These are exciting times that we live in. Obama becomes President tomorrow and it is Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the United States today. Even some excitement in Raptor world with talk of a trade of Jermaine O'Neal. The Raptors will play the Hawks in the city that was home to Dr.King. I would like to think we will have a classic to talk about. But I am not sure of that happening. The Raptors on the second half of a back to back after playing the Suns. But here is something to get excited about the debut Nathan Jawai. He has been pressed into action because Jermaine O'Neal is a no go again. Raptors had said he would try to go today but not happening. You can draw your own conclusions as to why that is. Chris Bosh will play after turning an ankle late in the loss to the Suns. Jason Kapono is out of sick bay, as he sat yesterday with the flu. No Jose Calderon in this one still out with a bad hamstring. Kris Humphries is also a no go as he picked up some injury in the game yesterday.I mean that was a long list. Well who ever the Raptors have to throw out there will have a tough task. The Hawks are not flying as high as earlier in the year but are still 4th in the east. In fact they have lost 6 of 8 heading into this one. But the Raptors have lost 5 straight with lots of close calls for the injury filled Raptor roster. After yesterday no surprise that Parker and Graham will start at the point and shooting guard spots. So here we go ready or not.
Raptors need a win, any way possible that is the bottom line. Raptors lose the tip but get a steal and a score from Andrea Bargnani. The Hawks get an answer from Mike Bibby. Joey Graham has career high 22 yesterday. He gets his first two point of this day with a mid range jumper. Mike Bibby has another basket this time a 3 pointer. The Hawks lead early 5-4 just under ten minutes to play in the quarter. Both teams were shooting a little cold with the early start. But Bargnani was looking good with his second basket. But Mike Bibby again scores and he has 7 and the Raptors have 6. Jamario Moon would give the Raptors the lead with a jumper for 2. The Raptors would get a couple from Bargnani for the line. The Raptors had a 12-9 lead. Atlanta would get a 3 pointer to even up the score. Chris Bosh was looking ok despite the ankle turn and he scored on the glass. Joey Graham would score on the break off a turnover and Raptors. Joe Johnson would hit a 3 pointer to pull the Hawks back again. He was now getting his stroke from range with 2 three point shots. Jamario Moon had an answer from 3 point range. Raptors lead 18-15 with about four and half minutes to play in the opening quarter.
Raptors would extend the lead to 5 points the largest of the day. Raptors would get a chance to build on that after a Hawks turnover. But they would not get it done but an air ball from the Hawks that went out of bounds would give them another chance. However Parker would miss on that chance. A third chance to get it done but a miss and a 4th with offensive rebound. Chris Bosh would get to the line and finally give Raps a chance to extend the lead.
Bosh steps to the line after a time out and makes both. They have a 22-15 lead with under 3 minutes to play. A nice Mike Bibby pass leads to a score. A turnover and another Bibby dime drop leads to another 2 points. Raptors respond with a basket and Josh Smith responds to that with a truly wonderful throw down. Hawks would continue the run from the line making a pair. Hawks on a 6-0 run and cut the Raptor lead to just 24-23. A rookie mistake by Roko Ukic would lead to a turnover. But the Hawks failed to take advantage and grab the lead. They would get a buzzer beater half court chance as well but it did not fall. So the Raptors hang on just barely to a 24-23 first quarter lead.
Bosh and Bargnani had 8 each to lead the Raptors. Johnson had 8 and Bibby had 7 for the Hawks. Jake Voskhul had checked in and missed a jumper to start the second quarter. Roko Ukic would get to the hoop and score on the next trip to open the scoring in the 2nd. Bargnani would miss a 3 pointer for his first attempt of the second quarter. Andrea would curl into the paint and make a jumper in the paint to score on his next chance. Raptors lead by 4 points with the score 28-24 and 9:57 to play in the half. Joe Johnson would get his first score of second quarter on a jumper. Jason Kapono as mentioned was back and he made a jumper to reply.
