1/1/12

New Year But Same Old Problems For Raptors

I am getting the reputation of being a negative person. Shocking I know. So let it be said the Raptors played for 3/4 of this game about as good as you can ask. Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon who often take a lot of shots in this blog were both fantastic. Bargnani added to a solid performance in Dallas with 28 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists tonight in Orlando. While Calderon had one of his best shooting nights in recent memory with 18 points, going 3-4 from 3 point range and 6-9 overall. This along with 13 assists which pushed him past 3,000 in his 7th year in the NBA.

The Raptors from the start got the jump on a Magic team that clearly looked like they had enjoyed to much fun ringing in 2012. Hedo likes to party as Raptor fans well know. Dwight Howard started the game with a great offensive rebound and slam but seemed to have his interest level drift in this game. Raptors went on a 8-0 run after that and continued to pound on the Magic to the tune of 21-8 at one point in the first. The Raptors lost a little ground with the second unit but still had a healthy lead of 27-18 after one.

In the second the Magic's leading scorer got it going after sitting out most of the first with two fouls. If you think we are talking about Dwight Howard, we are not. Hedo? Come on now? No Ryan Anderson is that guy and he was fantastic matching the solid performance from Andrea Bargnani. In an ironic twist it was Anderson making the 3's with Bargnani driving to the basket getting 2 at a time. Anderson has much the same type of game as Bargnani but not nearly has skilled. But still the Raptors would take a 52-47 lead to the break.

Here is why you should love Dwane Casey if you don't already. If this was a Triano coached Raptors you would expect the Magic to continue to climb back and crush the Raptors early in the 3rd. But the Casey led Raptors were the ones that came out swinging. The Raptors got their double digit lead back and they would hold it to the end of the 3rd with an 11 point lead heading to the 4th.

But no matter who the players are or who the coach happens to be the Raptors have had a history of 4th quarter failure. This not so happy tradition was on full display in Orlando. The Magic as if they finally shook of there "rust" from New Year's Eve came alive in the 4th. Dwight Howard had a massive rejection of Bargnani that you will no doubt see on the highlights of this game. The Raptors offence hit the skids and the lead would evaporate as fast as Canadian snow on a warm Orlando night.

While we gave praise to Calderon and Bargnani. There was blame to go around as well. Demar DeRozan is making some awful shooting choices and despite his 17 points he shot just 4-12 and had 3 shots blocked. Lone positive was 6 boards from Demar. James Johnson provided nothing on offence and was only slightly better on defence from the game with Dallas. Also starting to be a point of worry is Ed Davis who after a solid opener vs Cavs has been on the steady decline. Just two points and only 1 rebound? Hey if we are going to slam Bargnani...Ed Davis hello. Ed Davis has to be a contributor on the glass.

Raptors defence which has been the great story to this point got progressively worse in this game. When it was all done the Magic shot just a shade under 50% easily the best performance by a Raptor opponent this season. Raptors have little time to figure it out as they hop a plane to head to NYC and a Monday meet up with the Knicks. Raptors end up fumbling this one 102-96 to the Magic. Magic outscored the Raptors 32-15 in the final quarter. A all to familiar ending for Raptors fans on a day that is suppose to be about new beginnings.

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