It was an ugly night at the ACC, the kind where the best thing about the game is the Raptors mascot. And, god love him, too. He is hilarious, especially when he wears that little inflatable suit. Yup, that was the best part of the game for the Raptors, when the Raptor pretended to eat someone in an inflatable suit. Pretty much sums it up doesn’t it?
This is a team fighting for a playoff spot, but there wasn’t much fight from the opening tip. Hedo Turkoglu lasted only one half and no one decided to play any defence to speak of. Usually the Raptors put up a better effort at home against a top team like the Jazz, but tonight there was no such effort. This does not look like a team fighting for a playoff spot. This doesn’t look like a team fighting for anything. The effort on defence was not there and Deron Williams had a field day. He made the Raptors look like Husky pylons.
If this team plans on playing playoff basketball for very long, they need to find the will to win. A lot of work lies ahead for this team.
The Zan for Three
Wow. Is he really this good or are the Raptors this bad? 18 points and 16 assists? He didn’t even play that much in the second half. He made Jose Calderon look like a statue all night and just had his way with the Raptors. I openly questioned his inclusion on the All-Star team this year, but he just might be the real deal. The Jazz are sitting in 4th in the Western Conference and he is the reason why. If the Raptors want to learn something about willing your team to victory, making smart choices, and fighting for a victory in a playoff race. They need to look no further than Deron. He is a player any team would love to have on their team. A leader. A winner.
The Clock is Ticking
After the game, Antoine Wright said this: “It’s just time to come together as a team. We’re running out of time. We’ve got to figure it out.” This could not be more true to the point. It is getting tiring talking about the same deficiencies game in and game out. This team has a limited amount of time to point the ship in the right direction and start moving up the standings. They are stuck in 8th and are running out of time to get where they should, by all rights, be right now. Wright is often vocal and often says things you don’t want to hear, but he speaks the truth here. In the words of SNL character Oscar Rogers “Fix it!”
One has to wonder whether there is something more to this sudden run of bad basketball. The Raptors looked great heading into the All-Star break and seemed poised for a top 5 finish in the East. They were becoming a team that other clubs in the league did not want to face.
It could just be good players playing bad basketball or maybe it’s something more. The players don’t look like they’re having fun, they are smiling less. Of course, losing will do that to a player, a coach, a fan or two. Maybe something is up. Jack doesn’t seem happy with his backup role, Jose didn’t seem happy with his. Turkoglu wants “ball” and has been mentioning it regularly to anyone that will listen. Antoine Wright is fired up 24/7 and then there’s Bosh’s looming free-agency. Maybe this is a club that is imploding. Maybe there is something going on behind the scenes we are not aware of. The Raptors have lost their mojo. If they’re too worried about next season in the thick of a playoff battle then that is all they will be playing for.
Plus the Foul…
No Love for the big Slovenian
What does it say about Rasho’s status on the team when he doesn’t play in a lopsided blowout? Yes, Reggie played well at the end of the game, but come on! This was the perfect time to put him in. What is up with that? Let’s NBA already!
Zan of the Night
An All Star doing what All Stars do. He is quickly adding himself to the list of elite NBA players in the league. He is a tough match up on any night and tonight there was no answer for him. He is leading the Jazz up the standings in the very tough Western Conference. This is not a team I would want a first round playoff match-up with. Although I don’t know if there is a team in the 1-8 spots in the West that I would rather play.
Not Zan of the Night
He was a human pylon tonight. He looked more crossing guard than a point guard. His defence is never anything to write home about, but tonight he was totally useless on that end of the floor. They say defence wins championships. Tonight was not an encouraging sign for the Raptors. Jose needs to bring it or he needs to sit. He is becoming far too much a liability on the defensive end.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald