Raptors Rewind- New Year New Hope Edition?

The Houston Rockets come into town to face the Toronto Raptors. It is quite a cast of characters with Yao Ming, T-Mac, Rafer Alston and Ron Artest. It is quite a collection of attitudes and talent. The Raptors lately could use a Ron Artest or Rafer Alston. There has been a growing level of excuses and a real lack of results on the floor. Chris Bosh today said this team doesn't need to make a trade they have just got to come together and get on the same page. We are 32 games into the season already shouldn't that have happened already? I mean let's be honest the talent is lacking and there have been flashes of brilliance but that is not good enough. I don't know if Bosh believes what he is saying I have no reason to think he does not. But the reality is this team is not good enough. Tonight's game can end up being another example of that. Houston has been have their issues. Mcgrady has had knee issues and they have struggled at times. But the difference in the Rockets and Raptors can be found in that W column.The Raptors are desperate for one of those.

1st Quarter

The Toronto Raptors would get off to a good start scoring the first 4 points.Scola would get the Rockets on the board. Jamario Moon would score for the Raptors. Yao would have an answer for that. Jose Calderon would hit a 3 pointer. Raptors had a 9-4 advantage early. But The Rockets would go back to their big man Yao who would score again. Rafer Alston would add a lay up. Raptors would respond with a basket and the Rockets went right back to Yao who the Raptors with out O'Neal would have a touch time guarding. O'Neal was out for his second game with a knee bruise. Jason Kapono was back and coming off the bench he had a thigh bruise. All 5 Raptors that started had scored and they lead the Rockets 11-10 about half way through the first quarter.

Scola out of a time out would get a score and the Rockets had their first lead of the night. But Chris Bosh would have a quick response on the other end. The Raptors went to Jake Voskhul into the game and he was guarding Yao and making life tougher for Yao. Chris Bosh meanwhile would take it at Yao on the offensive end and Raptors lead 15-12. Both teams were struggling to get points. Jamario Moon would hit a jumper and he would get a steal and get to the line. The Rockets looked like the team with 12 wins early on in this game. Moon would split a pair and the Raptors lead 18-12. Tracy Mcgrady would get on the score sheet with a basket. Jose Calderon would answer that score right away. Andrea Bargnani would get a score on the inside. Joey Graham would be denied but would score on the second effort. Raptors had build a 24-14 lead and looked like the desperate team they were. Houston looked disinterested at best. Much like everything this year things are looking good and Jose Calderon checked out and was heading to the locker room followed by the Raptors trainer. There was nothing you could see in why this was. But it was bad news if he could not come back. Still the Raptors had a 25-14 lead after one quarter of play.

2nd Quarter

A replay would tell the story about Jose he seemed to tweak a hamstring no idea how seriously. Will Solomon who had replaced him would score the first points of the second quarter but after that made a bad turnover. Ron Artest on the following trip for Houston would hit a 3 pointer and he would follow it up with another the only two made 3 pointers for the Rockets on the night. Lead was cut to 27-22. But Chris Bosh would score and push the lead back to 7 points. Calderon returned to the bench and we will see if he will be back. The hope would be it was just a cramp. Ironically Calderon had expressed to Raptors broadcaster Matt Devlin that he felt healthy for the first time this season prior to the game. Calderon's injury is being called a mild hamstring strain and it must have been mild cause he was back in the game. Raptors lead 29-22 and Brent Barry was able to score on a second chance opportunity. Raptors would call a time-out because Calderon was not able to continue as he tried it out but was not able to be out there. This was terrible news regardless of the result of this game.

Brooks would hit a 3 ball for the Rockets and the lead was disappearing almost as fast as Calderon exited back to the locker room . Will Solomon would hook up Joey Graham but Ron Artest would answer that with a 3 pointer. Joey Graham would get hooked up by Will Solomon again for a score and it was 33-30 for the Raptors. Will Solomon to this point was answering the challenge he made a jumper to extend the Raptor lead to 5 points. Chris Bosh was getting frustrated with not getting calls as he was being guarded by Yao. He would finally draw on on the great wall that is Yao. Bosh could only manage 1-2 from the line though after finally getting there. Yao would quickly pick up number 2 as he was trying to guard Bargnani this time. Bargnani would also split a pair from the line. Bargnani on the other end would return the favour sending Yao to the line and picking up his second foul. Yao would make both of his free throws. Andrea would respond with a drive and score. He would follow that up with another score in the paint. Yao had a slam at the other end. Raptors lead 41-34 Andrea Bargnani would nail a 3 pointer to make the lead 44-34 with 1:11 to play in the half. Yao would get to the line again and split a pair. Anthony Parker would hit a jumper. Will Solomon and Rafer Alston would exchange baskets when the buzzer sounded it was the Raptors leading 48-38 at the half.

