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..and that’s how a SG fills in for a PG.
Pistons 99, Raptors 95 (OT)

I was watching the Raptors TV post-game coverage for this one and the usual suspects were ecstatic that the Raptors had come out with an honest effort. Losing the game didn’t seem to matter much and they were more than happy to hang with Detroit without actually getting the result. I don’t share that sentiment because those are some pretty low standards, Detroit was without Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson and were coming off a loss at home to the Knicks. Even the bookies had us laying points on this one which is a rare occurrence for a team that’s lost six straight. After staying close to Detroit for four quarters and an overtime it came down to making some plays and we came up short, but as the experts on Raptors TV say, at least the effort was there.

The forecast looked good for the Weatherman when he saw Rasheed Wallace’s outlook change from ‘questionable’ to ‘out’. It meant that he would be allowed some space on his jumpers which is a rarity against ‘Sheed who covers him like a dark cloud blocking the sun. See, Rasheed can afford to check him tight and still be quick enough to recover on a drive, something only Tayshaun Prince can do, but he was forced to check Marion. The Dopler2000 four-quarter outlook for Bosh saw some early rains where he scored only two points in the first, then it cleared up and he got his jumper going against Maxiell for six in the second. It looked like it might be a great day for him after all but rain clouds came in the third when Detroit made their run and he was nowhere to be found. The Raptors dried up and only had 12 points in the third while Detroit poured it in with 28, this meant a 5 point halftime lead had cleared into an 11 point deficit at the start of the fourth and it looked like the dreaded winter had started.

Bosh’s temperature rose quickly to start the fourth and it remained hot for its entire duration which was a seasonal high. Our solid interior defense cooled off the Pistons as Bosh led the charge by pouring in 12 degrees. Key baskets from Marion and Ukic sent the game to overtime but it was the 9-0 run to start extra time that brought in dark ominous shadows. Detroit only scored two more points in the last 2:48 of OT but the deficit was too big to overcome and made even more difficult by us drying up and sticking to the perimeter, something we had been avoiding all night. Bosh didn’t take a shot in OT and missed a crucial FT that would’ve made it a one point game. Pops got the rebound off the miss and probably should’ve called a timeout but I don’t blame him, if you get the ball three feet out in the heat of the game with the clock winding down you’re going to try to score. He did and got blocked, game over. Nice effort, add another lottery ball to the mix.

Bosh with 27 points but on 31 shots. And that’s with no Rasheed Wallace in there. Bosh had 27/10 on 11-31 shooting, his opposition of Maxiell and McDyess were a combined 16-23 for 32 points and 19 rebounds. Now I don’t expect him to stop both but the least he could do is neutralize one of them. Tonight there wasn’t even the excuse of helping Jose who was holding his own on the perimeter. Am I being too critical of Bosh? On a night when every Raptor was looking to go inside, his shot chart doesn’t sit right with me. Of his 31 shots, 25 were jumpers. It doesn’t bother Jay Triano though who’s pulling a Sam Mitchell by attributing the loss to missed shots. Sigh…being a fan of a jump shooting team is hard. On one hand you obviously understand that shooting a high percentage is important. but on the other it’s stupidity to expect them to carry you anywhere significant because their nature is that they’re hit and miss and mostly miss.

I don’t know where that burst of Jose Calderon came from but if there’s more of it then please save it for next year. Moving his feet on defense, going for the steal at the elbow, causing travels at halfcourt and driving to the rim for two late in the fourth to tie the game? Are you kidding me? When he tied the game with that drive on Stuckey it reminded me of last year’s game in Boston when he took on the Celtics defense for the three-point play. The energy and drive he was playing with today is unexplainable so I won’t even bother offering an explanation. All I’ll say is it was impressive to see him put Rodney Stuckey in front of him all night long while outscoring him. Stuckey made some huge jumpers in that early third quarter when the Raptors conceded a 14-6 run and the lead, but other than he didn’t abuse him which is a step up.

Anthony Parker was giving Richard Hamilton a taste of his own medicine in the first quarter by having Hamilton bumped across screens while Parker cut to open spots for short jumpers and I thought that might slow rip down. He did his damage today by playing the point-guard and recognizing our shifty defense in screen ‘n roll situations. Quick, crisp passing by Rip setup the Pistons’ offense on this night – he was driving ‘n dumping to Maxiell, using high screens to get to the rim and making efficient point-to-wing passes that setup key shots for Afflalo and Prince. He played the point-guard as well as any shooting-guard I’ve seen. The pick ‘n roll situations with McDyess and Maxiell were run to perfection with Maxiell rolling and McDyess popping, it’s a play the Raptors have have had no answer for all season and tonight was no different. The only exception being Pops’ energy negating a few of them in the fourth quarter. I though after Parker had repeatedly failed to neutralize Rip we shoud’ve put Marion on Hamilton (could bother him with his size and quickness), Bosh on Prince, Pops on Maxiell (can match him for agility) and Voskuhl on McDyess (Bargnani left with flu-like symptoms). Hindsight is 20/20, though.

