Series #3: 2001-02 (#3 seed) vs. 2003-04 (#6 seed)
After witnessing the shocking sweep #7 seed 1996-97 handed #2 seed 1999-00, hopes were high for another upset as the third-seed 2001-02 Raptors took on the #6 seed 2003-04 club.
The 03-04 club featured rookie Chris Bosh, along with Vince Carter and recent acquisitions Donyell Marshall and Jalen Rose. They were coached, of course, by the irascible Kevin Oâ€™Neill.
On the other side of the court, the #3 seed 01-02 squad featured an in-his-prime Carter, along with an imposing frontline of Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Game 1: 2003-04 Toronto 68 at 2001-02 Toronto 107
Game 1 was a microcosm of the respective seasons of the two teams. Hope for 2001-02. Despair for 2003-04.
The 01-02 club outscored 03-04 36-15 in the fourth quarter, including a seven-minute stretch that featured a 22-1 run, to pull away and win Game 1 107-68.
The game was an all-around nightmare for 2003-04. Rookie Chris Bosh finished with only five points on 0-6 shooting, while the Layup King, Milt Palacio, blew all five of his layups.
And it wasnâ€™t just on the court. At the start of the game, 03-04 coach Oâ€™Neill was nowhere to be seen. Worried, Michael Curry took himself out of the starting lineup in favour of Robert Archibald and went on a trek to find the coach. Curry would return at 8:37 of the second quarter, having rescued Oâ€™Neill from his beer at the Irish Embassy.
The frustration reached its peak at halftime, when Jalen Rose and Curry reportedly got into a dustup in the locker room. Rose, frustrated with his lack of playing time, fired up the Technics 1200s in the locker room, throwing down some classic jams like Nasâ€™ â€œHalftimeâ€ and â€œTimeâ€™s Upâ€ by O.C. Curry objected to Roseâ€™s selections and demanded that he play some PM Dawn. Jerome Moiso was forced to break up the skirmish.
Unfortunately, the 03-04 club couldnâ€™t harness that negative energy into something positive on the court in the second half. The third quarter was more of the same, as 01-02 pulled away to a 71-53 lead after three quarters.
Game Notes: Six 01-02 players finished in double figures, led by Vince Carter with 22â€¦Vince Carter also led 03-04 with 17 pointsâ€¦Bosh, Palacio, Lonny â€œSix Foulsâ€ Baxter and Robert Archibald combined to go 0-15 from the floor for 03-04â€¦Jerome Williams had a double-double, scoring 13 points and adding 11 rebounds for 01-02â€¦Attendance at the ACC was 19,800â€¦
Game 2: 2003-04 Toronto 92 at 2001-02 Toronto 108
With another offensive outburst, the 2001-02 squad is suddenly becoming a major player in the Greatest Raptors Team Tournament.
They erupted for sixty points in the second half, en route to an easy 108-92 victory over the 2003-04 club, taking a 2-0 series lead.
01-02 was led, once again, by Vince Carter, who dropped 30 points. Incredibly, Carter got to the line 15 times, nailing 11 free throws. Conversely, 03-04 Carter only got to the line four times and complained bitterly to referee Steve Javie.
Led by Antonio Davisâ€™ seven first quarter points, 01-02 jumped out to a 31-21 lead after 1. Down as many as 13 in the second, 03-04 made a nice run to tie the game on Lamond Murrayâ€™s turnaround jumper with 30 seconds to go in the half. Not to be outdone, Tracy Murray came right back down and knocked down a three-pointer from 28 feet to give 01-02 the 48-45 halftime lead.
01-02 outscored 03-04 26-17 in the third to take a 74-62 lead into the fourth quarter. Carter and Davis each had six in the quarter.
The fourth quarter was mostly moot. 01-02 started off the quarter on a 16-6 run until Oâ€™Neill felt compelled to bring Donyell Marshall back into the game, despite his five fouls. The quarter belonged to Marshall, who knocked down four triples en route to a 15-point quarter.
Game Notes: 01-02 had a 47-15 edge in free throw attemptsâ€¦Robert Archibald got his second straight start. In a strange sight, Celtic and Rangers fans were seen hugging in the stands in support of Archibaldâ€¦Marshall led 03-04 with 24 on 5-8 3-point shootingâ€¦Chris Bosh nailed a three-pointer at the end of the game, sending the game total over 199 pointsâ€¦Jerome Williams had his second straight double-double with 17 points and 12 reboundsâ€¦
Game 3: 2001-02 Toronto 103 at 2003-04 Toronto 90
A season low crowd of 11,278 turned out to see the 01-02 Raptors take a commanding 3-0 series lead, with a 103-90 victory over 2003-04.
01-02 got out to another early lead and was not really challenged en route to a third straight easy victory.
Vince Carter got 01-02 off to another fast start, as he scored nine points in the first three minutes of the first quarter before turning into a playmaker. Carter dropped three sweet dimes the rest of the way as 01-02 raced out to a 28-19 lead after one quarter.
