Thursday, February 12, 2009

Raptors Recap - The "Roko B Ware" Edition

The Raptors finished the first half of the season on a high note beating the Spurs at the ACC. Just so you don't think this is a joke I'll repeat it. The raptors finished the first half of the season beating the Spurs at the ACC. Just like I had predicted yesterday the Raptors defended their home court admirably against arguably one of the best teams in the NBA. What makes this win even more surprising is that they did it on the second night of a back to back while severely short handed.

The Raptors were once again without Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon. Also Joey Graham injured his shin early in the first half and couldn't go the rest of the way. That left basically 7 guys to finish the game (we don't count Jawai or Solomon cause they suck and would only play in an emergency).

So how'd they do it? They were able to neutralize Duncan somewhat with JO who had a nice game with 10 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. He was also able to guard Duncan one on one. This allowed the raptors to close out on shooters and not have to help. Jo gave them a gritty performance in 38 min after playing 43 min the night before in Minnesota he was off from the field but brought it defensively.

Tony Parker got to the rim at will early in the game but late in the second half the Raptors tighten'd up their defense and made tony drive and pull up for jump shots. Ginobli had a great game seemingly scoring at will but when the time came for him to win the game the Raptors defense came up huge again.

Andrea Bargnani hit some HUGE shots late in the game and also gave them a gutsy performance in 43 minutes of work with 23 pts and 8 rebounds. Kapono was on again as well shooting 9-16 for 21 points.

But this night belonged to rookie Point guard Roko Ukic (9-13 fg 22pts 3 assists). Roko took the ball to the rim strong all night. He finished at the rim on some very tough shots. Twisting and twirling in the lane. He made floaters and layups and showed us that he has the potential to be great. The biggest surprise however was his outside shooting. Roko NAILED a couple of huge shots including a late three ball to help the raptors get this win. Hitting those big shots should go a long way with Roko. In previous games he seemed very hesitant to take even wide open looks and making those shots last night late in a close game should hopefully help him gain the confidence he needs. If he can develop a passable jump shot he is going to be a tough player to defend.

The raptors now enter the all-star break on a 2 game win streak. I don't know what this means for the second half of the season. With the trade deadline next Wednesday I don't think we are going to see the same players on the court when they suit up to play Cleveland. But all in all its a good win. And it helps to take some of the sting out of the first half of the season.

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