Impressive defense by Pops in that fourth quarter when we erased the 11-point deficit. The man makes a Herculean effort on pick ‘n roll defense by hedging and recovering and saving his point-guard from embarrassment. I would’ve loved to know the outcome of this game if Pops had been defending the pick ‘n roll instead of Bosh in that third quarter when Detroit and Hamilton were at their best. Pops is trying to stay in the NBA and is playing the way I expected Moon to play this year. If you put a gun to my head and forced me to buy a Raptors jersey, I’d by his. BTW, love the fan who had turned the #4 Bosh jersey into a #44 Pops jersey.

This is from a reliable source (and I’m paraphrasing):

Bosh’s people have spoken informally and he has indicated his preference to leave the Raptors. Not sure if Colangelo and Bosh have spoken directly, but Colangelo is apparently very aware of Bosh’s desire to leave.

The drunk at Philthy’s pointed out that the Raptors are only featuring Andrea Bargnani in the promos for next year’s season tickets.

Back to the game for a bit as I don’t think I’ve done justice to the loyal reader.

Our third quarter slump and our fourth quarter outburst canceled themselves out so it was left to the OT shot chart to tell the story of how this one was lost. More specifically, I’d like to point to Tayshaun Prince’s three (5:18 mark of this clip) as a microcosm of the major problems we faced today. Richard Hamilton attack on Anthony Parker and Tayshaun Prince going at Jason Kapono caused the Raptors defense to shift and help which allowed Detroit – which is great at moving the ball – to swing it around the horn for jumpers. It was our readiness to help in the paint and Detroit’s ability to make the jumper that won them this game, they only had 28 points in the paint compared to our 48 but when you shoot 50% for the game (Raps at 41%) those numbers even out real fast.

We shot 25% in the third quarter and they were basically the same shots we were making in the first half at a higher percentage. Detroit had 11 first half turnovers (many forced) which was one of the big reasons we had our lead, but once McDyess turned the pressure on Bosh and their overall defense tightened around Calderon, we stumbled but recovered in the fourth. The early fourth quarter was as aggressive as I’ve seen Bosh since November, a couple gorgeous spin moves on McDyess had us believing and when Marion decided to convert on his unorthodox moves it felt like it actually happen. But it was all not to be. We missed four jumpers and had two turnovers in that two minute lapse to start OT and that sealed our fate.

Quick note about Shawn Marion: Looked a little more into the game and had 18 points, all going towards the rim. A lot of his effectiveness last night can be credited to Jose Calderon making an effort to drive and Marion as always cutting to the rim. If there’s a positive to be taken out of tonight it’s the hope that if these two can display the same chemistry they did tonight against a pretty good defense, all might not be lost. Or this could be an anomaly. Here’s what Jose had to say at halftime about the season:

I’ve been getting healthy during the whole season. My leg has been killing me for a long time and I haven’t been practicing a lot. Now I’m starting to feel like Jose Calderon again. For the last three or four games I’ve been feeling much better. I know it’s a little late but we can still make a push and we’re going to try and play like that the rest of the 17 games.

He’s right about it being too late and we can only hope he’s also right about the injury bit holding him back.

Couple of random thoughts to end the post: Arron Afflalo’s a good young shooting guard that the Pistons might be willing to deal if Stuckey is to be their regular #2 (I don’t see him playing the PG). Always liked Afflalo, though he had more in him than what he shows in Detroit. Then again I thought the same about Delfino. Walter Herrmann’s three to end the first half was a big blow for us and it gave the Pistons momentum heading into halftime. Instead of possibly going up 10 we were only up 5, on a night when Detroit wasn’t at its best it could’ve been enough to get us a W.

Jose Calderon became the franchise’s all-time assist leader with 1784. He reached the mark in 274 games compared to Alvin Willliams who did in 415. The most impressive part about this record is that Damon Stoudamire racked up 1761 in only 200 games. And when you consider the terrible teams he was playing on it makes it all the more impressive.

BTW, Dreadlock Rasta wants you to buy a T-Shirt for $200 bucks which will also invite you to his 25th birthday party. I say you go give that money to United Way. Or spend it at the Lower Brass. Or give it to us so we can buy that ticket, sneak a camera in there and tell you what really goes down – my guess in Bosh chills out in the VIP section for most of the night, comes on stage for three minutes and goes back never to be seen again.

It’s Indiana on Sunday. Realizar with the pre-game later on. Follow us on Twitter.