Much thanks to Jose for showing up against the Bulls and stealing one in Chicago. I thought the Raptors were going to blow that lead until Parker and Bargnani hit two big threes and Jose nailed a jumper off of a screen to ice things. All were perimeter shots and if they were missed it might’ve been a different story. As things stand we’re back to 11 games under .500 with a chance to make it 10 as the lowly, and I do mean lowly, Kings come to town. This bunch lost a close one to Milwaukee last night and are in the midst of a 4-game Eastern swing where they’ll play Boston and Cleveland next. If there’s a winnable game for them on this roadtrip it’s tonight at the ACC (6PM tip-off, TSN). The Kings have lost 4 straight and 10 of 12 but their last two losses were 3 and 2 point affairs. They also beat Dallas at home and GSW on the road recently.

The injury report for the game is thin, Kris Humphries is out indefinitely with a fractured right fibula. For the Kings, Shelden Williams (AP’s brother-in-law) has a sprained right wrist and missed the Milwaukee game. Kevin Martin who had missed the earlier meeting in Sacramento is playing. That was the game Jermaine O’Neal exploded against Brad Miller and Spencer Hawes for a season-high 36 points. Jose’s play is the big story of the weekend and Jay Triano talked about his importance:

It’s completely different with him on the floor. He’s in control of the ball. He’s in control of the other players on the floor. He makes shots. He makes plays. He defended extremely well for being out as long as he was. We had to manage his minutes and that was a little cumbersome at times, but he just played great.

He’s right but with or without Jose this team has issues, we’re 13-20 (.39) with him in the lineup and 4-8 (.33) without. There’s no doubt that we’re a better team with him in the lineup and that those crazy chants of starting Will Solomon were just that – craaazy. But expecting the Raptors to have a resurgence just because of Jose is unrealistic, the goal of the season should be to off-load O’Neal to free up cap space and play the free agent market this summer in hopes of satisfying Bosh’s craving for winning. If not that then tank for a high pick. I prefer the former but that’ll only work if Colangelo is able to make shrewd FA signings and so far his record in Toronto is: Jason Kapono, Will Solomon, Hassan Adams and Jermaine O’Neal.

Kevin Martin who is coming off an injury apparently has had suspect lateral movement of late so maybe the Raptors could take advantage by forcing a switch and having Jose turn the corner against him.

This is odd, when Jermaine O’Neal hears the trade rumors he can’t help but reminisce when he was coming out of high school and everybody said that he wouldn’t last three years. Is it just me or are they two entirely unrelated thoughts that should never be the result of each other? According to the Sun article, the Marion trade is the most likely to happen but I’m guessing he’s just basing it on the rumor mill and no inside information. Shawn Marion did sit last night with a sprained appendage of some sort. As Michael Grange so diligently pointed out the other day, Marcus Banks’ contract might be a deal breaker as he’s supposed to be a bit of a clubhouse cancer with a bad contract. This trade is far more desirable.

The Raptors are favored by a ridiculous 9 points. This is a tough call because as I said the last two Kings’ games were decided by 3 and 2 points, but then again this is the back-end of a back-to-back. I would still take the Raptors.

The Raptors are still 4 games back of the final playoff spot with five teams in-between. The projected win total for the final spot is 39 which means the Raptors would have to go 22-15 and hope the other teams in the mix don’t make a run. After this we got Milwaukee which currently holds the 8th spot before we hit a tough stretch where we play Orlando, Cleveland, Lakers and New Orleans. That will take us to February 6th and give 100% indication whether there’s an outside shot of salvaging this season. The trade deadline is February 22nd and that should give BryCo enough time to do something. Anything.

This TSN2 thing is getting ridiculous. I don’t think MLSE, Rogers, TSN or anybody cares about the fans and are all willing to bide their time in hopes of getting exactly deal each of them wants out of this mess. How the Raptors organization can allow fans to be starved of Raptors basketball despite having their own TV channel is an indication of just how much the fans mean to this team. This is unprecedented in the NBA and the only thing that comes close is NFL blackouts. Still, we’ll try to have the streams around game-time. You can also check the chat where somebody always has something. If you’re in the downtown area, Philthy’s McNasty’s on King St. West has the game.

Update: The game has been switched to TSN.