It wasn’t pretty once again, but in this fierce playoff atmosphere, a win is a win. The Raptors catapulted themselves into a tie for seventh with a hard-fought victory over the young Timberwolves. 13 more to go. Chris Bosh once again played a strong offensive game and Hedo Turkoglu battled back from an awful first half to nail down the victory in the fourth. Turkoglu had an awful first quarter picking up two early fouls and was barely heard from for the rest of the game until the fourth quarter where he controlled the offense and drained key buckets. It felt a little like a playoff game in the fourth. Not always a good sign when you’re facing the second worst team in the Association, but the Raptors need wins at this point, it really doesn’t matter how they get them.
The Zan For Three
Avoid the Turkish Start, finish with the Turkish Delight
Hedo Turkoglu has been having the worst start to games this season. It seems like almost every game he is getting into early foul trouble. Yes, the Raptors are a deep team, but this really throws off his rhythm. He is a key component of this team and absolutely paramount to any and all playoff success. He must be a key contributor, but he can’t when he is nailed to the bench in the first quarter. The team suffered when he was on the bench and seemed to lose its rhythm as well. Hedo was able to come back in the fourth with key minutes and really propelled the team to victory with his ballhandling and smart offensive choices. His defensive presence on the last couple of Timberwolves possessions was stellar as well. The big Turk is and will continue to be a key to the Raptors’ fortunes going forward.
Darko Milicic has to be one of the worst draft picks in the history of the game. This kid was selected over Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and David Lee. I know this has been beaten to death in the media and on message boards, but why? This kid seems to have an NBA body and he has some game but he has never been able to put it together. He may never be able to put it together as rumours insist he will seriously consider Europe when the season is over. He is the biggest draft blunder since Sam Bowie was selected by the New Jersey Nets all those years ago and he has never made anyone doubt it for a second.
The Wright Stuff
Nice to see Sonny Weems and Antoine Wright come to the rescue tonight for the Raptors. The playoffs are about your stars playing well but they are also about role players stepping up, especially on the defensive end. If anyone on the team is going to do that it is going to be these two guys. Weems and Wright were summoned from the bench after Turkoglu picked up two quick fouls. They kept the Raptors in the game and took advantage of their opportunities. That is what role players do. They hit the shots when they’re there and play their role. Wright has been an energetic and vocal leader off the bench this year. This is something the Raptors will need more of come playoff time. Both have become very dependable and valuable assets off the bench for Jay Triano this season.
Plus the Foul
Stat Sheets Don’t Lie
Sometimes the stats do not lie. When Andrea Bargnani records over 6 rebounds in one game the Raptors are now 22-14. Andrea needs to get inside more and tighten up defensively on his match-up. Rebounding has been one of his biggest issues since entering the NBA and he appears, at times, to be working hard at fixing this deficiency in his game. At other times he seems to play very passively on the defensive end. More nights like this will go a long way toward building his confidence and helping him turn a corner with his rebounding. Not to mention, helping his team win.
Zan of the Night
He looked like the goat after the first quarter but he turned it on at the right moment and helped hold off the charging Timberwolves. Hedo came through in the clutch, controlling the game, and picking up his teammates.
Not Zan of the Night
I don’t care, I still hold a lot of ill will toward the guy. He is like that ex-girlfriend that cheated on you and you can just never forgive. This Timberwolves team has his imprint all over it. An underacheiving team that has made very questionable draft choices, but has a couple of players that look to be pretty decent. This team is a mess that may never get fixed. Rob Babcock should get the “Pete Rose treatment” from the NBA simply for sucking. He is well on his way to ruining another franchise.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald