I donít know what it is about games against Atlanta, but something always seems to happen. Itís like the two teams step into a vortex, separate from the world, where anything and everything will happen. Anyway, letís get right to it. The fact that the Raptors
are even talking about losing this game by not having TJís lay-in count is ridiculous. The Raptors
can say that they were robbed all they want, but they must also realize that they blew a 17 point lead and gave up a combined 47 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. They must also admit that they were only able to score 16 points in the fourth quarter and were outrebounded 47-37. Only after they admit all of those deficiencies can they start talking about the clock and whether or not they should have won. Should they have won? Yes. Did they deserve to win? No. Thereís a big difference.
There was a lot of criticism around how the Raptors
allowed the Hawks to have Bibby, Johnson and then Bibby again to get good looks at 3 to tie the game and most of it is well deserved. You KNOW Bibby is going to be the guy they are going to look for, so you canít lose him. You just canít. Have somebody else send it to overtime if it has to happen. The part I didnít agree with, was the criticism over a) the Raptorsí decision not to foul and b) TJ not getting up close on Bibby on the game tying shot. Letís be realistic. The Raptors
were slow all night getting to guys, so thinking that they were going to get to a guy and wrap him up before he got into a shooting motion is a little crazy. Would you be more upset with the Raptors
not fouling a guy and having him make the shot or having them foul him on a 3 attempt and then send him to the line to try to tie it up? Itís a lot easier to shoot free throws, the percentages donít lie. Okay, now on to the second part. I have no problem with TJ getting up on Bibby and then putting a hand up in the air. Remember how everybody was all over Jamario back in the start of the season when he ran out on a three, with far too much aggression and ended up fouling on a 3 attempt? Luckily, they were able to pull that game out, but TJ would have been crucified if he had fouled there. He shouldnít have lost Bibby on the play, but Iíll take him just getting a hand up and having Bibby make the pressure shot to send it to overtime (where you STILL have a chance to win) than sending Bibby to the line by fouling him in the shooting motion. Letís remember that Bibby is a vet and we have all seen him lean into a guy on his attempt, making the shot AND getting the foul. Want to see some real dramatics? Watch Bibby nail a 3, fall into TJ for the foul and then hit the 3 to win.
Weíre usually all over Sam for his inability to draw up a play coming out of a timeout, so letís give credit when he comes up with a gem. The inbounds ally-oop to TJ was beautifully drawn up and could be one of the first times we have actually seen a scripted play that made use of TJís speed. TJ was killing the Hawks all night with speed, so it was good to see Sam recognize that and use it at a crucial point in the game.
The loss to the Hawks is exactly what I was talking about earlier. You can see that they are hungry to make the playoffs. They didnít let the 17 point defecit get them down, they kept making shots and capitalized on the Raptorsí inability to stop them on D. So many holes were presented to them, they really just had to choose their weapon.
So now back against Charlotte (who makes the schedule anyway?). This should be an opportunity for the Raptors
to get back into the win column, but from what we saw the other night against the Cats, nothing is guaranteed with the Raptors. The Raptors
canít put teams away when they have the lead, they canít put teams away when they are missing their best playersÖessentially, they just donít have that killer instinct. If the Raptors
were with you in a street fight, theyíd say, ďDude, I got you out of the bar safely, youíre on your own nowĒ and then theyíd book it down the street. It would be nice to see them come out and take care of a team that they are supposed to take care of, leaving no doubt that they are superior. It has to do with attitude. You have the ability to control your attitude. You craft it and others believe it. Even if it isnít really true, if you can sell it enough, people will buy into what youíre selling.
Enjoy the game.