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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptors News - 18.03.10
Desperate Raps claw way to victory
Raps need to follow coach's footsteps
Desperation tends to bring out the best in a team and it seemed to do that last night for the Raptors.
Having lost nine of their previous 10, and with a playoff berth hanging in the balance, the Raptors individually and collectively clawed their way back to playing winning basketball.
The fact that the opponent was the Atlanta Hawks and the fact that it required their best basketball in the final couple of minutes can only add to the confidence boost a 106-105 win over a playoff-bound team such as Atlanta must provide.
And make no mistake about it, this Raptors team was in need of some confidence.
Whether it was DeMar DeRozan driving to the hoop as if his life depended on it, or Andrea Bargnani out-battling three Hawks for an offensive rebound and the putback, this game had long stretches of everything the Raptors haven’t been showing with any regularity for about the past three weeks.
Fittingly, with the game on the line and the Raptors needing a basket, the ball went to Chris Bosh.
Bosh struggled for most of the night with his jumper, hitting just five of his first 18 but no one was looking back at his misses after the game.
All they were talking about was his jab-step, pull-up jumper over Al Horford with just over two seconds left on the clock that gave them the win.
“He wanted the basketball and we gave it to him,” head coach Jay Triano said
Jack sent to bench
Jay Triano, the basketball player, was a portrait of tenacity: A veritable coach’s dream.
You asked and he did. He rarely took nights off. He rarely took possessions off. He pushed himself to the limits he was capable of pushing. And he lost hard, personal, like he never wanted to experience it again.
Which begs the question: Why can’t the Raptors be more like their coach? And more questions: Why don’t they have more of his dogged personality? Why don’t they engage in every game the way they engaged last night, an impressive end, a needed victory, a win as much about coaching and tenacity as anything the Raptors have done through this debilitating and potentially crushing streak of woe?
Triano needs the Raptors to be more like him, more involved, more intense. On Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre, the Raptors’ season was almost entirely on display against the very strong Atlanta Hawks. They were horrible early, strong through the middle of the game, troubled for much of the second half and absolutely composed in the final electric seconds in which they snatched an on-your-feet victory, putting an end to this horrendous streak of nine losses in 10 games.
All this on a night where fans booed in the second minute of play, in the third quarter, and an ACC with too many empty seats had a sense of trepidation until the final minutes.
Feschuk: Timely swish and a milestone for Bosh
Jack hasn’t been terrible by any means, but the status quo just wasn’t working anymore.
Something had to change and Jack was it.
Calderon played the first 9:20 of Wednesday night’s contest against the Atlanta Hawks and then gave way to Jack coming in for the final 2:40 of the first quarter.
Triano didn’t make the change official until the starting lineups went up on the board in the media room about 15 minutes before tip off.
Jack, though, was well aware the change was coming. Publicly he was saying all the right things, but like any professional there is disappointment that minutes he once counted as his own are going to someone else.
If this is in fact a trying time for Jack, he is not going to be wanting for support.
Completely unplanned, Jack arrived back in Toronto to find his mother, father and uncle had all made the trip north to pay him a little visit.
Their timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
Clutch shot by Bosh ends Raptor slide
In the moments after Chris Bosh became the first Raptor to score 10,000 NBA points on Wednesday night, the Toronto all-star was feted with an impromptu standing ovation from the announced crowd of 18,441.
Alert observers noted that Bosh, stone-faced, didn't so much as acknowledge the appreciative throng.
He didn't raise a hand in return of the love.
He didn't offer a knowing nod.
And wasn't that as good as waving goodbye?
No, no, no. Nobody's saying Bosh has made his decision to leave Toronto when he has the option to become a free agent in July, although there have been plenty of observers, both inside the team and around the league, who have noted his post-all-star-break swoon and wondered if it indicates the intention of an impending departure.
Damn those speculators, indeed. Wednesday night, depending on how you looked at it, offered a counterpoint to the latest in attempted fortune telling. Bosh, after flat-footing it through a subpar shooting night, nailed the winning shot in a 106-105 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The timely swish – along with a missed 22-footer at the buzzer by Atlanta's Jamal Crawford – broke Toronto's five-game losing skid just as it sent a roller-coaster Raptors season back on the ascent, at least momentarily.
Back to the Raptors' soap opera
“Man, it’s been a long time since we played with any urgency like that, or played on the defensive side like that,” Sonny Weems said after Bosh’s game-winner with 2.9 seconds left allowed Toronto win.
