To say I was able to play close attention to the Raptors game tonight would be stretching the truth. I was at Real Sports and hanging out with some great folks at the Raptors Tweet-Up with Akil, Kat and some Raptor fans. They were taping stuff for Raptorspace, so I guess you will see me on there tomorrow at 6pm (NBA TV CANADA) or at one of the several times it re-airs. I am the only one at these things that doesn't tweet. Mainly because I don't own a Blackberry or IPhone. It reminds me of when I was a kid and would get invited to a Birthday Party at a pizza place and bring a peanut butter sandwich. Why? Well I had a thing as a kid that I didn't like anything mixed together and Pizza is by nature that. Truth is the first time I ate Pizza was like when I was 13. I know strange isn't it? Kinda like this Raptors recent 4-game road trip.
It started with an unexpected win in Orlando. Then an acceptable showing vs Miami. A terrible effort vs Washington and that left you wondering what to expect tonight? Andrea Bargnani was coming in off a terrible 12 point and 2 rebound effort vs the Wizards. About the only Raptor that came to play was Sonny Weems.
Fast forward to this evening and it was Bargnani with a big night and another career night for Sonny "Money" Weems. This road trip has been a solid one for Sonny with the big shot vs Orlando and it has been good for him personally for this whole trip for the most part.
By the way Kat is doing one of those interactive fan events at Real Sports Apparel @2:30 on November 20th with both Sonny and Demar. I suggested they should let Sonny and Demar go at it against each other at something. That likely won't happen but you will have a chance to ask them questions and get an autograph. Sonny and Demar are both great guys and I have been lucky to talk with both several times. I like both of them and having the two of them at the same time should be entertaining. Kat will have her hands full with those two.
Anyway back to this evening. Weems had another career high 25 points as he remains in the starting line-up. I said from the start of this year that DeRozan and Weems needed to be on the floor at the same time and glad Jay Triano finally agrees. They are just to dynamic together not to be on the same time. That being said was a very quiet night for Demar with only 4 points with 5 assists and I will bet a few of those were to Sonny.
But the star of the show on this night was Andrea Bargnani with 30 points and 7 rebounds in what probably, most would agree, was his best night so far this season? Also a great night off the bench for Jose with 12 points and 8 assists. These two have taken their lumps in the Dino Nation Blog and elsewhere but on this night both were very good and deserve props.
Was a close game pretty much all the way through until the 4th. The Raptors would pull away in the late going on route to winning the final quarter 25-15 and the game itself 94-86. There might not be a lot of style points for the win, but the Raptors margin for error is not that big and they must win games vs the teams at our below their level. Philly clearly qualifies. It should be noted that Andre Iguodala was not in the line-up and he normally kills the Raptors. Something about us picking so kid from Brazil that use to play in the NBA instead of him. So that should at least be noted for next time around. But the Raptors faced a similar scenario yesterday with John Wall out and failed to capitalize on it.
Sixers only shot 36% and Raptors 44% so while you could say the Raptors D was better, it might be more accurate to say Philly's offence, is well offensive. Still they never ask how you win games just if you won them. Bargnani having a big night was needed, for this team, and for himself most likely. In season though I am never going to complain about a Raptor win. While some seem set to talk about the draft already and Raptors in effect tanking. I am not a fan of that and there is just no guarantee that having the worst record in league gets you anything. You could end up with 4th pick if your luck is very bad. But at the end of the day, you want to have a culture that is about winning. It is needed for young players to develop. Play hard and good or bad, the record will take care of itself.
Had a great time watching the game at Real Sports. First time being there for a Raptor game. It is a minding blowing place and if you haven't made your way there it is worth checking out. While some may question MLSE in terms of the on court/ice/field with their sports franchises. This Sports Bar does not have a record with wins and losses but if it did would be close to undefeated. I am just grateful there is not one here because I would likely go there way to much.
Will be interesting to see what Raptors we get vs the Rockets after this road trip, it is any one's guess. But you can now say that the Raptors are out of both the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division basements. Which, if for nothing else, is good for moral. Not just the team and organization, but the fans too. Losing just will never be fun. Why do you think finding a Clipper fan in L.A is so tough. Lakers win, Clippers lose, and everyone loves a winner and on this night the Raptors were that...a winner.