A solid win triggered by the defense and headlined by Chris Bosh’s gritty return. When we were down 16-2 to start the game it felt like the Boston game hadn’t ended with Shane Battier draining open threes after mild penetration. Houston’s domination didn’t last long as the Raptors stepped it up on the defensive end congested the area around Yao Ming forcing him to take hook shots and jumpers that we could take our chances with. Anthony Parker’s defense on the perimeter has been poor of late and was the same early on but Parker, Delfino and Moon kept McGrady on the perimeter and forced a bad shooting night out of him. We never let the likes of Mike James, Stevie Francis or Chuck Hayes get off and that was the key to success.
Every win has a spark and in this one it was undoubtedly the play of Carlos Delfino who ignited a third quarter rally where we converted an 11 point deficit into a 6 point lead. After the ineffective and surprisingly shot-happy Jamario Moon was pulled, Delfino came in to score two key baskets to start the run and the Raps never looked back. Tracy McGrady did not have a good game and could’ve done a lot more for his team through rebounding and shot-creation for others but chose to take a back-seat. With Yao already struggling it signaled the end of the Rockets resistance. Every time I look at him, I go back 7 years and start thinking what could’ve been if Darrell Walker and Isaiah Thomas has shown a little respect and appreciation for him early on, it still hurts.
Chris Bosh’s (21/10/4 blocks) presence was felt in this game. Bosh struggled early in this game but continued doing what he does best: drive to the rim and get fouled or take a relatively high percentage shot. As long as he keeps doing that and doesn’t force his game towards the perimeter, he will be the core reason why the Raptors will win games. He made T-Mac play defense in the critical third quarter and had a few huge blocks which either ended Houston fast breaks or started ours. This was a typical hard-nosed performance by Bosh where he wasn’t seduced by that slutty jumper and kept going into the paint and getting what he can there. I love it when he plays like this. I’m critical of Bosh when he plays bad and doesn’t apply himself as best as he can and all that is well deserved but it’s game like these where someone watching the game thinks, “Man this guy really knows how to help this team”. Let’s hope it continues, CB4 led by example today and then reflected on his time out.
“I want everybody to play with confidence, that’s the major thing that I saw was missing when I was out. It’s not about what I bring to the table, it’s about us feeding off of each other and making each other play hard.”
Sam Mitchell’s halftime interview where he mentioned “shats” at least five times was a little aggravating, he cited the reason for us being down 11 to entirely “not making shots” but that was hardly the case. We significantly tightened up our defense, made a considerable effort to run the ball and hit the offensive glass hard. And yeah, we also made our shots. Although our offense is predictable as can be, it’s still sweet when the individual brilliance of some of our offensive players pulls us through. Give The Sam credit for doing whatever he did at halftime. Kris “The Hustler” Humphries has one great game every week, he gets his jumper going, the offensive rebounding is there, he’s out on the break finishing and playing excellent help defense. Today was that game prompting Chuck Swirsky to exaggerate the trade of Hoffa for him as “one of the best steals in the NBA”. Riiight.
The one thing that I just don’t understand is why we can’t replicate our defensive intensity on a nightly basis, I can see the shots not falling every night but I just don’t understand how our rotation and perimeter defense can be so bad in one game and be brilliant (for three quarters at least) in the next. This was our first really good win of the season. Up until now we’ve only been beating teams we’re supposed to beat and losing to better teams or teams that are on par with us. Tuesday in Atlanta will be tough and we expect Bargnani to be back, should be a great game. A winnable won too.
* Delfino’s rebounds are always in-traffic and contested, not of the cheap kind that just roll out to you.
* Bring back the ’95 jerseys for a few games this year.
* Chuck: Why is it called a “backdoor” Leo?
* Jerry Colangelo is really an Assistant GM for the Raptors.
* The over/under on the next Juan Dixon sighting is mid-January. Same for Maceo Baston.
* Does T-Mac look a little overweight?
* Yao Ming is an 87% FT shooter? When did this happen?
* At one point during this game I felt sorry for Steve Francis.