Raptors Rewind- Bucking Game Notes

As the title suggests I know the result of this one. My only question heading into it was did the Raptors play as bad as the Sacramento Kings. The Kings were truly brutal as I was live blogging their game against the Bulls. I actually did two games as I did the Celtics and Pistons in the first game. I will be live blogging the Raptors and Magic on Super Sunday. Given the result of this game I got to say it is pretty awful without even seen this game yet. Still I am going to watch the game in an hour and experience the pain at a faster rate. So with that I will leave it to my notes to tell you my thoughts. I did hear about J.O getting kicked out on his bobblehead night at least that is reason to keep watching.

1st Quarter

  • Can't get use to those red Buck uniforms and Bosh starts us off with a missed jumper
  • Charlie V always good against the Raps
  • Nice move by Bargnani in the post
  • Jose and Parker hook up for nice score (8-8)
  • Parker has really come back strong of late nice shot from Parkerville court.
  • Does Scott Skiles ever smile?
  • Bargnani with pretty move in post again high off glass
  • No box out at all Bogut gets easy put back
  • Bargnani is hot open 3 that he nails. 13 in the first wow
  • O'Neal steal leads to nice score for Kapono
  • Charlie Bell is under rated player. I like his game
  • Jamario Moon shows some flashes of Jamario Version 0708
  • Good effort first quarter. I am pre-warned it goes wrong starting now
2nd Quarter
  • Can't fault defense on that first bucket for Bucks
  • Sessions to Charlie V wide wide open
  • Joey Graham getting on glass that is a good Joey characteristic
  • Ramon Sessions is a real nice point guard and getting better all the time
  • Bogut does nice job in post
  • Turnovers bad, open jumpers are worse ( Bucks 41-34 )
  • Bargnani draws the charge good job. Bargnani defense is getting better all the time
  • Bosh makes a score, But next time turns it over. You see the frustration
  • Charlie V gets open look in lane- Dude where is my Defense?
  • Bogut on Bosh advantage Raps
  • Turnovers continue oh wait we kept that one my bad
  • Parker missed a very difficult fading jumper
  • Pretty move by Bosh to score and draw the foul
  • I still hate RJ. Always will.
  • Charlie V needs to think ever team is Raptors and he would be an All Star
  • Bosh needs to drive more, pump fakes are cool and all but drive it man
  • AP gets 3 shots that I am guessing he made never see free throws on Game in an Hour
3rd Quarter
  • Well first half was far from great but Raptors were in the game. So this is where it gets bad right?
  • No aggression on close outs on shooters. This is a big game hustle
  • Both teams start COLD
  • NO THREES JAMARIO. I am tired of it make or miss I hate it
  • Nice D by Bargnani
  • Charlie V wide open Bosh far to late on close out
  • It is raining 3's I still hate R.J
  • Calderon shooting less and he makes one (2-6 - Sam Mitchell wants more shots)
  • Charlie V is a very motivated young man against red and white
  • Bucks abusing the Raptors badly Bucks up 11, Defense is fast asleep, Triano pissed off and who can blame him
  • Offense bad, Defense is worse.
  • Crowd getting restless and rightfully so Raptors 2-11 for the Quarter.
  • AP makes a basket. He has been perhaps best scorer for the Raptors of late.
  • Pretty passing from Bucks but no finish
  • JO thanks for showing up on your bobble head night. his first 2 points in the third?
  • Bargnani after great start has been handled by Bucks
  • JO took that jumper from CB4 playbook
  • Charlie Bell is a good shooter and is like I said under rated
  • Good adjustments made by Skiles and Bucks were very good in third. Raps equally as bad
4th Quarter
  • Saw a Gilbert Arenas Ad, he was great when he use to play in the league. (Nothing to do with game )
  • J.O got to line
  • Jeffferson I STILL HATE U
  • Bell is good defender too
  • Joey G watches ball pass him by. Can't blame him not like people normally pass to him
  • Bucks hustle and get offensive board. Charlie V follows shot
  • Jefferson is seriously killing us
  • J.O should only get paid for half this game this one
  • Easy look for Charlie V in post
  • J.O called for a charge and gets teched up. Can't show up Refs even if they are wrong
  • J.O did lead with his knee and that is why the charge. If that was the reason he did do that.
  • Raps down 15, If J.O had this fire earlier it might have mattered
  • 3 big line up, I am with JVG I hate this line up
  • Raps getting some energy from it though
  • Jose trying to win the fans back on Raps side, He missed his first free throw of the year
  • I am glad that streak is over I am sorry it just didn't mean much to me like 3 point streak.
  • So this is where all hell breaks loose I think
  • Bodies every where and Charlie V is a really tough guy getting held back
  • J.O vs Charlie V in a fight J.O would kill him.
  • Raptors showed flashes of effort but they needed much more than that.
  • Give Bucks credit they wanted this game and it showed
Well it was really not the effort you would hope for from this basketball team. This is why I have not held out much hope for this Raptor team to make the playoffs. They just can't seem to string wins together and it is going to take that kind of string of 5 or 6 wins to truly get back in the race. It could easily be the start of another long losing streak given what lies ahead on the schedule. If J.O leave him whacking Richard Jefferson will be my favourite J.O moment. I don't know if I mentioned it....I HATE RICHARD JEFFERSON. Lots of Raptor fans hate V.C well that is pretty much how I feel about RJ. If I was Bryan Colangelo this game tells me that it is time to consider being a seller and set the plan in motion for next season and try to save your franchise player from leaving. It seems clear this team just does not have what it takes to fight and get back into the race. Superman is coming on Sunday and I bet the Magic remember what happened the last time they came to Toronto. I know if they have forgotten, Stan Van Gundy will be happy to remind them. That is bad news for the Raptors.


CB4 Looks To Make It 4 In A Row

The Raptors look to make it 4 wins in a row and close even closer to a playoff spot. It seems very odd to say that given all that has gone on this season. Chris Bosh will get to hear some love from the home fans as he will be announced as the 4 time All Star for the home fans. The news came down last night and he made the cut. I personally was worried for him but it in the end was not necessary. Canadian fans went one for two on the night as Steve Nash did not make the game. Which is being hosted in his home town city. That would be like Bosh not making it if the game came to Toronto. But it all worked out for Chris and I am glad because I think had he not made it that would have been a big disappointment for him. Couple other All Star selections I was happy about were Danny Granger, Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris. Nelson has been on a sky rocket to the top since his performance against the Raptors in last season in the playoffs. Harris and Granger have had great seasons as well and are well deserving. But turning attention back to the Raptors this is a big game for the Raptors. Since losing Michael Reed for the year the Bucks have struggled and they are playing with a target on their back in the 8th seed. Also it is no secret what lies ahead after this game. A Magic team that has 3 All Stars in Lewis, Nelson and Howard, King James and the Cavs, Lakers with All Star Kobe and Gasol and New Orleans with CP3. Not an easy schedule at all. If the Raptors went 0-4 in that set of games it would not be a shock. They get a couple must wins against Memphis and Minnesota. But that being said the T-Wolves have been hot. They close out prior to the All Star game against the Spurs. Not a simple road to the All Star break at all.

Buyer or Seller? Perhaps Both

Bryan Colangelo is in a tough spot. Many of you are aware I am a frequent caller on the show Hoops. Last night my question was dealing with the spot Bryan Colangelo finds himself in heading to the trade deadline. The question all year has been instead of the South Park statement of "That's what Brian Boitano do". Instead in Raptorland it has been....What will Bryan Colangelo do? I wrote a blog with that title months ago. I don't think we are any closer to an answer today. It makes sense that Jermaine O'Neal would or should be moved. He has stepped aside for Andrea Bargnani. In the short term J.O has been cool with it. However everyone admits that is not likely to last. Even Jay Triano yesterday in an interview on the Fan 590 said as much. What happens then? It has the makings of being a situation that was not unlike the one with Jose Calderon and T.J Ford last season. So it almost makes trading O'Neal important not just for the cap room but for the team harmony. If the guy coming back is Shawn Marion he is a guy that tends to what is the way to put this? Shawn is an athlete in the model of T.O. He loves him some him. So that may offer it's own challenges in chemistry. It really is a tough spot to be in. Chris Bosh wants to be in the playoffs and don't tell him he can't beat the Celtics or the Cavs because he doesn't want to hear that. In fact he shouldn't want to hear that. Players should always think they can beat anyone and want to face challenges. Is it realistic to think the Raptors could win a 7 game series against the Celtics or Cavs? No it isn't but that is not the point when you are a player. There are lots of examples in sports and in basketball that go against common sense and logically thinking. The Raptors can not stop pushing to make the playoffs but at the same time there has to be a plan in place to improve this team for the 2009/10 season. How Bosh feels at the end of that season will be key to the direction this franchise goes. It is not an easy task to be the G.M of the Toronto Raptors right now. We all may think we have the answers but the things we would do are not put under the microscope like whatever Bryan Colangelo will do.

