Raptors exact revenge against Blazers; top division

7 mins read

raptors lead atlantic divisionHaving already won the game once at the end of regulation, TJ Ford feeds Andrea Bargnani for the open jumper after sucking in all five Portland defenders. Thats how it ended: 101-100 at the Rose Garden in Portland where both Lamond Murray and Chris Bosh failed to provide last second heroics in seasons past.

Revenge was on the mind of the Raptors who wanted to make amends for a miserable display at home against the Trailblazers. Raptors needed to be sharp and so did the TV crew. “He had a 9.6 rebound game the other night”, says Chuck Swirsky of Jamal Magloire as the 18mpg center checks into the game.

A war of attrition saw the Raps get dominated on the boards and commit 11 first half turnovers but still manage to escape with a three point lead courtesy of good clock management by TJ Ford and a timely Fred Jones three to end the half. Portland dominated the paint while Nesterovic and Garbajosa were unable to match the size and strength of Magloire and Randolph in the paint although Randolph was kept in check on the offensive end with six points in the half. Travis Outlaw, who’s starting to look like a young Scottie Pippen, had it going from the perimeter with nine points and Bargnani didn’t have an answer for the lean small forward when he decided to slash to the rim.

Does TJ Ford play at 110mph? It definitely appears to be the case as any Portland turnover results in a semi-break for the Raptors with dividends to be paid most of the time. Play of the first half: Ford, running the 3 on 2 break, recognized both defenders had decided to retreat to cover the others, gently finger-rolled one in with the defenders gawk-eyed. Ford and the always economical Anthony Parker combined for 14 at the half to keep the Raps in a game which was destined to be physical throughout.

Well, whatever went right in the second quarter went wrong in the third. No answer to Travis Outlaw’s blatant attacks to the rim combined with the Raptors scoring two points in the final four minutes of the third quarter resulted in them being down six at the start of the fourth. As Jack Armstrong pointed out, if you stay to Outlaw’s right, you take 70% of his game away. Raps didn’t catch on to that and Mitchell failed to call a timeout when the Raps were on the ropes in the late stages of the quarter. All this was of course happening with Randolph on the bench after picking up infraction number four. Talk of extending their four point lead to double digits quickly vanished as some smooth jumpers by Juan Dixon had the Raptors stuck six.

Starting the fourth quarter down six on the road means you have to start out well. How does a two man game between Rasho Nesterovic and Jose Calderon sound when you really need a basket? Not good right? Tell that to Sam Mitchell. Mo Pete’s brought back in to the game and promptly hits a three making me think why he’s rotting on the bench like a bad apple while Joey Graham goes one on three. Rap make a mini-run to tie it after Parker and Nesterovic hoops. No rest for the wicked as Jarret Jack wakes up and hits a three to put Portland up three. Raptors struggle offensive as they insist on going through Rasho Nesterovic for whatever reason – even when he’s up against Magloire.

TJ Ford tends to attack the rim on the semi-fast break a little too much. Sometimes its just plain unnecessary, especially when you ave two wing-men begging for the ball. He makes up for it though when he hits a crazy out-of-control layup between two defenders. Take the good with the bad. What sucks for the Raptors is that turnover number 15 came via TJ Ford who tried to zip a pass to the perimeter and no one was there. That was the bad. The good was a 15 foot jumper to bring them within two with over a minute left.

Zack Randolph’s layup attempt takes a circle around the rim before spilling out which is just when I was thinking what a horrible game Garbajosa is having when he hits a jumper to tie the game.

So, let’s get to the controversy. Garbajosa hits the put-back game winner of a missed TJ Ford drive which appeared to be good on the replay. Officials rob the Raptors yet again. What pissed me off more is my premature celebration when Garbajosa’s shot went in.

Overtime and Randolph is on but so is Ford. Nine straight points for The TJ. The question is why isn’t Zack Randolph even being shown a double team? It has proven effective in the first half but Mitchell plays him one-on-one to the tune of 6 overtime points.

So having already won the game once, the Raptors find themselves down a point with 8 seconds left. Just enough time for a Bargnani rim rattling jumper setup beautifully by TJ Ford who scored the other 9 points in OT. Make no mistake, this was a physical game requiring tons of brute strength and although the Raps had the size disadvantage (46-33 rebs), they managed to pull through with sheer grit and effort.

A New Jersey loss to the Lakers means the Raptors are titanic division leaders. Let’s see how long it lasts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.