That being said every win for the Raptors down this stretch run really means less ping pong balls and that is about all. I don't think anyone thinks the team we see on the floor will be back together next year. However it would seem that Jay Triano just might be and I don't know if I am cool with that. I understand that there are lots of reasons you can give for why Jay Triano can not be held responsible for things. He never had a training camp, the team made a major trade and had a major shift in the way they play. All that being said it really doesn't matter to me. Jay has been a loyal employee of the Raptors for years as an assistant. However this team needs someone that has not been around to shake this thing up. I just can't see how you as Bryan Colangelo can stand up there and say Jay Triano is the coach of the Toronto Raptors for 2009/2010. This latest winning streak is not reason to keep Jay around. When you look at the possibilities out there for coaches there are a lot of candidates that I would be interested in having a look at. The top of my list is Eddie Jordan. I find it hard to believe that if you conduct a full search and look for a new head coach at the end of that you say Jay Triano is the best candidate.
Every since that off court non-sense had hit the public Chris Bosh has been playing like the old CB4. Is that a shock? Not for me. The basketball court can be a place for Bosh to just focus on the game. The fact that people now understand what has been on Chris Bosh's head all year you can see why things have been the way they have for him. If Jose Calderon can get a pass from a lot of folks for being injured and not 100% physically. You would have to give Bosh that same pass for despite what anyone says not being 100% right mentally. Who can blame him.
When it comes to Calderon I really am not sure what to think anymore. I just do not know what the deal is with him. It was mentioned above the injuries. You could say that if you are a Calderon fan that he has just not been healthy all year and now you are seeing the true Jose Calderon. That could indeed be true. However I am just not sure if the answer is as simple as all of that. I guess when all is said and done the answer will be found next season. I can not imagine the Raptors will agree with me and decide to trade Calderon. However if they were going to and he finishes the season strong you could certainly get some value for him. That same sales pitch that is being made Calderon fans and the organization to trade him. Would Steve Kerr buy that? He was convinced that Shaq had life left in him so I am thinking selling a Jose Calderon would be a much easier sell. I still believe that Steve Nash even at his advanced age is a better option for the Raptors in the short term for the Raptors. I also think he can turn Roko Ukic into a solid option for the long term. You are already starting to see signs in Roko that he could be much better moving forward. But why waste time talking about it the Raptors are not going to do it. I just can't imagine it happening.
So down this stretch run it is hard to say what it is made of what happens. However not matter what does it does not change anything about this team other than where they could select in the draft. Less ping pong balls and all of that. The key for everyone from fans to Bryan Colangelo it is important to remember the 65 plus games that came before this little run at the end of the season. The Raptors will face two really good basketball teams down the stretch in the Magic and Hawks. Do not get fooled by what you see down the stretch. This team is the team there record says they are and that is a team that is not good enough.
Part of me wants to be excited and enjoy the Raptors finally playing well. But I just can't let myself do it. If this team was in a playoff run the entire blog would likely be written about the TSN2 mess. That is because 2 of the next 3 games wind up on the deuce. So even if you have got excited about this run by the Raptors you will be forced to find TSN 2 by any means necessary to continue to watch. It has been the other thing that has endured through this lousy season and it is annoying and frustrating. I have talked about it a ton of times and really have nothing new to add about it. However the reaction of Richard Peddie said it all to me. I wrote a whole blog about it and you can look it up if you missed it with the search engine over on the right. There just really is no way to create a happy ending to this lousy season.
The Raptors take on a Bulls team this afternoon that is playing for something. That will be a true test. The Bulls have won 4 straight and emerged from a sea of mediocrity at the bottom of the East to claim the final playoff spot. We often make a big deal about trade deadline. Not has much as the folks in hockey do but still it is viewed as significant in the NBA. However it is rare when you find a team that actually takes deadline moves and dramatically change their outlook. The Bulls in getting John Salmons ( remember him the guy that said God told him to go to the Kings and ditched the Raps) and Brad Miller have truly made a difference for the Bulls. If not for those moves the Bulls likely are not going to the playoff Derrick Rose or not. It was a long fall from a team that not that long ago was considered on the verge of being a contender in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have moved on from that disappoint with some good fortune in the lottery and are looking to climb the mountain back to respectability.
The Raptors much like the Bulls of last season have a similar story. They were full of expectations heading into this season only to see this team crash to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. In my recent interview with Adnan Virk he talked about how quickly you can recover in the sport of basketball. I agree with that statement. Basketball is a team sport but it only takes a few individuals to come along to change a team dramatically. There is a lesson for the Raptors in what the Bulls have done. You can not over react to the failure. Changes need to be made for sure. However you must pick yourself up and dust yourself off and start to climb the mountain again.
Lots of people are suggesting that the Raptors need a complete face lift at this point. The may not need a face lift as much as they need a make over. There is a difference and the Bulls are a great example of that.
Future Prospects For Raptors
Press the fast forward button and the Thunder although still struggling have what most experts would agree a solid young core and perhaps a bright future. Kevin Durant I had said should have been the number 1 pick in his draft year. I was total at the time that was crazy as Greg Oden was the choice of many. But look at it now. Durant is looking on the verge of being a break out star. Some even thought he deserved a trip to the All Star Game this year. I am not one of those who thought that. But it is clear that the Sonics now the Thunder can thank Portland for Kevin Durant. Westbrook is another talented kid. You add in a former Big East player of the year in Jeff Green it is an impressive young core. The point is Thunder fan have a lot of reasons to be optimistic when they look to the future. It makes you think what exactly do Raptor Fans have to look forward too? Andrea Bargnani has developed a bit that is something. However I would be much more excited about the prospects of a Durant or a Westbrook. You have a Superstar in Chris Bosh that many feel is on his way out the door in Chris Bosh. The Raptors just don't have a lot of young talent that people are excited about. I was very excited about Nathan Jawai and still am to a point. However his first season in the NBA has been not what anyone would have expected. If Jawai is going to develop into something or not is a real question mark. Roko Ukic has talent and shown signs of perhaps being something when all is said and done. But again still you can not be sold on him to any great degree. I am not thinking anyone would lay money Roko or Nathan becoming great NBA players. They are both second round picks and you rarely see a second rounder turn into any kind of star.
