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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Today in Raptorland - 12.11.09
Big when it counts
His numbers weren't really anything to write home (to Italy) about. In fact, his teammate Chris Bosh had a much bigger game in that department, as did his counterpart with the Chicago Bulls, centre Joakim Noah.
But Toronto big man Andrea Bargnani was big when his team needed him, helping the Raptors defeat the Chicago Bulls 99-89 last night at the Air Canada Centre.
Bargnani made a number of key plays late in the contest, including one early in the fourth quarter when he blocked a Brad Miller shot, deflecting the ball to Marco Belinelli, who took it down-court for a layup, bringing the Raps to within one (80-79).
And then with just over five minutes left, Bargnani stole the ball from Luol Deng, was fouled on a clear-path violation by Noah, and nailed two frees, for a 91-88 lead. Because of the foul, the Raptors retained possession and Jose Calderon scored on a 22-foot jumper for a four-point play, and 93-88 lead.
Bargnani finished with 16 points, six in the final quarter, six rebounds and two steals.
Raps `all on the same page'
EVANS ON MEND
The Raptors are still without forward Reggie Evans, who hasn't played in the regular season because of a left midfoot strain. He's listed as day-to-day.
"He's much better. He's walking around without the boot now. He's got basketball shoes on," head coach Jay Triano said.
Feschuk: Raptors feed off DeRozan's high energy
"I think the message was loud and clear at halftime," said Antoine Wright. "We had given up 60 first-half points and it seemed like we were just going through the motions a little bit. Coach came in here and he emphasized how we wanted to play the second half and the guys who weren't going to do it weren't going to be out there.
"I think the message has been heard loud and clear – the way to play on this team is to guard your man and rebound."
Funnily enough, that's what they did.
After the offensively challenged Bulls hung 60 points on the Raptors in the opening two quarters, they got less than half that number in the final two.
Toronto held the Bulls to 3-for-21 shooting from the floor in the fourth quarter, Chicago missed 13 straight field-goal attempts at one time and it looked as if the Raptors actually knew what they were doing defensively.
They turned the gifted Derrick Rose into just another player, frustrating
Raptors get by Bulls
Excuse Toronto's basketball fans for their rare moment of raise-the-rafters ecstasy Wednesday night. No league championship was won. No division-winning banner was raised.
But DeMar DeRozan, Toronto's rookie swingman, did jump and hang and throw down an actual, highlight-reel-worthy slam dunk at a key moment in a 99-89 win over the Chicago Bulls.
And given how long it's been since the Air Canada Centre witnessed that kind of baseline-commanding statement from a high-flyer on the rise – given the Raptors' recent employment of rosters favouring jump shooters to the exclusion of high jumpers – DeRozan might as well have brought home a world freaking title.
DeRozan's jam – a third-quarter beauty that helped fuel a game-changing rally before a crowd of 16,310 – is exactly what was promised on the June night when the Raptors selected the kid from USC with the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft. On that occasion, general manager Bryan Colangelo, no great manager of expectations, immediately invoked comparisons to Vince Carter, only the greatest talent to play for the local hoopsters. And DeRozan didn't exactly downplay the Carter reference, Twittering about the return of Air Canada to the ACC.
Raptors force Bosh to go it alone against Bulls
"We were embarrassed at half time,” said Triano, who was none too impressed by the Raptors’ lackadaisical effort in the first half, in which the Bulls were good on 52.1 per cent of their shots. “They had 60 points against us. And I credit those guys because they pulled together and found a way to hold a team to 29 points in the second half.”
It marked the first time this season the Raptors have not scored 100 points.
An indifference to defence, such as the Raptors displayed in the first half, was the primary reason Toronto came into the game in the throes of a two-game skid, beginning last Monday with a disheartening 131-124 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio.
The Raptors surrendered 32 second-chance points to the Spurs, a damming indictment of a soft Toronto interior defence that has been unable to consistently track down loose balls.
Heading into last night’s game, the Raptors were ranked 30th out of 30 NBA teams, surrendering an average of 17.8 second-chance points a game.
Last night, the Raptors kept the second-chance points down to 14.
“Guys have to go get it,” Triano said. “You have to have the hunger to chase it down.”
Chicago Bulls go frigid in 99-89 loss
Still, the Toronto Raptors should have looked a little more urgent than a recreational-league team at the YMCA on Wednesday night. They were coming off two straight contests in which they gave up a combined 260 points, in regulation, no less. Also, they were looking at four-straight games on the road, all against Western Conference team. In other words, at least three losses.
So, when the Raptors came out as tame as a declawed kitten, it could have been disconcerting. They found some fire, though, and most of it came from their captain.
As the Raptors laboured, Chris Bosh excelled, giving his team time to gain some traction. Eventually, on the strength of a game-closing 12-1 run, the Raptors beat the Chicago Bulls 99-89 at the Air Canada Centre, evening their record at 4-4.
By the time Bosh tipped in an Amir Johnson miss to give the Raptors a nine-point lead late in the game, he was howling at the crowd in delight.
"Chris has been just solid and consistent with his effort and the way that he plays, and the way that he communicates and the way that he attacks," coach Jay Triano said after the game.
The only instant replay needed for the Bulls on Wednesday night might have been to see if that atrocious fourth quarter actually happened.
Then again, watching it once proved difficult enough.
To say the Bulls went cold down the stretch of a 99-89 loss to the Raptors at Air Canada Centre is like saying Canada likes its hockey.
Save yourself from watching the lowlights and chew on these numbers and details:
--The Bulls shot 3-for-21 in the fourth quarter and 25 percent in the second half.
--They failed to score a field goal for the final 9 minutes, 20 seconds and failed to score any points at all after two Taj Gibson free throws with 6:24 remaining until Kirk Hinrich hit a meaningless free throw with 10.3 seconds left.
--Leading 88-85 after those aforementioned Gibson free throws, the Bulls went 12 possessions without scoring, including three turnovers, and the Raptors went on a 14-0 run.
Sunshine Girl - 12.11.09