It wasn’t an easy win by any stretch. Lou Williams decided to play one of his best ever games leading the Sixers back from a 23 point deficit. But in the end, the Raptors used contributions from almost everybody on the team to hold on for the victory. The win is the teams’ 29th of the season and ties a franchise record for victories at the break. The Raps are 20-6 at home and now a comfortable 6 games over .500. Statistics that should be creditited to an under-appreciated coaching staff and the chemistry this team has developed. The Raptors were a complete team tonight, especially down the stetch, using defensive stops and smart offensive sets to finish off a surging Sixers squad. Bosh, Bargnani, Wright and Weems came up especially big in the final minutes of the game. But Derozan, Calderon, Jack and Johnson were solid at times as well. A complete team victory tonight. Including Reggie Evans.
The Zan for Three (plus the foul)
A Legend is Born
I haven’t seen so much excitement in this city for a returning player since Mats Sundin. Reggie Evans obviously has the hearts of the fans. He played only five minutes in the game but you could just feel the change in energy. I know the Sixers felt something change the moment he approached the scoring table. Reggie looked good out there, a little slow, but he provides the Raps with something they haven’t had. A dirty inside presence that makes the opposition think twice about attacking the rim. He’s a game changer. The Big Dirty.
Papa Calderon looking After the Kids
How great was Jose Calderon working with the Young Guns? He was feeding them alley-oop after alley-oop. Calderon. Seriously? Jose is a steadying presence on the second unit and provides patience and leadership for the occasionally erratic young Raptor core. Amir Johnson and Calderon have had chemistry since Jose returned to the lineup but Weems and Derozan worked exceptionally well with the Spaniard tonight as well. This could be a perfect marriage for the Raptors. Jose is very efficient with the ball. He doesn’t turn it over and is good at slowing the tempo. On the flip side the kids can run and sometimes force Jose to get out of his comfort zone and push the ball up the floor. The perfect balance.
How good is Jay Triano getting at managing his bench? There was a time this season when everyone and their grandmother was questioning the way Triano utilized his bench, but now? He is utilizing Antoine Wright and Sonny Weems as defensive substitutions that have been most effective at the end of ballgames. He interchanges Jack and Calderon depending on what style he wants to play. Case in point: Calderon played key minutes in the fourth when Jay wanted to run a more controlled offense to combat the Sixers run. Triano then took Calderon out of the game and used Weems, Jack and Wright in the key defensive possessions at the end of the game.
(plus the foul)
The Raptors are getting very good at closing out ballgames. Another testament to the coaching staff. The Raptors let Lou Williams and the Sixers back into the ball game with lazy defense and poorly executed offensive sets. Jay Triano let them play through it and saw Calderon use the ol’ 4pt play to take the lead back. Bargnani then hit a huge three to finish off the Sixers. The Raptors ended the game on an 11-0 run. That’s how you close out a game. Well done. And they secured Pizza for the Raptor faithful. Perfect.
Zan of the Game
Jay Triano. A case easily could have been made for Mr 20 and 10, Chris Bosh, or even Jose with the way he ran the team in the fourth quarter, but Jay gets it. He ties the team record for wins at the All Star Break and has led this team to ten consecutive games with over 100 points. Incredible. Not only that but he is becoming a very effective strategist on the court using the full range of his bench. This team believes in him and that’s the reason for the huge turnaround this season. They should now be considered a team to be reckoned with come playoff time. Watch out Boston! 4 games back.
Not Zan of the Game
Jason Kapono. Arguably one of Colangelo’s worst decisions as GM of the Raptors was to bring him in. Then again he was flipped for Reggie Evans, so he was of some use. Not only did Kapono lose to his former team but he was awful when he was on the floor. He still has not regained confidence in his shot and finished the night with 0 points on 0 for 2 shooting. He is only sticking around in Philly so his contract can expire. He could be on his way out of the league this summer.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @zantabakherald
***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald