So let's get all caught up on things with the Raps. I am back and ready to roll so let's go. First thing is first, the loss to the Hawks on Friday night.
This was more of the same that we saw in Atlanta, not as bad but still terrible. The Hawks seem to be the perfect foil for he Raptors as they are athletic and can make 3 point shots which makes them a lethal match-up. It was one of those games where the Raptors got down and showed no real fight to get into it. They did get off to a decent start and had an 18-10 lead but after about the first 6 or 7 minutes it was all Atlanta. The defensive effort was poor by all. The other thing the Hawks seem to do well is stop Chris Bosh. He did improve from the game in Atlanta. That being said it would have been hard not to do so. He had 14 and 10 which is far below his season averages. The mood was dark and gloomy and lots of questions about everything to do with this team from Colangelo to Triano to the players. Raptor fans were not happy and had reason to be so. The cherry on the sundae of awful was Jose Calderon returned to the line-up only to have him leave in the 2nd quarter and note return. It would be later announced he had re-aggravated his hip. He went to hospital and based on tests it is expected he would be out for some time. We still don't know when we might see Jose he will not be on the trip to Florida so at very least he will miss 2 more games.
After all of that you did not know what to expect heading into Sunday afternoon against on of the harder working teams in the league in the Houston Rockets. But if you have learned anything in watching this team for 15 years you know what you might expect is not always what you get. The Raptors do in fact have more talent than a team like Houston but would they play like it. The Rockets have won games the way Raptor fans would love to see there team play with the effort of a team like Houston.
Surprisingly perhaps the Raptors would come out and get the jump on the Rockets. They played on of their better first quarters of the season jumping out to a 32-17 lead. They would hang on the rest of the way and walk away with a 101-88 win. It would be one of the best performances of Hedo Turkoglu as a Raptor as he had 23 points 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Jarrett Jack is looking good as the starter as well with 17 points and lead the team in assists and rebounds with 8 assists and 8 rebounds. Bosh had 27 points to lead the scoring just 6 rebounds but a couple blocked shots.
The stats that just jumps off the page is how well the Raptors played guarding the 3 point line. Houston just went 3-24 from behind the 3 point line. If you recall Houston played the Raps in the pre-season and torched the Raptors from the 3 point line. Another surprise for the Raptors was Sonny Weems who lead the bench with 11 points and a steal and a block. He got 29 minutes of floor time. Weems was taking minutes from Antonie Wright who was a DNPCD. Also Demar DeRozan did not have a good day offensively with only 2 points.
We have all heard the expression what goes around comes around. Well maybe that expression may apply to Jose Calderon. Jose became the start based on an injury to T.J Ford. Now Jose is the one injured and you can make a case for Jarrett Jack to remain as the starter when Jose returns depending on when that is and if Jack continues his level of play. Jack for starters is durable as he has not missed a game in the last 2 seasons. I think it is starting to be a case that you can label Calderon as somewhat injury prone. In addition Jack is a better defender and can have more impact overall. Yesterday he once again came close to a triple double. He also seems to have a better natural chemistry with Chris Bosh. Calderon also may be able to help a bench that has had some people struggling like a Marco Belinelli for example. Calderon could inject some life into that second unit and make them stronger on the offensive side of things.
This really is something that might make sense depending on when Jose Calderon returns and how Jack plays while he is gone. Despite the irony and quiet joy it may provide fans of T.J Ford like me, it also makes sense for this team going forward. Calderon is never going to be as good on defense as Jack and this team really needs to establish the defense from the start. Jose Calderon has value and it is not like you could trade him given his injuries of the last few years and his contract. If Jose is the person that we all think he is then he would be ok with the move. It is clear when it comes to being enthusiastic and a team guy Calderon has always been good at that. In terms of Jack he seems to be more of a leader and vocal and not afraid to call out people including himself.
Is this starting a point guard controversy? Maybe it is or maybe it isn't but the point is about getting wins and not who gets there name called. I think this makes sense and will lead to a better overall Raptors. I have no idea if the Raptors feel the same way but they really should consider it. Jack is never going to demand he starts but he has a history of going out and earning it. I think he is getting close to the point of doing that.
Will see how he does against some solid opposition in Miami and Orlando but the dawn of a New Jack Starting point guard may be on the way. The Raptors have been up and down and trying to find a direction. If they can do it with Jack as the starter why mess with it. However regardless of who starts the Raptors need to find a way to be consistent in terms of effort and defense. Two major tests lie ahead for this team.