Raps Close 2009 On The Posiitive Tip

It is always a lot different checking out a game at the ACC rather than at home. It was a pretty decent sized crowd with the Bobcats paying a visit to the ACC. Actually was in a new spot checking out the game last night. Normally I am way up high but I was down in the lower bowl next stop press row. Just kidding truth is I just feel fortunate to be covering games. It has been a year of learning for me and it has been a great experience. Each time it gets a little easier and I don't feel as much like...what the heck am I doing here? It is a different perspective to get to be around the players and see them off the floor as well as on it. I mean you can watch the post game media scrums and get a little sense of it. There is lots of other stuff though that you don't see on Raps T.V.

The best example for me is Chris Bosh talking proud about his hometown Cowboys. There is not a lot I have in common with Chris Bosh I would imagine, but we do have that. Never asked him this but I wonder who Chris thinks is hotter right now? His Boys or his Cowboys? Both are riding high heading into 2010. But seeing as this is a basketball blog will stick to the Raptors. Another fun thing that goes on is the verbal banter between Sonny Weems and Demar DeRozan. There has been an on going friendly debate on who would win a dunk off between the 2 players. Both claim that it is no contest and that the other would lose. Nothing like some internal competition. The point to all of this is you get to see a little of what all these guys are like as people beyond stats on a sheet.

On the injury front still no clear idea on when Jose Calderon or Reggie Evans will return. Jay Triano said prior to the game that Jose is starting to do some things but does not expect him back in the near future. Best case scenario he is still a couple weeks away. In terms of Reggie it is still very much in the dark. More on him later on but there is a game to talk about. It was a pretty good game at that. It would see another Raptor go down with an injury. Hedo Turkoglu left the game at halftime with a bruised knee. The injury did not happen in the game though as it was said by Jay Triano that the knee had been bruised in practice.

The Game, almost forgot about that. The Bobcats for whatever reason can not play well on the road. At least not well enough to win. They had to feel some level of confidence though playing the Raptors who they had scored their largest win in franchise history against. This would turnout to be a very scrappy affair at the ACC. The Bobcats to a lesser extent offer many of the same problems that a team like the Hawks do for the Raptors. Raptors would get a solid effort from both Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani through out the night. When both Bosh and Bargnani have it going on the same night the Raptors make for a tough win for anyone.

The Raptors on the defensive end did not do a good job in terms of shooting percentage but what they did successfully was force Bobcats into turnovers. Triano in the post game press conference suggested that he wanted his team to take chances and be aggressive. The Raptors were very scrappy through out the night. They would fall behind in the battle on glass but would fight back and eventually win the battle.They would edge Bobcats 36-35 including 17 of those 36 on the offensive end. The Raptors would trail at the half 56-55 on the scoreboard after the had held the lead for the majority of the half.

The Raptors would get off to a slow start in the 3rd and it was not looking good for a time. They continued to fight and would eventually take the lead the lead back and Marco Belinelli would hit a clutch shot at the end of the quarter to take a 84-80 lead into the 4th. It was a quite the battle in the 4th. A foul by Marcus Banks would draw a crowd and draw a crowd. This team has come a long way from that team vs Boston that many questioned. When Bosh was hit below the belt and there was little to no reaction to it. Those days seem like a long time ago as this group really seems to have come together. In the end it would be Bosh and Bargnani that would combine on the key play to win it. A kick out to Bargnani and open look from 3 that Bargnani would drill to give the Raptors a 104-100 lead. Bosh had 33 and Bargnani 28 in the 107-103 win.

Bosh on Bargnani- "Andrea we need him to play. He's done a very good job, He did a spectacular job tonight. We need him to score and play good defense"

So the Raptors close out 2009 winning 5 in a row. Jarrett Jack has been running the offense through this stretch. Jarrett Jack said that it was more about defending home court as much as it was about closing the year on a streak.

Jarrett Jack- " I think for one, we came back and we took care of home court for the most part. Anytime you come into your building you want to use that to your advantage. When you go on the road you can use that rhythm that you build when you go on the road. That is definitely what were going to need when you go to a hostile place like Boston."

Jack also talked about there being a college like vibe in terms of the hustle and taking charges. Just an overall more aggressive attitude and approach. He said that the knocks this team had taken in the past in terms of toughness were in the past and this team has a new attitude about things. There was no talk about what happens when Jose eventually comes back. Jarrett Jack is not going to go there and that is likely a good thing. What is clear though is Jack really is growing into a leader on this team on and off the floor. It is not expected that Jose will be back for some big match-ups vs Boston, San Antonio and Orlando. If Jack plays well in these upcoming games it will only strengthen the case he should remain in the starting 5. Whatever ends up happening this should be a lot less toxic a situation. What would the Raptors be without some drama at the point guard spot.

Besides things are going well and the Raptors enter 2010 just 1 game below .500. Which when you looked at the schedule they have faced is not really all that bad. I will have some more stuff on Reggie and Demar later today before the DNB closes up shop for 2009.

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