Sports makes stranger bed fellows than politics ever has. As proof I give you today's matinee with the Raptors hosting the Bobcats. The Pacers left the ACC quite upset with the Toronto Raptors and now today they have to root for the Raptors. Pacers and Bobcats enter today tied in the Eastern Conference Standings. The Raptors have another game where they can have an impact on playoff race even if they are not in it themselves. Also rooting for the Raptors are the Bucks sitting just a half game behind the Pacers and Bobcats. Losing an hour of sleep the Raptors have motivation to be spoilers. No Amir Johnson again today and that gives Ed Davis a chance to start. Coming off a double double. His 7th of the season I believe. But if I am wrong take it easy on me I am going on an hour less sleep too and making far less than anyone on the floor today.
Raps and Bobcats exchange hoops then a risky pass by James Johnson looking for Demar is picked and Bobcats turn that into two on the other end. Bobcats were looking sharp early and had an 8-4 lead. Bargnani who struggled in his return the line-up was not great but scores on a drive on his first attempt of the afternoon. Couple of fouls on Ed Davis and then DeRozan and the DeRozan foul sends Kwame Brown to the line. He mad both and Bobcats lead 12-6. DeRozan would score on the other end, answered by a Jackson three on the other end and it is 15-8 Bobcats on top. D.J Augustin hits a jumper to make it 17-10 and that draws a time out from Jay Triano. James Johnson blows a lay-up but Reggie was in and all over it but second chance did not get points. Bobcats get a three in transition and it was 22-13 and looking ugly early. James Johnson used a Reggie Evans screen and this time hit the uncontested lay-up it is was 22-16 and Bobcats wanted to talk it over. Reggie Evans making an impact hustles and get a ball leads to break and Raptors got a easy basket on a 2-0 break. Reggie makes an impact there is not question about that. Reggie was a one man wrecking crew and his hustle was leading to Raptors getting all kinds of open looks it was tied at 22 and since Reggie joined this game Raptors had an 11-4 advantage. Bobcats would edge ahead 24-22.
Reggie was rebounding everything with 8 boards and even had a basket to tie it at 24. Sonny Weems would give Raptors first lead since 2-0. Bobcats would try to fight off the wave of energy Reggie had brought and went on an 8-0 run. That was the good news, Stephen Jackson tweaking his back was the bad and Bobcats foul and take a time out for him to get checked out. Jerryd Bayless his a 3 ball Raptors were down 5. But now bad news for the Raptors as Demar DeRozan was knocked down and forced to take a seat even though he didn't want too. DeRozan is of course the only Raptor to play in ever game this season. Bobcats took advantage of his absence to take a 8 point lead. Jackson was back for the Cats as well. Ed Davis and he closed off the comeback push tying it up at 42 but failed to give the Raptors the lead at the line. Demar was back and he would give Raps the lead a 10-0 run and Raptors back on top 44-42. It was a scrappy finish to the first half and Bobcats were in a fight up 50-47.
As at the start teams trade buckets this time Bobcats strike first blow with Henderson jumper and Demar looking no worse for wear with the answer. Teams continued to trade baskets waiting for the other to blink with the score 59-56 Bobcats. The Raptors would be the ones to blink first and Bobcats nailed a wide open Augustin three. Then a turnover and a foul and suddenly Bobcats were up 10 with score 66-56. Even the return of Reggie to the floor did not help stop the Bobcat surge. A time out from Jay Triano to try and stop the insanity. But another Augustin three and Bobcats were doing a better job accounting for Reggie on the glass. Couple of Calderon baskets would get it back to single digits after the Bobcats had their largest lead at 13. make it a 6-0 Calderon run as he made 2 at the line. Not a fan but Jose like Reggie had in first half was making an impact in a very different way but same result. After DeRozan split a pair at the line Raptors were down 71-65. James Johnson in spurts is great but is also awful at times. Case and point a silly charge. Bobcats steady things and built the lead back to 10 with score 75-65. Raptors would make a push and draw a little closer for the 4th quarter. Some really sloppy play by Bobcats late as Bayless had a steal led to a easy lay up for Bargnani who was struggling mightily. The Evans a steal and a shot well out of his range and had it gone down the Building would have followed. Raptors would settle for being down 76-71.
The struggles for Andrea continued as a double team caused him to throw the ball away. Raptors had cut it to 3 but after that it was a 80-73 Bobcats lead. Barbosa not nearly as hot as on Friday. Made one to cut it to 5 but next trip missed. Reggie regardless of the score just rebounds. Sonny Weems in limited minutes is getting his and makes a jumper. But like Barbosa the next time a miss. But Reggie Evans with a steal and he was trying to WILL the Raptors to a win. Steal led to Bayless lay-up and it was 82-79. Bobcats got it back to 5 but a Barbosa three would cut the lead to two. This game was getting scrappy and Bobcats up 6 get teched up as Gerald Henderson did not like something. Reggie Evans has 17 rebounds in 28 minutes and he needs a break. DeRozan comes in and heads straight for the hoop and gets a call. Makes a couple at the line. DeRozan has had a rough day getting banged up and just 9 points so far. A Scramble play ends with a foul on Stephen Jackson by DeRozan and Jackson would split 2 making it 89-84 Bobcats. Break time over for Reggie but he is not in there to stop D.J Augustin who again nails a wide open look. Barbosa was heating up and basket and 1 at the line made it 91-88 Bobcats. But again Augustin hits and I am officially adding him to the Raptor Killer list. It includes names like Roger Mason Jr and other odd names. Demar DeRozan goes into double digits with a bang with the throw down. Raptors were fighting hard but in the end Bobcats had far more to lose than the Raptors. Bobcats needed this game and got it 95-90 powered by Texas Alum D.J Augustin with 23.
Speaking of Texas time to see where Longhorns will be for March Madness and tune in tomorrow as I chatted with T.J Ford about our Canadian kids at Texas and their prospects of making the NBA and who knows if they are smart here in Toronto becoming Raptors? As for today. Reggie tried to will this team to a win but he needed more help and Bargnani and DeRozan not having great scoring days would make that task far to tough in the end.