The script played out the same as the Heat/Laker games: spot them a lead, claw back, hang around, pounce like tiger, win game. All the while, your defense making timely stops at crucial points to give you a chance.
Jay. Hedo. Ball. Stat. I’ve been one of his worst critics, but when our boy puts up 26pts 11rebs 2ast, the proof is in the pudding. Give him the damn ball, and let him do work. I don’t know how else he can make it clear that he isn’t an off-the-ball player after giving the most awkward/terrible interview in NBA history. The guy is responsible to get himself into games, but Triano needs to run plays for him.
Armstrong: You came out tonight, early, aggressive. What was different for you tonight in terms of setting the tone with your game, in this game?
I’m struggling with things to say about Hedo. He played a great game. Shot the ball efficiently (26pts on 16 shots), crashed the boards hard, he didn’t distribute the ball like we’ve become accustomed too. I think we can agree he wont be a 20+ point a night scorer, but if he can get back up to 17-18 with 5rebs 5ast, well, that’s what we got him for right? Hopefully it continues, ball.
Bargnani was only present in body last night. He left it all on the floor Wednesday against the Heat, where he went 13-19 from the field for 27pts. From the tip, he wasn’t moving well and looked out of it. While he couldn’t buy a shot, his help defense was spot on, getting 3 blocks; but none more important than with 58 seconds left in the game, and the Raptors trailing 102-101: Harrington puts his head down and drives to the rack, Bargnani leaves Gallinari and blocks Harrington at the rim. Jack leaks out on the break, and hits a floater in the lane; Raptors never look back.
Anyone else get the sense that Calderon is more-and-more zen with backup point-guard duties? With each passing game he brings that spark off the bench that gives the Raptors a much needed boost, the more he realizes that being our Jason Terry isn’t such a bad gig.
Longevity in the NBA is about adjusting to a constantly changing environment. Antonio McDeyess, Joe Smith, Rasheed Wallace and Jason Terry started in the NBA as stars, but stayed relevant by embracing new roles that they never held through their careers. Calderon has such an opportunity, and how he deals with it will be a big piece of how this teams fares over the next few years.
In yet another game where the Raptors were playing poorly and were trailing heading into the 2nd quarter, Jose paced a comeback that shifted the momentum the Knicks built in the 1st. Scoring 8pts and dishing out 4ast accounting for 18 of the 29 points in the quarter.
For the third game (and third big win) in a row, Antoine Wright was spectacular. He was asked to play tough perimeter defense and nail his open jumpers, and did just that. Basically a poor mans Bruce Bowen. The Raptors have been missing this production since Doug Christie was in town. I’m not saying he’s as good, but he brings the same toughness and tenacity at the wing. His defensive tenacity rubbed off on Jack who took 2 charges down the stretch with the Raptors leading by a possession.
I didn’t mention Amir after the Heat game, but he stepped in admirably last night in Bargnani’s absence. The 4th quarter was all about our boy hustling and doing the dirty work beneath the boards. On three occasions, he gave the Raptors another offensive possession with a tap out to the three point line. So often you can’t actually grab the board, but you can tap it to yourself, or someone on your team to maintain possession, and he did.
Bosh did a terrible job of defending Lee, but at least matched him statistically to take away any advantage. Mobile forwards (Lee, Beasley, Horford, Varajeo) seem to give the Raptors front line a lot of problems defensively.
What was most alarming for The Franchise was the 6 turnovers he committed. With Bargnani a no-show, Bosh was the center of attention until Turkoglu got going later in the 1st quarter. In fact, the 21 turnovers the Raptors committed (and 27pts off the TO’s), was easily the reason the Knicks were in the game given how poorly they were shooting.
This is the 4th win in a row for the Raptors the first time this season; on the second night of a back-to-back; on the road; and after big wins against the Lakers and the Heat. Ball.