Playing the Nets is like fighting against Glass Joe in Mike Tyson’s Punchout. You know you should win…but every once in a while Glass Joe gets his. It certainly wasn’t pretty tonight but the Raptors were able to find production from a number of sources in order to hold off the Nets. It was a lot tougher than it should have been as the Raptors had to claw back in the second half and hold off what appeared to be an inspired Nets team. Did I just write that? Jarrett Jack, Sonny Weems and Antoine Wright were particularly effective for the Raptors but it was really a full team effort as the Raptors battled without three key components of their offence: Turkoglu, Calderon and Derozan. In the end the better team won and continued their success at home in front of Vanilla Ice and Brian Mulroney. Also Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf were on hand to see what it’s like to be a part of a winning team.
The Zan for Three
We here at the Zan have already discussed the importance of the X-factor in winning games (here) but tonight it was paramount that anyone and everyone step up for the Raptors. Down three rotation players and on the second night of a back to back the Raptors had to dig deep and find production from other sources. Enter Antoine Wright, Sonny Weems and Marcus Banks. These three provided key minutes for the Raptors and were productive on both ends of the floor. Without these three the Raptors do not win the game. The deep bench of Toronto is a key component in the recent turnaround of the team and continued tonight.
Another night where both Bosh and Bargnani showed inconsistencies on defense. I, for one, am looking forward to the return of Reggie Evans. When a team goes on a big run, like the Nets did in the second quarter, Reggie will be there to absolutely hammer someone to make them think twice about driving the net. The defense inside needs to be stronger and more intimidating. As the game went on both Bosh and Bargnani picked up the slack but against a more challenging opponent the Raptors will not be as fortunate to come away with the victory.
No Guts, No Glory
The Raptors dug down deep tonight and willed themselves to victory. They were tired. That was clear from the onset. Bosh and Bargnani did not have the same jump in their step as they did one night ago. The Raptors were down big in the second quarter and went through a shooting drought that seemed like it would never end. They pulled up their socks and fought through their deficiences to win the game. Jarrett Jack was sick, but refused to let that stop him from playing like a man inspired. If the Raptors are going to be successful this season and into the playoffs they will need this type of effort in order to stay competative with the “Beasts of the East”.
Zan of the Night
Antoine Wright. This was a tough one tonight because Jarrett Jack and Sonny Weems also played so well, but in the end Wright was the key factor that kept us in the game and propelled us forward. He played excellent defense throughout the game and drove the ball to the hoop and made smart shots finishing with 18pts. He has been playing at another level during this Raptor run and his defense inspires thoughts of playoff basketball. He is finally looking like the player that Colangelo stole in the Hedo Turkoglu mega deal during the summer.
Not Zan of the Game
Kris Humphries. I’m sorry but I cannot not help but hate this guy. He fires up way too many shots for a role playing Power Forward. He played well in spurts tonight but ultimately became a black hole on the offense during the game and helped give the Raptors the ball back in the second half.. I hate him with or without hair. Did anyone else find it funny that Humphries returned the same night that Vanilla Ice played at the ACC? or am I alone at that one?
By the Way: Doesn’t Hedo look totally badass with his black eye? Watch out Eastern Conference it is about to get ugly.
Thank God for the Nets. A cure for any problem a team might have.
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The Zan Tabak Herald