Draft Is Full Of Questions...Raptors Need An Answer
That is why in the upcoming draft which is full of question marks. Blake Griffin the number one pick projected by most is even not a lock to be a star. The Raptors need to find that young star in this draft. Some may question if there will be that guy in this draft class at all. A couple names that people have been high on fizzled in the NCAA Tournament. James Harden was a train wreck for ASU. While Gerald Henderson who I liked a lot, he was a non-factor as Duke was taken out by Villanova. Obama had it nailed. But the issue is who can you believe in when it comes to this draft? I believe in Haseem Thabeet. he is 7 foot 3 and is a great shoot blocker and rebounder. His offense has a long way to go. However what does this Raptor team need most? Defense and rebounding would be at the top of the list. However with UConn on a run in the tournament. In addition to the fact that they could face NCAA actions based on recruiting violations. Thabeet seems a lock to enter the draft and to be selected at the very least in the top 5. That would mean the Raptors would need some ping pong ball help to get him. You are probably saying the Raptors don't need a big. They need a wing man. Well at this point the Raptors need a lot of things. So no matter where they pick it should not matter, they need to take the best player on the board regardless of position. Besides if Bosh is truly to go, Bargnani could slide into the 4 spot and you have a young Thabeet as you center at a legit 7 foot 3. I truly hope Bosh remains mind you. However Bosh or no Bosh the Raptors need to get this draft right in a year where the potential to be wrong is very high.
So with that said bring on the Thunder. They may have a bright future ahead of them. The Raptors future on the other hand is very much a question mark. That is the real story beyond if the Raptors can extract revenge for an awful lose that was pretty much their own fault. Win or lose it really doesn't matter. It would be a 3 game winning streak and that has only happened 2 other times that I can recall this season. However people have moved beyond the game to game, wins and loses and are now thinking about the big picture. That big picture is a scary uncompleted mess at the moment. Can Colangelo turn it into fine art by the time he is done this off-season? That will be a question that is answered over the coming months.
The Raptors had 40 points in the second quarter. The ball movement has perhaps the best it had been all year. Jose Calderon was more like the All Star level player that people expected him to be. Bosh after a tough time with the off the court news about him had a solid 18 points and 14 rebounds. So why am I not happy at all? I mean aside from the obvious that the season is a write off and even if the Raptors are mathematically alive they have been out of it in my mind for well over a month. In fact maybe longer. A look around the league tonight will explain. You start with the Bucks here in this game. This is a team fighting for the playoffs? It sure didn't look like it tonight. The Bobcats remember them? That was the team that blew the doors off the Raptors on Monday and Friday last week. They lost to the Washington Wizards. I mean nothing says playoff run like a lose to the Wiz. This is without the soon to be returning Gilbert Arenas. The logic or lack of it as far as he goes is for another day. Remember the Clippers? They scored a 140 to beat the Knicks by 5. The Nets lost to the Cavs. The Pacers shocked the Heat.
Aside from recapping the night that was, what is my point? The east beyond the top 3 teams, pretty much sucks. I was working covering two of those 3 good teams in a real playoff like battle that the Magic held on to win over the Celtics. The point is if the Raptors had played half way decent in this season they would have easily been a playoff team. Even the Sixers who were awful to start this season. So awful that like the Raptors they fired their Coach just like the Raptors. They have rallied back and our a playoff team. When the Raptors win and play to the level they did tonight is makes me angry. I mean they could have and should have easily been a playoff team this season. In what most are calling a weak draft year the Raptors will be in the lottery. A lottery that even the first pick, or who likely will be, Blake Griffin is a question mark at what he can and will be in the NBA. Basically there are few if any locks in this draft even when you are picking in the lottery.
It just really is sad how this team has totally under achieved. We have learn that the star of the team had some obvious personal issues that have been on his mind all year. Bosh can say it has had no impact on him. Triano and Colangelo can agree. I am not buying it because that would go against common sense and logic. Jose Calderon has been injured and inconsistent. He has the longest term left on his contract on this team. It deeply concerns me who and what the real Jose Calderon is. I have never seen him as the future All Star that others have pegged him to be. That being said I never expected this kind of train wreck. Injuries can explain it away for some. I think it is a factor and it makes the weak points of Jose glaring and obvious. If you had said to me at the start of this season that Andrea Bargnani would be the bright spot of this basketball team and the only one at that, I would have laughed you out of the room. However Bargnani has been perhaps the most consistent Raptor and if you move that ahead to just this calender year it is not even debatable.
Add in the fact the Chuck Swirsky leaves and goes to the Bulls and they are playing the best basketball of the bottom feeders? I mean Chuck is going to the playoffs and we are not? Who would have bet money on that when Chuck left for Chicago. I am thinking not even Chuck himself. It all just makes you think of what might have been. It is clear with all the moving parts the Raptors have this off season this team will look very different next year. This will go down for me as the worst season in Raptors History. That is saying a lot considering this team had a 16 win season back in the day. But no one expected a lot from that team. There was hope they were heading in the right direction. But no kind of expectations like this season. I guess what I am most frustrated about is people are talking about a major reconstruction job and sending Chris Bosh elsewhere. I am not really in the mood to watch this team get scrapped again and live through what it seems like I just did in the post Vince era. A post Bosh era in Raptors Basketball may have a better base to start from. After all Colangelo is the G.M and not Babcock. That being said it would be an admission that this team is years away from being good again. I guess as well beyond Pops Mensah-Bonsu in a post Bosh era there is not really anyone on this team I feel strongly about. There is no guarantee that Pops is even around. I am not a Calderon fan..I know your shocked. I don't dislike Bargnani but I am not a huge fan by any stretch. Until he came around this season I was ready to trade him away and would not have missed him.
I really have no idea what I would think about this team. I don't think I would have any passion for them personally. I have passion for T.J Ford, Bosh and guys that get me excited. Bargnani can have flashes of excitement. Jose can as well. But I can't explain why but I am just not into it. The obvious thing might be the whole Euro thing. Maybe I just don't relate to them or connect with them. Whatever it is I think if Bosh is going to leave be it in the off-season in a trade or in 2010, I think it will change me and perhaps not for the better. I will still cheer for the Raptors, I will still write the Dino Nation Blog. However I am not sure if it will ever be the same. I have lived through the Mighty Mouse Era, The V.C era and now the Bosh era. Whoever the next one is to be. Can I real get attached to whoever they are? That is a good question and I don't have an answer for that yet. All I know is this season has been one I would rather forget right from before it ever started with the trading of T.J Ford. It has all went down hill from there.
In this visit we have some fun and tackle some issues from as simple as athletes twittering to the more complex issues that face the Raptors and CB4. Hopefully you will find it entertaining and enjoyable.
I have had a chance to be invited down to The Score a few times. Adnan has been a friendly face and has made me feel welcome. I am happy to have been able to have brought him to the Dino Nation Blog and had a chance to work with him. I am also proud to have the Adnan Virk endorsement as his favourite blogger. Adnan is a great guy and every bit the funny entertaining person you see on your T.V screen in real life.This maybe be news for Adnan seeing as he is not on Facebook but he does have a Facebook Group and I am a part of it. Thanks to Adnan for taking the time to be in the Dino Nation Blog as a guest.