Joey Graham and Jose Calderon Keep Proving Me Wrong

I am happy when things I say are proven wrong if it benefits the Raptors. Jose Calderon has shown the ability to be a scorer and is doing a great job. I said it just recently when he is playing at the offensive end like this it makes his lake of defensive skill less noticeable. But even on that front in the last game he had 3 steals which is pretty good. In fact screw that it is great. If Jose can play this way and stay at this level it is what people expected from him when he re-signed with this team. The last and final test will be how he performs in those 4 games against playoff level teams. If he produces at a similar rate he will have made me re-evaluate him moving forward. I think he has learned a lot sitting and watching. He is doing things that help this team win and that is what you want too see be it a Jose fan or not. The other thing that he brings and has always brought is a great value for possession of the ball. The lack of turnovers has an impact in a positive way. He has however been more aware of pushing the ball and taking the odd chance with an alley opp pass or a push up the floor long pass. Jay Triano can help Jose become an even better point guard and take it to another level. Even though they have totally different games, Triano worked with Nash and he was better for it. I think at the end of the day the same will be said for Jose Calderon.

Oh Joey. I have been hurt by you so many times. I admit that it has made me totally gun shy. However it seems that Joey Graham finally gets it? He sure has had an impact lately and is doing such a good job I would not even argue if he was inserted into the starting line-up. That is a personal milestone to have me say that. I am not ready to write up the contract for him to sign to come back next year yet. I have not totally lost my mind. However If Joey was able to keep this up the rest of the year it may make it a little more difficult to just say good bye to him without at least making an offer to him. He has to me surpassed Jamario Moon and is the best option the Raptors currently have right now at the wing. I am not including Parker in that as he has been good to splitting his time as a combo guard with some point mixed with shooting guard. But to paraphrase Deion Sanders "I believe in you Joey". Sanders would take shots at Eli Manning all last season and by the end of it all even Deion bought into Eli Manning. Well Joey with each game is getting more people to believe in him. The small loyal Joey Graham fan base that has stuck with him has a lot of company these days. It is not like I have ever disliked Joey he seems like one of the nicer guys on the team. He can be a true tough guy on the floor though. If Joey can perform could he me that tough guy the Raptors have always wanted. He has a long way to go before I am going to say he is the next Charles Oakley. Jeff Van Gundy on Toronto radio yesterday said of Oakley that he had the highest basketball I.Q of anyone he had coached. That is an impressive list if you think about it. I don't think anyone is putting Joey in that kind of class at this point. In fact some have said the opposite. Still keep doing what your doing Joey. It is making a difference.

So Raptor Rewind will be late tonight as I have some work issues that will force me to miss the game. But I will throw together a game notes style version of the Raptor Rewind that you can check out with your morning coffee or beverage of choice. Also tonight is J.O Bobblehead night at the ACC. If you are ticketless and looking for a place to watch the game. Head down to Philly McNasty's and be party of the fun down there with the folks at Raptors Republic. They have been nice enough to include the Dino Nation Blog as a sponsor of the event. I guess that means I will have to get down to one of these things before the season runs out. I will do my best but not this week with all the snow and the fact I am working.


Bosh Gets His All Star Verdict

Chris Bosh has been as close to a lock as you get for being an all star in the Eastern Conference for the past couple seasons. But this season given the Raptors lack of success some wondered if Bosh would be getting an invite to Phoenix, Arizona for All Star Weekend. Well wonder no longer.Chris Bosh is going to the All-Star game for the 4th time. Yahoo Sports is reporting they have the reserves list here it is:

All Star Reserves from Yahoo

One of the main stories on NBA.Com is featuring a story about Bryan Colangelo featured about the upcoming trade dead line that falls just after the All Star Game. The Raptors are figured to be big players at the deadline and in this interview Bryan Colangelo does nothing to think other wise. What are the Raptors though is a more difficult question. Is this team a buyer or a seller? They still are in the playoff mix but they had much better and bigger expectations than a 7th or 8th seed. See if you can get any clues from Bryan Colangelo in this interview:

Colangelo Still Talking Trade

Chris Bosh was not being supported by a former coach in his bid to be a 4-time All-Star. For those hoping Jeff Van Gundy would become the next head coach of the Raptors. He seemed in his interview to be fine with staying in T.V for now. He suggested it works better for his family life. However at the same time he said that he still has a desire to coach and hopes he has learned some things while being in broadcasting should he make his way back behind a bench. He spoke with Jack Armstrong and Doug McLean on the Game Plan today.

JVG was On Game Plan

They also talked to the current Raptor coach Jay Triano. They talked about the current state of the Raptors. Jay remains upbeat and focused on turning the Raptors around. Still many feel Triano is not going to be the guy heading into next season. But here is what Jay had to say for himself.

Triano On Game Plan

4 Wins? 4 Time All Star? Here In 4 Years?

Well I have always said it, no one asks how you win games at end of year just if you did. That being said, give Devin Harris that shot I think he makes it 9 out of 10 times. The Raptors were due some good karma in a season where they have had a lot of things not go their way. Thanks to the struggles of others like the Nets the Raptors at 9 games below .500 they still are very much alive for the playoffs. I had kind of written off their chances. But it seems they remain alive. That is the advantage of playing in the East. I heard a stat on Toronto radio last night that surprised me but likely should not have. In 7 of the last 8 years the 8th seed in the East has had a sub .500 record. One year the Celtics got in with just 36 wins. That was prior to the Big 3 obviously. I am highly conflicted if this is a good or bad thing. If the Raptors get in at an 8th seed what does it really do for the franchise long term? I can't come up with to many things. It would be different if this team had not been in the playoffs the 2 year prior to this. There is no question getting in as the 8th helped the Atlanta Hawks last year to this year. They also performed well once they got there. Some will say that well maybe the Raptors could do the same. But I have been watching the Celtics this year and if they finish on top I think the Hawks taught them a lesson last year that whoever they play this year will pay for. Kevin Garnett did say anything is possible and it is. But for the 8th seed in the East be it the Raptors or not, I am not liking their chances. Just as a pure fan you always want your team to get into the playoffs. It sucks to watch 16 teams play after April 15th with out your team. But when you look long term I can not find a benefit of the Raptors making it in as an 8th seed. Even if they were able to sneak up to 7th seed the challenge is almost as great. However despite all my thinking about all this I do agree with Chris Bosh in saying he is glad people thinking like me our not on his team. Players and coaches should always be focused on winning basketball games. It is for management to figure out the long term stuff. People that are covering the team tend to fall somewhere in the middle leaning to the long term and not the short.

So Will He Be An All Star?

I was pleased to hear the comments of Chris Bosh last night when the topic of the All Star Game came up. There has been a wide variety of opinion on if he will make it when the reserves are announced tonight. However the majority feel that Bosh will make the game including Paul Jones who visited us the other day. I have been quite concerned that he might not. It is not that I don't think he is worthy. I think he is more than worthy. I just was concerned that the Raptors record may hold him back. Danny Granger is in the same kind of spot as Bosh. The difference is that Bosh has made it 3 times already. I often wonder how seriously coaches who do the voting for the reserves take this task. There is no doubt it gets huge conversation with fans and in the media. I think and would hope that coaches take it just as seriously. Tonight we will find out who is in ans who is out and the debate will rage on who did not make it in the game. This process becomes almost more important in comparison to the game itself. It is a status thing as much as anything. When you can say you were an all star it is something you can take with you the rest of your life. Not unlike being a former champion in boxing. When you are old and people introduce you they can say this is Chris Bosh he was an All Star this many times. However having a ring that says you were a champion means just a bit more. That is something Vince Carter never seemed to understand. I was pleased to see that Chris did not take for granted that he would hear his name called tomorrow. It gives me some hope that I have not been wrong in my thinking about other things.

Here in 4 years?

Sounds like something for politics. A term in office of a president is four years. But this is about if Chris Bosh will be in Toronto in 4 years. If you listen to Jalen Rose he is done in 2 years. Eric Smith laid out a challenge to Paul Jones to try and get Jalen as a guest on Hoops tonight. Paul said he would try to make it happen. I would be very interested to hear from Jalen if he does get him. Rose has wanted a career in broadcasting for a long time and to boldly put his reputation on the line saying that Chris Bosh will be in New York in 2 years is a highly risky move if you are not certain. That is why Jalen sounding so confident concerns me. However at the end of the day Chris Bosh will be the one that makes that call. If you listen to Rose he already has. But I just can't see that being the case. If I was advising Bosh as an agent. Yeah I know fat chance. However the best advice would be to re-sign in Toronto. Because what happens after 2010 may be more important. The season after that the collective bargaining agreement ends. Given the state of the economy I think it is safe to say that will not benefit the players. So he should sign a contract with Toronto and get all that he can. If Toronto is not on a path to winning once the new CBA is set up or even before you can ask to be moved and walk away with a better contract. That is what Vince Carter did. It is really the best thing to do. I have mentioned all this 2010 talk could end up being much like the doomsday talk around Y2K. In the end it is still a year and a half away. You have people already saying trade Bosh based on this minor amount of speculation. What is it going to be like next year? A zoo and not one that I am looking forward too.

