecessary and frustrating to all hell. We know he’s not afraid to bang, but I guess we can add this enigma to the list behind “why doesn’t Jamario drive”, “why Andrea is afraid to close his mouth”, and “why Jose doesn’t trim those goofy sideburns already.”

Now, on to Boston. I’m excited to watch The Champs for 48 minutes, but not to see Pierce and Rondo shred us while kicking it out to Ray Allen for the open, uncontested 3. We’re horribly matched up against this team and the second game in a road back to back coming off a hard-fought victory doesn’t bode well for Toronto. Yeah, they’re coming off a game too, a Tony Allen-led win against the new Detroit Bad Boys. But Jose still has to keep Rondo in front of him, someone’s still gotta chase Ray-Ray around, and Bosh and O’Neal still have Perkins and Garnett to deal with, and that’s not even considering Tony Allen, Big Baby, and Leon Powe. Doesn’t fill me with confidence, but I’ll be cheering and startling my dog with impromptu claps at good plays anyway. Because that’s what a supporter does.. Bosh averaged 20/10 against the Celtics last year and he’s going to have to do one better for us to have a happy ending tomorrow.

This game seems like the perfect opportunity for Humphries to get his wish. Get at ‘er, fella. Go show ‘em all how to Hump.