It was like deja vu all over again for the Raptors. A strong first half from the Raptors saw the team carry a four point lead into half time. Then the third quarter reared its ugly head. The Raptors gave up 43 on Wednesday night in an embarrassing loss to Sacramento and followed it up by giving up 41 to the third worst team in the association. The defense disappeared, the offensive sets went nowhere and the Raptors found consistency out of no one. Chris Bosh, the teams best player, couldn’t help but notice the lack of effort from himself and his teammates. “Act like you care, you know,” he said. “We need to do the things that win, we don’t do the things that win.” Tough love from the teams’ best player who seemed absolutely enraged after the game.
There’s reason to be pissed. The Raptors are now treading dangerously close to falling out of playoff contention. They sit in the 8th spot at the moment, only one and half games ahead of Chicago, for the final playoff spot in the East. They must come together quickly or risk wasting a season that had the makings of something special.
The Zan for Three
If you want to win games consistently in this league, your best players have to step up and lead the way. The Raptors didn’t get that kind of effort from their stars and the Warriors did, plain and simple. Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and Corey Maggette went off on the Raptors scoring 31, 35, and 20 respectively. Chris Bosh scored 24 for the Raptors but Hedo Turkoglu scored a whopping 4pts, Andrea Bargnani added 11 and Jarrett Jack tossed in 7. If the Raptors have any design of playing playoff basketball they need to start getting production from their main guys. In a playoff atmosphere it will be these players that will be called on to lead. But there won’t be any playoffs to play in if the players don’t start stepping up now.
What a great rookie class this year turned out to be. Jennings, Curry and Evans are in a sprint to the finish for Rookie of the Year. Evans looked great on Wednesday and Curry had his opportunity to impress tonight against the Raptors. He took advantage of terrible defensive positioning and got to the rim at will. He made shots and got his teammates involved as well. Curry looks like a player the Warriors should build around in the coming years. He just has the mentality of a winner and isn’t afraid to take big shots. He has many qualities of his father, former Raptor Dell Curry, that make him a dangerous player to play against. A great mix of skill and smarts.
Piss and Vinegar
Good teams go through bad spurts all the time. It is impossible in the long NBA season not to go through stretches where the team doesn’t play to their potential and ability. The Raptors have chosen the wrong time to play their worst ball of the season and someone needs to do something about it. Chris Bosh looked downright angry after the game and the Raptors could use a little bit more of that fire. I have been waiting all season for someone to call the team out and take charge of the locker room. Call all the team meetings you want, fly in Colangelo to talk to the team if you like, but something or someone has to light a fire under the players. Tonight Chris Bosh called his teammates out. It was long overdue but someone had to do it. Someone has to do the dirty work of reminding this team that they are not doing the things that need to be done to win. Let’s see if this can ignite a fire in that dressing room. I expect an angry squad on Sunday night in Portland.
Zan of the Night
He is looking every bit a star this year. He has ice in his veins and has qualities of a leader at this young stage of his career. He shot the lights out tonight and propelled his team to, what ended up being, an easy victory. He has the makings of a star in this league.
Not Zan of the Night
Take your pick. Every Raptor, outside of maybe Calderon, played horribly at some point in the ball game. Hedo Turkoglu is an obvious target with his four point night. He didn’t score a single point after the first quarter. The $53 million dollar man is looking lost and lethargic. He personifies everything that is wrong with this team right now. They are not playing with energy, not making smart decisions, aren’t playing defense and don’t seem to care. He was signed to be a leader. To be an example. And to get us to the playoffs. He hasn’t led all season. He is setting the wrong example as his laissez-faire attitude seems to be catching on. And there is a very real chance we might miss the playoffs. Not acceptable.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald