Defeating one of the better teams in the Western Conference, the Toronto Raptors snapped their two game losing streak. Vicious D talks about the win and gives us a look at the game that was.
The fans wanted more athleticism on the floor, especially with regards to Sonny Weems. With fewer options as Jarrett Jack would need to play a lot of minutes at the point, the fans indeed got more Weems as well.
The fans wanted "the Legend" to get some burn. With the Rockets having few lumbering big men, Pops Mensah-Bonsu came into the game and showed the Rockets what they had let go.
Now that's not to say that every single opinion of every fan should be taken as the truth, but there's a reason why the Toronto Raptors took down a very capable Houston Rockets team 101-88 for their first Sunday win of the season. Jay Triano deserves quite a bit of credit for finally giving some burn to players we've clamored for all season, and Triano even went so far to start the second quarter without a single starter on the floor. As a result, the Raps were covering each other on defense, racking up nine blocks for the entire game. It was impressive seeing both Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Amir Johnson help each other out of jams with their tenacious defense. Both energized the crowd throughout the game with their tenacity and grit to get rebounds and to protect the Raptors' paint.
On the other end of the court, Sonny Weems gave the Raptors a fairly impressive boost from the bench. Scoring with drives and his jump shot, Weems managed to put up 11 points off the pine, a nice boost during the times when the Raptors offense stalled. Chris Bosh put in a fairly quiet 27 points leading all scorers, but the best player on the court yesterday had to be Jarrett Jack. Taking the ball inside and out, distributing effectively to his teammates, sticking his nose into the crowd to get rebounds, almost sitting on players in order to "defend" them, and even coming to the defense of teammates, Jack showed the heart that was sorely needed in the absence of Jose Calderon.
Sticking up for DeMar DeRozan after Trevor Ariza took a swing at the rookie, Jarrett Jack immediately stepped into Ariza and proceeded to defend the rook. All over the ACC, everyone was applauding the move as the Raptors have been too soft and too slow in the past to take such actions. It is this kind of heart that Jack has shown that has made him another leader in this team so far in this young season, something again, that this team sorely needs.
On the Rocket's end, you never really felt that the Raptors had complete control of the game as Houston managed to keep hanging around. And a late run brought Toronto's lead down to single digits. However with Ariza away from the game, the Raptors kept defensive pressure on the Rockets perimeter while making some key baskets down the stretch. Carl Landry and Luis Scola were both having their way in the paint, but beyond that, Houston just didn't get that many opportunities, especially on the break. Other than Aaron Brooks, who had 20 points, the rest of the Rockets team couldn't crack the 10 point plateau. The fatigue argument could be made for Houston but you still have to hand it to Toronto's defense on the afternoon.
With the next two games being their annual back-to-back trip to Miami and Orlando, the Dinos will need to sustain the effort that they put into yesterday's game. We've already seen that this Raptors team can overcome their defensive stigma if they only work on it a little and if the right personnel are given a chance. We are almost halfway through December and it's time that Jay Triano sticks with what works. Certain players have consistently shown a propensity to change the tempo of the game even when the starters sometimes have shown a lack of initiative.
So enough with the "set line-ups."
As the team draws near the trimester mark of the season, It's time they go with what works best in terms of playing time, even if this means injuring a few egos along the way.
After all, Bryan Colangelo talked about 50 wins to start the season.
With yesterday being only win number 11, this team still has a long ways to go but provided they can get near that 50 mark, I'm pretty sure both management and the fans won't care what line-ups help reach that plateau.