10. How is Toronto liking T.J Ford now?
9. Where was my invite to Chris Bosh's Birthday Party?
8. Vince Carter says ACC is his house, He is wrong it is Charlie V's House.
7. I got you CB4.
6. Pops Mensah-Bonsu? I got him too no sweat!!!
5. 20 and 10 believe it
4. I miss Jose Calderon bringing my Gatorade to me.
3. Jay Triano is really the coach of the Raptors? That is what Sam gets for letting me get traded.
2. All Raptors Fans cheer for Charlie V and the Bucks to make the playoffs.
1. Bryan Colangelo...How you like me now?
So that is my list feel free to add your own as there are no wrong answer for this. As for what the REAL CHARLIE V will Twitter about. You can find out for yourself here at his Twitter Home.
I always like Charlie and despite supporting the trade that saw him leave, he is a good guy. There is no question he gets up for these match-ups with the Raps. All the best to him in his NBA Future.
I still support Chris Bosh. I still wish him a happy birthday and hope the best for his future. This kind of tabloid journalism I am not a fan of at all. It has been a pretty awful season for Chris Bosh and it seems there was a lot more than anyone even knew. This to go along with people who are suppose to be fans turning their back on him. It really has been a terrible season on all levels.
I guess the point in all of this is everyone has things in their personal lives that you would not to play out in the public. People will say that when you are a pro athlete that is part of the price you pay for the fame and the money that goes with that. I have always said that athletes are people just like you and me. Do they live a far different life from us. Yes they do. However they are human beings as well. Chris Bosh has always been a stand up guy. I hope that when all the smoke clears in this he will remain that. I wish that I could say this will be the last we will hear about this but in the world we live you know that is not going to be the case.
Will this be the final nail in the coffin that sees Bosh end up elsewhere by 2010? It could be. However it also could be a reason to think long and hard about what life would be like in a place like New York. If this same story breaks and Bosh is a Knick it would be in the headlines for days on end and he would get far more attention than he will here in Toronto. I like to believe that here in Canada we are a bit better than the sensationalism and B.S that goes on in the New York media. I guess we are going to find out just how different things are in Toronto in comparison to a place like New York thanks to this story.
Who is telling the truth in all of this he said, she said mess is for a court to decide. However the one with the cameras in his face everyday is Chris Bosh. That is the big difference. I hope the best for Chris Bosh and I do hope the best for the child at the center of all this. It is sad that a child is brought into the world in such a way. Children are priceless and when anyone attaches a dollar value to a child I think that is sad. EVERY CHILD is PRICELESS regardless of who the father happens to be. That is something that should not be forgotten in all of this as well.
James Harden Off My Draft Board
I kept hearing Raptor fans talking up James Harden and that he was the guy for the Raptors. After watching to less than impressive performances in the NCAA tournament from him for ASU. I am not convinced. What people do in the NCAA Tournament means a lot to me and scouts tend to look at it close as well. What do you do when the lights are the brightest? How do you perform under the glare of them? The answer for James Harden is not so hot. If the Raptors are some how lucky enough to hit the lotto and get in the top 3. The guy that I would like to see is Haseem Thabeet. The big guy from UConn is a defensive beast and has drawn comparisons to Mutumbo. Not the old Mutumbo you see now, the you finger wagging shoot blocking force. If not so lucky and Raptors slot in around where they are suppose to select which would be 7th currently I believe. The guy that I think might make sense as much as I hate the school is Gerald Henderson. The Duke product is a slashing scoring guy that sticks out in a Duke system that is not exactly designed for a player with his skill set. Yet he still funds ways to be very effective in it. Those are some early draft thoughts from me. There is lots of time before the draft to break down the entire draft class. But those are some thoughts on 3 guys that should be hearing their name called in June.
Nathan Jawai Back From His D-League Mission
I was surprised to see Nathan Jawai in a suit at the ACC on Sunday. He had a nice run in the D-League and put up a some decent numbers. What I also learn about Nate is as nice as he is the big guy has a temper on the floor. It was not an uncommon thing to see technical foul and Nathan Jawai in an NBDL boxscore. I welcome that kind of aggression and anger to this squad. Raptors need much more of it. Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Nathan Jawai are two of the bigs the Raptors should have moving forward. Both bring some defense and rebounding which have been sorely lacking on this basketball team. Jawai still has a long way to go. However he does have an impressive skill set and showed it much more in the D-League than he had with the Raptors. That was the point of his trip to Idaho in the first place. But he is heading back to Idaho and was in town for some tests and should be back with Stampede by mid-week according to Doug Smith in the Star.
He has averaged in 10 games:
12.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in an average of 25 minutes on the floor.
It will be a key summer for Nathan to take all that he has learned this season and apply it this off-season. I have not given up on the big man and think he can come back next season and hopefully have an impact. Upon further review it seems Nathan may be sticking around as Andrea Bargnani missed yesterday with a heel injury. Jawai may stick around for the end of the season and get some time as Raps reality sets in as a playoffs math is almost done.
Sorry for the lack of production on behalf of the Dino Blogger over the weekend. I am always working hard though know that. Sometimes it takes awhile to see that as I do a lot of work behind the scenes in getting guests for the Dino Nation Blog and setting up things that hopeful will add to you enjoyment of this blog and keep you coming back for more. In what has been a very tough season I am grateful for all of you that keep coming back. It is always good motivation to keep working hard and grinding it out. Raptor fans are first rate and have a ton of passion, love and support for this team and hopefully this blog as well.
Bobcats win the tip and away we go. Bobcats have a couple chances to score and do not but kept possession and eventually score on a Gerald Wallace dunk. Jose Calderon scores and Raps create a turnover but can't turn it into points. Wallace another dunk and Bobcats lead 4-2. He is fighting through pain and keeps playing. Raps turn the ball over and Okafor gets the easy score inside. Wallace is fouled and heads to the line looking to add to an early lead which he does going 2 for 2. Bosh answers the Bobcat 6-0 run with a basket. But Bobcats offer a quick reply and it is 10-4 Bobcats. After the teams exchange misses Gerald Wallace drives and scores with pretty much no one willing to stop him. Time out Toronto.
Bosh out of time out has his shot blocked and go out off him. Bobcats quickly score and lead by 10. Andrea Bargnani answers with a 3 point and cuts the lead to 14-7. Boris Diaw one of the new Bobcats gets a basket to extend the lead. Bargnani answers with a 2 point effort. Felton answers that with a quick 2. Graham happy to learn OSU got a win gets 2 points for the Raps. But Bobcats fire right back and there is no D in Toronto that I have seen of yet. Anthony Parker attempts to make this a game, making an open three ball. But as things have been of late Raymond Felton answers with a 3 of his own. Bosh makes a pair at the line and the Bobcats lead 23-16.
Raja Bell cranked up a 3 ball but missed it. Raps can't cut the lead. Bobcats are showing hustle and Raps are sleep walking. Bargnani missed in the lane and Joey Graham cleans up the mess in relief of Shawn Marion who was taken out early by Triano. Bobcats answer the Raptors score to maintain a 7 point lead. Pops checks in for CB4. Calderon fouled and makes a pair at the line. Wallace draws a foul on the other end and heads to the line. He splits a pair and Bargnani is fouled on the other end. He is 2 for 2. Okafor scores on inside guarded by Pops on D. Wallace draws a foul and Triano gets teched up. Who knew Jay Triano was so fiery. He has got more techs than Sam Mitchell ever did. Sam was known for talking but he rarely got teched up for it. After the tech and free throws Bobcat lead was 9. Raptors would score to cut the lead to 7 and after a Bobcat miss have a chance to cut lead to 5 after one. But would not and in fact the Bobcats would add to the lead. Bobcats lead 33-24 after one.
