It was a big game. Probably the biggest game of the season. A game that separates the men from the boys, the players from the pretenders and playoff teams from lottery teams. It was a must win. As “must win” as a game can get.
The Raptors fell short. Plain and simple.
The team could not buy a bucket for large stretches of time. They settled for jump shots instead of driving the net and did not play an ounce of defense on the other end of the floor.
When your best offensive player is out and, arguably your best defender, someone needs to step up. No one did. Derek Rose was a one man show and without the inside presence of Chris Bosh, Joakim Noah had a field day in the low and high post. On the other end, the Raptors could not put a solid run together and looked discombobulated on offense.
All hope is not lost as there is still two games left and the Raptors do hold the tie-breaker.
With two games left the Raptors need to find leadership and a hunger from within, if they intend on fulfilling their goal at the beginning of the season and make the playoffs.
The Zan for Three
In a game of this magnitude players need to step up. These are the types of games that players use to make names for themselves. Hedo Turkoglu has made a name for himself throughout his career by playing big in games such as these. Tonight, for the Raptors, no one was able to take control. No player made a name for himself. Hedo had a great game, mind you, but it wasn’t the type of game that propels a team to victory. 19 rebounds is nothing to laugh at but his 2-1o shooting doesn’t cut it.
On the other side, the Raptors allowed players like Taj Gibson and Flip Murray to make a name for themselves. These players, role players, stepped up and helped propel their team to victory. Where was Marco Belinelli? Demar Derozan? Jose Calderon? This is the time to step up. If not now, when?
The Importance of Chris Bosh
So, still think this team will be just fine without Chris Bosh next season? This was not a good indication that the Raptors will be able to fill the void a Chris Bosh will leave if he chooses to go elsewhere this summer. The Raptors were abused inside and could not get anything done on the offensive end. Chris Bosh gets stops on the defensive end and he scores on the offensive side. Amir Johnson and Reggie Evans were not able to do the job that #4 does on a nightly basis. With Bosh in the lineup this is a much different game. No way Joakim Noah goes off for 18 boards with CB4 playing. If this is how the Raptors play without Chris Bosh, it could be a long, long season in Toronto next year.
Italian Meat Ball
Andrea Bargnani has been an enigma wrapped in a puzzle during his Raptor tenure. He shows flashes of absolute brilliance and then disappears for no known reason for large stretches of time. He is, quite possibly, the player the Raptors will look to if/when Chris Bosh leaves as a free agent. Maybe he has been playing beside an All-star for too long, but he needs to learn to take control of a game. When you’re shooting 50% and your team is down, it’s okay to shoot the ball a bit more. When you drive the net and get calls, it’s okay to do that more often. Even at the expense of being labelled a bit “selfish”. After all these years in the league and after all the wonderful words of praise, he still looks hesitant to take control and allow himself to be the focal point. Stars in this league demand the ball, hell, even guys who come off the bench demand the ball. This is a player that needs to demand it and do whatever he wants with it. With Bosh out, Bargnani should be the focal point of this offense. Why hasn’t he figured this out yet?
…Plus the Foul
Keep Hope Alive
It is easy to get discouraged after a big loss like this, but there is an even bigger game tomorrow and another on Wednesday. This game was rough, but we get a second chance tomorrow. The Raptors hold that all important tie-breaker and Chicago has a tougher remaining two games (Boston and Charlotte). The Raptors must go into Detroit tomorrow and play like winners. Shrug this loss off and go get the prize. The Raptors are still very much in the playoff race. We mustn’t hang our heads.
Zan of the Night
Derek Rose and Joakim Noah. In a game that could have effectively eliminated them from the playoffs, it was important that the Bulls’ stars show up and control the game. These two played like stars. 18pts and 18 rebounds is a pretty good day at the office. Noah took full advantage of a Bosh-less Raptor squad. Rose was in total control. He used Calderon as a pylon for most of the game and scored and dished the ball at will.
Not Zan of the Night
Marco Belinelli. It is hard to choose just one Raptor as there were so many to point the finger at, but Belinelli really disappointed me tonight. He could have been an x-factor tonight. He has a great three-point shot and plays well on the defensive end. Tonight he was useless. His statline looks like a Tim Hortons’ display case. Maybe Don Nelson was right.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald