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The Greatest Raptors Team Tournament: Series 2

Series #2: 1999-00 (#2 Seed) v. 1996-97 (#7 Seed)

The battle of the Raptors’ first two franchise players highlights this match-up. Damon Stoudamire coming off his ROY season vs. Air Canada Carter. The 96-97 Raps find themselves under the Darrell Walker regime, arguably the best dressed coach this franchise has seen, and looking to use his style to conjure up the tournaments first big upset. The 99-00 team is coming off the franchise’s first playoff appearance and are looking to ride their new found success deep into the tournament. Butch Carter downplay’s Walker’s style and simply points to the court where the 96-97 squad is sporting the finest pin-stripe uni’s in the history of basketball.

Game 1: 1996-97 Toronto 101 at 1999-00 Toronto 88

It was a battle of franchise center’s with the opening tip of the series as Oliver Miller and Michael “Yogi” Stewart faced off. The ball was tipped to Popeye’s Jones who never having dribbled the ball up court took two quick steps and was called for traveling. Those sitting in platinum section behind the home team’s bench could hear Oakley snickering to Dee Brown about how the 99-00 veteran squad would make quick work of these young guns if this was how they played.

To the surprise of most in the ACC however, the first quarter was a tight one highlighted by Walt “The Wizard” Williams scoring 7 points in a one minute span in the middle of the first quarter for the 96-97 squad. Muggsy Bogues however, seemed to be running the offence smoothly. The first Q was highlighted by the first appearance of fan favorite Zan Tabak. When introduced by Herbie, Croatian flags were all over the ACC.

Hoping the Croatian crowd energy would help the visiting 96-97 team Tabak found himself playing much of the second Q matched up against Yogi Stewart. Unfortunately the 96-97 team responded going scoreless in the first 4 minutes of the quarter highlighted by a Tabak 3 second violation. At the 3:56 mark debate raged amongst tournament organizers whether the game should be called when Bogues, off a pretty assist from Carter, threw down a one handed dunk on the break. Soon after Isiah Thomas was seen working the phones looking to add three players to the 96-97 squad all under 6'. At the half: 99-00 team leading 47-42.

The young 96-97 squad and their big three (Stoudamire, Williams and Christie) lead the comeback helping to outscore the 99-00 59-41 in the second half. Turnovers were the story as the 99-00 Raps were careless with the ball turning it over 17 times.

The ACC fans starting filing out as early as the 4 minute mark of the fourth quarter when Mighty Mouse calmly nailed a wide open three from the corner when Popeye Jones passed out of the double team putting the 96-97 squad up by 15.

Game Notes: Damon Stoudamire quickly established himself as the “franchise” player of the series scoring 28 points, 13 of them from the line, to accompany 10 assists..... Coach Walker voiced his concerns over the performance of his center by committee approach (Miller, Tabak, and Sharone Wright) as Yogi matched his career totals with 12 points and 15 rebounds....... Security will likely be tightened after a second row skirmish between the 96-97 and the 99-00 Christie wives broke out over whether Doug was cheating on either of them when sending out little signs........when Oakley was later asked about the fight he responded, “Does that mean BOTH of them are going to be following the team bus?”

Game 2: 1996-97 Toronto 96 at 1999-00 Toronto 92 (OT)

Having been slammed in the Star over their lackluster performance by everyone’s favorite columnist (insert laughter here) the 99-00 squad regrouped on the day-off. Prior to tip off the ACC was hopping.

The 99-00 team rode the ACC enthusiasm to a 5 point first quarter lead although Yogi found himself in quick foul trouble. As a result AD knew he would have to “step it up a notch” although a time-out was called to explain to him that a “notch” was neither a metric or imperial measurement. The 96-97 squad however, did not put their heads down and began to gain some confidence at the end of the quarter with Clifford Rozier coming of the bench to provide a spark in the last 2 minutes.

The second quarter started off with a hard foul by John Long on Vince Carter as he drove to the hoop. VC responded with heart and showed his repertoire of step backs, drives, and fadeaways helping his squad to a 12 point lead with 7 minutes left in the second. Feeling more exposed on D than on his upcoming reality show, 96-97 Christie decided to fight offense with offense and drained three straight trays taking the life out of the ACC tying the game at half.

The third quarter was easily the most exciting one to date featuring a number of pretty slams from both squads. Sharone Wright posterized Yogi with a mammoth two-handed slam. Carter continued his magical game with an amazing 360 dunk. For the last 2 minutes of the quarter Stoudamire and Carter took on their team’s preverbial “loads” and put on a scoring clinic with jumper’s and bank shots. John Thomas continued to give a solid effort capped off by a runner from the left block with 1 tick left on the clock to send the 99-00 team up by four heading into the final quarter.

For the first few minutes of the fourth the defense was tight. 99-00's inability to hit free throws allowed 96-97 to finally make it’s push and take it’s first lead since 6-4 when Oliver Miller put back a Hubert Davis miss. Unfortunately for the fans the refs seemed to take over the game and a plethora of fouls were called. The last 2 minutes, in typical NBA fashion took 34 minutes. Sharone Wright hit 1 of 2 from the line to put the 96-97 squad up by two. After a time out Butch Carter drew up the perfect play with Carter coming off an AD pick, getting the ball from Bogues and cleanly hitting the 14 foot jumper to tie the game. With 25 seconds left the 96-97 squad had two opportunities to finish the game but neither Williams nor Christie were able to connect.