I will tell you this though. If I am wrong and Bosh bolts and leaves for New York or somewhere else. I am done getting behind players on this team. I am going to approach it like I would supporting a college team. I only will see the name on the front and screw the name on the back. I just can't be bothered getting emotionally invested in any of these guys if the end result will be they leave. Bosh is a lot of ways is my last hope in that not all athletes are like Vince Carter. I really have felt Chris is far different from Carter. However if he leaves and does the same thing as Vince it will be hard to make that argument and I would not bother wasting the time trying too. So I hope that Chris Bosh is here for far longer than 4 more years. I want Chris Bosh to be here for life. Well for the life of his NBA career. It maybe be unrealistic and not in the whole this is a business way of thinking. I don't care and you know what for fans it is not about a business for us. It is about emotionally investing in people and far to often having that investment get stomped on as athletes walk out the door. It is hard to be a fan in the modern sports world.

What Does #4 Have To Say?

Eric Smith tracked down Chris to find out what he had to say about Jalen Rose and his comments.

E.Smith Exclusive With CB4


Raptors Rewind- So Long V.C For Another Year Edition

So Jalen Rose is more talked about now then when he was a Raptor. All this talk about Chris Bosh and 2010 is making me sick to my stomach. It doesn't help that the snow is falling outside and add the fact this game is on TSN 2, boy am I happy about the state of things. Oh yeah and Raptors are still in a hole with no signs of help coming. It really all is quite depressing. But at least I know Vince Carter will be smiling win or lose for his Nets. If you could have wrote a worse script for this season for the Raptors I could not imagine how you could top the reality. Nets lead this season series 2-1 winning both games in Toronto. So if you still have playoff hopes for this team this is a big game. A win by the Nets would give them a important tie breaker over the Raptors.

1st Quarter

Here we go. The tip went all the way out of bound and Nets would inbound from base line and Anderson nailed a 3 pointer. Anthony Parker made a baseline jumper and Nets answered with 3 pointer. Jose Calderon would answer with a 3 pointer of his own. Vince Carter who turned 32 on Monday would make a 3 pointer. I once again forgot to send Vince a birthday card, what was I thinking. Andrea Bargnani would get a nice basket in the paint. But as they say at the IZOD did you see V.C for 3? I think that is how it goes. Parker hit a jumper but V.C had another 3 pointer he had 4 early on. Nets lead it 15-10 with 7:15 to play in the first. Devin Harris would get to the line fouled by Bargnani. He would make both from the line. Harris would later get the steal and score and the Nets had a 9-2 run and lead 21-12.

Vince now taking it to the hole driving by a helpless Jose and had an average variety dunk. He would have another thrown down later that was more impressive. Carter had 16 points and Nets lead 25-12 with about 5 minutes to go. Chris Bosh would get to the line and split a pair. A.P was about the only Raptor having a decent night as he made another jumper. Jose Calderon would make a play on defense and get a steal and scores a lay up on the break. But Simmons would make a 3 pointer for the Nets in response. J.O would take it at the rookie Brook Lopez for a score.The Nets would still lead 27-19 with a time out on the floor. Andrea Bargnani would make a long 2 pointer and pull the Raptors to down just 6 on the strength of a 9-2 run for the Raptors. But Keyon Dooling would make a 3 pointer but the shot clock expired before the shot left Dooling. Raptors would have .7 seconds left. A long pass would get stolen and that was the end of the first quarter. Nets lead 27-21 after 1 quarter of play.

2nd Quarter

Thanks to long delay to determining things about Dooling and his shot there was no break and we got going right away with the second quarter. Joey Graham would start the quarter getting to the line but he could only split a pair. Najera would get a basket for the Nets. Graham would answer with a basket. Nets lead it by 5 with the score 29-24. Roko would turn it over and Dooling would get to the line fouled by O'Neal. Dooling would make his pair from the line. Devin Harris would have a nice stop on a dime jumper. Kapono would make a 3 pointer and Dooling would answer with a 3 pointer of his own. However Bargnani would add another 3 pointer for the Raptors. It was 36- 30 in a 3 point shot a-thon at the Izod Center. Bosh would have back to back baskets with a Dooling 3 pointer in between the Bosh scores. Brook Lopez would get set up by Devin Harris and he would get an easy two. Nets still leading it 41-34 with 5 minutes to play in the half.

J.O would get caught fouling Devin Harris from behind the arc. Harris would make all 3 from the line. The Nets were now up but 10 with the score 44-34. Anthony Parker would make a pair from the line. However Bobby Simmons would make a 3 pointer. Parker would answer for the Raptors with a 3 pointer. Parker would get another 3 pointer later on and he had 16 keeping the Raptors in this game. Raptors had cut the lead to just 4 points with the score 49-45 Nets with 1:56 to play in the half. Vince Carter would get to the line and make a pair as he had been quiet after a hot first quarter. Chris Bosh would make a jumper. The Raptors would be in foul trouble after that as Bargnani picked up his 3rd foul and J.O already had 3. Simmons split a pair from the line. Bosh would drive on Lopez and score plus a foul that he would make. Raptors were down just 2. But Vince Carter would make a jumper to extend that to 4. Raptors would call a time out and look to get a final score with a last possession. The Raptors would throw the ball away and not be able to close any closer. Nets have not trailed in this game as they lead 54-50 at the half.

3rd Quarter

So Vince Carter had 20 but the Nets only lead by 4. Still I just did not like what I was seeing from the Raptors. The Nets were getting to many looks from long range and making a high percentage of them. Raptors were shooting a blazing percentage behind the arc but had not as many attempts. Bosh makes a jumper to open the scoring in the second. Jamario Moon would get a big block that went out of bounds. The Nets would not score though. A.P would hit another 3 pointer and give the Raptors their first lead. Calderon would follow with another 3 pointer and the Raptors had an 8-0 run to start the quarter and lead by 4. Nets would end the run with a Brook Lopez score he would score again on an alley oop feed from V.C. It was all even at 58. Brook Lopez was not done scoring with a jumper over Bosh to give the Nets the lead back with score 60-58. Vince Carter would miss get his own rebound and make a jumper. The Nets answer the Raptors 8-0 run with one of their own. Raptors would call a time out to talk it over.

Out of the time out a terrific alley oop feed from Calderon to Moon. After that though bad news for the Raptors as Andrea Bargnani picked up his 4th foul. Bosh missed a turn around jumper that could have tied it but he missed. Nets got the rebound and Harris would drive and score and was fouled by Bosh. Harris made the and one and the Nets leaf by 5. Jose Calderon would hit a jumper to get the Raptors to with in 3. Jamario Moon would make a 3 pointer to tie the game at 65. The Raptors were getting it done from long range. The Nets would get baskets from Lopez and Harris. Calderon would answer with a 3 ball he had 11 points and 11 assists. Raptors still trailed 69-68. Vince Carter would get fouled by J.O which normally I would encourage. However that would be J.O's 4th foul to go along with Bargnani with 4. Back to back baskets by Jose and he had 15 points and the Raptors had the lead back 72-71 with 3:16 to go in the quarter. Keyon Dooling out of the time out would hit a 3 pointer to put the Nets back in front. Jamario Moon would make a jumper and tie it at 74. Jamario was having one of the best games he has had in a long time. Joey Graham would get to the line and make a pair to put the Raptors back in front. Kapono would get to the line as well and make a pair and Raptor lead was 4 with 1:30 to go. Nets had gone ice cold from long range. They were now a 9-25 from behind the are. The Raptors mean while would get a split 1-2 effort from Parker at the line but Raps got the rebound and Jason Kapono would make a 3 pointer. Devin Harris would get fouled right at the buzzer by Jake Voskhul. sending him to the line. Raptors had an 8 point lead that Harris would look to cut to 6. He could only go 1-2 and the Raptors lead it 84-77 after 3 quarters of play. It is clear my bad feeling heading into the quarter was dead wrong. Not that I am unhappy about that.

4th Quarter

So could the Raptors hang on to the 7 point lead. Not a good start as Devin Harris opened the quarter with a 3 pointer. Josh Boone would be fouled to cut the lead more but he is not a good shooter. He missed both from the stripe. Jason Kapono would get the first two points for the Raptors in the quarter. Calderon continues another great night in his return to the line up making a jumper and a time out for the Nets down 8 points with the score 88-80 with 10:13 to play. Dooling would miss an easy lay up and Joey Graham would score on the other end. The Raptors had their largest lead of the night at 10. A Dooling 3 ball would cut the lead to 7 points but Jermaine O'Neal would answer with a basket and they lead 94-85.

Devin Harris had a nice play but it was called back for offensive interference. Brook Lopez would get a basket but Graham would answer and Joey G had a dozen. Lopez would get another basket and Devin Harris would draw a foul and get to the line with the score 96-89. That would be number 5 on J.O. Harris could only split 1-2. Raptors would not be able to score and Nets would get the ball only to have it eventually picked off by Moon. Raptors lead it 96-90 with just under 6 minutes to go in this one. Chis Bosh would beat the Nets zone defense by making a jumper to give the Raptors an 8 point advantage. Joey Graham would score and get fouled and have a chance to give the Raptors a 12 point lead which he would. Joey had 15 and Raptor lead 102-90.

