The “best game of the year, except for the outcome” edition.
Banks – he was activated for this game. No danger of actually breaking a sweat, though. A 72 year old woman at This Is London has more chance of taking part in any action.
Bargnani – nice 4 quarters topped off with a nice stretch in the fourth that saw him offer up an important defensive stand as well as the wonderful sight of seeing him fake out LeBron on the offensive end. He even threw down one of his (now) patented reverse jams that finally woke the crowd up. In overtime, though, just no luck whatsoever. I had more of a shot resisting that second piece of mud pie than he had of having his shots fall in OT. None were bad shots, they just didn’t fall and ultimately they snuffed out any chance we had.
Belinelli – given how close the game was and how we couldn’t buy a 3 in the second half, I am somewhat surprised Jay didn’t play Marco at all. Thankful, but surprised.
Bosh – nice to see him showing emotion on the bench. Actually, he seems to show more support for his teammates from there than on the court.
Calderon – didn’t see the floor in the first quarter and didn’t hit a shot until late in the game, pitching a shutout from long range. He got his teammates the ball in good spots, but his defence was a factor in both his playing time and some poor coverage patterns while he was on the floor.
DeRozan – well, he did one thing well tonight: minutes into the game he tried his best to knock LeBron out of the game. A knee-on-knee had LeBron writhing in pain on the floor for a while, but unlike past Raptors, he bounced back and was on the floor following the timeout. Too bad for DeMar because it all went downhill from there. Just not a strong game, although he never let it show. He’s impressed me in that regard all season because on nights like tonight, he had every reason to put his Jarrett Jack I-suck-tonight-so-look-at-my-sad-face on.
Evans – I’m sure the locker room guys had an oxygen tank supply guy on the ready. 25minutes of funk. He played so well in the first half that people were looking up his career high and sending their friends to the LCBO for champagne. (or, if you are Liston, breaking out the fondue set and hoping you still had cheese left in the fridge) As it turns out, the second half proved the world was still functioning properly and his offensive output dried up like playoff hopes for the Leafs. By far his best game as a Raptor and a halftime interview that easily rivals Hedo’s now famous “ball” postgame. Oh, and taking the charge on a Jose made bucket for an and-1 was sweet too.
Jack – scintillating game. That crossover and drive on Mo Williams was stuff of legends. Kept his head in the game, played smart with the ball, got to the line 6 times and made all of them. He was covered by LeBron in a surprise move during the last possession of the fourth and that threw everybody for a loop, but his play prior to that is what got us to within striking distance.
Johnson – first he was a no-show at the meet-and-greet last night and tonight he evidently wanted to take another break. 4 fouls in 6 minutes = just a horrible use of his floor time on a night where he had a shot to make a name for himself. Instead he showed no basketball IQ and a reluctance to take what the game gave him.
Nesterovic – still surprised he got the start over Amir. Jay surrendered pretty quickly to Varejao and swapped out Rasho for Amir very early. This game was just too fast for Nesty and it would be unfair to expect much. Still, 3 of 5 in 21 minutes is nothing to sneeze at.
O’Bryant – back to wearing a suit. I still hold out hope for him. Of course I also hold out hope that the Yankees are still going to call me to replace Bucky Dent.
Turkoglu- Mr Fourth Quarter showed up just in time. We were nipping at the heels of the Cavs all night and when we needed him most, he hit 5 straight points to put us up 2 with 50 seconds left. The final Raptors possession was….strange…as you saw Hedo look back to the bench twice in 13 seconds. Perhaps he was hoping to see Regis there offering a life line. Hedo heaved a 3 that was long and the air just came out of the Raptors. Still, nice effort most of the night by Turk, shooting 50% from the field. Needs to get back to including his teammates, though…especially tonight when many of them were hitting their shots.
Weems – I am really really hoping I hear Sonny pulled something because it’s inexcusable to me how Jay didn’t put him in for more minutes in the fourth. Weems played 16min, scored 11 points and defended as well as he can. Don’t get it.
Wright – well, he now knows what it’s like to be a Pop-a-Shot machine. Bron Bron abused him pretty good tonight but Antoine did his best to keep up. Bad shooting night, which happens, but like Hedo he needs to remember he has other guys on the floor with him to help him out. The best idea isn’t always to take the ball into 3 guys and chuck it up. Only going to get worse for him on Sunday.
Driving The Bus: Jarrett Jack
Under The Bus: Amir Johnson
Tags: Amir Johnson, andrea bargnani, Antoine Wright, basketball, Chris Bosh, Demar DeRozan, Hedo Turkoglu, Jarrett Jack, jose calderon, marco belinelli, Marcus Banks, NBA, patrick o'bryant, Rasho Nesterovic, Reggie Evans, Sonny Weems, toronto raptors