Raptors March Madness Like Win

March Madness is starting today but for Raptors fans it got rolling last night. The Raptors took fans on a roller coaster ride all night. It start off badly as the Hawks came out and went on a 7-0 run causing Jay Triano to burn an early time out. The Raptors would battle back and build a lead only to see the Hawks go on another run and make it close. When the music stopped after the first quarter the Raptors had a 30-25 lead. But some of the same issues from this 5 game losing streak would still be there through out the night. Jose Calderon looked decent overall in his return to the starting line-up. Chris Bosh on the other hand was having a rough night at the office. After a strong start to the 2nd quarter the Raptors would close the quarter in trouble. The reason things were getting out of hand late was lack of defense guarding the 3 point line. The Hawks were shooting 75% from behind the 3 point line after a half of play. The Raptors were fortunate to have a 59-56 lead at the half.

Demar DeRozan was great in that first half in terms of offense as he had 14 point and was slamming and making his way to the free throw line on a regular basis. But as good as the rookie might have been for Raptors, Jamal Crawford was killing it for the Hawks. Crawford once scored 50 points vs the Raptors as a Bull. He had 22 points in the first half and the Raptors seemed to have no answer to stopping him. Along with him Bibby and Evans were hitting from distance as well. When you fast forward to the 3rd quarter the Raptors lead was short lived. Once again this team failed to answer the bell in the 3rd quarter. The absolute rock bottom moment for Raptors fans like was when the Hawks hit 3 straight 3 pointers in 3 possessions. In doing the live blog for The Score the mood was an ugly one. All signs were pointing to a 6th straight loss and people were more then happy to share how they felt about that. The mood would change by the end of this one. By the time the music stopped in the 3rd quarter the Hawks had outscored the Raptors 30-16 and had an 11 point lead entering the 4th. Hope seemed lost for Toronto.

But the Raptors would come out in the 4th and cause the Hawks to become a turnover machine. The Raptors actually were playing defense all of the sudden and had found their groove an offense again. But down 11 you still felt it might have been to little to late. But Andrea Bargnani who at times got abused by Al Horford did end up with 22 points and more importantly 11 rebounds. But in the end this game would come down to a bizarre set of circumstances involving both Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Bosh.

The Hawks once 11 point lead had bee chopped to just 2 points. Raptors call a time out and they inbound the ball to HeDO or HeDON'T that was the question. He would be fouled with 15 seconds left and have a chance to tie game at the line. HeDO on the first shot and HeDidn't on the second and the Hawks rebounded the miss and it seemed over. However Al Horford stepped out of bounds. Raptors would now have a chance to win the game. The ball would go to Chris Bosh who was (5-18) at the time. Bosh would take a jumper instead of drive and he would make it when it mattered most. Earlier in the night Chris passed 10,000 points in his career but the 2 points he got at the end of this one might have been 2 of the most important of his time with the Raptors. Hawks would have 2.1 seconds left thought. They would get a shot off from Crawford I believe it was and he missed it. Relief, Joy and Excitement were all emotions for both fans and the Raptors. They escape with a 106-105 win snapping a 5 game losing streak.

On the out of town scoreboard the Bobcats win and the Bulls lose. The Raps are now 2 and half games clear of the Bulls for that final playoff spot. They gain a half game on Miami who will play tonight vs Orlando. It was not pretty and the Raptors for a lot of reasons likely deserved to lose this game but when the chips were down they played defense and got it done. Bosh after a brutal night found a way to make the big shot like the franchise play is suppose to do. Still I am not convinced Jay Triano slept much better last night. There is still a lot of issues with this team and they are some of the same ones. Raptors did get a win though and that was badly needed if for nothing else, the overall moral of this franchise from the fans to the front office. A similar challenge lies ahead in the Thunder on Friday. If the Raptors do not play better than they did in this one they will lose. While I am as happy as anyone the Raptors finally won. I am not so happy that I am blind to what went on in the 47 minutes and 38 seconds prior to the wacky conclusion. Raptors may not care nor may fans but Raptors got lucky last night. Maybe even though they are ugly, those green Raptor Jerseys have some luck in them. I will admit this team for it's own mental state needed this win badly and it could be something they can build from.

Like the title indicates this had a real March Madness feel to it. Heck of a game from an entertainment standpoint. Still lot of work to do. In terms of the line up change Jose was o.k at the end of the day. He out played Jack both need to pick it up for this team. The Raptors need better point guard play down the stretch. Simple as that. I am to the point, I honestly do not care who it comes from. 33-33 with 16 to play will see if it is a SWEET or SOUR 16 games for the Raptors.

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