A steal for Raptors would not turn into point as Jake Voskhul missed a turn around jumper. Jason Kapono would get his shoot to fall and Raptors lead 32-26 as the scoring pace had slowed to a slow crawl. Chris Bosh with a nifty little one handed effort in the paint. Joe Johnson would respond with his 3rd make from beyond the arc of the day. Raptors still lead 34-29 with under 6 minutes to play. But the Hawks would get a score to cut the lead a little more. Parker on the move hit a fading jumper.Mike Bibby answered with a score plus a foul but he would miss the shot. Roko Ukic showed his skill and quicks driving to the basket for a score. Flip Murry had a counter for the Hawks as he drained a basket. Raptors hanging on leading 38-35. Chris Bosh would get fouled and head to the line making both. He had 12 points and 7 boards already.
The Hawks would get a score and there was more bad news then that for the Raptors. On the play what looked like a moving screen would send Anthony Parker to the ground in pain. The Raptors already were very short handed. They could not afford another player going down. Parker would get attention during the time out and remained in the game. Perhaps a good acting job to try to sell the non-call. Let's hope so. Bosh meanwhile would get to the line. Making the first but missing the second. Roko Ukic would show some speed and skill again to get a score. Raptors lead 43-38 with just over 2 minutes to play in the half. Bargnani would get to the line and he would make both and Raptors had a 45-38 lead. Bosh had an easy chance to extend the lead miss and Josh Smith would make Raps pay on other end. Bosh would not make a mistake a second time as he scored. He would then find Moon for a score as the Raptors got a turnover and scored on the break. Raptors were showing that they could close out a quarter as they had a 10-2 run and a 51-40 lead. A late foul on Joe Johnson allowed the Hawks to get 2 points closer to make halftime score 51-42.
Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson shared game high scoring honours as they both had 15. Bosh had 8 rebounds as well with no J.O helping on the glass. No Nathan Jawai as well I am hoping we get to see the big Aussie get on the floor. I won't lie in saying I am rooting for Nathan Jawai. I have learned a lot about him and think he can still be a great story. Raptors shot the lights out going 50% from the field and 11 of 12 from the free throw line. But the Raptors would miss there first attempt of the second half. After the missed screen in the first half the refs saw one early in second half. But the Raptors could not take advantage of the extra possession. Mike Bibby would make the pay with a 3 pointer on next Hawks trip. He would follow that with a 2 point effort. Anthony Parker would finally get the Raps on the board and they now lead by just 6 with score 53-47. Chris Bosh would get to the line thanks to Zaza who had 4 fouls in the game. Bosh would split a pair. Zaza would take a seat with his 4 fouls. Parker would get the score on the break with a pretty ball fake and then take to the hoop for two. Raptors had re-established their nine point lead they had to start the half.
Hawks out of a time out would have Mike Bibby pull up and nail a jumper. Andrea Bargnani would answer with a jumper of his own. Josh Smith would get a score for the home side Hawks he had 13 on the day. Mike Bibby tried to cut the lead more with a 3 ball that would be short on the mark. Parker made a bad turnover and Mike Bibby was off to the races. But he was looking in his rear view for Jamario Moon and forgot to make the lay up. Raptors catch a break. Joe Johnson was not offering another as he made a jump shot from the baseline. Hawks had closed the gap to 58-53. Raptors had missed 6 straight attempts on the offensive end. Josh Smith did not miss in a chance to cut the lead to 3 points. Flip Murry pressured by Parker would fumble away a chance for the Hawks to close further.
Raptors struggles continued with an ugly miss by Bargnani. But he would get on the glass and rebound a Kapono miss to score and end an 0-9 or 10 effort from the Raptors. Hawks would answer with a score right away. Raptors were hanging on to a 60-57 lead thanks to creating turnovers . Kapono would get a basket and extend the lead. Josh Smith answered to keep the lead at just three points. But a Kapono miss gave Bibby a chance to cut the lead to 1 with another score for him. There was 1:16 to go and Hawks had a chance to take the lead but Joe Johnson had a rare misfire. Roko Ukic not the high end shooter Johnson is but he would find a way to get a score with a nice little fading jumper. The Raptors were not playing well but still on top. Hawks had another chance to tie but Jake Voskhul got on the glass and made a rebound which would end up keeping the Raptors on top after 3. But it was now only a 64-62 lead after 3 quarters on a Monday Afternoon.