“I think everyone’s fed up with playing like that.”
It was a victory achieved in the most unlikely of manners for a team that’s stumbled for weeks. They had a big lead – 15 points at one time – and let it get away; they were down and seemingly out when they trailed by nine with less than four minutes and somehow – out of nowhere – the summoned a comeback.
“I don’t care who it’s against right now, we wanted and needed a win, just for morale,” said coach Jay Triano. “On the road trip (a four-game, four-loss sojourn out west), we didn’t get the results we wanted but we had a coupe of bad quarters that hurt us. Other than that, I thought we competed fairly well.
“But we need to be rewarded every now and then so we continue to compete.”
They were rewarded because they worked hard, which is not something that can be said about them over the past three weeks.
Johnson, who has become invaluable for his constant hustle, was able to rebound a missed Hedo Turkoglu free throw with 14 seconds left and the Raptors trailing by one that got Toronto an extra possession.
“I heard Turk on the line when he said it was off so that made me jump ahead of my guy, so when I got ahead of him, I got a hand on the ball and actually tipped it off the other guy,” said Johnson. “It was just a heads-up play.
“It’s one of the plays I’m willing to do; dive on the floor, rebounds, that’s what I do.”
Raptors rally for wild fourth-quarter comeback
You know you’re having a good day when the first time back writing about a team you haven’t been around for six weeks or so and you get unhappy emails from the director of communications and the team president, but hey, these things happen.
So in the interests of fairness, let me clarify:
I was wrong to imply in my story for Tuesday’s paper that Hedo Turkoglu or Andrea Bargnani or Bryan Colangelo refused interview requests after their practice on Monday.
That’s not what happened.
This is what happened: While Chris Bosh – who in my opinion has been an exceptionally accountable pro during his time in Toronto and who has been by far the most consistent player this season, not to mention pretty close to brilliant – was getting some tough questions about his role in the Raptors recent slide, Turkoglu made the veteran’s exit, which is to say: leave when the media are otherwise occupied, thus limiting the possibility of having to do interviews.
Hedo’s never turned down an interview request, but to me to the scene didn’t seem right, at least metaphorically: Why is Bosh getting the business and the guy who’s been the perhaps the biggest disappointment this season easing his way out the door unobstructed?
Similarly when Triano was talking, Colangelo left. Now Colangelo has always been accessible to reporters and to his credit he stopped and talked when he was asked. But again, it struck me that Triano was taking his share of weight while Colangelo was making a quiet exit.
Didn’t feel quite right.
And Bargnani eventually did come out of the weight room or where ever he was; it’s just that no one noticed he was there.
Bosh's late jumper snaps Raptors' five-game skid
What he was looking for, said Triano, was more flow, better pace to the attack, getting the team into sets faster and running them through and having more people involved more regularly in the offence.
Bosh said he was indifferent about the move, pointing out that as his team's primary option, he's going to get the ball anyway.
And the plan pretty much worked as the Raptors improved to 33-33.
Calderon got the team off quickly, sprinting with the ball out of the backcourt and pushing it forward, with ripple effects all over.
DeMar DeRozan, the rookie some like to finger for the Toronto Raptors woes? He was statistically blameless, chipping in with 19 on 7-of-12 shooting, including 11 points in the first quarter when the Raptors jumped out to 30-25 lead.
Andrea Bargnani responded to calls for him to rebound his position better by battling in the paint, snaring three offensive rebounds, posting up deep and grabbing 11 rebounds to go along with his game-high 22 points.
And even Hedo Turkoglu - a favourite culprit - showed a little spice, chipping in with 16 points, including six in the fourth quarter as the Raptors tried to make their way back into the game against the Hawks, who had blown them out twice already this season and shrugged off the Raptors' early lead by threatening to blow out Toronto in the third quarter.
The Hawks, 43-24, were hampered playing on road for the second night of a back-to-back and without Joe Johnson (heel), their leading scorer, but they hardly showed it. Jamal Crawford came off the bench and had his way with any range of Raptors defenders, jitterbugging his way into the lane at will and pulling up for jumpers when he couldn't, making plain his candidacy for Sixth Man of the year by dropping a game-high 33 on Toronto.
And any time Crawford stumbled the Hawks simply hit a three-pointer, finishing 11-of-18 from deep.
Conspicuous by his absence through all of this was Bosh, who had put himself front-and-centre by publicly questioning the effort of his teammates while the Raptors were losing four straight on the road.