The Nets would get a much needed 3 pointer. Devin Harris would get fouled with 3:39 to go and Harris looking to cut the lead some more. He would make a pair. Devin Harris would get called for a travel as he was looking to cut the lead some more. He took a shot in the face as well. But The Raptors had suddenly gone cold and Keyon Dooling hit a 3 pointer and the Raptors 12 point lead had been trimmed to 4. Raptors lead was 102-98 with 2:59 to play. Chris Bosh would make a much needed jumper out of the time out. But Bobby Simmons would make another 3 pointer. Bosh would get to the line looking to extend a 3 point lead at 104-101. He would make the pair with 2:17 to go. Bosh would get a block on a Simmons shot and Parker would be fouled. He could only make 1 of 2 and Raptors lead 107-101. Simmons would air ball a 3 point attempt and Raptors were looking good to win 3 in a row for the first time sine the season started. But Vince Carter said not so fast making a 3 point and the score was 107-104. Lopez would block a Bosh shot but clearer looked like he was fouled. No call and ball went out of bounds and the Nets would have the ball with 43 seconds left. A time out for Lawrence Frank to try and make a play that would help his team get a win. Devin Harris would drive to the hoop for the easy 2 points. Raptors had the ball only up 107-106 and would be Jay Triano now calling for time out. There was still 37.8 on the clock as Harris took little time to get that score. Jose Calderon would miss a jumper and the Nets would not call for time and play it out. Devin Harris would make a great move and have an open jump shot he would create but he would miss it. Parker had the rebound and it was all over. Raptors hang on to win 107-106.

Raps/Nets Boxscore

Jose Calderon was huge with 17 points, 11 assists and 3 assists. The Raptors also get good news with a Bucks lost on the out of town score board. That is who the Raptors face next heading into on a 3 game win streak. This will be one of those was the glass half full or half empty kind of games. Raptors have had their share of bad breaks this season so it was about time karma let one fall their way.


Paul Jones From NYC

Paul Jones has become a regular guest for us here at Dino Nation Blog. He always offers some great opinions on what is going on with the Raptors. I asked about a couple things to do indirectly with Chris Bosh. The first about if he and Danny Granger will be all-stars. Jeff Van Gundy was pretty clear he feels they are not. Also Jalen Rose is back on the Chris Bosh heading to the Knicks tip. In case you forgot what Jalen had to say here are both clips the old one and the new one.
(There was an issue with the interview audio that has been fixed- 11am)

And The Latest

Paul's broadcast partner Eric Smith had his take on the Jalen Rose comments. Paul gives his take on what Jalen has been saying. Also thoughts on Jamario Moon and if it is as much as it pains me to say this...time for Joey to start? Along with how the team is dealing with the whole J.O trade rumours. Also why his broadcast partner could have a new look if the Cavs keep winning at home. Van Gundy beyond his thinking Bosh and Granger are not all-stars had some other off the wall ideas for All Star Weekend.

So that gives you some context for the first two things I talk about with Paul in our interview

I mentioned to Paul that I really enjoyed his comments about the election of Barack Obama. He was a guest on the Eric Smith Show talking about Obama. I am a huge fan of the Vlogs and The Eric Smith Show. You can find the world famous vlogs which are on Fan 590 version of Eric's Blog and The Eric Smith Show can be found on Raptors.com. Maybe someday I will be a guest on the Eric Smith show. But given it is taped on the road I don't like my chances. But the point to all of this aside from giving Eric some love. Which reminds me, our guest also writes for Sportsnet. But what I have been wondering lately is what impact people thought Obama may have on the NBA now that he is the White House. I am putting together an all star break feature with some of my recent guests from The Score. But here is what Paul thought about for lack of a better term the Obama Effect on the NBA.

Paul Jones " I think it does have an impact. Look at how many NBA players have come front and center now with a visible minority becoming President. They are all paying attention to politics. It is not "the same old system anymore" that it was before. They are hoping for change. If he can use some of these guys as being vehicles to the change that he wants then I see these guys being part of it. Hopefully they are thinking for themselves and not going into things blindly. I definitely see about him being a basketball fan and a sports fan in general, he has talked about fixing the BCS in college football, he is a big White Sox fan. I mean why not, people went ga-ga over other Presidents and their love of sports. JFK had the famous photos of him play touch football. I think it helps basketball. Not that the NBA needs his help but they sure won't turn away from it."

Just as a follow up to what Paul is saying. Jimmy Carter who was from Georgia was a big fan of Nascar and it added to that sport. Bill Clinton was a huge supporter of the Arkansas basketball program in the NCAA. It has also in an age of athletes not taking stands has awakened a spirit of getting involved in the process. Lebron James and many others were active in trying to get Obama elected. Many NBA players travelled to Washington to be at the inauguration. Many teams change travel schedules to watch the event. Now I don't think the NBA will be heading to Washington for a federal bailout. However they have been impacted by these tough times. I had asked Paul in a previous interview, when the economic issues of today were just coming to light for his thoughts on it. Now that we are half way through the NBA season I thought it might be a good time to revisit the topic again.

Paul Jones- " It's going pretty well I think. It would not surprise me down the line more and more cuts. The NBA did lay off some of their staff earlier in the year. The crunch is here and it is hitting everybody. That being said they are making adjustments. There are a lot of places that have cut ticket prices to draw people back to the arenas. To have them keep coming out and supporting their local team. It is what it is. The world is down economically. So you would expect that is going to trickle down to all things. Sports and other entertainment industries are going to take a hit as well. "

In the economy of wins and losses, Jose Calderon has been a huge market surge for the Raptors in that regard. I made mention that he seems a more willing shooter and scorer since his return. I suggest this to Paul and added that I felt part of why we were seeing it was the fact Jose was able to sit and watch. Here is what Paul had to say in response to those comments.

Paul Jones- " Absolutely, because the team needs that. Sometimes your team needs you to score. As much as you want to get people involved as the point guard sometimes you just have to be a scorer. All you have to do is watch Steve Nash. People are talking and saying well he is not an all star this year. He is doing different things in a different system. He is still averaging almost a double double with 14 points and close to 10 assists. It is not that he is not playing well it is just that he is in a different system and doing different thing. He doesn't have the numbers he use to have because he doesn't have to do some of the things he did before. So that doesn't mean he is not an all star. If he was voted in as an all star that would not be a problem. He to me is the perfect example of that. What do you want? He came into to Toronto and racked up a high assist total and took less than 5 shots and they won. He is the perfect guy for reading what his team needs and he can adjust within a game. I think for Jose that is the next phase in his learning.Realizing at time my team needs me to score and that is what I am going to do. "

I give Jose credit he has been very solid. The defense is still not to where I would want it to be. However in Paul's example of Nash, he is not going to win defensive player of the year anytime soon. In the audio portion of our conversation I asked about the J.O trade rumours and how the team was dealing with that. If not for the play of Andrea Bargnani recently the trade talk for J.O may not exist at all. In fact the talk may have been about Bargnani. However it would seem that finally he is breaking through. So I asked Paul if he felt Andrea had finally made it to the point that we now know what to expect from him moving forward?

Paul Jones-" He is certainly becoming more consistent isn't he. This is what everyone was going crazy about last season. I remember writing an article "Still Time For Bargnani" last December. When people want to throw him out the window and they wanted him traded. Colangelo had failed and his first pick was a bust. But I was saying give the kid time. He starting to develop his game. He has a great level of confidence in himself right now. It is showing through in his play. It is now about developing consistency. What are people after Chris Bosh about Consistency in his play at the end of games. He is still learning at that aspect of his game and he is accessing all of that and he will get better at that. People don't cry about his numbers anymore because he is consistent. Andrea has got to do the same thing. To be able to have your team depend on you to put up the kind of numbers he is now. 20 points and 7 or 8 rebounds. If he does that the complaining will stop. I just find it funny how people are so quick to judge right away. I won't mention people by name but i know people in our business the media that saying that he is Haffa Bargnani. Well give the kid a chance. Having coached at the university level and a played at a high level, you got to give people time. There may have been things in play last year that we do not know about that were going on away from the floor. We don't know."

Perhaps the most noticeable change I saw recently with Andrea was he showed a bit of toughness when he got shoved by Garcia. In fact the entire team has shown a bit of grit that we have not seen in a long time. I asked Paul Jones for his thoughts about that.

Paul Jones-" Maybe they are getting to the point that they have had enough. Maybe they are fed up and ticked off and they are going to play like that and that is something they should be doing regularly and constantly. Establishing themselves as a team that is not going to back down. It is nice to see and they have to do more off it "

I also talked with Paul about the move of Anthony Parker to the back-up point guard and was it an admission that they maybe should have brought in a NBA experienced back-up point guard. Although we both agree that Roko is showing signs of progression. The fact that A.P is now the back-up points to the failure of Will Solomon in my opinion. I even would go as far as saying that Jose Calderon and his injury problems can be linked to the lack of a true back-up. Paul was not in agreement about that. But did concede that Anthony Parker being the back-up was a bit of an admission that the Raptors might have benefited from getting an NBA experienced point guard.

Paul Jones-" Yeah maybe it is an admission by Bryan, Jay or the team. We thought that we were better off at the point then we are. It has not worked out having Will and Roko because of the adjustments that they have had to make and they haven't made them. But at the same time when you think back to last year when you had T.J and Jose they still used Delfino at the point at times. Maybe it is a case of finding the right line-ups. I think it is partially an admission. But at the same time they are trying to find a way to get your best players out on the floor."

It is great to have Paul pay us a visit and talk about a number of issues to do with Raptors. I always enjoy talking with Paul he is a extremely bright person that I always enjoy exchanging ideas with.