A strange incident occurred at the 4:49 mark of the second quarter. After Milt Palacio connected on a three-pointer, four horsemen suddenly made their way onto the court. Claiming that they were here for the Apocalypse, the horsemen began to ravage the Ford Power Pak. Thinking quickly, Jerome Williams told them that the Apocalypse was actually in Greece, and that Shaq had told him â€œit was a great place to partyâ€.
Coming out of halftime, the 03-04 Raps started off with a highlight reel play. Jalen Rose got the tip and bounced the ball off of Chris Childsâ€™ head to Vince Carter who converted the alley-oop. The ACC erupted and it seemed that 03-04 finally had some momentum in this series.
That was short-lived. Olajuwon dunked on the next possession and, after Peterson blew a wide-open 18-footer, 01-02 Carter came down and drained a jumper with his foot on the line, opening the floodgates. Carter would go on to score 18 in the quarter and 01-02 led 79-66 after three quarters.
The 03-04 Raptors had one last run in them, sparked again by Donyell â€œFourth Quarterâ€ Marshall, who had twelve points in a 16-4 run that brought them to within three at 85-82 with 4:43 to go.
Once again, the 01-02 team was too much for 03-04. They reeled off a 16-5 run over the next 3:32 to lead by 14 with 1:11 to go. From there, it was a fait accompli.
Game Notes: The Four Horsemen performed at halftime and watched the second half from the MLSE box with Richard Peddieâ€¦Once again, 01-02 held a distinct advantage in the free throw attempts department, 37-10. In fact, only two 03-04 players even attempted a free throw: Marshall had eight attempts and Carter had twoâ€¦.Alvin Williams had a double-double with 12 points and 10 assistsâ€¦Carter led 01-02 for the third straight game, with 31. Carter also added 11 reboundsâ€¦.Marshall led 03-04 with 20â€¦Chris Bosh had a double-double for 03-04, with 11 points and 12 rebounds. He even hit a three for the second straight gameâ€¦Roger Mason, Jr. saw his first action in the series. He played 13 seconds and picked up one foulâ€¦All five 01-02 starters finished in double figures.
Game 4: 2001-02 Toronto 111 at 2003-04 Toronto 98
For the second straight series in the Greatest Raptors Team Tournament, we had a sweep.
The 2001-02 Raptors took a 12-point halftime lead and cruised in the second half to win Game 4 by a score of 111-98.
Series MVP Vince Carter showed his competitive edge in the first quarter, as he dropped 14 points to lead 01-02 to a 29-23 advantage after one quarter.
The second quarter was not much better for 03-04. Even though they got the lead down to one at one point, they trailed 56-44 at the break. More importantly, Chris Bosh, Donyell Marshall, Vince Carter and Morris Peterson all picked up their third fouls in the quarter.
On the verge of elimination, the 03-04 Raptors showed some get up and go in the third. Led by Lonny Baxter and Lamond Murray, 03-04 reeled off a 10-2 run to get to within three with 2:29 to play in the quarter.
The final five seconds of the quarter were the most exciting of the series by far.
Down six, Jalen Rose backed down Alvin Williams and knocked down the turnaround jumper. As Rose jawed Boogie down the court and high-fived Mrs. Raptor, Antonio Davis dunked with 0.9 seconds to go in the quarter. Oâ€™Neill rushed to call timeout.
With Oâ€™Neill lacking a play, team snitch Michael Curry suggested that they run the play from Hoosiers. Confused, Oâ€™Neill attempted to substitute Jimmy Chitwood into the game for Marshall. Informed that Chitwood was not a member of his team, Oâ€™Neill launched into a tirade and was promptly ejected by referee Bernie Fryer.
Strangely, Lenny Wilkens opted to send Mengke Bateer out to shoot the technicals. When informed that Bateer was in Mongolia, Wilkens blew a gasket, resulting in his ejection. Fryer mulled over the situation and decided that neither team would shoot technicals, for the greater good.
With the crowd abuzz, 03-04 then inbounded the ball to Marshall, whose 35-footer found nothing but net at the buzzer. 83-80 for 01-02 after three. It would be as close as 03-04 would get.
01-02 opened the fourth quarter on a 13-3 run, capped off by Jerome Williamsâ€™ three-point play with 6:26 to go. They would later reel off an 11-0 run to lead by 20 with 1:23 to go. Typical of his Raptors career, Lamond Murray knocked down two triples in the last 30 seconds with the outcome no longer in doubt.
Game Notes: Eric Montross showed up with his hair dyed in purple and pink dots. He then went out at put up Rodmanesque numbers, grabbing nine rebounds in 17 minutes of play, attempting nary a shotâ€¦Carter led 01-02 for the fourth straight game with 26 pointsâ€¦Marshall led 03-04 with 21 and added 15 reboundsâ€¦Six 01-02 players finished in double figures, including 16 from Tracy Murray. In fact, Murray averaged 10.5 points per game in the seriesâ€¦01-02 Carter led all scorers with 27.2 PPG in the seriesâ€¦01-02 will now meet 96-97 in the semi-finals.