There is something about the 4th quarter for the Toronto Raptors lately. A close game against the Knicks turned into a blowout in the final frame a night ago and on Wednesday against the Rose-less Bulls the Raptors once again fell apart.
Toronto hung in for three quarters and actually felt at many points during the game like they would take control and upset the conference leading Bulls. Then the Raps were outscored in the 4th 32-13. The team went from fight to retreat in a matter of a quarter and missed an opportunity to send the troops at the ACC home happy on Armed Forces Night.
A tough loss. Late game decision making and efficiency needs to improve. The last 12 minutes were uglier than the Camoflauge jerseys the Raptors were wearing.
The Zan for Three
The Italian Dud
I am a big Bargnani fan, but he has not been the same player since he returned from his calf injury. He’s been a couple steps slower, he hasn’t looked as aggressive and he isn’t driving the lane with the same punch as he did before the inury. I’m sure it’s just part of the recovery process, but Bargnani doesn’t look like the teams star right now. He looks slow, sluggish and ineffective.
Hopeully Bargs can turn it around before the end of the year and show fans more of what made him so successful during the first part of the season. Over the last few games he has looked like a completely different player.
The Team to Beat
With all do respect to Miami and the “Whore of Akron”, Chicago is the team to beat in the East this year. This team is as deep as any in the league. Derrick Rose is the reigning MVP and right now the Bulls are 11-4 without him in the lineup. That is absolutely unreal.
This team can score from any part of the court, plays tough defense and is incredibly efficient on both ends of the floor. To absorb the loss of the league MVP without missing a beat is truly remarkable.
Tom Thibodeau deserves another coach of the year award for this unreal run the Bulls are on.
Their depth and ability to spread the floor makes them the fvourite to win it all. It helps that they are, quite possibly, one of the more likeable teams in the NBA.
Salami and Cheese
The best part of any home game against the Bulls is the return of Chuck Swirsky to Toronto. When he was here, I feel Raptor fans didn’t appreciate him as much as they should have. His voice is what made Raptor games fun, even when we were losing. Matt Deviln, Chuck’s replacement, is an excellent colour commentary guy, but lacks the unusual fanboy feel that Chuck had when he called games. It is always a pleasure to welcome him home to Toronto, even if it is only for one night.
Zan of the Night
I admit that when I saw the pictures of these jerseys online I was a little disturbed. They looked hideous and laughable. When the Raptors came out of the locker room tonight, however, the uniforms looked good. They were not nearly as ugly as they looked initally. I admit I was wrong.
Not only that, but the purpose of the night was to honour this country’s brave men and women who risk their lives so that we can be free. Having the Raptors walk out in their intros with a member of the armed forces was a great touch. A promotional night that ended up being very sentimental.
Zan of the Night
This coach is phenomenal. He’s got no Rose and he conintues to win games. He is a great X’s and O’s coach and he, like our own coach Casey, preaches defense. Despite the rough start, he turned whatever switch he needed to and brought his team back from the clutches of defeat. That is what coaches who win are able to do. If the Bulls and Thibodeau are going to have playoff success against teams like the Heat, they are going to need to find ways to win ball games. This is a coach that has his team going in the right direction. When Rose gets back; watch out.
Not Zan of the Night
Another night of on court struggles for Andrea. He hasn’t regained his form following his injury and the questions about his ability and toughness are starting to rear their ugly head again. Bargs shot the ball poorly tonight and hasn’t looked good in a while. He was thoroughly outplayed on both ends of the floor by Boozer and Noah. He’s going to have to dig deep to finish the season the way he started it.
The Zan Tabak Herald