I want to start this recap by giving some credit to Paul Jones who I spoke with via twitter in the afternoon. He said this would be a close game and he was right. I thought we would see a hungry and determined Knicks team. We did see that but it took till about the mid-point of the third quarter for that to happen.
What I did have right is that the Raptor fan base would make their thoughts perfectly clear on how they feel about Andrea Bargnani still being a Raptor. Boy did they ever booing him at every single opportunity he gave them to do so. Even in some where he really didn’t. This is not going away, so for those of you that choose to not accept this fact be my guest. That said, tonight was probably the worst it will be. Assuming he is not back to start next season. If he is that might be worse…in fact much worse.
I will not deny it does nothing to help the situation with Bargnani and any hope of his improvement. That said, this is freedom of speech and the paying customer making a comment on the product they are being presented. Maybe it is because of my love of wrestling that I understand this more than many of my respected media colleagues I am not sure. Still, some media and fans like the WWE does with John Cena refuse to accept that a majority of the audience does not accept him. That is the simple reality.
Where the comparison stops is Cena also has a loyal fan base that cheer him and try with all their mite to be louder than his detractors. Even the supporters of Bargnani are not foolish enough to try and lose their voice or waste it. Bargnani’s reaction to this has been to produce next to nothing. He scores 0 points with 0 rebounds in just 12 minutes on the floor. It proves a point for both sides. For the people that boo him they see it as see this is why we boo this bum. The people that support him see the bad people booing him as part of the problem. Which they are in fact right, Andrea Bargnani has had 6 years to win these people over and he has failed miserably. The fact some people feel sorry for him based on all of this is silly to me. This is the same guy that makes 10 million a season and said this team at start of the year was the worst in the league. Funny, how they are not anymore, with little influence from him on the club and its fate. Maybe that is part of why they are booing him too. The other reason is they can’t really boo who ultimately is responsible beyond Bargnani and that is Bryan Colangelo.
However, B.C might be saving his job and his reputation with fans by his move to acquire Rudy Gay. This guy is a lot of things Andrea Bargnani is not. At the top of that list is a leader. He fully accepts and embraces that role. Another one he embraces is being the man down the stretch of games.
The Raptors led this game for most of the night until the third quarter where a 13 point lead was established and would eventually vanish into thin air. If this was a game in November before Gay came on the scene there would be a collective sigh and here we go again. This is not the case anymore. The Raptors still had fight in them and would not just let this thing slip away. That effort was led and inspired by Rudy Gay.
This is what a leader does. Fans have been sold a bill of goods for years about Bosh being a leader and than Jose Calderon...Andrea Bargnani and even DeMar DeRozan. None of them were and Rudy Gay is.
Kyle Lowry feeds off this too and his hero act works far more effectively with Gay along for the ride. Lowry would make a big bucket down the stretch as a switch from Gay making the majority. Another guy feeding of this is DeMar DeRozan who has benefited far more from Gay’s presence than Andrea Bargnani’s spacing.
Oh and all those fans that were so mean booing the hard done by Andrea Bargnani, know how to cheer too and did so down the stretch of this game. I saw many comments on Twitter about the great passion from the fans in the forth. Passion is a two way street. That same passion is in boos sent in the direction of Bargnani. So please try not to be too much of hypocrite if you praise the fans for being so good for the forth quarter and so bad for booing Bargnani. You want passion that is the price you pay for it.
The Raptors would pull it out in the late stages powered by in a sense Andrea Bargnani and Vince Carter’s replacement Rudy Gay with 32 points going 11-23 from the field. DeRozan had 18 and Lowry 15 in support. Jonas Valanciunas had just 3 points but hustled to get 10 rebounds. This is part of the problem with Andrea Bargnani if he doesn’t score he basically does nothing else to help his team win. He is essentially a dead man walking on the floor.
In the end it was a spirited night at the ACC and the good guys won the game 100-98 and have earned at least a season series split ironically enough with the Atlantic Division leading and second in the Eastern Conference New York Knicks.