Statement made. The Raptors walked into Orlando and quite possibly told the league that if they had been healthy for the a bigger part of the season, they could have been the team we are seeing play right now. Unfortunately, nobody is really listening at this point in the season, but sometimes you just have to make those kinds of statements for yourself. You have to prove it to yourself before you can expect anybody else to believe you.
Bargs only played 25 minutes and fouled out, but I loved the fact that he played as physical of a game as one could hope against Howard. There were times when he (rightfully) got the hell out of the way, but he also challenged Howard and didn’t back down from him. He was also on fire in the first quarter, helping the Raptors shoot almost 70% in the quarter. Those are the kinds of starts that allow you to survive the points in games where you are going to go cold. With the Raptors this season, they haven’t had the luxury of those kinds of starts, so whenever there has been a stretch where they couldn’t hit anything, games quickly got away from them.
We are also seeing how good Jose and Marion work together when Jose keeps his eyes up and looks for Marion on a fast break. There were more than a couple of fast break dunks and layups from Marion tonight, simply from Jose being alert and looking for Marion down the court. You also have to like the fact that Marion played over 40 minutes, grabbed 15 boards and still looked like he could have run a marathon at the end of the game. His conditioning allows him to be the player he can be for the entire game, not just somebody who shows up early and then wilts down the stretch.
Is this Jose 100% healthy? If it isn’t, then things would be pretty scary for Raptors opponents, because it looks like Jose has his game back. He’s beating defenders off the dribble, stopping and popping, making tough dishes inside and finding players running the court. As good as we have seen him in a long time and a good portion of that has to do with his health.
So the streak continues (the winning streak, not the meaningless 3-pointer streak) as the Raptors near the end of the season. It’s a shame this has all happened now, but at least Raptors fans have something to cheer about. It has been a while.