Bosh is fouled and heads to the line to start the second. He makes a pair and the lead was 7 points again. Raymond Felton answers with a score plus a foul. Bobcat lead was back to 10 points. Make that a dozen and I am rapidly regretting my choice not to stick with the Madness. Diaw would score and after the Bosh free throws the Bobcats had rattled off a run to lead by 14. This season is just painful to watch at this point. I would be interested to see the Ratings for March Madness in comparison to this game. I am thinking it would be shockingly bad for the Raptors much like the effort on the floor to this point.
Shawn Marion gets his first basket out of the time out to end the Bobcat run. Diaw drives and draws a foul on CB4 but non shooting and Bobcats don't get a score. But no worries Raptors turn it over and give it right back they have already racked up 7. Diaw would drive and score and Raps would answer but still were down 12 and showing 0 defensive pride. Bosh would get a score and cut the lead to 10. Marion would get a score and the lead was down to 8.
Bobcats were finally cooling off and Raps were taking advantage a bit. Bosh would draw a foul and Raptors were making a push to get back in this game. Bosh made both and lead was down to 6. Oakfor would put a stop to the Raptors run with an easy score and the lead was back to 8 with score 44-36. Bosh is fouled and at the line makes a pair. D.J Augstin the drive and score to keep the lead at 8. Raps would get a Bargnani score and had a chance to cut the lead even more. Bosh would do just that as he had 14 and the Raptors trailed by the number on his jersey. But a 3 pointer for the Bobcats would make the lead 7 once more. Radmanovic doing the damage. Raps were staying in this by making free throws they were perfect at the line and got 2 more. Bosh would get fouled again and he could actually cut the Bobcat lead down to 1 if he made both. Which he did and Raps were down just 49-48. Felton would make a much needed jump shot for the Bobcats. Calderon a brutal miss and Bobcats had chance to score again but could not. But an easy Parker miss and Gerald Wallace would draw a foul and split a pair at the line. Calderon would drive and score and the lead was 2 and Bobcats would get a last chance to respond. An Augustin chuck at buzzer would not fall. Bobcats leas 52-50 at the half. Bosh with 20 for the home side.
Marion was denied by Gerald Wallace to start the second half. But Bargnani would make a basket after a Bobcats failed first possession. 52 all...and worth noting Bobcats only have 10 road wins on the year. While I type that the Bobcats score to restore a 2 point advantage. Okafor would pick up 2 quick fouls and had 4 in the game and take a seat. Parker would score after Oakfor checked out. Felton would answer and Bobcats leasd 56-54. Wallace would hit a 3 pointer as he was wide open and would take advantage. He would score again driving the the basket and a 7-0 run Bobcats and lead was 7. Bosh would make a couple jumpers with a bobcat score in between them and it was 63-58 Bobcats.
Felton with the easy drive and score off the screen and roll. Bosh was doing all he could to keep Raps in the game as he would answer. Bobcats would turn the ball over with a 5 point lead 65-60. Parker would get fouled non shooting and a time out on the floor. Raps would fail to convert after the break. Felton drives and Bosh would make him change the shot and he missed it. Calderon was left in the dust again by Felton a theme of the evening. Bosh an ill advised jumper would not fall. Give and go play would lead to a score for Brois Diaw who now had 22 in the game. Bobcats leading it 67-60. Calderon would score on the drive. Charlotte would answer with a quick score. Bargnani would comeback with a 3 ball for the Raptors cutting the lead to 4. Bobcats a miss and Pops on the glass gets it. He would get an offensive board on the other end but travel before passing it to Marion.
Bobcats fail to cash in on the turnover and Bargnani would draw the foul on the other end. He would split a pair and the Bobcat lead was trimmed to 3. Diaw would score in the lane over Bosh. Bargnani would answer on the other end for the Raptors. Wallace would return the favour for the Bobcats. He would get a steal and a slam and end the back and forth giving the Bobcats a 8 point lead with score 76-68. The Raptors had never lead in this game and looked like Bobcats were determined to keep it that way. Bobcats split a pair at the line. Jose a miss from 3 and Graham would clean up the mess with a score. But Bobcats would add to the lead and end the quarter up 82-70.
Wide open look for 3 does not fall for Felton to start the 4th. Kapono would get called for a foul on the offensive end. Wallace took the ball from Bosh and would draw the foul on Bosh as the 2 would riun the other way off the turnover. Diaw would score in the post on the possession off the turnover. Bobcats missed on a lay up that could have made it a 16 point lead. Marion missed on offensive he was a sorry 2 of 8 and Raptors were looking primed for another loss. Bosh taking a 3 pointer was not going to change that. Diaw would score agian the Bobcats had largest lead of night with score 86-70.
After Raps would trail by 18 they would score back to back baskets and cut it down to 14 points. Mark Ivaroni was in the house and got a on camera appearnce on the broadcast. Meanwhile Bargnani would hit a 3 with his new coach watching on? Regardless Raps had cut lead to 11 and the very much employed Larry Brown would call a time out. D.J Augstin would get it done out of time out and this game was pretty much settled. Wallace would take a hip check from Bargnani and was not happy about it. He may have been more shocked than anything. Good for Andrea. Raps were out of it down 16 but they need more of that and honestly they needed it long before now. D.J Augstin with a drive and score and Bobcats lead was 18 and this thing was all over but the final score. Bobcats have got back on track with 3 straight wins after this. They had lost 3 straight prior to the Raptors visit on Monday, 2 wins over the Raps and a win over the Kings in the middle and Bobcats are still in the playoff hunt. Raptors would cut the lead to 11 with just over 2 minutes to play but the damage had been done. A wide open 3 ball would make it 102-86 and all that was left to do is determine the final score. The final score would be 102-89. Bosh had 35 but had little help beyond Andrea Bargnani who had 27. Diaw and Wallace both had 30 to lead the Bobcats.
Raptors play Clippers on Sunday and if they can't win that I mean really what can you say. I mean it really has all been said at this point.
That is all I have for now. Bobcats and Raptors go at it tonight we can only pray that at the end of it the Raptors will not be saying OUR BAD for another horrible performance.
#10- It will be more exciting the rest of the Raptors Season
#9- Advanced scouting for the draft
#8- Because you can and it isn't on TSN 2 it is on The Score
#7- To Cheer on Schools you have never heard of.
#6- When else can you watch 12 straight hours of basketball?
#5- It is a great way to get away from your kids if you have them
#4- Blake Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet, DeJaun Blair, Johny Flynn and many more.
