The Mickael Pietrus era begins with a win as the Toronto Raptors actually managed to hang on for a win, beating the Phoenix Suns 101 to 97.
As a Raptors' fan, you just knew how this was going to end up, and you likely braced for the worst.
However a series of strange things happened. Andrea Bargnani, useless on the night and benched for most of the second-half, was re-inserted for defensive purposes, and absolutely shut down anyone he guarded.
(I'll give you a second to get up off the floor here to continue reading...ok...go.)
Shannon Brown got through Toronto's perimeter for a lay-up while being fouled but, hey, no foul was called, and the ball rolled out!
Bargs then grabbed a key defensive rebound, and calmly hit two free throws to ice the game, meaning for once, the Toronto Raptors bent, but didn't break down the stretch, beating the Suns 101 to 97 when all was said and done.
Bargs was a measly 1 of 4 prior to his re-insertion, so the offence came from elsewhere on the night, starting with DeMar DeRozan who had 23 points. He was only 8 of 18, but pitched in in other areas grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists.
But the story tonight wasn't DeRozan or Bargs final possessions, it was the bench, who really kept this game within striking distance for Toronto. Amir Johnson and Ed Davis were a force inside combining for 20 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks, not to mention some huge clutch plays down the stretch.
And Jose Calderon was the maestro who kept the show humming along. He finished with 13 points and 9 assists, continually probing the Suns' D.
Mickael Pietrus? Not only did he dress, but he played 32 minutes and didn't look so bad out there. He only scored six points, but played solid D and looked better than Linas Kleiza or anything the Raptors have had manning that 3 spot for a while.
That being said, we should note that this was hardly a dominant win. The Suns were the better executing team all night long, but continuously shot themselves in the foot with bad fouls and an inability to close out possessions. The Raptors' O was hardly pretty at times, but they made desperation shots when they needed to, and in the end, it's win number four on the season.
And that's big considering...yes, back to the West they go, a five-game road trip on hand starting Monday in Denver.
For more, visit Bright Side Of The Sun.