While Toronto was dominating Atlanta in the first half, a few hundred miles away New Jersey was getting stomped by the Orlando. The difference in the two games was the Hawks mustered what resembled a little like a challenge while the Nets kept getting trampled. A total team effort with Mo Peterson and Chris Bosh supplying the necessary daggers anytime the Hawks thought of attempting a comeback. With six players in double figures, the depth of the Raptors was too much for the Hawks who relied solely on Josh Smith and Joe Johnson to keep them in the game. Brutal games by the Hawks PG duo of Speedy Claxton and Tyrone Lue didn’t help and the Raptors never looked like they were going to let this one slip away. NBA.com can do a better job of recapping.
Is Jack Armstrong the only guy in the world who can get away with openly yelling out Hello! when seeing a half-naked Atlanta cheerleader on camera? Yes, absolutely. It’s priceless how he can do that. He did it twice in this game and it was blatantantly obvious what was on his mind. The Hawks do recruit top-class quality in that department, now if only they could match that level of scouting on the court, they’d be in fine business. It’s hard for me to even say, this but the last time the Hawks were any good, Lenny Wilkens was their coach. It’s great to see the Raptors a game over .500 and 2 full games ahead of New Jersey in the division race. The current standing was enough for Chuck Swirsky to predict that the Raptors were going to make the playoffs. I’ll hold it to him.
Anybody who thought Mo Pete (21 pts, 5-7 3FG) was a tradeable commodity didn’t know what they were talking about. Here’s a guy who only hits big shot after big shot, spreads the floor for Bosh and plays solid defense. There’s a reason why the Pistons and other teams are interested in him: it’s because he’s good. The Raptors shouldn’t even entertain any trade offers for Peterson unless they’re going to win the deal hands down. This stuff about Mo Pete for McDyess is beyond stupid. I’m wondering if Chuck Swirsky came up with the MP3 Download line himself. You haven’t heard of it? It’s what he yells out everytime Mo hits a three, which was five times today. It’s a pretty clever line and I want Chuck to clarify whether his brain came up with it or not. I’d just like to know.
Josh Smith is a really good player. Anybody who thinks he’s “just a dunker” hasn’t seen him play. There were a few plays today which showed just how talented he is, my favorite being a drive to the lane followed by a sweet left-handed dump-down to Zaza Pachulia who finished it off. The Hawks just need some decent veterans on that team, right now they’re just too young to compete on a regular basis. They need to trade some of their youth/picks for some experience if they hope to make the playoffs anytime in the next three years. There are times when Joe Johnson decides that he has the green light to do anything on the court, sometimes it works out for him but most of the time he ends up going one-on-one and forcing up a shot. He’s a guy who can thrive on a well-coached team where he’s the second or third option.
This was TJ’s second game back and he looked a little under control even though he forced up some ill-advised shots which were immediately converted to Hawks points on the break. A good in-control game overall with 10 assists and only a couple forced shots. Calderon was Calderon and Bosh was Bosh, no point talking about them. When Bosh starts to assert himself on the offensive end, that’s when the Raptors thrive. Catch the ball and make a move within three seconds, that’s Bosh’s game and when he sticks to that, he puts pressure on the defense and forces early double teams which provides opportunities for the shooters.
Jack Armstrong made a great point today about the Raptors’ depth. Jack’s take was that having depth on a team also ensures that you have good practices and increases competition within your team. Sounds like an obvious statement but when you think about it, you realize practice is where it all starts, although Allen Iverson disagrees. Having a competitive squad keeps everyone on their toes and forces you to perform because if you slip up, somebody will take your job. We’ve already seen this phenomenon this season with Mo Pete/Joey Graham/Fred Jones.
Chuck Swirsky brought out the salami and cheese with 2:31 left after a Bosh jumper. All in all a comprehensive win for the Raptors and a disappointing loss for the Hawks who were 5-1 in their previous six games and came in expecting to have a chance to win the game. No such luck.
Video highlights courtesy of Chasin from RealGM:
Game in a Flash
Chris Bosh Highlights
TJ Ford/Jose Calderon