It seemed time for a franchise player to step up, but through 46 minutes, Bosh was having anything but his finest hour as his finest season seemed to be going to waste. Through three quarters, the Raptors leading scorer and rebounder had just six points and five rebounds. The Hawks were double-teaming aggressively, trying to get the ball out of his hands, but Bosh was slow to get into his move and his jumper was wonky, leading to a 6-of-19 night.
It was the Hawks' Horford delivering body blows - muscling past Bosh for key fourth quarter scores, blocking Bosh at the rim in the final minute, blunting a Raptors comeback that seemingly fell short for good when Turkoglu badly missed a free throw that would have tied the score with 15.7 seconds to play.
But the Raptors got bailed out. Amir Johnson, inserted in the game as a rebounder because Bosh had five fouls, managed to wriggle free and get his hands on the ball, knocking out of bounds off a Hawks player.
"I saved him didn't I?" said Johnson, referring to Turkoglu.
He could have been referring to Bosh, too.
Bosh got the ball in an isolation play against Horford with the game clock winding down, his team trailing by a point. He was forced far from the basket, but he got his feet set and he let it fly.
It wasn't his finest hour, but one shot can change that in a hurry, and Bosh's dropped.
"He wanted the ball and we gave it to him," Triano said.
And Bosh showed he deserved it.
Raptors rally to beat Hawks
Before last night's game at the Air Canada Centre, Dominique Wilkins, the legendary Atlanta Hawks swingman and the team's current TV colour commentator, rhapsodized about teams on losing streaks.
"It starts with the best player," Wilkins told a few reporters. "The rest of them will follow."
The Toronto Raptors, losers of five straight games before last night, were in a bad way. Chris Bosh is their best player. And for most of last evening's game, Bosh was leading them straight to ... well, somewhere not very nice at all.
Just in time, though, Bosh found his shooting stroke. A baseline jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining gave the Raptors their first lead of the fourth quarter, and a 106-105 win.
"He wanted the basketball," Raptors coach Jay Triano said, "and we gave it to him."
If the sample size was the first 47˝ minutes of the game, Bosh had not earned the ball. On a night when his team - finally - seemed to play with conviction somewhat consistently, Bosh clanked jumper after jumper. The Hawks reliably sent a second defender at Bosh, but when the power forward got looks at the basket, he usually settled for jumpers and missed 13 of the 19 he tried.
And for most of the evening, he seemed sullen. Bosh became the first Raptor to surpass the 10,000-point mark with a layup in the second quarter, but he did not spare a smile or a nod when the crowd gave him a standing ovation for the accomplishment.
Still, the Raptors got a final chance, and Bosh was there. It was unbelievable that he got that chance in the first place.
The game's final 30 seconds were wild. With the Raptors down by two points, Hedo Turkoglu was fouled, but missed his second free throw. Amir Johnson, however, kept the ball alive, and Atlanta lost the ball out of bounds.
That gave the Raptors the ball, and Bosh drilled the shot.
“They were scrappier and came up with loose balls,” said Hawks guard Jamal Crawford, who scored a season-high 33 points.
Hawks guard Mo Evans said officials should have reviewed possession on the play.
“I feel like they got rescued when they shouldn’t have had an extra possession,” he said.
After Bosh made the game-winner, Raptors fans who had booed their team’s effort for much of the night erupted at Toronto’s first victory in three meetings with the Hawks.
“I don’t feel like it’s a setback,” said Hawks guard Mo Evans. “That’s why Bosh is one of the top players in the game, hitting a shot like that.”
Crawford made 14 of 25 shots as the Hawks shot 48 percent. Horford had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Mike Bibby added 17.
The Raptors are trying to hang onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They looked ready to cruise to victory when they forged a 15-point lead in the second quarter, but some chippy plays energized the Hawks.
Reggie Evans banged Bibby on his right leg twice, prompting Bibby to earn a technical foul for complaining to officials. Smith also got a technical when he sent Jose Calderon sprawling with a foul and the two exchanged words.
The roughhousing seemed to spark the Hawks, who used 24-12 run over the final 7:20 of the second quarter to get within 59-56 at halftime. They kept it going after halftime, leading by as many as 11 points in the third quarter and controlling the game until faltering over the final four minutes.
The Hawks didn’t appear to have the same energy late in the game. Mo Evans said the Hawks should have gotten the ball inside more to Horford, even after the Raptors began to deny entry passes.
“Fatigue is always a factor in back-to-back games,” Evans said. “That’s why it’s important to attack the rim. But give them credit, they made plays.”