3rd Quarter

Bargnani and Bosh combined for 22 points. Will Solomon in relief of Jose Calderon who will not return had 6 points, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 rebounds. Raptors badly needed a win and the injury of Calderon would only make that more important. Andrea after a good first half with 12 point missed his first shot of the second half which was a 3 pointer. He would pick up his 3rd foul of the game right after that but remain in the game. He would score on a drive on Scola and get the 2 points. The Rockets looked very bad on this night and this was a real chance for a Raptor win. Chris Bosh would get a basket on a drive and score. T-Mac would show a rare sign of life as he would get a basket in response. However Chris Bosh would answer back with his second straight basket for the Raptors. The Raptors lead 54-40. Andrea Bargnani would ad to the lead with a 3-ball and it was 57-40. The Raptors were playing better defense combined with a very sleepy effort from the Rockets. Tracy Mcgrady is known for taking long naps and he seemed to be having one during this basketball game. He had just 4 points playing with his sore knee.

Meanwhile Andrea Bargnani was 7-10 from the field and putting together back to back performances in relief of the injured Jermaine O'Neal. Luis Scola would finally end the Raptor run and get a basket for the Rockets. Anthony Parker would drive and score after a Ron Artest turnover for a travel. Raptors lead 59-42. Rafer Alston would score for the Rockets. But Ron Artest's frustrations would continue as he got blocked by Bargnani. But he would get on track with a 3 pointer and then took an elbow from Will Solomon. He would get another 3 pointer after that. Solomon would respond with a 2 pointer on the other end. Raptors lead 64-47 but Andrea Bargnani picked up his 4th foul on the night and he was not happy about it. He would have a seat with 17 points to go along with those 4 fouls with 2:39 to play in the 3rd Quarter.

Rafer Alston out of the time out would look to kick it out to Artest for another 3 pointer but he would miss. Bosh would look inside to Jake Voskhul who had checked in for Andrea and he would head to the line as he was fouled. Voskhul would split a pair at the line. After that Jamario Moon would get a steal and take it all the way to the hoop for the jam. Ron Artest was having a quarter like his personality and he would get tagged for an offensive foul. The Raptors would turn that into points on the other end. Raptors had a 19 point lead to take into the 4th quarter with the score 68-49 after 3 Quarters at the A.C.C. Give the Raptors credit they have not lost a step despite losing Claderon and not having O'Neal at all.

4th Quarter

Stats were glaring the Raptors were shooting 50% and the Rockets were shooting 31%. The Rockets also had been turning over the basketball. Chris Bosh opened up the 4the quarter extending the lead to 21 points. Bosh would look inspired to lead the Raptors to their first home win since I was in the house to watch them beat the Pacers. Bosh was at the line looking to add to his point total. He would make onlt 1-2. The Raptors had a 73-53 lead with under 10 minutes to play. Roko Ukic was in the game and he had a new haircut. More importantly though he would steal the ball from Yao Ming and hook up Kris Humphries with a very pretty pass. Ukic had not seen any time of late so he was ready to roll. The Raptors will need a lot more of that from him if Calderon misses any significant amount of time.

Jason Kapono who struggled early and may not be at 100% but he even was getting in on the fun with a 3 pointer. The Raptor lead was 23 points. We were in garbage time at the ACC and for once it was the Raptors on the right end of a blowout. Houston had the starter on the bench watching the Raptors leading 80-57. The Raptors were feeling good and extending the lead in garbage time and a Roko Ukic lay-up made the score 86-59 points and this was some kind of effort out of the Raptors playing very short handed. You would have to hope that the news on Calderon's injury would not end up bursting the bubble after a great performance by the Raptors. But even on a great night for the Raptors Hassan Adams still could not find a way to score in garbage time. Every other Raptor that had played found a way to score. Adams missed badly on an east attempt down low. Jake Voskhul I have to admit has been good for this team. He got a tap in and I love what he has brought to the Raptors. Hassan Adams would even score it was a whole new year for the Raptors on this night. The Raptors had a massive 94-67 lead and it was party time at the ACC. Houston had 22 turnovers so they were helping out the Raptors. The Raptors were very good but as good as they were Houston was equally as bad on this night. Roko Ukic would dribble out a 94-73 win for the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors are 1-0 for 2009 but the worry will be the health of Jose Calderon. I can not imagine the Raptors being able to keep things up like this with out him for the long run. But still Raptors had a win let's enjoy it as they have been very hard to come by this season. A boxscore that includes points for all on the Raptor side of things for you to enjoy.

Raptors/Rockets Boxscore

The questions of who will be able to face the Magic on Sunday will be first and foremost over the next couple days. But for tonight enjoy a win Raptor Fans because we have earned it just as much as the players have. Good night and thanks for reading the Raptor Rewind.

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