Christmas came early for the Toronto Raptors in Detroit on Saturday night. The Raptors overcame a 25 point deficit to beat the Pistons 120 – 116 on their home court and erased a four game slide.
The Raptors fell behind because of poor transition defense, costly turnovers and an inability to stop players inside. Ben Wallace was drinking from the fountain of youth in the first half and finished the game with 23 points. The Raptors got caught in transition and just didn’t take care of the ball. The second quarter was an absolute nightmare as they gave up 43 points.
The 43 points given up in the second quarter should have done them in, but the Raptors clawed their way back. The team relied on strong defense and smart offensive sets to get them back in the game. They forced Detroit into several turnovers and the team was able to take advantage of great open looks.
Ultimately the Pistons shot themselves in the foot and the Raptors made them pay for it shooting and unbelievable 60% from the field. Give credit where credit is due the Raptors took advantage of their chances in the fourth quarter and the Pistons could not stop them.
The Zan for Three
The Wright Stuff
This Julian Wright kid is beginning to look like a really good player. I had a chance to be at the Denver game and watched the change in the team defense when he was on the floor. It happened again today. He changes the intensity of the team’s defense. He play his man tight and he helps force turnovers. His contribution will never show up on a score sheet but he makes an unquestionable difference when he’s on the court. With Sonny Weems and Demar Derozan disappearing every other game, Julian could become an important piece off the bench. Over the last two games he has made a huge impact on the team and is becoming a very important part of the club. I hope he gets some more minutes.
Don’t Get Caught on the Flip Flop
The Raptors have been getting absolutely burned in transition the last few games and tonight was no different. Stuckey ran the ball well and made big lays of Raptor turnovers in the first half. The problems in transition were not as clear as they were in the Denver game, but the Raptors have got to get back on defense after they score or miss. With a team that possesses the amount of speed that the Raptors do there is no excuse for them not to get back on the defensive end. Tonight they were able to negate some of those errors, but over their four game losing streak the points given up in transition absolutely killed them.
Nice to see Jarryd Bayless come back strong after an absolutely awful performance against Denver. He was given the starting duties for the injured Calderon and played a stinker against the Nuggets in front of the hometown crowd. Tonight he had a rough first half, turning the ball over a number of times. But Bayless is a hard worker and someone who does not give up easily. Against Denver he came out before the rest of the team during the half to take extra shots in the hope he could get himself back on track. He wants to do well and you can tell that he wants to take advantage of this opportunity to start. Last night was a dreadful performance, so it was especially sweet to see him bounce back tonight with a game high 31 points. He is a nice young player and could be part of the future of this team going forward. He was one of the best players on the floor during the key fourth quarter and looks like a player Toronto fans are going to enjoy watching.
Zan of the Night
Way to get your team moving in the right direction. I felt he made the right substitutions at the right time and called the right plays down the stretch. The old adage that “It ain’t over ’til it’s over” was exemplified by the entire team. You don’t get young players fighting when they’re down 25 points if they don’t believe in the person who tells them to keep fighting. This team obviously buys what Triano is selling them. He has found the right way to reach his players. The days of breaking clipboards over his knee has been replaced by patience and consistency. When Amir makes bad fouls, he gets yanked. When Demar and Sonny can’t hit a shot, he puts Wright in there to send a message. Tonight his message was received loud and clear. I think this coach’s job is safe.
Not Zan of the Night
I hate you Tracy McGrady. I have said it many times in this column, but I just can’t stand looking at you. You exemplify so many things wrong with the NBA. I hated you when you left Toronto for fame and fortune in Orlando and I am enjoying watching play an insignificant role on a team going nowhere. I have already let go of my anger for Vince Carter and Chris Bosh, but I will never let go of my hatred for you. You suck!
*** Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald *** Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Zantabakherald