The Raptors are back at the ACC where they actually are on a 2 game winning streak. But a lot has changed since the win over the Atlanta Hawks. Sam Mitchell will not be at the ACC in his usual seat on the bench for the Raptors. Jay Triano will be looking to improve a lot of things for the Raptors including there home record which is only 4-4. The Blazers are also only .500 on the Road this year. But the difference is the Blazers are 7-0 at home. They look to rebound after getting taken a part by the Celtics. That is something the Raptors can relate to as far as that goes. But the task for the Raptors will be tough as the Blazers are a young and talented club with an embarrassment of riches. Brandon Roy could have been a Raptor but instead he was a Blazer and if you feel bad about that, think how T-Wolves fans must feel as they traded both him and O.J Mayo to other teams on draft day of each. I will say as well that no one expected Andrea Bargnani to be the best player right away. Colangelo expected that it would take time for him to grow. Some may think that Sam Mitchell did not to a good job in that process and that could be one of the reasons he is now gone. So it is now the task of Jay Triano to get most out of Bargnani and the rest of the Raptors. That task continues today.
So off we go in Toronto on a Sunday afternoon. Raptors missed on first chance after winning the opening tip. Blazers would score on their first trip. Raptors after getting it tied showed a lot of effort of a steal and the ended up cashing in on a J.O dunk for a early 4-2 lead. Anthony Parker was able to hit a jumper and the Raptors had an early 6-3 advantage and looked to have some more spirit and jump. Calderon scored on a drive and Raptors had an early 8-3 lead. Chris Bosh had a rare 3 pointer and Raptors were play defense as well and had an early 11-3 lead.
Parker scores with a three ball and the Raptors were looking very good early up 14-3. This was a very different looking Raptor team and a Joey Graham dunk that made the score 20-8 for the Raptors this is what fans wanted. Effort and defense was the difference. This was the Raptor team that fans wanted to see. Basically if not for the 3-ball the Blazers would be in much worse shape and they trailed 27-18. The Raptors looked like a whole new team up 31-20 after the first quarter at the ACC.
A rare event the Raptor bench was actually outscoring the Blazers. amazing what a new coach can do. Raptors continued with the effort from the bench and had built a 36-20 lead. Chris Bosh returned to the game and tried his best to look like a point guard and was able to get the ball in the basket. Raptors were effective with Will Solomon running the show getting Jose some much needed rest that he has rarely seen this year. Raptors still were looking good with a 40-27 lead in the second quarter.
Bosh drives strong to the hoop and gets fouled. He seems more like the old Chris after the struggles out west. Jamario Moon had a big monster jam the Raptors were getting effort from everyone. But the Raptors defense was slipping a bit but still had a 46-36 lead. Jamario Moon got another basket and both he and Joey Graham had brought their game today. Raptors lead was back up to 12 with a 48-36 lead.
The Blazers would start to emerge, maybe it was the early start time but they looked better down the stretch of this half. The Raptors improved defense was leaking fast and furious and the Blazers had fought all the way back to down just 2 points with the score 50-48. That would be the score at the half.
Bosh gets to the line and makes two free throws to start for Raptors. Blazers answered with a score. A failed Raptor trip and a Blake 3-pointer in the corner and the Blazers had first lead since 2-0 with the score 53-52. Another 3-ball by Aldridge and the Blazers start the quarter on an 10-2 run and now lead 58-52. A Jose Calderon 3 pointer would bust up the Blazer 12-2 run. But the Blazers were back on track and continued to score. They would build the lead to 66-57 the largest of the day for them to this point.
The Blazers would continue to maintain that advantage and once again the Raptors could not mange a complete 48 minutes of effort and execution. Parker got a 3-ball and J.O a big bucket while Chris Bosh had to go back to locker room and change having blood on his shorts and jersey from a cut on his forehead. Bosh still MIA and Jose Calderon gets a 3 pointer and the Raptors had climbed back to just down 2 with the score 71-69.
We had a close game again and the teams exchanged buckets. A second straight basket for the fresh clothed Bosh had the Raptors tied at 73. But the Blazers would hit a 3-ball to reclaim the lead. Joey Graham had a big dunk and that gave him 10 points. But Raptors still were down 3 points with the score 78-75. Raptors had a final chance to cut into the lead and they would not get it down and trailed by that 78-75 score.
The Raptors were in the game despite blowing a rather large lead. But the perimeter defense was leaking and key 3 pointer by the Blazers gave them a 83-78 lead early on. The Blazers would continue to push and the Raptors fell in love with the 3-ball the result was an 88-78 lead for the men from Portland. Raptors finally decide to go inside to J.O and get reward with a basket and one from J.O. Jermaine would get it inside again and this time kick it out to Jose for a 3-ball. That is how it is suppose to work inside out. The Raptors were once again back in the game and down just 88-86.
A Jason Kapono 3-ball from the corner and the Raptors had stormed back to take the lead 89-88. Greg Oden would score on the inside and it was back and forth. J.O was having a tremendous game perhaps his best as a Raptor. He scored to take the lead back and he would draw a charge on the other end of the floor. That would turn into a Jose Calderon bucket on the drive. Another basket from Jason Kapono and the Raptor lead was 5 and the crowd at the ACC was alive.
Raptors had 2:35 left and a 95-92 lead and everyone was desperate for a win and you could just feel it. A key possession out of the time out and Raptors went inside and than out but missed a 3 point shot. But J.O would draw an offensive foul on Greg Oden. But the second chance would not be taken advantage of as Raptors turned it over. Raptors would get a block from Bosh but Oden would get the ball and head to the line after that. A key board off an Oden miss on his second foul shot. The Blazers would get another key offensive board. The lead was just 2 points and Blazers called a time out.
The Blazers were able to get a nice jumper from Brandon Roy from right at the foul line. It was all tied at 95. Chris Bosh would answer Roy on the other end with a fading mid-range jumper. Time out Blazers as they were down 2 with about 27 ticks left on the clock. Blazers would miss a couple times but got the key offensive rebound and it would end with a Blake 3 pointer to take the lead by 1 with 8.7 seconds. Bosh would get a chance to win it on a drive to the hoop but he would miss it and that was the ball game.
The play called looked like it broke down but your best player had the ball and took the final shot that is all you can ask for. But that would do little to make Raptors feel better who now have lost 4 straight. the Blazer got key offensive rebounds down the stretch and that was the difference between a W and a L on this day. A tough loss for sure and It was Jermaine O'Neal's best game as a Raptor by far. But it did not result in a win. O'Neal had 24 points and 8 rebounds with 6 blocked shots. But the Raptors were a few key rebounds a way from a victory. A much better effort but the result is the same. A loss by 39 counts the same as a loss by 1. For the complete boxscore check it out below