Let’s make this clear from the beginning, this was not a pretty game. For two teams fighting for their playoff lives they both gave their opponent a number of chances to win in the final frame. In the end, for Raptor fans, a win is a win. And boy did we need it. With the Bulls slowly and methodically chasing them down, for the final Eastern Conference Playoff spot, the Raptors gave themselves a bit of breathing room with a tough win on the road. Toronto now sits 1.5 games up on the Bulls with the Clippers waiting or them in Toronto.
Tonight was all about redemption for the Raptors. Over the last two games they have been one of the worst fourth quarter teams in the league, gift wrapping consecutive games to Denver and Miami, two teams they should have beat. Tonight they used a huge fourth quarter and timely play of Jack, Bosh and (Dare I say it) Hedo Turkoglu in addition to the Bobcats shooting woes, to nail home a thrilling win. The game would have been a lot less nerve-wracking had the Raptors decided to hit a free throw in the fourth, but in the end, a win is a win.
The Zan for Three
Hedo Hot Seat
Wow. What a crazy 24 hour period surrounding Hedo Turkoglu. I was half expecting there to be pictures of him on Entertainment Tonight Canada this evening. Word surfaced earlier today and last night that Hedo was benched by Jay Triano because he was out late at a Yorkville establishment after missing a game with the flu. Teammates and coaches were rumoured to be openly questioning his heart.
Things really could not have worked out worse for Hedo and the Raptors after the initial excitement of his signing with Toronto. He has not produced and is already being called a free-agent bust. His attitude has been compared to the last days of Vince Carter and his impact on the court is almost non-existant most nights. Tonight he came off the bench and looked good. There is still time for him to make amends if he can turn it around and lead the team to a successful playoff run. He just has to remember to stay out da’ club.
Free Throws and Three-pointers
What a shooting display by the Bobcats. They really fell in love with the three ball and it may have been what ultimately undid their chances of winning the game. The three ball kept them in the game and had the ‘Cats up comfortably in the fourth. It also sank them in the final frame as the shot stopped falling. It was their gift, it was their curse.
Not to be outdone….what is up with our free throw shooting lately? Was that Sonny Weems on the line to ice it in the fourth quarter or Shaq? The last stretch of games has really seen a decline in the number of times the Raptors are on the line and the number of times the ball has gone in. When you miss that many free throws on a regular basis it can often mean the difference between winning and losing. Tonight the Raptors were lucky the Bobcats couldn’t hit a shot in the fourth because this game could have easily gone the other way.
Not Quite Like Mike
It was ironic to see Michael Jordan, now owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, in the front row during the fourth quarter of this game. The camera kept panning back to him throughout the final frame. He is known for being a clutch performer and, no doubt, the camera crew was looking for a dramatic performance from either team to compare to the feats of Michael Jordan of yester year. What resulted was, probably, some of the least clutch plays ever. Clangers, an unforced turnover on an out-of-bounds step out, missed free throws, and finally a terrible pass from Raymond Felton that literally threw the game away. Not exactly the way Jordan would have done it. Maybe these teams need to eat more Wheaties, or drink more Gatorade. This was a disaster finish to a game with huge playoff implications. Not like Mike.
Zan of the Night
He came in and scored 12 points off the bench and led his team to their finest finish of a game in a long time. The Raps haven’t been able to perform in the final frame lately and tonight, Jack made sure they did. He was confident with the ball and made the right choices, setting himself and his teammates up for a big win.
Not Zan of the Night
Worst. Pass. Ever. Sorry, dude, that was not acceptable. Especially in a game against a team chasing you in the playoff hunt and especially in front of Mike.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald