Raptors 104, 76ers 93 – Box

A 23 point lead evaporated while the arena was chanting for Reggie Evans to check back into the game; but the Raptors withstood a furious rally from the Sixers to win the last game of the ‘first’ half of the season. It was a game of runs; Toronto had two to take the lead, and Philly went on one to get back into the game. At the end, it was Bargnani who was involved on every big play down the stretch who brought it home.

Anyone else think that if Philly held on to Andre Miller that they would be right there with the Raptors this season? Lou Williams isn’t really a PG, Jrue Holiday is learning and Iverson is Iverson. Miller has always been a thorn in our side…always…but I digress.

Jrue really brought (and finally gave me something this season for one of my fantasy leagues) it to Jack early and hard, dropping 4 dimes in the 1st quarter, all of which resulted in a WIDE open look for a Philly player who knocked it down. These quick point guards still give us a lot of problems, and the only way to deal with it, is to deal with it . It’s easier on nights when you play the Holidays of the league, but when you get the Pauls, Harris’ and Parkers, things get interesting.

The Raptors paced Philly early until Calderon checked in at the 2:27 mark, and just unleashed alley-oop hell on earth. On four consecutive plays, the Raptors went back door, and Calderon found them with perfect passes for dunks or layups. It felt like a video game it was that good. He even finished a layup in traffic to end the quarter. I know I keep saying this, but this is the role for Calderon, and he SHOULDN’T be traded unless we get a game changing starting wing for him. Anything less is unacceptable.

Reggie Evans has attained cult like status without playing a minute of ball this season, and when he saw the floor to a roar from the crowd, he didn’t disappoint. God bless him-his offensive game is as ugly as sin, but he fights hard. In 5 minutes he gave us 2pts 3rebs 1ast 1stl and this…

Apparently grabbing a dudes nut-sac is a good defensive strategy to throw them off their game…

Where I perked up off my seat was the 3rd quarter, where Toronto went on two runs to take a commanding lead, and Philly finished on a run to set the stage for a 4th quarter Rally. For some reason Eddie Jordan opted for small ball and went with Royal Ivey over Elton Brand, and was too proud to change it up when things started to go from bad to worse. In fact, he wouldn’t even call a timeout, forcing them play through it – I use play loosely, they just ran around mostly.

The Raptors started the quarter on an 17-7 run. The offense was coming in the paint, or from drive-and-kicks to an open shooter. DeRozan and Weems anchored the defense, and were all over Ivey and Green; stealing the ball, getting a hand in the passing lanes, contesting shots and drawing fouls. They had the perimeter on lock down to the point where I had totally forgotten about Turkoglu.

This whole time, not one timeout was called by Jordan, and if that was Triano, my eye would have popped out of my head. At some point, you need settle things down and focus the guys. By the time he called a timeout, the Raptors were on a 26-12 run, with 1:47 left in the quarter. So all the Raptors had to do was to maintain for under 2 minutes, get to the 4th and put them away…but no, Eddie decided to coach.

Brand and Smith checked in the game, and Lou Williams was given the red light. The result of which was a 10-2 run to close out the quarter with the exclamation mark coming with Jason Smith blocking Belinelli at the rim with a second left in the quarter. That my friends is how you close out quarters.

The furious ralley continued in the 4th with a quick 6-2 run for the Sixers, and the lead dwindled to 11, bringing the run to 16-4 from the end of the 3rd to the beginning of the 4th. From there, it was chip and charge. The Raptors were out of any rhythm and just couldn’t knock down the looks they were getting. Things got worse when Jack entered the game, and any fluid offensivability (I just coined a new word) the Raptors displayed in the 3rd went to the crapper.

For exactly three minutes, the Raptors offense was the worse I’ve seen it all season. The ball wasn’t being moved around, no one was moving, and every attempt was a desperation one with the shot clock winding down. Thaddeus Young ties the game up with a jumper, and my heart literally dropped into my stomach while I sunk into my couch until the amazing happened: Calderon draws a foul behind the arc, and the ball hops around a couple times until going through the hoop – 4 point play.

Bargnani closed out the game with a clutch three (what else is new), a couple free throws, a block on Iguadala at the 3 point line, some solid defense on Lou Williams on the perimeter and some boxing out in the paint to wrap it up. Done deal, the Raptors go into the All-Star break with a 29-23 record.

We’re heading into All-Star weekend, where Chris Bosh and DeMar DeRozan will be holding it down for Toronto. We have partnered with Dime Magazine to bring some exclusive interviews/images/videos from the game, skills competitions and after parties through the weekend. Make sure to check back regularly to stay updated. If you have a question for Bosh or DeRozan, ask them here, and we will do our best to get them answered. One love baby.

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