OT looked like 99-00's for the taking quickly grabbing a 5 point lead but Mighty Mouse responded. Oliver Miller continued his strong work in the paint altering John Thomas’s shot with 2:07 left and on the next trip down the floor nailed a hook that made Willis grin. Down by four Butch Carter again looked to VC for the answer who, having not been in Chapel Hill that day, stepped up and nailed a three to bring the game within one. Needing to foul, Stoudamire was sent to the line where he hit 1 of 2. Up by two the 99-00 team looked to VC again but before he could get a shot off John Thomas was called for three in the key! Walt Williams scored an easy two putting the game out of reach.

Game Notes: Damon Stoudamire played 53 minutes continuing to dominate Bogues in the PG match-up....Popeye Jones did an admirable job with 5 offensive boards and 10 in total....both teams hovered around the 40% mark from the floor.......VC’s solid 33 point performance was unfortunately not good enough for the 99-00 team as AD was the next highest scorer with 13......a young TMAC on the 99-00 team was clearly aching to get into the game and perform logging only 7 minutes.......2000 Grammy Award Winner for Best New Artist Christina Aguilera sang the national anthem.

GAME 3: 1999-00 Toronto 85 at 1996-97 Toronto 100

With the venue now the SkyDome the 99-00 Raptors were hoping they could now play the role of road warriors and steal 2 games from the 96-97 young guns. The 96-97 squad was hoping to get Donald Whiteside some garbage time.

Not having seen anything close to a playoff game the 50,000 fans at the SkyDome were pumped and the team responded with a 34 point first quarter. The team was dropping threes from everywhere and Tabak managed a three point play resulting in the stadium operators opening the Dome to see if the apocalypse was upon us. The somber faces began to show themselves on the 99-00 bench.

Vince managed to put together a good first half performance with a pretty dunk through the lane and displaying his patented fadeaway. Stoudemire and Williams matched VC’s efforts. The score at half....53-45 for 96-97.

Backs against the wall the 99-00 team came out with fire in the eyes. Carter in particular continued his assault on the rim and tallied 12 points in the quarter. Nevertheless the 96-97 team held on to the momentum.

By the time the fourth quarter the 96-97 team was on too much of a roll and by 3:24 of the fourth Coach Walker pointed to the end of the bench and sent out Donald Whiteside, Shawn Respert, Carlos Rogers, Tabak and the Wizard. Feeling disrespected Oakley responded to two hard offensive fouls in the last two minutes.

Game Notes: Stoudamire had 12 assists to go along with his 25 points almost guaranteeing his MVP for the series.....Carter was demonstrably a beaten man at the end of the game having poured in 33 points with 8 boards in another losing cause.....Yogi turned back the clock to game one with 18 points and 16 boards.....a court-side appearances by Nate Dogg who had performed the evening before.......attendance at 50, 651.....Head referee Steve Javie.

Game 4: 1999-00 Toronto 105 at 1996-97 Toronto 111

Heading into Game 4 at the Dome Butch Carter apparently thought a shake-up was needed. As a result a young T-Mac was given an opportunity. 1:35 into the game VC was subbed after playing lax D against 96-97 Christie. Twenty-five seconds later T-Mac dropped his first 2.

To no-one’s surprise Mighty Mouse was determined to close out the series and complete the biggest upset of the tournament. Not without the help of Sharone Wright in the first Q however who tipped in three misses early on. T-Mac’s fresh legs were not enough and the 99-00 team found themselves down after one. The Butch Carter pre-game speech about winning a quarter at a time fell of deft ears.

The second quarter however started well, the 99-00 team making what could be their final push finally tying the game at 34 with 8:47 left in the second after AD made his patented 7 foot J. The 96-97 team decided to pound the ball inside managed some easy hoops, At half the 96-97 squad, were up 47-43.

The third started out much the same as the first with Carter playing few minutes and McGrady doing his best impersonation of Vinnie Johnson. Again Stoudamire helped stem the tide and by the end of the third all advances were fended off and 96-97 were one quarter away from Round #2.

But if this was going to be McGrady’s last game he wanted to put on a clinic and he scored 7 points in the first three minutes with a nice finger roll drive, a three from the top of the key and two free-throws. Luckily the 96-97 team went cold at the same time and suddenly the 99-00 squad had life, and a 6 point lead with 7 minutes to go. Not having played for much of the series however T-Mac was losing his legs and with no-one else to turn to VC stepped back on the floor. Three minutes later 96-97 had regained the lead. Not wanting to be outdone however Carter showed unprecedented heart and managed a three point play with 3:47 left to put his squad up again, 94-92. Walker again looked at his stable of front court stallions....yeeeeeaaaaahhhh...and pounded down low as Miller and Popeye took the ball hard to the rack. Unfortunately 99-00 went cold and when the Wizard rained a three with 1:31 left to put 96-97 up by 8 it was all but over.

Game Notes: McGrady ended up with 18 points on 7/10 and 4 rebounds......after the game T-Mac suggested that he loved Disneyland.......Yogi with another double-double..........Stoudamire was definitely the franchise player with 24 and 12 assists.....the Wizard in hitting 5 threes chipped in with 29.....Michelle Carter was later seen fighting with the valet over her parking space........