After all, the Raptors had lost 11 straight here, a streak that pre-dates both the all-star and the head coach and stretches to April, 2003; they knew the significance of the moment.
"It was brought up just before the game and Chris said, `It's happening tonight,'" Triano said after the Raptors stomped the Detroit Pistons 94-64 on Wednesday night to extend their winning streak to three. "And with about 20 seconds to go, we looked down the bench and said, `We did it.'
"And it feels good."
Playing a depleted team on the second game of a back-to-back, with legs and minds fresh from two days of preparation, the Raptors simply took care of business in devastating fashion.
The 64 points tied a Pistons franchise low.
"Like I said before, if I have the ball in my hands, I can be more creative, and people can see what I can do," Turkoglu said after Toronto's 94-64 triumph.
Head coach Jay Triano said part of Turkoglu's recent success has to do with the fact that the team is figuring out how to put the ball in his hands more often.
"When he has the ball in his hands, he makes good decisions, whether it's for himself, or whether it's for role guys, or whether he picks apart a guy in the corner," Triano said. "He's 6-10 and he can see the whole floor."
"It's a long season, people have to understand that," Bosh said of the team's slow start to the year. "You can't write teams off because they're struggling (early). We were put together (this season) and sometimes it takes a while to gel. I think we're going to be fine."
Triano said the theme inside the Raptors' locker room the last couple of days was to win last night's game so they can feel good about themselves going into the Christmas break.
"The guys talked about how much more exciting it would be going into a break with a win," he said. "So I thought we were very focussed and we did the right things last night. We defended, we shared the basketball, our assists-to-field-goal ratio was very high. And we're a pretty tough team when we share the ball."
"Santa, listen up, if you take away the defensive intensity you brought us over the last three games, I might just lock you up in the chimney. While you're at it, bring us a taker for Jose Calderon who remembers him for what he was in January and February of 2008. Nothing past that."
Look, I only know a few of you very well, and some of you not at all, and Lord knows we all don’t get along every day in this little piece of cyber real estate.
It’s like a bar, in some ways, or a crazy big house party. Lots of people here and there, conversations going on in every nook and cranny and if you want to avoid someone, you can.
But we do all kind of live here, or at least make it part of our daily destination and, for the most part, we’re all civil.
So believe me when I say, at this time of hopes for peace and friendship and fun and gentle times, that I hope every single one of you and your families has the bestest of Christmases.
I hope Santa’s good to all of you, I hope all of your families enjoy nothing but prosperity and that none of you burn the turkey or something silly like that.
Stats that stood out:
– Points in the Paint: 30-26 Detroit
– 2nd Chance Points: 27-9 Detroit
– Fast Break Points: 12-2 Raptors
– Toronto gets its first win IN Detroit since April 2, 2003
– Toronto led by as many as 31 points
– Amir Johnson had 4 blocks (as well as 9 points and 6 rebounds) against his former team
– Jarrett Jack … solid again in the absence of Jose Calderon: 14 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 0 turnovers
– Toronto with 26 assists on 35 field goals
– Raps have now won 3 in a row (Detroit (Dec. 27) and Charlotte (Dec. 30) up next)
Maryland National Hoops Classic: Walt ‘The Wizard’ Williams, you were in the NBA for eleven years…that’s a long time these days. What do you think helped to prepare you for the life of a professional basketball player?
Walt Williams: I have to give a lot of the credit to the coaches that I played for in terms of honing my skills, but when it come to ‘life’ as a pro athlete, I must say that my family, friends and the community prepared me by making sure that I always stayed humble. When you enter into the life of a professional athlete you are given a lot of special treatment. You can either go overboard with it or keep it in perspective.
1) “(The) Rap(tors) had one of the worst schedules to start the season than almost all teams in the NBA.”
Looking at the team’s schedule thus far, this is a very valid point. The Raptors have played the most games in the league and second-most road games (16). But it isn’t just a case of quantity of games – it is also the quality of their opposition so far that has caused problems. Of their 17 losses, three have come to Orlando, two to both Phoenix and Atlanta as well as losses to Boston, Dallas, San Antonio and Denver. Luckily for the Raps, Santa will be bringing them a much easier schedule in the New Year.
The Raptors are 11-0 when holding teams under 100 points and 8-0 when opponents shoot under 40 percent. They also broke a hex in this building, ending an 11-game losing streak at The Palace that dated back to April 2, 2003. "We knew this team was struggling coming in and we really didn't want to give them a window of opportunity," Bosh said. "I didn't know it (the streak) was at 11 but I knew I hadn't won here, ever."
This game was over at the half; why Pistons coach John Kuester brought his team back out for the second half must have been as punishment. For there was no way that Detroit gave any indication in the first 24 that they even wanted to be playing, never mind competing. Toronto was nothing to write home about in the first but they were good enough to hold a 25-21 advantage when the quarter ended. The Raptors would put the game away in the second as they walked into the locker room at the half on top 54-37.