V.C, JVG, and CB4 with some Jose on the side.

Toronto Raptors once again will look to win 3 games in a row against the New Jersey Nets tomorrow. I think if you asked Raptor fans what was the most painful loss of this season they would respond with the overtime loss to the Nets. Vince Carter scoring to tie the game and win the game it was the Raptor fans worst nightmare played out. The Nets after an impressive and surprising start have faded below the .500 mark. New Jersey is just 3-7 in their last 10 games and sits in 9th place in the East. The injury to Michael Redd makes it hard to think that the Bucks who currently sit in 8th place can keep that spot. Redd tore both his MCL and ACL which is the reason the early end to his season. There is a long list of teams not that far behind them. The Nets are at the top of that list and the Raptors are at the bottom. It has long been talked about the lack of a home court advantage for the Nets. Well the proof is in their record. They are only 9-14 at home and actually have a respectable 11-11 mark on the road. Raptors already have a win at the Izod Center. These two teams have something in common as well. What is that beyond having Carter wearing a #15 jersey. They both lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Nets lost 94-85 to the bottom feeding Thunder. Raptor fans can relate to the pain of losing to the Thunder. In fact if Raptor fans had not answered the loss to Vince they likely would have responded the loss to the Thunder as the most painful. So that is some stuff to think about for the Raptors next match-up.

JVG On CB4 And More

This item just slipped my mind yesterday. I have been live blogging games for The Score. I mention this because it gave me reason to hear Jeff Van Gundy's total crazy rant about the All Star Game. In general if JVG ran the NBA it is clear the All Star Game would look vastly different. But the thing that he said that will most stick out to Raptor fans is that he would put Anderson Varejao in the All Star Game ahead of Chris Bosh. The reason behind it is that Van Gundy feels that nobody on a team below .500 should go to the All Star Game. He ranted on and suggested that you could put Andrew Bynum on the Eastern Conference Roster because he was born in the East. So does that mean Paul Pierce will play for the West in Van Gundy's game? I love Van Gundy as an announcer but keep him far away from the league office. If he ran the league I have no idea what to expect. I would even support Mark Cuban to run the league before JVG.

Now how much of that was comedy and how much of that was serious? That is a good question. Only Jeff knows for sure. I just wonder what that would mean if some fans got what they wanted. Van Gundy is one of the more popular names with fans to take the Raptors job. It seems he is pretty happy on T.V for now. However let's just say that he was willing to take the job. How does that first meeting with Chris Bosh go after you told a national audience that he should not be on the NBA All Star team. Worse you think that a Carlito look a like in Cleveland should be. It is not the greatest start for a coach player relationship. It is clear that Van Gundy has no worries about his future in coaching when he steps behind the mic for work. Despite him not being behind Bosh making the All Star Game, I get a kick out of him and enjoy him in this new role. Those dark rings under his eyes have gone away and he doesn't have to try to break up any fights in the booth.

Raptors Did Some Good Yesterday

The Raptors did some good yesterday. They made their annual visit to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. When they make these annual visits they bring lots of smiles to children who could care less if they are having a good or bad season. I have seen the features on these visits in the past on Raptors TV on the show Raptors Heartbeat. You see the joy that is brought to these children and it really does put things in perspective. I have said that the Raptors as an organization our at the top of league in what they do as far as community relations. You don't get wins in the standings for that. However it means a lot more. Chris Bosh is a leader in this regard as well. There is so much talk about what the Raptors would lose in the basketball sense if Bosh were to leave in 2010. But it should also be noted what they would lose as far as a person if he were to leave. I hope in both cases that Bosh will remain with the Raptors because he is not just a great basketball player he is a great person as well.

Jose Calderon Has Made A Difference

I have to say that Calderon has been very impressive. The impact he has had on the offense has been night and day. He still is not going to excite anyone with his play on the defensive end. I think that is just something that people like me will just need to accept. He just will not ever blow us away on that end of the floor. He has proven me wrong about one thing though. I was never convinced that Calderon could be a big time scoring threat. He just never seemed to call his own number enough. Even when the rest of the team around him struggled he still would look to pass it and not shoot it. Calderon to his credit since he has returned has been able to get off his own offense going. He still is doing a good job at his primary role as distributor.

Obviously two games to not totally change your mind. You also need to consider the level of who the Raptors were facing. The Bulls and Kings are not exactly the greatest teams on earth. However it seems that Jose was paying attention when he was out on the bench watching the Raptors take lose after lose. If this has helped make him understand that he must step up and score more at times it can be considered better for his long term and the team's long term future. I think as well for Jose it was a visual display of just how much of an impact he has on this team in a positive way.

I may never be completely happy with Jose Calderon based on his poor play on defense. However even someone like me fails to notice as much his defensive play when he has his offense rolling like this. I also find his free throw streak an impressive thing. However if he actually gets to the line more, which we have seen a little more of that since his return, it can have more of an impact. The fact Anthony Parker is playing back-up point guard minutes speaks to how badly a true back-up was needed for this team. I think you can make a case that if they had one, Jose may have been able to stay healthy and the Raptors could have been better for it.

So that is about it for today. Thanks to all of you that checked out the Interview yesterday with Adnan Virk. It was great to have him visit. If it brought any new folks to the Dino Nation Blog I just want to welcome you. The reason I work so hard to get the interviews is for two reasons. First to get a variety of opinions from people. The second is to hopefully add more readers for the Dino Nation Blog. It is always great to have more people be a part of what I am doing here.


Adnan Virk From The Score Visits The Dino Nation Blog

I was very excited to get the chance to talk with Adnan Virk. Many know Adnan from his work on Raptor broadcasts and on the show Court Surfing that he was the host of. I have known Adnan prior to him being a part of The Score. We had worked together at another network and he remembered me. It was just a matter of getting in touch with him and he was happy to be a guest. So here is are conversation on the state of the Raptors as we talk about a number of issues for Toronto's basketball franchise.

I look forward to having him back as a guest in the future. He is a great guy and I am very happy for all the success he has had in his time working for The Score. He is the co-host on The Score's morning show talking all sports not just basketball. I thank him for taking the time and it was really great to catch-up with him after many years. That story off the top of the interview is 100% true as I really was excited to have a chance to have him as a guest. A special thanks to Randy Urban who got us together to make this happen. The Dino Nation Blog has always done it's best to bring you a variety of opinions from knowledgeable media people and Adnan would be on that list.

Raptors Try To Keep Hope Alive

The Toronto Raptors have no intention of fading into that dark night and missing out on the playoff party. They still see hope and a chance to get in the playoffs. Even if they do did you happen to catch the Boston Celtics game yesterday? They put a beating on the Dallas Mavericks that was real just impressive to say the least. Also, you can bet that the Celtics learned a powerful lesson last year getting taken to the seventh game by the Hawks. If the Raptors some how avoid the Celtics the task is not much easier. How bout the league M.V.P elect Lebron James. He has lead just about every M.V.P race you can find on the internet. I take part in one of those and King James has been on top all year:

M.V.P and Roy Rankings

That does not seem like a series that the Raptors can win. The only other option that would be realistic as a match-up for the Raptors is the Orlando Magic. While the Raptors have taken a step backwards after losing to the Magic last year. Orlando has taken a huge step forward. They are flirting with becoming a contender in the East. A recent loss to Boston would suggest they are not there yet. The Raptors also have got a win over the Magic this year. They have not beat the Cavs or Celtics. But in a 7 games series the Raptors would be a huge underdog against the Magic as well. So the bottom line to all of this would suggest that the Raptors are in tough no matter what the outcome of the next 3 months.

You can point to injuries and they have played a role in what has happened. But the Raptors have had many games well in hand that they have let slip away. They could have a much better record and it would be not unreasonable to think that they should. I think the true fans want to believe that this team can still salvage the season and make it to the playoffs. Part of me wants to see this happen. However part of me does not because I just don't know what that will do for the long term future. I mean the goal is to win it all, or at least it should be. I do not think anyone is thinking the Raptors can win the championship this year right? If the Raptors can get in the draft lottery and draft a quality player is that not better for the long term picture? Being able to draft a top player in the draft could be start of fixing the Raptors issues at the wing spot. How nice would a Gerald Henderson look like as a Raptor? There are some other names that you might be able to find. But that is not very fun to cheer for. I think most of us felt the Raptors days of being in the draft lottery were behind them. But here we sit just 2 years removed from a Division Title talking about the draft lottery. Maybe this can be like what happened for the Spurs. They had an injury plagued awful season and they went to the draft lottery and won. The prize of that lottery was Tim Ducan. Not to say that the Raptors were as good at that Spurs team that got Ducan. But they do have some quality parts in Bosh, Calderon and now it seems Bargnani. That is not a bad place to re-tool from.

Bryan Colangelo has not made a move to this point.( Jake Voskhul signing aside ) He has said to have been working very hard to make a deal though. But if Colangelo is forced to wait till the trade deadline it may be not such a bad thing as he will have a clear picture of where his team is at. What moves he makes will have far more to do with next season though. Next season could be the most critical on for the Raptors in quite some time. It will ultimately determine the future of Chris Bosh. If you think this team is better off without Bosh you are crazy. Bosh is still the straw that stirs the drink and it is much harder to sell a new star to come to Toronto. Chris Bosh has at least grown to know and by all indications enjoy the city of Toronto. Just having the cap space to sign players is not enough. They need reason to want to sign with a team. Look at some other teams around the league for proof of that. Were players running to Chicago when they had a ton of cap space? How bout Memphis, L.A Clippers or Atlanta. But if you can keep Bosh you have the chance of him helping bring others to the party. If you don't have him what do you have beyond what you always have had to attract free agents? The answer is not much.

