So, while I watched the Miami Heat lose their 3rd straight, you were likely watching the Raptors try to win 4 straight. Adding a couple new people to the fold in Jerryd Bayless and Peja Stojakovic. This is a game that Raptors should feel they can win and have to win. Raptors took care of Sixers in Philly on the strength of a strong performance by Andrea Bargnani.
Two things about the start of this one. Bargnani was playing like a guy that knows no one on this team can guard him. While Reggie Evans was rebounding for Bargnani and himself with 7 rebounds in like the first 5 minutes of this one. Raptors with a 15-6 early lead and we even have a Jose Calderon steal and easy score as part of that. Jose with the Uno...Dose Etc and Raps are rolling early . Reggie was even scoring a little to go along with his ever rising rebound numbers. Sonny Weems wants in on the party, the turnover and SLAMMAGE. Raps already with 8 points off Philly turnovers and huge lead 30-16. Reggie Board count is at 10 and were not out of the first Quarter. Bayless in and nails a 3..Raptors up HUGE after 1 with a 33-18 lead. The Raptors would win the second quarter as well by 4 points and take a 19 point lead to the half, 15 as not been so popular since Vince Carter when we liked him. 15 points for Andrea Bargnani and a Raptor record 15 rebounds in a half for Reggie Evans. Raps were taken advantage of a team coming off an OT loss the night before.
The Sixers would make a bit of a run and Andre Iguodala slam would cut the Raptor lead to 14. One of the changes in Jay Triano that I have noticed, beyond colourful language at times, is better use of time outs. He takes one after that easy slam and it was a good one. Raps still had a 76-62 lead and were still well in command to this point. Raptors were a bit sloppy but the Sixers were not taking full advantage of it. Cue Reggie Evans? No Really. He got board 17 then on the offensive end the basket and 1 at the line. Raps lead was back to 19 with the score 81-62. Reggie was in range to threaten Marshall's team record of 24. Raps were moving the ball well all night. The latest example Weems a drive and kick out to Barbosa for the open 3 and the Raptors were up 87-67. A little slippage at the end the 3rd and Raptors took a 87-71 lead into the 4th. Pizza was looking probably at the ACC tonight and so was a win.
Oh Iggy Pop and he did to open the 4th. Babosa answers but then a Meeks 3 and Sixers had lead down to 13. Bayless with a 3 then a hustle play and a basket in transition. He had 13 in his debut. But Philly was getting their offence off as well but still down 13. The 4th quarter was not pretty to this point but Raptors were doing enough to stay comfortably in front. Andrea an ugly miss and then a turnover on a travel, the Raptors lead was just a dozen. Raptors had about 6 more minutes to survive to get this win. They were the much fresher team having not played since Sunday. While as mentioned last night Philly was taken to overtime and eventually lost. Raptors defence was leaky and that is being kind. With under 5 to play the lead was down to 10. Raptors got lead back to 12 on an Amir bucket. They had several chances to build on that but could not. Iguodala would head to the line with 3:40ish left and make a pair at the line to make it a 10 point lead again. The Sixers had never led in this one. Sixers had their chances to cut it to single digits but just could not break through. Both teams were struggling to score with 2:30 left. Bargnani would hit to make the lead a dozen again. Reggie Evans a big offensive board and Weems the score Raps were up 14. Reggie Evans also had 20 boards...by the time the dust settled he had 22 boards a career high for Reggie. But most importantly Raptors got a 106-90 win.
To put this is some perspective Reggie had over 50% of the Raptors rebounds in this game. To think he almost was a Bobcat. Many have assumed Reggie is very much in play with his expiring contract. However, can the Raptors really afford to trade him? Not to mention the leadership he has been showing. He called that meeting after that awful loss in Washington. Maybe Reggie Evans might be a Raptor a lot longer than some expect him to be. Someone tweeted to me imagine if Reggie was healthy last year. You just might have a totally different Raptor reality. Chris Bosh might not be Like A Bosh in Miami. He might still be a Raptor or maybe he wouldn't be. But considering the Raptors fell just 1 win shy of the playoffs, it is a safe bet this Reggie could have earned them at least 1 win if not a lot more. Did you see Jason Kapono tonight? He was inactive and clearly Reggie is MORE than ACTIVE!!!