Post game Jay Triano took some of the blame for his team not being able to close the deal vs Chicago. He brought up the fact that they have been working hard in practice (Yes Allen Iverson Practice) including earlier in the day. Still he had to be pleased at the improvement on the boards for his basketball team. Which was led by Reggie Evans. Just 2 points and 16 rebounds from the big fella. It was noticed by his team.
Jarrett Jack-" Reggie was unbelievable on the boards tonight, doing a great job giving us some type of presence down low. "
Jack himself was pretty good for a guy that was a game time decision, getting 12 points and 6 assists with a bad elbow and bit of a banged up knee. Jose Calderon was 0-6 with just 3 assists and 0 points. The point guard battle in the pre-season has been one sided and not close. If Jay Triano decides to start Jose Calderon it is not going to be based on performance, because it is clear to almost everyone that Jack has been the best point guard in a Raptor jersey.
But perhaps the most encouraging sign for the Raptors was both Bargnani and DeRozan had very good nights for the team on offence. DeRozan was 6-9 shooting with 15 points and 7 rebounds and Bargnani was 7-14 and had 19 points but only 3 rebounds. You can't have everything. But to get these guys starting to get on track, with the season a week away as of last night is a good thing.
Barbosa has been better than advertised. Tied with Deng for top scorer in the game with 22 points and he had 3 steals on the night to go with the points. People speculate on who might lead this team in scoring. Klezia, Bargnani? I think Barbosa might just be the answer when all is said and done. He seems to have fit in well and quickly with this team. He is one of the stronger defenders on a team that does not have that many. He didn't get the nickname the Brazilian Blur by accident. Speed kills someone once said.
In the end the Raptors dropped this one 110-103 but can walk away feeling they had a chance to win. The last time they faced the Bulls they could not say that. It has been nice to see the Raptors face some common opponents in the pre-season to compare how the Raptors have improved or not improved to a point. The 2 games vs the Suns were pretty much similar results. Against Boston you could argue the Raptors even regressed a bit, given the lack of players that played for Boston in the 2nd match-up at the ACC. It should be noted the Bulls had no Noah in this one last night. But that being said the Raptors were crushed on the boards in Chicago and bounced back to win that battle on last night 45-36.
Some people hold no stock in the pre-season and others think it means a lot. I fall somewhere in the middle on this debate. I think the wins and loses are far from life and death. However what you really want to see is progression and improvement. Last night at the ACC you saw a little of that from the Raptors.