Forgive me for not planning the parade route based on wins over the Bulls and Kings. Still we can be optimistic that this team has not given up and is showing some much needed fight. I would love for them to pull off some miracle out of all this. I just try to keep things in perspective and understand that no matter what happens the rest of the way it will be much lower from the goals laid out at the start of the year. That is frustrating for all connected to this franchise.


Raptors Rewind- King Me Edition

Not much time to set this one up. I just came from live blogging the Spurs and Lakers. This is not a high profile match-up like that for sure. The Kings are 0-17 vs the East this year and they only have 3 wins on the road the entire season. It goes with out saying that this is a must win for the Raptors on their home floor. I guess it doesn't because I just said it. If they lose this game there truly would be no excuses that would be acceptable for a loss. The Raptors had to get this one if they have any thoughts of the playoffs at all. So no pressure guys just win.

1st Quarter

Both teams fail to score on their first possessions. Jason Thompson the rookie gets a score to open the scoring. They get a 3 pointer and start on a 5-0 run. Jose Calderon would end that with a basket and 1. He now has made 84 straight from the line. Martin who did not play in first game is in this one and makes a 3 pointer. Raptors get baskets from Moon and Bosh to pull it back to 8-7 Kings. Martin would extend that with another 3 pointer. But Anthony Parker from his house on Parkerville court answers with a 3 pointer for the Raptors. Andrea Bargnani drives and scores to give the Raptors their first lead 12-11. But the Kings answer back and take the lead. CB4 answers that and Salmons responds to that and Kings still lead 15-14.

Jamario Moon settles for a jumper that he missed. Turnover to the Kings off the miss and Salmons drives to the hoop and scores.Andrea Bargnani makes a mid range jumper. The Kings turn it over and we have the first time out of the early evening start. After the Kings split a pair from the line, Chris Bosh would make a jumper to tie the score at 18. Jermaine O'Neal had checked in for Bargnani and he wasted no time and got a score. He lit up the Kings for 30 plus on Boxing Day. Chris Bosh was heading to the line looking to build the Raptors advantage. He makes both and the Raptors lead it 22-18. Bosh had his jumper working as he made another off the O'Neal pass. Raptors leading by half dozen late in the first. Brad Miller would end the Raptors run, He made a shot from long range. O'Neal would respond scoring on the curl to the hoop after he got the pass from Bosh. Miller was hot from outside making another 3 pointer. Bosh though he had a hoop and 1 but instead he called called for going out of bounds and a turnover. Sac-town was back in front 27-26. Spenser Hawes split a pair and an Andrea half court bomb would barely find the glass lead alone the hoop. Raptors trailed 28-26 after the first and this was far from the ideal start for the guys in the white and red.

2nd Quarter.

Raptors shooting well at 57% but defense was less than ideal as Kings shot 52%. That along with 5 Raptor turnovers and Kings had a lead. Joey Graham missed a dunk but O'Neal would hammer down the follow. Bobby Brown with the jumper and it was cruel for the Raptors. The Kings would follow up with a 3 ball. Roko Ukic would drive and score but the Kings still lead 33-30. Garcia makes a long two pointer and the Kings lead by 5. Jermaine O'Neal found his way to the line and made a pair. Mikki Moore the former Net now King made the a basket. Chris Bosh would score and get fouled in reply. He would have a time out to think over the and one chance.

Bosh would make it. But the Raptors would still trail 37-35. Anthony Parker would even the score at 37 with a made jumper. But the Kings answered with 2 of their own. Kevin Martin would score another and the Kings lead 41-37. Calderon would check in and have an instant impact making a 3 pointer. Thomson the rookie out of Rider would score on the break and the Kings lead was 3. Bosh had his shot blocked by Thompson.
He would clutch his head and not get back on defense. But the Raptors would survive the power play and Bosh was ok. In fact he would score to cut the lead to just 1. Calderon would make a jumper and another and the Raptors were suddenly up 3 points with the score 46-43. A blocking call on Parker that he and coach Triano would not like. But the Kings would take the charity and make both. Andrea Bargnani would find his way to the line. He would make both and Raptors were back up by 3. Jamario Moon would double that lead with a 3 that he should take for a change. But he would get burned on the other end for an easy basket for the Kings. Raptors were up 51-47 with under 2 minute to play in the half. Moon again would get torched by John Salmons and the Raptor lead was 2. Jason Thompson would score to tie it up at 51. Chris Bosh would make a fading jumper and he was doing more then his part with 17. Andrea Bargnani would make a huge 3 pointer. Thompson would get a chance to answer. Raptors were leading 56-53 at the half. But they looked far from impressive defensively.

3rd Quarter

Bosh and Claderon have a combined 27 yet the Raptors only lead by 3. Reason for that turnovers and poor defense. Salmon and Martin have made 7 long range bombs that have been costly. Chris Bosh gets the first touch of second half and he drives and draws a foul on the rookie Thompson. He makes the shots. Bosh would miss a very long jumper for 2. Brad Miller would make his jumper on the other end. Andrea Bargnani would answer for the Raptors. Parker curls to the hoop and misses a lay up but Bosh has his back with the Offensive board and put back. Raptors extend lead to 7 but Miller would score again and cut the lead to 5 once more. Salmons left wide open by Moon and he drains a 3 pointer. Raptors lead was just 62-60. Triano had enough of Moon and Joey Graham checked in for him. I am glad to see that as Graham for whatever I think of him has been doing more than Moon of late.

Kings had several chances to tie it and never did. A couple of turnovers and easy scores for Bosh and Parker and the Raptors were up by 6 points with the score 66-60. Miller would get to the line and look to cut the lead and he would making both. Joey Graham like a bulldozer would take it to the lane and draw the foul. He made both from the line. Raptors lead it 68-62 with 6 and change to go. Andrea Bargnani would load up and hit a triple to give the Raptors a 71-62 lead. Raptors would win a jump ball on a double foul call. They would get Andrea Bargnani heading to the line as he was fouled driving to the hoop. He would split a pair from the line. Graham and Bosh set the Kings up to draw an offensive foul. But a loose ball foul on Bargnani off his own miss would turn it over. Garcia would get a needed basket for the Kings. Another turnover and Kings score from Martin. Jason Kapono would drive for a lay up to push the lead back to 8. Andrea Bargnani would get hooked up by Jose and he would score and get the and one foul. Raptors lead by 11 with the score 77-66. Calderon would take his own shot the next time up the floor. Raptors leading now by 13 with the score 79-66.

Bargnani was having a good day as he drove to the hoop and got to the line again. He would make to more and the Raptors lead 81-66. Kapono would hit a jumper and the Raptors were on a serious run. Garcia would respond with a 3 pointer. Bargnani would get fouled hard by Garcia on the other end and a bot of a scrum would take place. Bargnani was not taking it. Raptors were showing some more of that toughness we saw in Chicago. Bargnani would make a tech and the two free throws. The score was 85-69. Raptors were turning it on with another basket. Hawes got a 3 pointer. But the Raptors still lead by 15 with the score 87-72. A foul on Kapono right before the buzzer to end the 3rd quarter. Kings would make them but the Raptors had a heck of a third quarter. Bosh and Bargnani had 23 and 22. It was so good Matt Devlin would bust out the Killer Bees line. Vince McManon legal action pending with the 80's wrestling team the Killer Bees wanting their due.

4th Quarter

So a 13 point lead to defend. John Salmons would make it 11 but Parker pushed it right back to 13. Chris Bosh hit a jumper and made it a 15 point lead with Raptors up 91-76. Pizza looked to be a lock for the fans at the ACC. J.O scoring a basket would make the win start to look as much of a lock as the pizza at this point. Jermaine O'Neal in just 20 minutes had a double double and was heading to the line looking for more. He would miss on the second. Raptors were up 18 though with score 94-76.

Beyond Jamario Moon I can not think of a Raptor that was having a bad night. Let's start ever game at 6pm if this is the results. Bosh has 27 now as he scores and heads to the line looking to make it 28 but he missed it. Raptors still lead it 96-78. Raptors with all hands on deck for two straight games have looked very solid and more like the team that had been advertised prior to the season. Kings were making a bit of a push back. But they were still down 14 with score 96-82. Bosh would head to the line looking to extend the lead once more. Which he would do making a pair. Udrih would make a 3 pointer but Bosh would respond with a basket and that would give the fans the pizza and the Raptors a 100-85 lead. Jose Calderon would continue hi free throw streak and the Raptors were on the way to the first ever season sweep of the Kings. Raptors much like in the Bulls game picked up the defense in the second half. Raptors were loving life up 108-91. Nathan Jawai would make his home debut. He along with a crew of reserves hit the floor. Big Nate would lay the hammer on one of the Kings. Roko Ukic had a rare 3 pointer prior to that. Jawai's first attempt as a pro would not fall as he took a fading jumper that missed. But it was all smiles regardless as the Raptors lead by CB4 with 31 points. The Raptors get a 113-97 win. Another reader friendly boxscore for you to enjoy.

