Wearing their lucky green uniforms, the Raptors channelled some Irish magic to win big game against a tough Hawks squad. It looked as though the Raptors were in for another tough loss. They had dropped their small lead after another terrible 3rd quarter. Josh Smith’s technical seemed to inspire the Hawks and the Raps were on their way to another tough loss. They chipped away in the fourth with solid defensive possessions and the use of their entire roster. Everyone from Weems to Amir, Turkoglu to Bargnani contributed to the win. In the end it was hustle from Amir on Turkoglu’s missed free throw and Chris Bosh that sealed the big win. Chris Bosh became the first Raptor to reach 10,000 points in his career and added to his total with a game winning shot. The Raptors hung with one of the best and showed that they may belong in that playoff mix after all.
The Zan for Three
Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani have been two of the most criticized players in the media over this last stretch of games. The criticism was deserved as Turkoglu has not put up the numbers or effort he was expected to and Andrea has looked awful rebounding the basketball. Both redeemed themselves with strong play. Turkoglu looked more involved than he has all season with great defensive effort, good ball movement and smart choices late in the game. He also played 41 minutes, the most of any Raptor on the floor. Bargnani was the leading scorer for Toronto, opening with 11 in the first quarter, and came up big in the fourth with offensive rebounds and sound defense. He has been heavily criticized for his lack of rebounding ability but took advantage of Atlanta’s shot blocker and came away with 11 boards, 3 of them offensive. Both were integral to the win, especially with Bosh not playing his best game.
What a change from the third to fourth quarter huh? The Raptors were way more active on the defensive end at the tail end of the game. The Raptors contested shots, boxed out and secured rebounds on both the offensive and defensive end. Not surprisingly, the Raptors cut into the 11 point lead because of their defensive energy. Points were scored in transition and off of turnovers. Good Defense often leads to offense. It is not just a coaching analogy. Tonight the Raptors used their defense to fuel their offense.
The Hawks showed it after Calderon and Josh Smith exchanged pleasantries. Their game changed and so did the team ahead on the score sheet. In the fourth the Raptors fought. They were tough on defense but they refused to be denied in this game. Amir Johnson’s play at the end of the game to save Hedo Turkoglu miss was a defining moment in this game. The Raptors just wanted it more. They fought with all they had and were able to come up with a W.
Plus the Foul
A lot was made before the game of the decision to start Calderon over Jarrett Jack. Both players played large minutes and helped the team win. Neither was a dominant force out there but both were part of the whole that won the game. Only one turnover between them as well. It doesn’t matter who gets the start. Both players got their minutes. Hopefully this “issue” stays a “non-issue”. The team won and that’s all that matters.
Zan of the Night
Teamwork. It could have been any player tonight. Andrea with his scoring touch, Hedo with his inspired play, Amir for his energy or Chris Bosh for hitting the two biggest shots of the game. In the end it was a total team effort. The team acknowledged who was hot, found the open player, played tough on defense and came to the defense of their teammates. Chris Bosh didn’t have his best game and the rest of the team stepped up to give him that chance at the end of the game. Chris isn’t going to have a big game every time out and the rest of the team need to come to the rescue. Tonight, they did, and the Raptors came away with a win against a very tough opponent.
Not Zan of the Night
Marvin Williams. 2 points and probably the worst play of the game for the Hawks, stepping out-of-bounds off of Turkoglu’s miss. A tough night at the office for Williams.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald