Well, that was a little more like it. Even though the Raptors weren’t able to pull out a win tonight and blew another double digit lead, the effort and energy necessary to win was there tonight, it was just upended by a few key turnovers in the end.
You have to think that after witnessing Rajon Rondo carve up an injured Jose Calderon the other night, things would be a little different tonight and they were with Roko and Solomon in the lineup. Rondo wasn’t able to have the same kind of dribble penetration, which didn’t allow the Celtics shooters (Ray Allen) to get the same kind of open looks that they had in the first game of the home and home. By getting healthy PGs into the lineup, the Raptors were able to shut down a big part of the Celtics game and that was what allowed them to take an early lead.
I’m not sure what is stuck in Joey’s craw, but I’ll be damned if he isn’t playing like an angry man right now. Joey is mixing it up, getting rebounds, fighting for loose balls, he’s essentially playing like we always thought he would. That’s not saying that we always thought he would play this well, but now he is playing the kind of tough basketball that we always thought his body was built for. You have to like that with the game on the line and an opportunity to go right up, Joey didn’t hesitate with KG near the basket. He took it up strong and KG just got all ball. You can’t fault a guy who goes up strong like that and just has a good play made on him. That’s the kind of stuff that you are okay with. It’s a different story if you back out of that to take a jumper. Good on Joey for stepping up and being the grit this team needs.
What can we say about Il Mago? Not the greatest game last night, but he bounced right back tonight with another solid effort. You have to like the ice in the veins as he fired up the game tying three with a second left. No hesitation, just got the ball and let it fly. The confidence in his game at both ends of the court right now is astonishing. I think this is what we should pretty much expect from Bargs on a nightly basis. If he’s getting around 20 and 10 each night and Bosh has at least a decent game, the Raptors are going to see a lot of good things happen.
What I liked in the interview with Roko at halftime today was that you could tell that he took it personally that people thought he couldn’t go to the basket with his left hand. So what did we see from him in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter? Roko attacking and converting with his left hand. It says a lot about a guy when he is able to look for the right opportunities to showcase his talent, using it to keep the game close. Sometimes, you will see some selfish play from guys who want to show that they can do different things, but Roko effectively went left tonight, blowing past Rondo on a couple of occasions.
So now the Raptors can head back to Toronto feeling a little better about their overall game. They might be facing a team with whom they could possibly be swiping a few players (if you believe the rumours), so it will be interesting to see what happens. First time up for the Raptors and the Bulls, but even though the Raps have lost two straight, you have to feel fairly confident about them after tonight’s loss.