How many times have we been here this season? Raptors with a lead but looking like they could lose it at any moment. Raps shooting % had dropped from 50 to 40%. That is how bad they shot it in the 3rd quarter. Josh Smith would waste no time driving straight to the basket and getting to the line. Foul would be on Joey Graham and just like that we were tied less then 10 seconds in. Ukic would commit a ill timed turnover after that. However the Hawks would not be able to score and take the lead. But another Raptor jumper that did not fall. But Hawks again miss. Jason Kapono would make the first 3 pointer of the day for the Raptors. So fans of that 3 point streak can rest easy. More important to me was Raptors managed to take back the lead. Hawks would get a two pointer to pull back to just 1 down.
Chris Bosh would travel and turn it over. The Hawks took the lead on a Flip Murry jumper. Joe Johnson would extend that lead with a short little jumper just outside of the paint on the baseline. Hawks now had a 70-67 lead in a battle of two teams that looked like they were in bad need of a win. Not that they were playing well more like the opposite from both sides. But the Hawks were the team looking the least brutal at the moment. Raptors already had 3 turnovers in the quarter and we were just 3 minutes into it. Parker would make a baseline jumper for 2. Mike Bibby who is on that list of Raptor killers and he would make a big three pointer to answer the Parker jumper. Flip Murry would find himself as open as can be and make a three. But it was not joking matter as the Raptors were looking like they were going to blow another basketball game.
Andrea Bargnani would get a basket plus a foul which he would miss. But that was a good thing as Bosh would tap it back in for a unconventional 4 point play. It had pulled the Raptors back to down just 76-75. Joe Johnson would shoot a technical foul that was called on Bargnani. He got that for arguing a call against him on a foul. To be honest I never saw what happened. Hawks end up with a net two out three free throws. It gave the Hawks a 78-75 lead. Josh Smith would make his way to line looking to build the lead but he missed both his attempts. Jamario Moon on other end made him pay for that by nailing a 3-ball all tied at 78. Bosh after Atlanta could not answer he would make a jumper. Raptors 80-78 lead would be short lived as the Hawks were quick to tie the score. Raptors got to work on the offensive glass and Bosh would eventually cash in and score. Joe Johnson was quick to respond. That would be answered by Anthony Parker and it was Raptors on top 84-82. There was 1:50 left. Could the Raptors close it out this time? Joe Johnson would draw a foul on Jamario Moon. Bosh was upset with Moon's effort. But Johnson only could make 1-2. Raptors still lead but failed to score on offense. Moon would get tagged for another foul. It made Moon luagh but CB4 was not amused. Bibby meantime would make the shoots and give the Hawks the lead. Raptors down 85-84 with 54.4 seconds and a time out called. Raps inbounded ball to Bosh who turned it over but Hawks could not convert. But Jamario Moon took a quick 3 pointer and missed it. Joe Johnson would make Raps pay and extend the lead to 3 points with just 12.5 to play. Raps had two chances at a 3 pointer the first blocked and the second missed. Again the Raptors found a way to lose and that is 6 in a row and this is just starting to become predictable. Hawks take it 87-84. The trip gets no easier as the Raptors head to the Motor City to take on the Pistons. The boxscore of this one for you to figure out how the Raptors lost again.
Moon and Bosh who both made key mistakes had very different looks on their faces. I am not trying to start anything by saying this. But it seemed very clear that Chris Bosh was less than thrilled with Jamario Moon. Fans will not be happy with Bosh or Moon as both made key mistakes down the stretch. This is just starting to have the look of a team that has no answers for the problems they have. Whatever trade or moves that are coming I am not sure what they will do to change that. Not exactly a happy note to end on. But it is an honest one. Even the fact Nathan Jawai never got a chance to get in there left me personally disappointed. FREE BIG NATE. I promise once you do you'll be surprised. He can't do any worse then some of the stuff we are seeing out there that is for sure.