I had this strange sensation tonight as I watched the end of the Raptors game. It started at my toes and slowly worked up through my body and yes, yes, I finally realized what it was. The feeling that the Raptors were going to win. It had been so long, I had forgotten what it felt like to see the Raptors win, but in the end, I remembered Nuke Laloosh’s great quote. “Winning…it’s like, better than losing.”
Make no mistake, this game was all about the return of Jose Calderon and his presence was emphasized when Bosh started off the game having all sorts of problems shooting. If this had been another game where Jose was out, we just might have seen the Raptors start forcing shots, trying to make up for the lack of Bosh, but with Jose in the lineup, we saw a nice calming effect on the offensive end.
In what was a solid team effort tonight, we saw some more of not the player Joey Graham should be, but the player he now is. Joey has been providing the Raptors with a steady dose of grit and enthusiasm that has been sorely lacking this season and it might have something to do with the steady floor time he has been receiving. We can no longer call him Gatorade Graham. Joey is attacking the basket like nobody’s business and he is using every bit of his frame to go up strong, which has resulted in some absolutely thunderous dunks. What has been great about Joey is that he is playing within his game, not forcing anything and capitalizing on the opportunities he has been given to drive. He was 6-7 from the floor tonight, with 4 rebounds and 16 points in 31 minutes. That’s a solid night’s work and something that the Raptors organization has to appreciate. This is the player the Raptors always envisioned (well, with maybe a few more rebounds).
Another great night from Andrea as he looks like he has finally found a comfort level that eluded him at the start of the season. While his stats were impressive tonight, the thing I liked the most about his play tonight was seen on a miss. Immediately after releasing a short jumper in the first half, Andrea charged the basket, following his own miss. He got his own rebound and went back up, only to run out to get another rebound. While you might question the shot he jacked up after that, you have to be impressed by the hustle he showed.
So now the Raptors have a little momentum. Hopefully they don’t kill it against the Kings.