This was a great game for a Friday night. The kind of game where you have a nice roller coaster of emotions that puts the rest of the week behind you, allowing you to realize that pretty much everything else you had to deal with can be erased by entertaining basketball. But what it essentially came down to was players showing their real personas down the stretch.
I’ve always believed that you find out what a player is all about when the game is on the line. His true tendencies, his willingness to do what it takes to win, the thought process behind what it takes to win. That all comes out in the last few minutes, when every move can be factored into a do or die situation. We found out what Maggette was about tonight, but it’s nothing that we didn’t already know. Much will be made about the Warriors coming back after going on a 17-4 run and how the Raptors kept their composure down the stretch, but make no mistake, Maggette’s need to fire the rock at every opportunity spelled out how this was going to end. Sure, he hit a few shots in the 4th, but when you’re firing almost every time you touch the ball, you’re going to have streaks. We saw him take turnarounds, catch and shoots, dribble stops, any kind of ill-advised jumper. In the end, I just find it tough to think that coming out of a timeout with 12 seconds left on the clock on the road in a tie game, that you let Maggette run the clock down and then take a contested jumper to win. Especially when Jackson and Harrington had looked much more interested in the game than Maggette.
I mentioned how in the Raptors season opener, while Andrea didn’t have the stats, that I liked how he was being aggressive. In the pre-game, I talked about how if he continues that against the small Warriors, he would be able to get going inside and then set up from the outside. The great thing we saw from Andrea tonight was that he was attacking early. He didn’t take time to come out and get warm, he came out and attacked right away. He finished strong, not going for the lay-ins, instead going for the dunk. Once he established his presence inside and off the dribble, we saw defenders respecting his dribble more, giving him room to shoot and when the Raptors needed some big shots, he was able to take them. This is something that he needs to continue to do, even if it doesn’t always bring results every night, because more often than not, it is going to work.
Well, you knew I was going to talk about it, but how good was it to see a Raptor block a shot and essentially send the message that things are going to be a little different inside this season? When JO blocked Brandon Wright’s shot and sent him to the floor in the second quarter, that showed what his presence is going to be about this season. I have no problem with a game like tonight’s from JO. The Raptors don’t need him to come out and score in bunches. They need him to play solid D and make middle of the court a more dangerous place to play for opposing teams. That was what he did tonight.
Another quiet, solid game from Jose. All business, just come out and take care of business and go home with another win in the pocket. While he was distributing the ball like ususal, what you have to like about his game is that down the stretch in the 4th and then in OT, Jose knocked down some big shots for the Raptors. He didn’t force it, he just took what the Warriors were giving him and punished them for it. Once again, he got some solid minnutes of relief from Ukic (although Ukic did look like he was trying to do a little too much tonight), which is a nice cherry on top when you go into OT.
Well, next up the Bucks.