The thunderous memories of the night before needed to be forgotten and the Nets served up the perfect opportunity to do so. The win wasn’t easy by any means as the Nets hung around for the better part of the game, in fact, the Raptors won only one quarter, tied the other two and lost one. However, Chris Bosh’s domination of Brook Lopez in the third quarter was enough to take a lead to the fourth. Throw in a stat of the Nets being 1-56 when entering the fourth quarter when trailing and you got the feeling this one was in the bag.
41 minutes for Chris Bosh on a back-to-back. You think Triano wanted to make sure he won this game? The crazy thing about those 41 minutes is that he probably needed to play most of them for the Raptors to make sure they didn’t lose. Chris Bosh was the focus on offense since our second possession and the Raptors did everything they can to make sure he exploits his quickness advantage against Brook Lopez. That he did, in flying colors. Lopez was beaten for straight-up quickness countless times, fell for the pump-fake way too often and had a nightmare of a defensive game. After a 5-turnover 13 point first half, Bosh dropped 15 in the third quarter and finished with a tidy 36; many of his second-half baskets were of the demoralizing nature as they hammered back any hopes of a comeback the Nets might’ve had.
After giving up 115 at home the night before our defense was somewhat under the spotlight even though the hapless Nets aren’t a barometer of any kind. Devin Harris returned from injury and the Nets figured they’d exploit the Raptors where they’re hurting the most – PG defense. You could tell there was a concerted effort made on their part to get Harris in isolation situations and have him go at our defense, he missed a few makeable layups early but still managed to finish with 17 at the half. The Raptors interior help defense wasn’t good and there were a few open-lane drives that made you shake your head. Calderon and Jack playing Harris too tight was the source of a lot of the Nets offense; Calderon came up with a couple nice aggressive steals for the second game in a row, but both our PGs were on the receiving end of punishment at the hands of Harris, the main reason behind the Nets’ modest three point half time lead.
In the second half the strategy shifted to forcing them to make jumpers which they simply can’t make. They shot 39% for the game and never stood a chance with the way Bosh had it going on the other end. The Raptors were +13 in the third quarter and took a 10 point lead to halftime which was enough to hold off the lowest scoring team in the NBA (91.1pts). Yi Jianlian was awful for them and even though Terrence Williams stat-line looks respectable (13/8/4), the guy had a sloppy game and made several low-IQ and lazy plays that made you wonder if his head was right. Lopez’s 18/13 hurt us here and there but whatever he gave on offense he promptly conceded to Bosh so I’d say he wasn’t much of a factor.
The Nets did have a chance to slice it to 5 with about five minutes to play but a sloppy pass on the break followed by two Bosh FTs resulted in a 4-point swing that iced this one. Bosh was the Raptor that had give us the third quarter lead with 15, and the guy who punctuated the win with 8 in the fourth. If he had had one of his “normal games” of around 22/10, I’d say we’d be in danger of losing this one because we absolutely needed his production to stave off New Jersey.
Hedo Turkoglu had a typically lazy game but did manage to step-back and hit three first-half threes on his way to another poor shooting night (4-13). Antoine Wright deserves mention for providing a spark off the bench with a timely three which finished off a perfect Raptors possession, and for taking it to the hole a couple times. He’s had a couple games off and it showed as he played with a bounce in his step; or maybe he was just motivated to face his former team. For the first time since he was demoted, Jarrett Jack had a strong offensive game. Driving the rock with it at his hips is his strength and he finished off a couple of his patented bullish drives, hit a couple baseline jumpers including a three, but did get torched nicely by Harris.
The first possession of the game was a play for Andrea Bargnani against Brook Lopez where the Raptors did well to give him the ball in deep post position but he was unable to finish. His night went downhill from there, he picked up three early fouls, was sent to the bench and didn’t waste time picking up subsequent fouls as soon as he came back. I’m not going to criticize him because there’s always a ready-made excuse for this guy and his supporters will be quick to point out how he’s looked off, doesn’t have any plays run for him and so on. I’m just glad we won tonight because otherwise we’d have to dissect why he can’t take advantage of a hack like Yi.
The Nets are the worst team in the NBA and needless to say, a win was expected. Up next we got Minnesota on Monday and they’re the second-worst team in the league, that should also be a win before we hit a stretch which will be telling (as if we need to be told of what this team can and can’t do at this point). We got Utah and Denver at home followed by Miami and Charlotte on the road, the latter set being a back-to-back. I’m not really worried about the Bulls catching us as they also lost Luol Deng to injury, but would like to see us hit the post-season with some momentum and wins against the Nets of the world just don’t do that.
What did we learn or already reinforce from this game?
- The Nets are bad save for Harris and Lopez.
- We don’t have many issues beating the bad teams (23-6 vs teams under .500). Looking at this stat, you see that a team’s position in the standings is directly in-line with their record against teams over .500.
- Chris Bosh can score against slower big men.
- We are liable to get torched by quick PGs.
- Jarrett Jack might be adjusting to his backup role again.
- It takes a lot for Jay Triano to get Marco Belinelli off the bench.
- Andrea Bargnani has issues getting himself to a good start.
- Marcus Banks is funny (seriously, that technical arguing a Bargnani foul was the moment of the season).
That’s it from me. Can’t wait till Wednesday when we play a real team. Oh, the Bulls finally won which has their fans excited about catching us.
- Raptors Roll Call March 20 vs Nets
- Toronto Raptors Morning Coffee March 21