Well it was great to be back Live Blogging the Raptors on The Score.com and Score Mobile. If you want an account of the blow by blow of tonight's game you can check it out. The one thought I walked away with is there could be a lot of nights like tonight during this season. The Raptors did lose 98-93 to the Knicks. But the Raptors fought hard most of the night and had two good looks at 3's to tie the game late. They even had the lead at various points. If you are a fan that honestly thinks this team can make the post season you are likely upset. If you are a fan that felt this team was only going to win 20 some odd games or less you might be impressed. If you are a realist, which is what I class most Raptor fans as being, then you are happy about some things and not so happy about others.
Let's begin with Andrea Bargnani who addressed the fans to start the game. It was somewhat awkward but nice to see Andrea make the attempt. You are thrilled offensively how he started this game. It probably gets lost in all the complaining about his lack of rebounding and defence, but Andrea Bargnani is starting to show he has a mid-range game. Just 1 shot from 3 point line on the night and he made it. But a lot of longer shots from the 2 point range that he makes very easily. The Raptors vaunted 3 point streak almost died tonight. Not till an Andersen 3 ball late in the 3rd did it survive. But honestly during this streak, that is an NBA record, how successful have the Raps been? I would be much happier with a Raptors team that can defend the 3 point shot then make a ton of them. Andrea also scored down in the post and got to the line. Normally he is good from the line but tonight was just 5-8 when he got there. Not saying Andrea should give up taking 3's or anything but to be more economically in taking them is not a bad thing. Had a couple blocks and just 6 rebounds. A nice night for Andrea although his magician nickname was true as after he got 18 in the first half he only had 4 points in the 2nd. He was only 8-21 on the night which is not exactly thrilling. But the main thing is can he be a consistent scorer. Obviously he needs work on the defensive end but Rome was not built in a day. Or in the case of Andrea 4 seasons.
Moving along the point guard debate is over. Jarrett Jack is your starting point guard and is playing like it. I will take 16 points 6 dimes and 3 steals from my starting point guard and be happy with that. Jose Calderon is not what he once was on offence and despite the odd attempt to be a good defender, he is just not. Full marks for taking one on the numbers and drawing a charge tonight though. His 2-8 shooting night with just 4 points and 7 assists is just not going to cut it. While the desire of fans to see him traded grows his play is heading south. No not to South Beach and not to anywhere else anytime soon. It is far to risky for another team to think Jose can suddenly bounce back and be what he once was. It is also not just us that notice he can't defend. This is all without mentioning his contract that is far to high for a guy that is just no longer a starter in this league.
It is early but may I be the first to recommend we bring back the Young Gunz. The Artists formally known as that, now going by Young Onez all had rough nights. Amir just 2 points and 1 rebound to go with his 4 fouls in an unspectacular 13 minutes. Weems just 6 points shooting 2-6 with block and a couple assists in a less the thrilling 20 minutes. While Demar started looking ok late in this one, but he was lacking the OH MAN moment and only got 9 points in 26 minutes as a starter. Did get to the line 6 times making 5 though. These are the guys that a lot of fans were counting on to help this team surprise and be better than people think. I like them all but they know as much as anyone this has to get better. Gunz or Onez, whatever just start playing some ball please. I am hopefully they bounce back on Friday.
Did you hear it? REGGIE REGGIE...the chant is back. A lot of people bailed out on this guy and that was unfair. But you like him now with his 16 rebounds. He had 0 points but only 2 attempts. This is a guy that once had 20 rebounds and 0 points. Reggie is option number 6 in a starting 5. Still this is a guy that when he is right can have an impact and he is showing it. So for all you people that hated on him last year don't go changing your tune. Fact is we just never got to see a 100% healthy Reggie and now we are. This is the guy that was advertised when he came here. Besides would you really want Jason Kapono back?
The New 3. Maybe that will catch on but likely not. Barbosa, Kleiza and Andersen. For me Kleiza was hot and cold and this was not one of his better nights with 13. As for Barbosa despite the wrist trouble he seems o.k. It was not a great shooting night going 6 of 16. He also manged to put in 13 points. But I think Andersen impressed me the most, with his 8 points and 5 boards in just 13 minutes of play. That is 5 boards in 13 compared to Andrea's 6 in 35. I just like all the different things Andersen does.
Jay Triano went 10 deep in this one. I was a little impressed with the improvement in his time out selection at times. I was not impressed that he failed to find an answer for Chandler who was killing his team on this night. Jay is changing and evolving as a coach but there is still a ways to go with him. If you are waiting for the other shoe to drop and see Jay get fired, given the state of the franchise, I would see that as highly unlikely.
At the end of the day I see the Raptors in a lot of games that are a lot like this one. The difference between epic failing season and playoffs is a large gap. What will determine the Raptors future is how many games like tonight's can they win. Cavs are up next on Thursday and will be flying high after beating a team that beat the team with Lebron. Clearly by this theory the Cavs can beat the Heat. My God Dan Gilbert was right. Actually not really. I use last year's Cavs as the example. The Cavs started 0-2 with losses to Boston and Toronto and it did not exactly destroy their season. That happened in the playoffs.
A win for the Raptors will be vital with team heading out on that difficult western swing. 81 more to go and it was exciting tonight. However as Herm Edwards said " You play to win the game". As I said on the Radio in Montreal tonight it is hard remain excited if you do not get the validation that is winning. After 5 or 6 losses in a row losing gets old real fast. Ask last seasons Nets about that. Not saying the Raptors will be that but losing is never fun and seldom is exciting.