Over 22,000 people in a packed Bell Centre it had all the energy of a Habs game or a UFC event. No Hab Jersey or GSP to be found. While sanity has come to Raptorland with Jarrett Jack playing as a starter tonight. There were some scary moments along the way with Demar DeRozan injuring his finger. It would turn out to be just a dislocation and he would return. Then a few minutes after the exit of DeRozan it was Barbosa crashing to the ground with a thud that reminded me of when T.J Ford was injured. But the result for Barbosa was not nearly as bad as he was able to pop back to his feet. Through out it all, the fans were loud and into it. There is a lesson in that for Raptors fans here at the ACC. Maybe 16 years of having basketball has made folks forget what it is like not to have it. Cheering for pizza is silly and stupid. This Raptor team is what many people have said they wanted in some ways. This team is going to fight hard and have to scrap for everything they get. The attendance at the ACC for the pre-season was pretty sad. When the season starts will see what it looks like. But if this team struggles will the people still come. I think we learned that people in both Vancouver and Montreal would love to have that option.
As for the Raptors the talk has been all about team effort and that is what Raptors gave with 7 players in double figures. One of those the recently benched Jose Calderon with 11 points and 7 assists. Jack as the starter only 7 and 5. Will we ever get this to work in Toronto? 16 years and only years we had a clear number 1 point guard it was in the beginning with Damon Stoudamire. But still the overall battle was clearly won by Jack and he deserves to hear his name on Wednesday.
Andrea the good....15 points 6/13 and 3/4 from 3 point range. The Bad...1 Rebound in 23 minutes. Reggie Evans in 3 less minutes had 10 more rebounds with 11. As a team some good and bad as well. The good....12 Steals lead by your new starting point guard Jarrett Jack with 4. That is the biggest reason Jack deserves the starters minutes. Jack can make the overall team D better and Jose is a massive liability. The bad....just 1 block for the entire Raptors team. I know you are wondering who got the block? Joey Dorsey but the bad news in Dorsey is suspended so make that 0 blocks for the team that will play the Knicks on Wednesday.
Now as with all pre-season games it is not always just about who plays. It is about who doesn't and how much some people play. The Knicks did leave one of their weapons in the holster in Danilo Gallinari. They also sat Toney Douglas. While everyone in a Raptor uniform saw the floor at some point.
In the end the Raptors leave Montreal with a 108-103 win over the Knicks. Finishing the pre-season at an even 4-4. But the true winners on this night were the people of Montreal. I put this on Twitter and if you happen to be on twitter give this hashtag a tweet- #NBAINMTL . On a day when the NBA was talking tough and making a lockout seem almost unavoidable. Even throwing out the word contraction. When cities like Montreal, Vancouver and Seattle don't have teams with all due respect to Commissioner Stern there is no need for contraction more like re-location.
Pre-Season is over. Come Wednesday will see how much it actually meant.