#3- To flex your basketball knowledge or lack of it.
#2- Cause it is more exciting than any Toronto Sports team.
#1- Your Office Pool, Money, Prizes, Pride.
With that I am off to get pie eyed on basketball. It is just about an hour away. I can't wait!!!
Password is: raptor
simple as that. If you are a loyal reader of the Dino Nation Blog give yourself a chance to win something and fill out a bracket. Everyone is doing it. Some proof below:
Obama Has March Madness
That is what the basketball President thinks but what do you think? Take your shot at it and you can win.
If you happen to be at the event and have some photos from the event and would not mind sharing them with the Dino Nation Blog, I would be happy to use them in the blog. Don't forget about our Madness pool on The Score. Sign up for the Score Bracket Buster contest and join our group.
Password is: Raptor
You have till Thursday at noon to get your brackets in order and entered. The winner of our group will get a Sony MP3 player courtesy of The Score. Well unless the winner is me. In that case second place will earn the prize.
6th Man- Score.Com
Or Watch It Here:
This was fun to do and hopefully there will be more of these things for me down the line in the future. The Dino Nation Blog has had a lot of cool things it has lead to me doing. I am grateful for all of them. I thank all of you that check out this blog for that as well. I work really hard and that combined with the support of readers has allowed me to do things that have been life long dreams. No matter how far things go for me in the future I will never forget that it started with the support of lots of great people that read the Dino Nation Blog. It has been a great journey and I am loving ever minute of it. In a Raptor season that has been truly awful, for me personally It has lead to a lot of great things. So I can't help but smile despite all the doom and gloom that surrounds me. It is always a thrill for me to meet any of the folks that read the blog and enjoy it. This may appear has shameless self promotion but to me it is promotion of not just myself or even the Dino Nation Blog but of the dedication of all Raptor fans and the readers of this blog most of all.
There will be other seasons and more things in the future God willing but I have made a point of always stopping at points in this journey to reflect and thank all that have helped get to the point where I am at. So thanks to all of you and thanks to all the folks at The Score for making the Dino Nation Blogger a tad more known than he was when all this got started. Thanks to Scott Carefoot opened a door for me by inviting me to be part of The Score Sports Federation and I have done my best to walk through it. Thanks to Brendon Lynch, Randy Urban and D.J Bennett as well as "way to be" who is known as Peter to his friends and family. Also to Anas Amhed who worked behind the scenes letting folks know about me.
I know some may wonder why I am always so grateful and thankful. The answer to that is the Dino Nation Blog was an idea that in some ways was a last shot at making a lot of dreams I had come true. So when stuff like this happens it is a great thing for me. I have been through a lot in life that some know more than others and maybe that is why. Regardless it is never a bad thing to appreciate people who have helped you and that is hopefully a lesson beyond basketball that folks can learn from me. Whatever dream you have never let it die. Keep it alive in your heart and hopefully you can have a ride like I have been on. That is a lesson the Raptors could learn from as well. Being in the NBA even on a team that is struggling is a great thing that only few people on the planet get to do. If I had the athletic ability to play basketball I would be out there busting my butt like Pops Mensah-Bonsu. That is just the type of person I am.
O.K, that is the end of my little speech. Life as the Dino Blogger has been a lot of fun. I hope it continues to be fun for many years to come.
All year I have tried to avoid, to a point, not to go to far about Jose Calderon. I mean it is no secret he was not my choice to be point guard of this team. But seriously gloves off for me. This goes far beyond who is better him or T.J. This is about the fact that he just isn't good enough and that is the bottom line. Kenny Smith earlier in the year suggested Calderon was not even a guy who should be a starter in this league. I am not going quite that far. He does have skill but is he the All Star Point Guard that he was projected to be? Not even close. He gets numbers when it comes to assists and if you want him for your fantasy basketball team you should pick him up. However in basketball, in reality he is a failure and the Raptors over paid to keep him. There has been talk he has been injured throughout this season. I have no reason to think that is not the case. However if you are going to put on a uniform and play than you can not use it as an excuse if you don't perform. Now Jose personally has not but it has been out there enough that he really has not had too. I just don't see with the changes that the Raptors have made from a standpoint of offensive system. Calderon is a point guard that operates in a half court system. He has his entire life played basketball a certain way. To expect him to change and suddenly become a run and gun point guard is far to much to expect in my view. If Chris Bosh leaves part of the blame in that will be the failure of Calderon to live up to expectations. Calderon is not the point guard for this basketball team. The point guard for this basketball team is wearing 13 for the Suns. Nash is older and may only have a few years left. But the impact he can have on a young Roko Ukic could help speed up the learning curve for him. I am convinced of this fact and no one will change my mind about it. This is the move that will fix a lot of the problems with the Raptors.
The Raptors have damaged their profile not just locally but nationally. They always talk about wanting to be Canada's team, well go get Canada's greatest player. Jose Calderon from a marketing stand point does nothing. You think people care about some guy from Spain in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal or any city you care to insert. I am not talking hardcore basketball fans. I am talking the average guy on the street. Would that same average person on the street be excited about Steve Nash coming to play for the Raptors. You bet they would. There is a legit basketball debate to have on if Nash could have an impact. However I think Nash would welcome that debate and the challenge of playing for Canada's team. Who in this country has the guts to bet against Steve Nash? I mean this guy avoids playing for Canada basketball and people hardly make a peep about it and are more than willing to give him a pass. So if he comes to play for the Raptors is anyone going to challenge that he can't play anymore? Not a chance and if they do people will jump on them and bash them with no mercy.
There is also chatter that Mark Ivaroni is going to be around Toronto for a few days. He was an assistant with the Suns and there seems to be suggestions that Ivaroni may in fact become the lead assistant and the coach in waiting should the struggles for Jay Triano expand into next season. If there is no Steve Nash I would think this is a stupid idea. However if the plan is to run and Ivaroni was the lead assistant to Mike D'Antoni. I think with Nash in the mix it would work well and give Triano a bit of job security based on their relationship. I just think when I look around I see the table set for a Steve Nash move to Toronto. Maybe I am crazy and the losing is getting to me. Maybe I am just looking for some ray of hope. But I think there is more than just a crazy idea in this. When you take time to think about it given all that has gone on this season it really makes a lot of sense. It really is the only short term answer that could perhaps save this team from having it totally blown up and starting over. I am just thinking that is not the case and not what MLSE wants or will do. An empty ACC at playoff time is not something the folks at MLSE want. The Leafs are already in a rebuild mode and I can not imagine they are willing to send the Raptors down the path again.
March Madness @ DNB
The folks at The Score are putting up a Sony Mp3 Player for the winner of the Dino Nation Blog's Madness group on the Score. So sign up for the bracket buster contest and than join the Dino Nation Blog group with the info below.
