Pacers and Raptors and I was in the house. It is a great thrill to say that for me. It is not everyday that you can do this so I tried to make the most of it hopefully. Some cheers for T.J Ford unlike the boos that fans had for V.C. All hands on deck minus Reggie Evans as Wright and Belinelli were dressed and back in the line up. Not exactly a full house at the ACC but folks in Toronto tend to arrive late it would fill up a it more later. Raps need wins in the next 2 badly vs Pacers and Bobcats. After that it is Celtics and Suns.
The Raptors would come out and have a first half for the ages. They scored 74 points just shy of the team record of 79 for a half. This was done with little help scoring wise from Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. Jose Calderon and T.J Ford went at it. Calderon had 15 points and Ford 10 as the 2 former PG's did battle. It was clear both had a little extra in the tank for this one. Calderon also had 5 dimes to just 1 for T.J. The other member of this PG triangle Jarrett Jack was facing the Pacers for the first time and he lead the bench with 10 points. The bench accounted for 30 of the 74 points that Raptors racked up. It was a 74-53 lead for the Raptors at the half.
The Pacers would come out in the 3rd Quarter and make a run. They would get as close 5 points but the Raptors would hang on. Danny Granger was leading the Pacers charge scoring 13 in the quarter. Like in the win over Miami, Jarrett Jack was getting some timely baskets for the Raptors including a score near the end of the 3rd quarter to push the lead back to 8 points. It seems that Jack has been the right guy in the right place of late and is making big shots when this team needs them. He would have this to say about that after the game.
Jarrett Jack- " I got to credit that to my teammates being aggressive and making the proper reads and finding me when I am open. All I try to do is knock down the shot when the ball swings my way."
Jack also talked about this team needing to be able to step on the throat of teams and close them out. In addition to not just rely on the offense to drive them. The defense that went MIA in the 3rd quarter would return in the 4th. The Raptors saved there best defensive quarter for last. After giving up 39 points out of the locker room they would only surrender 20 in the 4th. It was not CB4's night offensively shooting 5 of 19 and just could not make his jumper fall. He would still be a factor with 12 boards 4 blocks and a steal. On a night with T.J Ford in the building, it would be a very Fordron like effort from Jack and Calderon. Check out there combined numbers. 39 points 13 assists and 2 steals, Calderon was 8 for 11 from the field and Jack a perfect 7 for 7. In the end it was an impressive offensive display just a few points shy of a team record for offense.
Bosh seemed happy with the win and happy that his team played well around him. There have been some nights where there have been big efforts from him and not much help to be found. Despite the offensive explosion the team remains focused on the defense. When I asked Chris if he felt the offense had been over looked at how well it had been and the fact they can score with anyone was being overlooked he had this to say.
Chris Bosh-" No...We know that we are going score the ball. We know that we can score and that is not the issue and it never will be. If you want to win basketball games it's all about Defense. If you can't D Up your not going to win"
That being said it still has got to feel good to know that you can score to the level the Raptors can. The Raptors still have time to improve on defense. When we get to later stages of the season Chris is 100% correct that it is all about the defense. In the playoffs where Bosh and the Raptors hope to be it is even more so. but when you can shot it at 58% and score the way they did tonight, offense can sometimes win as well. Not that you want to make a habit of it. The win tonight has the Raptors leap frog Indiana in the standing. Raptors will take the 123-112 win and hope to get back to .500 tomorrow with a win in Charlotte.
Had a chance to chat with Reggie Evans and T.J Ford as well as a it with Amir Johnson...All of that in the coming days. It was a great night at the ACC and for 2 years running I have been in the house to watch the Raptors beat the Pacers. Although as I joked with T.J that I must be doing something right as I was sitting in the stands last year and this year had media access. I just had my birthday yesterday and meeting my favourite NBA player in person and watching my favourite NBA team win makes a heck of a belated birthday present. I always will remain a fan in my heart and that will not change nor will I hide the fact that I am.