If Jose doesn’t hit that big 3 with 45 seconds left, the Raptors lose that game. Plain and simps. Coming out and having a good second half, especially a good third quarter would have gone to waste. Right now, there is a lot of talk in the Pacers organization about falling apart in the second half of games (that has been a trend for them lately), but the conversation was nearly the Raptors falling apart down the stretch with a lead or even their inability to come out of the gate looking like they want to play.
I’m not sure what it is that is making the Raptors come out so flat almost every game. You can’t continually allow 30+ points in the first quarter and expect to come back all of the time, because the good teams aren’t going to let up and even if they do, they will probably still have a little more in the tank to seal things down the stretch.
What I did like out there was that Bosh has started attacking a lot more, taking the ball hard inside. The only problem is that he is doing it after he starts with some disastrous shooting, forcing him to mix it up. Bosh is taking far too many mid to long range jumpers, especially for a guy who is so good from the line. He is only starting to attack the rim when he has missed about 5 or 6 jumpers. He also still needs to be a bit more decisive when he gets the ball, moving quickly and using his agility to catch players flat-footed (which will send him to the line even more). His turnovers come when he gets that pass in the post, hesitates and then either does not protect the ball or tries to put it on the floor. That’s a dangerous place to start putting the ball on the floor, because it has a long way to go back up and there are a lot of hands in stealing distance.
How about Garbo getting some PT? Over 24 minutes! It’s like Sam looked down the bench and said, “Hey wait a second, Garbo, when did you get here? Get in the game son!” 6 rebounds, a couple of assists and 8 points, not a bad night at all. Also, there was an interesting article about his situation lately in the Star, where it is suggested that his leg may still be broken. So considering that Garbo played some pretty good D down the stretch, is it safe to say that Garbo on one leg is playing better D than a lot of Raptors on two? He wasn’t fantastic, but I’ll take that night from Garbo on a consistent basis. That was a solid contribution.
I’ve got to hand it to Sam for how he handled TJ and Jose last night. That was about as good of a job as he has done with them. TJ was having a good game and Jose was working in well, with both guys looking like they had recovered from that hangover the other night. What was nice to see was that TJ came out in the third quarter and didn’t force anything. Dribble penetration led to some good looks for his teammates and heading down the right side of the floor and turning for what is becoming a patented stop and pop jumper led to a lot of good looks for himself. With Jose coming in for the fourth quarter and playing the entire thing, it had to have made a statement. Jose was great in the fourth, just like TJ was in the third, but Sam didn’t feel the pressure to put TJ back in to close it out. Sam continued with Jose, because he was playing well, but even more importantly, because TJ had been sitting down for a while. It is a lot to ask for a guy to come off the bench after sitting for so long and have him finish a game where the opposing team is trying to mount a comeback. The end result? A combined 30 points, 17 assists and 4 turnovers. Both guys come out of the game not being exhausted and ready for the Warriors. Can we say again how lucky the Raptors are to have this luxury?
Maceo sighting! Maceo sighting! Imagine you’re Maceo Baston. You are sitting around, enjoying the NBA atmosphere and then all of a sudden, your coach tells you that you’re starting at centre. Hilarious. So you just come out, play 18 minutes, go a perfect 3-3 from the floor, pick up a couple of blocks and then sit down and tell everyone, “I’m Maceo Baston.” That was an example of how deep the Raptors bench is.
Okay, what is going on with Bargnani? The kid is a mess. He needs what in college baseball we used to call a “slumpbuster.” He needs to get out to a club and pick up a “sub-par” girl and then have a night. Something that will take his shame and embarrassment away from the court and onto another topic. Right now, he looks terrible. Picking up 3 fouls in just over 4 minutes is Yogi-esque. He also managed to take part in the most exciting part of a game, the blocked dunk attempt, but unfortunately, he was on the wrong side of that, making David Harrison look like Mount Mutombo out there. It’s always a difficult thing to judge, but it just doesn’t look like he is into the game out there, like he is concentrating on what he is doing. Right now, not only is he not clicking on the offensive end, he is a defensive liability, with his feet moving too slowly and his arms swinging at anything going by. I think it might be time for some serious 1-on-1 time in practice with Jay Triano, working on his footwork.
We also can’t forget that the Raptors were 12-23 from 3 last night (including AP from Bosh/MoPete territory…that is happening a lot now, isn’t it?), but as they live by that long jumper, they will die by it too. It looks great when you have it going, but when it isn’t, you end up with disastrous games like some of those we have seen this year.
Alright, next up, Golden State.