Group Name: DNBMadness
If you have trouble signing up please contact me and I will send you a personal invitation and get you set up. Use the e-mail over on the right to get in touch with me anytime. It is email@example.com. If you had signed up for the facebook Madness pool please note that NO PRIZES will be awarded for that and you only way to be eligible to win the MP3 player is to be in The Score Bracket Buster in the DNB Madness group.
I was doing a little interview on March Madness on the radio in B.C. Doing my part for March Madness on The Score. So we will jump into this one with Raptors doing well and off to a nice start up 12-6. Raymond Felton scores and a steal and Boris Diaw who was part of the Jason Richardson deal he gets the dunk. Maybe I should leave things were going better before I started writing. Jose Calderon has got into early foul trouble and that throws Roko Ukic into the fire. Speaking of fire Bosh is vexed over a foul call and that was his second. Raptors no Chris, no Jose and just up 2 with score 12-10. So much for the Raptor lead a 3 pointer for the Bobcats. Back to back turnovers and the Raptors had 8 so far in the first quarter. Bobcats having a serious run of 9-0 and lead 15-12 and heading to the line after a time out. Gerald Wallace at the line drains a pair and the lead was now 17-12 with Bobcats on 11-0 run. Andrea Bargnani makes a jump shot to break up the Bobcat run. Pops had a block on Okafor and Okafor would block Pops on the other end. Diaw would score after the blog and Bobcats lead by 5. Bargnani draws a foul on Okafor. He makes a pair at the line. But Bobcats would string together a couple scores before Pops Mensah-Bonsu would answer. A.P would get the next score and Raptors had the lead down to 3 with the score 23-20. Bobcats were getting it done on inside as Gerald Wallace had the easy score inside. Pops would answer with a slam of his own. But a Bell score at the end of the quarter would give the Bobcats a 27-22 lead.
Kapono turnover to start the second. Bosh was in there with his 2 fouls and he would draw a foul on someone else and head to the line. He would hit both and Raptors were again down 3 points despite some pretty awful play on their part through a quarter and a bit. Parker drove to the basket playing at the point and he would be fouled by Diaw. He made a pair. Bobcats hanging on 27-26. Raymond Felton got a much needed basket for Charlotte. He would check out after that and rookie sensation D.J Augstin would replace him. Bosh is long on a jumper and Augstin makes the Raps pay nailing a 3 pointer. Bobcats lead was 32-26. AP was fouled taking a long 2 pointer from the corner. Parker perfect 2 of 2 and he was 5 of 6 from the line. Augstin maybe feeling it would take another 3 but this one was an air ball. Calderon has checked back in. He also with 2 fouls. Joey G who was on Raptor that struggled in the win over the Pacers would get basket. Bobcats would take and make another 3. Bosh would respond with a long jumper for 2. Pops tried to throw one down but could not and Raps wanted a foul. But they would not get it and they would trail 38-32 with a time out on the floor.
Gerald Wallace would get fouled and was back at the line. He would make both and the Bobcats lead had expanded to 40-32. Bosh missed on a jumper but Joey G would tip it back up and in. D.J Augstin made a jumper to keep the lead at 8. Calderon would draw a foul and head to the line. Calderon only has missed 3 times all year and this would not be the forth as he made both. But Bobcats answer back quickly and the Raptors defense was far cry from yesterday. Bargnani and offensive foul and another Bobcat score. Bosh would drive and score plus the foul trying to rally the troops. Augstin would hook up Gerald Wallace for 2 after the Bosh 3 point play the old fashion way. Calderon would find Bosh and he missed the easy 2 but he was fouled with a push to the back. He makes both and the Raptors trailed 48-41. Gerald Wallace was having an impact inside scoring again and he was fouled. Bobcats lead by 12 matching the 12 Raptors turnovers. Wallace was getting whatever he wanted as he scored again. Bobcats lead is 55-41. Just over a minute to play. Raptors would trail by that 14 point margin with score 57-43.
After a small effort of a push to get back in the game the Raps would see Bobcats go on a run of 14-5 and this game was off the rails. The Bobcats were abusing the Raptors getting easy scores. Bobcats lead 80-62. Raymond Felton took a shot on a screen set by Pops. That was the biggest concern for the Bobcats at this point. The game was pretty much well in hand. Gerald Wallace had a wide open look from 3 point range and The Raptors looked nothing like the team that was on the floor Sunday afternoon. Calderon was back to struggling as well after 2 games where some folks were thinking he was the guy that was advertised at the beginning of the season. But on this night he was back to the norm for this season which was not good.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu in a win or a loss gives all he has. That can not be said for everyone on this roster by a long shot. Not surprising the Raptors are struggling and Joey Graham is not. That has always been my thing with Joey when games matter where is Joey? A game like tonight with the game pretty much decided Joey Graham stands out and shines when there is little else to notice. That is why I would not offer Joey a contract this off-season. 89-72 after 3 for Bobcats.
An Augstin steal and score starts us off and a score. Unless there is reason to be optimistic I will save you the pain of having to ready about the 4th quarter. I mean it is bad enough having to watch this I do not want to put others through the pain of reading about it. Safe to say if you were hopeful Sunday meant something more beyond a win. You were sadly mistaken. Just checking in to inform you the Bobcats lead 100-78. Yeah it is that bad. I remember asking Matt Devlin earlier in the year if someone had told you the Bobcats (his former team) would have a better record than the Raptors what would you say? His answer was not possible but unfortunately it has been possible and is happening. The Bobcats are a team that looks to have a future and direction. The Raptors seem to lack that direction and this for the future are cloudy to say the least.
Things are coming unglued even Jose would get a technical foul. He had 8 points and 8 assists but was only 2-7. If Chris Bosh is going to be part of the future of this Raptor franchise it is going to take an off-season of Bryan Colangelo's career. If Bosh is still willing to give Bryan the chance to do so. If not this thing is in serious trouble. The Starters were on the bench watching this one come to a conclusion with the Bobcats up 109-85. the good news was this one was over 112- 86 for the Bobcats. The bad news is the Raptors will need to figure out what they did wrong as they will see this same Bobcat team at the ACC on Friday.
I wish that I could say that I was surprised or shocked, even angry about what I just saw. But I am none of those things. It has been par for the course for what has been an awful season.
Shawn Marion (UNLV)
Marcus Banks ( Nevada-Las Vegas)
Anthony Parker( Bradley )
Patrick O'Bryant ( Bradley )
Pops Mensah-Bonsu ( George Washington )
Along with International players:
Jose Calderon, Roko Ukic, Andrea Bargnani, Nathan Jawai (Although he would have cheered for fellow Aussie Pat Mills on St Mary's but they got left out and had bubble burst)
Raptors with rooting interest.
