After a solid 110 to 99 win over the Detroit Pistons, Franchise lauds the play of TO's big 3, but worries about Jose Calderon as the team embarks on a tough West-Coast swing...
Bosh - 25 points, 20 free throw attempts.
Bargnani - 22 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Turkoglu - 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
Those numbers were from last night's win over Detroit, and I'll venture that if the team can get production like this from their big three each night, they will be tough to stop.
Or at least we hope so, because the Raps are about to embark on a tough Western road trip, and play only one of their next 8 games at home.
That's why last night's win for me was a big one.
Besides stopping the two-game slide the team was on, the Raptors also showed many of the elements that Bryan Colangelo had envisioned when he discussed this team's strengths prior to the season. And for the first time, I really began to see some cohesion between TO's key starters.
With Bargnani getting off to a good start, it wasn't necessary for Bosh to dominate the ball so much and take on the scoring load himself. And by putting the ball in Hedo's hands a number of times last night in order to orchestrate the offence, this lead to increased efficiency on his behalf as well. And as for Bargs, this was by far his best all-around game of the season as he did a nice job on the glass and in the paint, as well as showcasing his usual long-distance offensive skills.
You knew however that the Pistons were going to come out firing however and they once again got some great back-court play from Ben Gordon, Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey. The three combined for 62 of Detroit's 99 points and made life miserable for TO all night.
Fortunately for the Raps, these three got little assistance from anyone else and in the end, two major factors swung the W Toronto's way.
The first of these was Toronto's ability to get to the line.
Bosh, as mentioned, was relentless once more in this capacity, deferring to his post-mate Bargs for the team's field goal offense. CB4 in fact took only 10 shots from the field, and following his lead, the Raps got to the line an incredible 47 times, making 36 of these. In years past, you just didn't see the Raps able to take advantage of being such an excellent shooting team from the charity stripe but this year the club is getting there on average 33 times a game, best in the league outside of Denver! The constant parade to the charity stripe was too much for Detroit.
Also tipping things in Toronto's favour, bench play.
Toronto got some excellent production from the likes of Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli and Antoine Wright at both ends of the court, and Jarrett Jack was key in leading the troops in crunch time. In fact it was Triano's second unit that wrestled the lead away from Detroit in the second quarter and provided the boost the team needed. Thanks to injuries, the Pistons didn't have much of a second unit outside of Will Bynum and in the end, Toronto's depth and aggressiveness wore Detroit down.
Outside of those two factors however, there really wasn't much of a difference between the clubs.
The Pistons for instance equalled the Dinos in rebounding, shot a better percentage from deep, and almost equalled Toronto in terms of field goal percentage. I had to wonder if things wouldn't have been that much tighter between these clubs had Prince and Hamilton been in the line-up.
In any event, the Raptors, despite a brief let-down in intensity to start the fourth quarter, took care of business when they needed to most, and now head off to New Orleans to take on Chris Paul and the Hornets, before facing the Mavericks and Spurs within the span of four days.
Biggest concern for me heading into this road trip?
I'm not sure what's going on, but Jose's looked like a D League player through four games this season. He did show a bit more aggressiveness last night in terms of getting to the rim, but one assist? And 4 of 11 shooting?
If this team wants to beat some of the West's elite over the next few days, not only are the Raps going to need their big 3 clicking like they were last night, but they also need a lot more from their starting point guard.