The warning signs were all over the wall. I was weary after the Bobcats game and with good reason because the Raptors have major difficulty stopping teams that decide to drive on every single possession. So when the Hornets came in to town on a back-to-back and losers of 10 of 11 on the road, I thought the chance of an upset was there. And I would’ve been right if it weren’t for Chris Bosh doing a MJ impersonation and Jose Calderon making a legitimate calling for a starting PG job in the fourth quarter. I would’ve been right if Mo Pete hadn’t pulled up on a semi-break for what could be considered a really bad shot but made up for it by draining a three to cut the lead to three. I would’ve been right if Bosh hadn’t attempted an out-of-the-offense three which rattled in and out to tie the game….
After being unable to stop Bobby Jackson or Rasual Butler for the majority of the game, the Raptors defense came up big midway through the fourth. After being down 15 in the fourth, inspiration found its way through and a tired Charlotte defense offered little resistance to Calderon’s drives or to anything the Raptors threw at them. The comeback would’ve been completed far sooner if Garbajosa, Parker and Mo Pete would’ve been able to hit wide open shots in the fourth and it wasn’t until :28 seconds left that the Raptors got their first lead 85-83 on a Calderon driving layup. Until then it was mostly swinging between a 6 and a 10 point lead for the majority of the game and playing catch-up against any NBA team is an unenviable task, which even if one has to undertake, must be done so at home. The boisterous crowd of 14,173 was loud and the undisputed 6th man of the night.
Enough beating around The Bosh. Let’s get to the point: This was his night and without him we would’ve suffered a horrible, face-defacing lost that would’ve signalled a near white flag in the Titanic Division race. 35 points, 7 rebound, 4 assists, 2 blocks and only 1 turnover for the Raptors franchise man was the reason the Raptors won. Bosh hit two clutch jumpers, one to cut the lead to 3 and another to tie the game. Nobody could stop him the entire night and it was a tactical mistake for anybody even to attempt a jumper when nobody on Charlotte showed any evidence of slowing down Bosh. If we would’ve lost the game, the blame might have fallen on the coaching staff not taking advantage of a clear advantage.
The Raptors were without TJ Ford for a second successive game and didn’t seem to skip a beat with Calderon playing 42+ minutes to make up for his abscense. Andrea Bargnani and his three’s also were unavailable tonight. The Hornets knew that this was a winnable game and played like they meant to win this one and one can make a case, they deserved to do so. They played solid basketball going inside first and only taking jumpers that were created by drives or ball movement. Nothing was forced and their perimeter defense was tight as the close-outs on Mo Pete and Anthony Parker didn’t allow anything easy. David West had a manly 11 rebounds to go with 9 points and played the fourth quarter on one leg.
What goes around, comes around. The Raptors got lucky and good in the fourth quarter just like they got unlucky and bad in the fourth against Dallas; they can probably get away with a similar performance in their next game against Boston but if a division title is to be contended for, nights like these need not be frequented so often.
Chuck’s getting pretty conservative on the salami and cheese call; tonight he brought it out with the Raps up 4 with 2.6 seconds left. He could’ve just as easily brought it out with 20 seconds left with the same point differential. Swirsky’s does not want any Laker game repeats.