Joey Graham ( Oklahoma State (8 Seed)- Who take on Tennessee )
Jason Kapono ( UCLA ( 6 Seed)- Taking on Virginia Commonwealth )
Kris Humphries ( Minnesota (10 Seed)- Taking on Texas )
Jake Voskhul ( UConn (1 Seed)- Taking on Chattanooga )
In The Broadcast Booth
Leo Rautins ( Syracuse (3 Seed) - Taking on Stephen F Austin )
Sherman Hamilton ( Virginia Commonwealth (11 Seed)- Taking on UCLA )
Matt Devlin ( Boston College ( 7 Seed )- Taking on USC )
We also have the Madness here at the Dino Nation Blog and we have a facebook pool for fun. But also we are going to be running one on The Score and the winner of that one will get a cool prize. I am just getting the details on that.
DNB Madness Group in Score Bracket Buster Contest
If that link doesn't take you there. Here is the info you need.
Group Name: DNBMadness
Simple as that. If you have already entered our Facebook Pool you will need to enter The Score one to be eligible to win the prize. Also Raptor Blog will be running a contest as well. You are welcome to enter both. However you can not win in both. In addition although I am entered if I were to be the winner the prize would go to the person finishing in second place. Hope that is clear for everyone. So just to be clear The Facebook Pool is just FOR FUN and no prize can be won through that group. To be eligible to win you must be part of The Score Contest.
Raptors Vs Bobcats
Will the Raptors keep it rolling tonight against the Bobcats. At this point I have no idea. However this is a very different Bobcat team and we will all get to know them well as Raptors will face these same Bobcats back home on Friday.
If it was said that the Pacers would still be in the playoff hunt and the Raptors would not be at this point most would have laughed at the start of the season. However that is the reality of things. Not that the Pacers have a very good shot at the playoffs. They sit in 13th place just one spot ahead of the Raptors but only 2 games out of the final playoff spot in the East. A terrible road record has held the Pacers back with only 9 wins on the road. They have already lost in Toronto. A game that T.J struggled in and he admitted that the fact Sam Mitchell had been fired impacted on him and took some motivation away from him. Jose Calderon became the all time leader in assists for the Raptor Franchise. That being said T.J Ford has had a better season than Jose Calderon. When you consider the direction this team has gone you have to wonder why Ford had to go. In a running style system give me Ford as my point guard. Not to mention that the Raptors have lost 7 straight heading into this Sunday afternoon tilt with the Pacers. In happier more optimistic times, I had targeted this point of schedule as a chance for the Raptors to make up ground. It seemed reasonable the Raptors could have gone 12-3 down the stretch. Games against the Magic, Hawks and Sixers were games the Raptors would have been hard pressed to win. Now you wonder if they can even snap this losing streak against the Pacers and then a back to back with the Bobcats. Charlotte actually has been making a playoff push of their own and has been one of the hotter teams in the East of late. Well they were, 3 straight losses after a 5 or 6 game winning streak. The one thing I can say for sure is a view more people respect T.J Ford more than the last time he rolled through Toronto. That does make me feel good as someone that is a fan of T.J. However there is nothing that can make me feel that good considering the season this has been. I have kind of taken it easy this weekend because what more can you say about this team that has not already been said by everyone at this point. We all expected far much more, a win or loss today will not change that fact. Another fact is that a month from today this Raptor Season will be over far sooner than anyone might have expected when this started in late October.
Late word that Danny Granger will be active today for the Pacers. That will make the task a tougher one for the Raptors indeed. Oh and joy the Raptors are busting out those ugly green uniforms. Also after battling with the flu over last couple games Andrea Bargnani will be in the starting line-up.
Raps win the tip and off we go. Bosh missed a fading jumper. Indiana failed to score on it's first possession as well. Bargnani missed on an easy lay up. Both teams were of to an awful start. A steal and score for T.J Ford and Calderon matches with a jumper on the other end. Pacers would get back to back baskets. Daniels would turn it over and AP would get the easy score in transition. Pacers would get another Ford bucket. This one would be answered by Bargnani. Murphy and Bosh would exchange baskets. Ford would miss a 3 pointer but later hit a fading shot in the lane. Pacers lead 12-8 at the mid point of the first quarter. Bargnani would get a score in the paint. He would get another basket on a Calderon feed in transition. Make it 3 in a row for Bargnani and Raptors take the lead 14-12.
Dainels would answer and tie it up for the Pacers. He would make it back to back baskets and Pacers were up 2. Anthony Parker would make a jumper and it was all tied at 16. Ford had 6 points and Calderon had 4 dimes. A terrible stretch of misses for the Raps as both Bosh and Graham had several chances to score and could not. Pacer make them pay with a 3 ball. Pops Mensah-Bonsu checks in and he impacts the game right a way with a jam for 2. Pops in a bright light in an otherwise dark time for the Raptors. There are not many people I can honestly endorse to return to this team who has a contract due this off-season, but Pops in one that I can say that I hope he returns next year. Rush makes a 3 pointer after a time out for the Pacers. Jarrett Jack the former teammate of Chris Bosh at Georgia Tech scores and Pacers lead 24-18. Danny Granger had checked in off the bench and missed his first. Raptors get back to back baskets from Calderon and Kapono and the lead was cut to 24-22. Kapono would score again and it was tied at 24. In a forgettable season for Kapono one of his best games of the season was against these Pacers on the ACC floor. I was in the house for that one and JK was very good on that night. Granger draws the foul and can give the Pacers the lead back which he would making both at the line. Calderon tried to shoot it or was it a pass to Pops Mensah-Bonsu? Regardless it did not work and the Pacer would lead 26-24 after 1 at the ACC.
Not one 3 point attempt for the Raptors in the first that is odd. Both teams shooting 44% and it was a close contest so far. The second quarter starts with a Granger charge drawn by Pops. Bosh was struggling and had a shot blocked but Pops Mensah-Bonsu would clean it up with a basket. The Pacers would answer and go back up 2 points. A.P draws a foul and makes both at the line. Danny Granger would get going with a basket. Sloppy play by both teams and several turnovers. Pops Mensah-Bonsu would go up strong and draw a foul. He would make both foul shots and we were tied at 30. Granger was getting his legs back after significant time off the floor. He made another basket and pushed the Pacers back in front by 2. Meanwhile the Raptors All Star CB4 was struggling going 1-8 on the day and not able to find anything that would work for him at this point.
Danny Granger was showing no rust as her nailed a 3 pointer. Raptors would answer with a 2 point effort. Andrea Bargnani would follow that up with a 3 pointer and we were tied at 35. Jack would match that 3 ball with one for the Pacers. His Georgia Tech mate CB4 would draw a foul and head to the line. Making a pair and he had only 6 points so far for the Raptors. The struggles would continue with a missed jumper and Troy Murphy would make the Raptors pay with back to back 3's. Pacers stormed out in front 44-37. Raptors offense looked a mess and they would fumble and bumble there way to another turnover. Daniels would draw a foul on Shawn Marion who also was having a very poor effort thus far. Daniels would make a pair at the line.