Raps/Kings Boxscore

So two wins and a couple days before the Raptors head to the IZod center to take on Vince Carter and a Nets team that has been struggling. Raptors have won 2 in a row and look to do something they have not done since the start of the year and that is win 3 games in a row. They must do it if they want to stay alive in the playoff race.

Raptors Look To Crown The Kings

I said it yesterday the Raptors margin for error over these next 3 games is nothing. If they do not win their next 3 contests it pretty much is over as far as any slim playoff chances they may hold. It is all based on what the Raptors face after that. They have little to no change of getting a win in the next 4 after these 3. The Sacramento Kings have been a total failure this season and are trying to rebuild around Kevin Martin. He was not in the line-up when these teams faced off on Boxing Day. The Raptors would get a rare win on the west coast as they beat the Kings on the road for only the second time in franchise history. It is a rare 6 pm tip time at the Air Canada Centre. The Kings come into this game on a 4 losing streak and a 3-19 road record. I mean it does not get more of a gimmie win then this does it? If the Raptors get even half of the performance they got from Jose Calderon in his return to the line up it should be a cake walk.

All Star Thoughts

I have said this for years and last night offered proof to my point. Yesterday I was on CJLO in Montreal and that is the host city of the NHL ALL STAR weekend. The breakaway challenge winner was Alex Ovechkin who put on a silly hat and some sunglasses and used two hockey sticks and eventually scored. Can anyone say that was even close to as entertaining as Dwight Howard putting on a Superman outfit and dunking a basketball. Not even close. I get that I am in Canada and hockey will always be bigger then basketball. But even hockey fans have to give the nod to the NBA's All-Star Saturday night as opposed to the the NHL's pathetic rip off of the event for their sport. In the market that matters for the NHL, the United States, it will be viewed as I have stated a cheap rip off that is not good in comparison.

Gary Bettman came from the NBA and has tried to use NBA ideas in the NHL with little success. David Stern is a far better commissioner for his sport and it is made the most clear when you compare the two sports All Star Weekends. The NHL had to bring in a rule that forces players to sit out the next regular season game for the season if they skip the NHL ALL STAR GAME. The NBA ALL STAR WEEKEND is an event that most players love to be at even if they are not part of the game or events. The NBA is the better league when you get right down to it and that may not play well in Canada but the simple fact is that it is the truth. The All Star Weekends of the two sports just offer the most obvious comparison that makes that fact clear.

It will be interesting to see if Chris Bosh gets the nod to be in the ALL STAR GAME. I have seen most thinking it is likely a lock that he does. But given the Raptors record I am not convinced it is. Should he not it will be interesting to see how he handles that moving forward. He has been more vocal and angry about what is going wrong. If he were not to get the personal honour of going to the ALL STAR GAME if for no other reason then his team's poor record. That good be a point where we see Bosh say enough is enough. Whatever happens I am glad that Chris is starting to show some emotion and say loud and clear that this is not acceptable. I think on this the Fans and CB4 are on the same page.

Lakers vs Spurs

Before the Raptors take on the Kings. A match-up of 2 of the NBA's best teams with the Lakers and the Spurs. I am going to be live blogging it for The Score. You are welcome to stop by and take part as you get set for Raptors and Kings. After all there is no football being that it is the bye week before the Super Bowl. So that gives you a chance to see more basketball. It is a 3:30 tip time and if all goes well it will end before the Kings and Raptors get going and that game originally scheduled for TSN 2 has been moved over to TSN. Maybe they are finally hearing the angry basketball fans? Wishful thinking I am sure.

The Score Live Blog Link- Spurs and Lakers

After I am done with Spurs and Lakers. It is right into Raptor Rewind of Kings and Raptors. A busy day but hopefully a fun one.


Raptors Ready To Roll Finally?

I have to admit that Jose Calderon was fantastic last night. He looked healthy as well which is perhaps more important. I would also like to thank Tyrus Thomas for being a bone head. When you are an under achiever and have done next to nothing in the league. It might make sense not to get in the face of a 6 time all star even if he is on the decline. He sparked J.O and this entire Raptor team along with him. Thomas by his bone head actions got the Raptors to come together and play tough. That might have been the most shocking thing of all. Raptors have had losing streaks and had players come back, what I can not recall is a game that they played though. They fouled people and made them earn it from that line. They were scrappy and into it like I have not seen in a long time and perhaps never from this group. The Raptors have long been labeled with the tag of being a soft team. Last season in match-ups with the Atlanta Hawks they allowed them to take liberties that I would argue cost the Raptors a successful season. But instead of getting pissed about the Raptors would turn the other cheek and not fight back. Last night the Raptors did fight back and in the end crushed the Bulls. It makes you wonder if it was mirage or if it will be the start of something?

Raptors Must Win Next 3

Must win is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in the sports world. In theory ever game is a must win. That is the object of the game to win. Recently fired Chiefs Coach Herm Edwards said it best as coach of the Jets:

But another football coach once said this:

But the Raptors Still have a shot at the Playoffs Right?:

But maybe if we practice hard right AI?:

Or Maybe you were expecting?:

But these next 3 games are huge because of the four that follow. Speak up now if you think the Raptors can beat the Lakers? How bout the Cavs? Hornets anyone? Oh but we did beat the Magic I am sure they forgot about that though we can get them. If the Raptors are going to keep any playoff chances at all it will take 3 more wins simple as that. The Kings, Nets and Bucks are all teams that we can beat and must beat to have any chance at all. Perhaps some motivation is in order.

Not exactly what I had in mind. We need a role model:

I agree Charles you are not. But hopefully we have all learned something from all of this. The road for the Raptors given the hole they have made is going to be a long and hard on with very little room for error. Hope you got a kick out of our little You Tube assisted edition of the blog today. Just Remember this:

If the Raptors can play the game like they did last night they will be better. The simple reality is they have to play that well to have any chance.


Raptor Rewind- From The Real Rose Garden

Now the actual Rose Garden is in Portland of course. But United likely can't afford sponsorship for the arena in Chicago in these though times. So why not just call it the Rose Garden. Maybe because of that M.J statue outside. Rose may never be as good as that guy. But same may be said for a lot of guys not named Kobe or Lebron. The Raptors got burned badly last time they saw Derrick Rose. But this time with the exception of Kris Humphries it is all hands on deck. Jose Calderon and J.O along with Chris Bosh all good to go. Still can it make a difference? Well it should on offense. But that is not as big a problem as the lack of defense. Jose Calderon is not going to improve that at all. In fact Rose could likely beat him as easy as the back ups. But J.O will add some shot blocking to the mix. However with his bags packed waiting for word on when that call is coming from Miami how hard can we expect him to play? I am not sure to be honest with you. It seems clear the writing is on the wall that he is not here for much longer. Just being a normal human being that makes it hard to stay focused. You can make the speech about being a professional and all of that. I hear you, but when you have been reduced to a secondary role on a team that has their playoff chances hanging by a thread, how much can you really expect. Bosh got humbled by Noah in the last match up of these two teams. Knowing the type of guy Bosh is I doubt he has forgot that. However his overall frustration with this team is becoming clear. I don't blame him a bit for that. He may not like the term frustration but it fits what I am seeing. It has been an awful year after what was likely a high point in his life winning a gold medal. There has been nothing golden about this season for Chris Bosh. I even wonder if he might pay the price for the lack of his team's success by not getting named to the All Star Game. People talk about Danny Granger not getting the nod because of his team's record. Well Bosh's team's record is very similar. The next 4 games on the schedule are not hard games but after that 4 very hard games( Magic, Hornets, Cavs, Lakers ). Paul Jones and Eric Smith made that point in their Vlog today and it is a valid one. If the Raptors don't win 3 of the next 4 games any kind of a comeback trade or not will not matter. So with that sobering news let's get ready for some basketball shall we?

1st Quarter

Raptors busting out the black jerseys for this one. Bulls win the tip and away we go. Ben Gordon who is not a happy camper missed his first shot of the night. Raptors also miss on their first trip. Derrick Rose moves on the break off a turnover for a lay up. Andrea Bargnani would respond and open the scoring for the Raptors. Calderon would get the next basket and makes his first jumper in a long while. Ben Gordon was fined for showing up late for the Bulls plane and he let it be known he was not happy. He would make a 3 pointer with a little lighter wallet. But Bargnani was off to a good start and Anthony Parker would add to that effort as well. Raptors had an early 10-7 lead. Jamario Moon got a quick hook for Joey Graham. But Derrick Rose was taking it to Calderon he made a sweet move and left Jose wondering where he went. Bulls fought back to take a 13-10 lead. Calderon would at least make up for his bad defense by making a jumper. Anthony Parker who was back to his normal position after filling in for Jose seemed to be enjoying that as he made another jumper. That put the Raptors back up by a point.

