Did the Chicago Bulls look like a playoff team tonight? Where was that fight that we have come to know from the Bulls? These aren’t the Baby Bulls anymore, these are the legit Chicago Bulls. Sure, the Raptors played a decent game, but good enough to make the Bulls look like that? I don’t think so.
Did Ben Wallace look like he cared tonight? I don’t think I have ever seen him play a more disinterested game than tonight. If you can’t rebound against the Raptors, you’ve got issues, so pull up a chair for Ben in the doc’s office, because he has plenty.
Luol Deng had what can be considered an off night for him (13 points, 7 boards), but he is still one of the most athletic and entertaining players in the league to watch. If I were to create an All-Entertaining Team, he’d be on it with Josh Smith. Even when he was driving to the lane and lost the handle on the ball, he still had quick enough hands to get a grip on it and get up for an angry dunk. Pure talent.
Gatorade Graham must have tried one of the new flavours tonight, because he looked like the player we always talk about him being. He took a couple of charges from Deng (one was legit, I think his second flop was just that, a flop due to slow feet), had good positioning for most of the night and got tough inside, which landed him just short of a double-double. Would have been nice to see him pick that up, but I guess coming just short can provide you with some fuel for the next game (cue the inevitable “disappearance night” made famous by GG any time we give him some cred).
Dear Luke Jackson, welcome back to the bench. MoPete got ejected early tonight and you were still on the bench. GG and Juan had good games in front of you, so it’s tough, but I bet you thought you were going to see some minutes tonight. Luke, the bench is with you.
If Juan keeps this up, he is going to have to square off with MoPete and have a circus shot shootout. It’ll be like the Jordan-Bird McDonald’s commercial from back in the day (that was McD’s right?). Off the scoreboard, off the mascot, off the rafters…nothing but net. Maybe this will just end up something that people talk about forever, like back in the day when Michael Jackson and MC Hammer were supposed to have a dance-off. The fact that Juan has fit in so nicely on offence hasn’t surprised me, I said when he came here that he could play and that he would do well, but his responsibility on D has been impressive. Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t been absolutely shutting anybody down, but he has done a good job of moving over to double-team, sliding over to fill lanes, knowing which guys to play tight and who to play off. He has used his head on D. Still has a big problem with anybody with a quick first step, but so do a lot of people.
If you want to see a picture of efficiency, all you had to do was watch Calderon tonight. Pretty much an assist every two minutes. Almost 16 minutes, 8 assists. His shooting was off again, but I’m not so worried about that. I don’t think anybody is looking for Jose to come in and light it up. That’s not really his game. He can do it, but his strength is coming in, setting the tempo and moving the ball around, which is pretty much what he did again tonight.
AP has officially moved into the office across from MoPete’s and is putting in the Barcalounger. AP from that right pocket is cashmoney. Lights out from there tonight, but the key to him working in that corner office is the ball movement the Raptors are able to generate. When the Raptors get that ball moving around the horn, it’s tough to cover and by the time it gets to AP, he has all day to set up. This is for a guy who is starting to get a release similar to Dell Curry (the best catch-and-shoot man ever…p.s. did anyone see DC on tv the other night? Eatin’ well man!).
One key from tonight’s game that the Raptors need to take note of is that when you have a team that has one big guy on the boards (Ben Wallace) and you are able to get on him early, get some bodies on him and make him start to wonder why he isn’t getting his usual number of boards, you are going to have success. When you are able to make Ben work harder for his rebounds, there are many nights where it looks like he will just pack it in and wait for the next game. I think getting bumped around a bit by Hump and GG had a bit of an effect on Ben. Something to remember for any game down the stretch.