Illegal defense call and Calderon would make the tech and make a jumper on the possession that would follow. After some free throws from Jack and Bosh it would be Jose Calderon making a jumper and he would pull the Raptors to down 5 with the score 47-42. Calderon having a good first half with 8 points 7 assists and 2 steals. However that being said the Pacers were leading. Chris Bosh looking to get back on track would get a dunk off a Kapono feed. The Pacers were letting the lead they build slip away. Bargnani would draw a foul on Danny Granger and look to cut the lead more. He would make both and Pacers lead was just 47-46. Jack was fouled and split a pair from the line. Bargnani would be fouled and at the line again missed both though and Raptors remained down two. Pacer fail to take advantage and Bargnani would make them pay with a 3 ball to put the Raptors in front. Brandon Rush would put up a 3 pointer and miss. In some ways watching the Pacers is like looking in a mirror to how the Raptors can play offensively. Calderon would be fouled and make a pair at the line. Bosh continued to fight through a tough day missing a easy one inside but got his own rebound and through that one down. Ford on the other end would break a Pacer offensive drought. Ford had a chance to tie the score at the half with a 3 point attempt off a Raptors turnover but it would not fall. Raptors lead 53-50 at the half.
At The Half
The Ford and Calderon battle. Calderon 10 points, 8 assists and 2 steals, Ford 8 points, 5 assists and a steal. Calderon when asked about the battle between the two players he down played it and praised Ford. Something tells me if the question had been asked of Ford you would get a different answer. I do agree there is not a personal dislike between the two but let's face it this is a match-up that will be focused on for years to come. But beyond that battle Andrea Bargnani and Troy Murphy were having a mice contest of their own with Bargnani with 16 and Murphy with 14. The other story of the half was the Raptors has a slim lead despite Bosh being a 4-13 shooting effort with 11 points. He was active on the glass with 8 rebounds. Given the way the Raptors have played of late it is anybodies guess if they can hang on to this lead. If the Pacers have any real chance at the post season this is a game they must have.
Raptor lead is 3. Well it was as Jack opens the half with a 3 ball. Jose Calderon would answer with a 3 of his own to restore the Raptors 3 point lead. Shawn Marion would get a score plus a foul and Raptors after the Marion make would have a 6 point lead. That was Marion's first points of the afternoon. Jack would miss a open look in the corner for 3. Ford would miss on a leaner but would find the ball back in his hands and make a shot in the lane. Raptors had a quick answer for that with an Anthony Parker score the other way. Pacers a turnover and they now looked like an offense with no direction. 3's were flying all over the ACC but not many were falling. Jack and Calderon the latest to miss from the arc. Foster and Bargnani would both score on the inside. Ford would make another score. But Bargnani would find a mismatch against Ford and hit a 3 pointer with Ford on him not able to do much. Raptors had a 66-59 lead. Pacers would look to go inside and that would lead to getting to the line. They would hit 4 free throws and cut lead down. But Raptors would be energized by Shawn Marion in transition with a great jam plus a foul. Raptors had an 8 point lead with score 71-63. Calderon would hook Marion on an alley opp and it was converted. Raptors had a 10 point lead with score 73-63.
Give the Raptors credit for the effort and energy. As for the Pacers if this is how they respond to a mush win game like this for them, they will be accepting that they are going to have a seat in the NBA Lottery with the Raptors. Marion with 8 points in the quarter after 0 in the first 2. A Bargnani block and Marion could no convert on the transition chance for Marion. Ford would score and get fouled and make it. That gave Ford 15 on the afternoon. Bargnani would get fouled and make a pair at the line. Yet another Pacer turnover and Shawn Marion would draw the foul on the transition break. He made both at the line and the Raptors lead 77-66. Danny Granger had cooled off and he was short on a jumper. Indiana was giving the Raptors chances and they were taking advantage of a lot of them. Bargnani got the offensive rebound off a Kapono miss and slammed it back home. Raptors leading by 13 now with the score 79-66. Could the losing streak be coming to an end? It sure seemed like it at this point. The Pacers looked awful and the Raptors were looking the best they have in a very long time. Calderon after 2 of his worst efforts of the season has had 2 of his best. While Bargnani has 25 points and I now truly am a believer in Andrea Bargnani. He has just been to good for to long to doubt him any longer. Raptors run was on going as they would keep adding to it. Raptors lead 83-66. Travis Diener would finally get a basket for the Pacers. Calderon would check out with 15 points and 12 assists. Raptors lead was 18, make it 20 as Bosh would go inside and score. Raptors lead 88-68 and you have to ask yourself what the heck is going on here on both sides. Roko Ukic would close out a quarter that saw the Raptors out score the Pacers 37-19 with a drive and score. Raptors lead 90-69.
Raptors were shooting 50% and the Pacers just 39%. If you are thinking it is the green uniforms the Raptors lost the only other game they played in green. That feature a T.J Ford meltdown that saw him ejected. On this afternoon Ford had to feel dejected as he was one of few Pacers that decided to show up today. Pops Mensah-Bonsu had an alley opp jam and this game was going to be a win. Raptors leading 94-71 and there was no way they were going to lose this one. Seriously if they did I think the Raptor Rewind would just be put in moth balls for the year. But I am not expecting to have to do that.
Travis Diener hits a 3 pointer and maybe makes you worry just a little. But Pops would answer with a dunk a career high 13 so far for him. Pops averaged over 20 in the D-League so he can put the ball in the basket. He was the main contributor off the bench toady. Pops took a shot from Roy Hibbert and would had to his career high at the line. He would not be done by a long shot with a jam plus a foul that would deliver the pizza. Raptors lead was 100-76 and Pacers were melting down before our eyes. Pops got a well deserved standing ovation from the crowd. A steal and an A.P jam. Everyone for once was happy at the ACC. I think everyone from players to management to Dino Bloggers all needed a game like this. Does it change anything as far as this season? No but that being said just as being human the toll of losing can be a lot to endure. At least if for just one Sunday there can be some reason to smile about the Raptors. It is going to be a very happy flight to Charlotte for the Raptors. It will be interesting to see if they can carry this momentum over to a rare Monday night affair with the Bobcats. The Raptors had still 5:32 left to enjoy this one as they led 104-76. The Pops show marched on and so did the Raptors. Pops had 21 points and Raptors had a 110-84 lead. A rare event at the ACC this year as the fans would offer a standing ovation down the stretch. It would be a 110-87 final.
The Ford and Calderon battle both had 15 points but Calderon had 12 assists to Ford's 6 and 2 steals as opposed to 1 steal. That being said even the 27 points and 9 rebounds of Andrea Bargnani took a back seat today to Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Seriously can Bryan Colangelo avoid not re-signed this guy? He is part of whatever solution that Colangelo is going to have for this basketball team going forward. He almost has to be at this point. The JYD of the Y2K is bringing a dawg pound back to the ACC. Somewhere Jerome Williams in barking his approval. Here is the boxscore of a very excellent Raptor victory and you have not been able to say that many times this season at all.
So in a season with few moments to celebrate enjoy this one Raptor Fans we have all earned it.