J.O had checked into the game and made a jump shot. Bosh would take it to the bucket and jam it home. Raptors had an 18-13 lead. Chicago would answer with a bucket but J.O would hooked up Joey G for 2. Raptors would get another jumper from Calderon who was 3-3 to start his return and he would have a seat with Raptors up 22-17. Kapono would check in for Calderon and Parker would slide over to play the point. Graham would get another basket to give the Raptors a 7 point lead. But Deng would answer and a block on Bosh, that would lead to Tyrus Thomas dunking it in the grill of J.O. The Bulls had cut the lead down to 3 points. Thomas had the block as well that was on Bosh. A travel on Jermaine O'Neal would give Bull a chance to cut more off the lead but would not be able to score. Andrea Bargnani would drive and draw a foul and head to the line. He would make both from the line and the Raptors lead 26-21. He would get another basket next time down the floor and had an early eight points and the Raptors lead 28-21. Kirk Hinrich was in the game and makes his first attempt of the night. The Bulls would get a tap back on a Hinrich miss as they had made it closer late in the 1st. Raptors lead 28-25 after the first quarter in Chicago.

2nd Quarter

Both teams were shooting off the charts. Raptors shooting 66% and the Bulls 57% as defense was a lost art in the hometown the new President. Bulls would open the scoring and cut the lead to just 1 point out of the gate in the 2nd. J.O would make his way to the line and made both. Turnover for the Bulls would lead to a push out that would see Andrea Bargnani get to the line. Bargnani would split a pair and the Raptors lead 31-27. Raptors continue to roll as Kapono would make a 3 pointer and Raptors lead 34-27. The Bulls would storm back on a run to tie it up at 34. But Bargnani would snap that run and Derrick Rose would quickly answer.

Andres Nocinoni would make a 3 pointer to give the Bulls the lead 39-36. Chris Bosh felt he was fouled before a time out. He would plead his case to Dick Bavetta but he was not going to win that conversation. But out of time out he would just drive and score. Jamario Moon was out of the dog house and back in the game and scored to give the Raptors a 40-39 lead. Bulls would once again push back but a Derrick Rose air ball would break that run. Bulls had a 44-40 lead at that point and Jose Calderon made a jumper and he looked very good with his shot tonight. Calderon would hook up Moon and he already had 8 point and 5 dimes. But the Raptors still trailed 46-44. Derrick Rose would recover for the air ball and make his next shot. Be Gordon would follow up on that with a shot of his own. Jermaine O'Neal would get fouled by Tyrus Thomas and Thomas was talking trash and J.O was to say the least not amused. It may have distracted him as he missed his first free throw and made the second. Bulls were hanging on to the lead up 50-48. Thomas and O'Neal would get together again giving J.O a chance to tie the game and he would. All even at 50 with less then a minute to play. Teams exchanged baskets and stayed tied at 52. Jamario Moon would send Deng to the line with a chance to give the Bulls the lead from the line. Which he would do making both. Raps would call a 20 second time out looking to get a score with 10 seconds to go in the half. Bosh would drive it and get to the line. He would make both and a Rose throw up from far away would not fall. So we head to the half tied at 54.

3rd Quarter

Solid first half for Andrea Bargnani who was only player in this game in double figures with an 11 point effort in the first half shooting 50% from the field. Defense is still pretty much MIA in Chicago as Raps were shooting 54% and Bulls 52% from the field. First play of the half went to Bosh would would draw the foul and send him to the line. He would make the basket and make the and 1 at the line. Claderon would then look to get it to Bargnani would wold make his first shot of the second half. Raptors had a 60-55 lead in the early stages of the 3rd quarter. Calderon would find Bargnani on the break and he would drive and score. 8 dimes for Jose in his return and 16 points for Bargnani. More important than all of that the Raptors lead 62-55.

A correction on the as Bargnani 3 pointer was changed to a 2 pointer. So make it 15 for him. But Bosh and Calderon both would score and the Raptors had built a 65-55 lead. They had started the quarter on an 11-1 run. Calderon would score again and he had 12 points and the Raptor run had been extended to a 13-1 run. This was nothing like the Bulls team that came into the ACC just over a week ago. The Raptors had a better roster to play against them. However the Bulls were just not as good as well. That combination had the Raptors leading 67-56. Bosh would foul Nocioni hard and these to struggling teams were starting to get after each other. The one on one stuff with O'Neal and Thomas was spreading though out the rosters of both teams. Bargnani would hit a 3 pointer after Nocioni would make the foul shots. Andres would answer with a 3 pointer for the Bulls. But the Raptors would move the ball well and find Parker for a 3 pointer. Raptors lead 73-61. After a Bulls score Ben Gordon would look for another and he took a hard foul from Jamario Moon. He could only split a pair and the Raptors lead 73-64 with just about half of the third quarter to play.

Wide open look for Kirk Hinrich would quietly had scored 12 off the bench for the Bulls. Raptors were showing signs of leakage still leading 73-67 but the offense had gone cold. But Raps were hanging in for now as J.O picked up a charge. Derrick Rose with a sweet jumper and the Bulls had an 8-0 run and cut the Raptor lead down to just 4. Jay Triano had seen enough and wanted a time out. Raptors couldn't score out of the time out but Bosh created a turnover at the other end. It would lead to him getting a score on the other end with a jumper. Bosh would have a chance to build the lead more but would get called for a travel. But again on the other end created a turnover and this time it lead to a Parker basket. Raptors lead 77-69. Bulls would answer but Parker would make it back to back baskets for him. Another hard foul by the Raptors and the Bulls split a pair from the line. Parker at the point now would hook up Kapono for a 2 point jumper. Bulls would make a pair from the line and the Raptors lead was 81-74. Joey Graham would make a jumper to give the Raptors a 9 point lead to take to the fourth quarter. They lead it 83-74.

4th Quarter

It sure looked like the Raptors could hang on to this one. The question as it has been all season is would they? Raptors at shot it well all night as they were shooting 56% from the field. The 4th started with a mid range jumper from Kapono. The Bulls would answer. Nocinoni had a chance to cut the lead further but would miss the 3 pointer. Bosh would get on the glass and allow Joey Graham to get to the line and make a pair from it. After a slow start Joey was doing well. Raptors were as a team up 87-77. A steal for Joey and he set up Parker for an open 3 pointer but he would miss it. Raptors were not allowing any easy baskets as they fouled Ben Gordon hard. He would make both. But Joey Graham was heating up as he had 2 more and had 13 on the night. Raptors lead 89-80. The Raptors were showing some toughness that we had not seen at any point this season that I can recall. Ben Gordon would make a jump shot and cut the Raptor lead to 7 with the score 89-82.

Full marks to Jose Calderon as he had out played Derrick Rose to this point. Ben Gordon was the one guy keeping the Bulls in it. He made another running jumper to cut the lead to 5. A three second call on the Raptors would give Bulls a chance to cut the lead more. However Nocioni would miss a 3 pointer. Kapono would miss as well and the Bulls with another chance to score would do so. Jose Calderon would get a much needed basket to push lead to 91-86. Gordon would find his way to the line though and make a pair and the lead was back to just three. A Bosh miss and Bulls had a chance to tie or pull to down 1. Deng would make it happen for the Bulls. Calderon would look to get it to Bosh who would deliver. A Bulls turnover which was a frequent occurrence in this game would lead to Joey Graham heading to the line for two after a time out on the floor.

This was one of the better effort we had seen from the Raptors in quite some time. Graham would miss his first but make his second. Deng would score on the other end and the Raptor lead was just 94-92. Rose would foul Calderon and send him to the line where he had not missed all year and would not here. Raptors lead 96-92 as Jose was 78 for 78 from the line on the year. Andrea Bargnani would foul Noah but he would miss a pair. After that Noah would pick up his 6th foul ending his night and sending Bargnani to the line with 4:38 to go. Bargnani would split a pair and the Raptors lead 97-92. Nocioni would try a 3 pointer but would not make it and Raptors claim the board. They would miss but get on the offensive glass and that would get Parker a open look from 3 point range in the corner and he made it. Raptors lead was up to 8 with the score 100-92. Joey Graham was hot tonight making another jumper and he was 6-7 on the night. He would take that effort back with him on defense helping the Raptors get a stop. Raptors would have the ball up 10 with 2:48 to go. Jose Calderon would get a score and he had 18 on the night and the Raptors lead was a dozen. Andrea Bargnani would pretty much seal it up with a 3 pointer and Raptors lead 107-92. Adding insult to injury for the Bulls Calderon would jack up a 3 pointer and nail it. Calderon would continue to see his point total rise and his free throw record with 2 more from the line. He would get to take a seat after he had an amazing return with 23 points and 10 assists. The Raptors would have their first win since beating the Grizzlies at home on January 9th. It was a 114-94 white washing of the Bulls.

Full marks to a couple guys that I take issue with. Jose Calderon was they guy that was advertised when this season began with an outstanding night. Also Joey Graham really got after it tonight and was great. Given the way Moon has played of late I never thought I would say this but put Joey G in the starting line-up. A Boxscore worth looking at for a change.

Raps/Bulls Boxscore

This looked a lot like the team that was advertised at the start of the season. I will point out this was just one game and in and of itself does not mean a lot. However when you have lost 7 straight games...Screw that enjoy this win folks because not only did the Raptors earn it, but so have all of us for having to watch the 7 games before this one. Raptors will look to make it 2 in a row against the Kings on Sunday night. If they have half the effort and energy they showed tonight they should do that easily.