So there are real signs James and Wade will play together. Or that they’re strongly considering it; in fact, we already know these two and the Toronto Raptors’ Chris Bosh, another unrestricted free agent, will discuss becoming teammates at a sit-down dinner in July. James and Wade want the same thing: to win. Everything else is secondary. Shots. Recognition. Controlling the ball. Anything is possible when great players share a common goal and are committed to reaching it.
"We really needed this win, because we've struggled here and we didn't want to give them a window of opportunity," Chris Bosh said. "I didn't know the streak was that high, but I knew I had never won here." Detroit shot 28 per cent from the floor, matching its lowest point total since the shot clock was implemented for the 1954-55 season. The Raptors entered ranked 29th out of 30 NBA teams in points allowed. "That was a terrible, embarrassing loss," Kuester said. "I'm taking the blame on myself, because we didn't look prepared, and that's my job."
It is a banged up group of Pistons. Charlie V and Ben Gordon will give it a go. Rip Hamilton and Prince will not. Raps still no Jose and no Reggie Evans. The pistons played last night and lost to the Bobcats. While the Raptors have been idle since a win over the Hornets on Sunday. Can the Raptors keep things rolling into the Christmas break. We are about to find out. Pistons have always had good success vs Toronto but the Pistons are on a serious decline and have lost their last 5 games as they enter this extended back to back with the Raptors. Christmas is almost here but a little business to take care of before then. Key to the Raptors hold a team under a hundred you win the Raps are an NBA best 10-0 when they do that.
They got the Pistons down by out-working them early and never let them up, holding Detroit to fewer points than any Raptors team had scored in a game this season, allowing them to shoot just 27.9 per cent from the field (another season best) while putting up another impressive offensive performance.
"That was one thing we really talked about: They played last night and we had two days rest coming into this game so there really was no excuse not to come out and have good energy coming into this game," said Chris Bosh, who had 21 points and nine rebounds and ceded offensive responsibilities to Andrea Bargnani (21 points) and Hedo Turkoglu, who had 11 points and 11 assists for his first double-double as a Raptor.
Here’s my guess, and I admit this is pretty blind: the Pistons have heard so much about their injury problems, the team has developed a defeatist attitude. They repeatedly hear it’s OK they’re losing, and now they believe it.
Even if that’s not it, something is wrong. I think the odds are everyone in that locker room knows what it is. Regardless of what it is, they have to deal with it.
Pistons coach John Kuester has gotten a lot of credit for the job he’s done thus far – and deservedly so. One of his biggest strengths has been getting the team to play hard every game most games.
Andrea Bargnani had a much-needed breakout game to lead the charge. Bargnani had not scored topped 20 points in his last 10 games. And when Bargnani is not scoring, he is generally not contributing tangibly. However, Bargnani had 21 points to lead the Raptors' attack, adding two blocks to the cause as well.
Hedo Turkoglu, who bemoaned his effort in the season's first 30 games on Tuesday, also had a nice evening. The Raptors acquired Turkoglu in the name of getting another ball distributor, and Turkoglu had 11 assists against the Pistons. His previous season high was eight. He added 11 points for his first double-double of the season.
1. You'd think the Raptors were building brick walls at the top of the key with the inability of the Piston defenders to fight through screens. The main way to improve in this area is to anticipate the screen. The Piston players have to communicate better about when and where the screen is coming from so that they don't get completely jammed.
2. The screener's defender was overcommitting to the ball handler. This allowed the screener to pop into wide open areas on the perimeter or roll free into the lane. For the second night in a row the Pistons allowed way to many open three-point shots off of the pick-and-roll.
The 64 points, of course, was a season low. The previous low? A night earlier (76) against the Bobcats. The Pistons shot 27.9 percent (24-of-86), also a season-low.
The offense has completely dried up without Richard Hamilton (hamstring), Ben Gordon (sprained left ankle) and Tayshaun Prince (ruptured disc). Added to those, Charlie Villanueva is being greatly impacted by plantar fasciitis in his right heel.
Villanueva only played 12 minutes and was 0-for-7 from the field. He isn't getting lift on his shots and is laboring while running.
The head coach of the Toronto Raptors joins the program to discuss injuries to Jose Calderon and Reggie Evans, the Raps game against the Detroit Pistons (Live tonight on THE FAN 7pm tip) and getting a chance to run with the Olympic torch!
As the decade turned, Toronto Raptors fans thought they were in good hands with Vince Carter. That changed on May 20, 2001, when Carter attended his university graduation on the same day as Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-final. He missed the final shot in that game, battled injuries in the three years that followed, and was traded in December 2004.
VP’s Take: As I wrote last July, there’s nothing more dangerous than a GM worried about his job who dumps the team’s long-term interests to protect the short-term. Everything Bryan Colangelo did last summer screamed, “I need to keep my job!!!” Now the Raptors are hamstrung with an overpaid, below-.500 roster that doubles as the worst defensive team of this decade — seriously, what did they think would happen when Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani were three of the team’s best four guys? — and Chris Bosh seems like a mortal lock to leave. You can’t do the Frank Drebin Memorial “Please disperse, nothing to see here, please disperse” routine. Raptors fans are too smart. They get it.