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The Greatest Raptors Team Tournament: The Semis, Part 2

2001-02 won their first round series with ease, sweeping 2003-04 in four games. 01-02 won each game by at least 13 points and Vince Carter put up an average of 27.2 points per game.

Meanwhile, 1996-97 shocked #2 seed 1999-00 in a four-game sweep, led by point guard Damon Stoudamire.

Game 1: 1996-97 Toronto 89 at 2001-02 Toronto 100 (OT)

After missing a number of chances to put the game away in regulation, 2001-02 outscored 1996-97 11-0 in overtime, pacing them to a 100-89 Game 1 victory.

The 01-02 squad missed four free throws in the last 1:30 and missed an important defensive rotation, leaving Walt Williams wide open to drill the game-tying 3-ball with 59 seconds left.

However, the 01-02 team managed to regroup in the overtime period, forcing 96-97 to shoot 0-6 from the floor. Meanwhile, the offensive responsibilities were handled by Vince Carter, who had seven in the extra frame, and Jerome Williams, who had the other four points.

Carter led all scorers with 32, continuing his impressive tournament run. Williams led 96-97 with 29 points, while adding ten rebounds.

Game Notes: The game featured four double-doubles. Along with Walt Williams, Damon Stoudamire (23 points, 10 assists) had a big game for 96-97, while 01-02 was led by Alvin Williams (15 points, 12 assists) and Antonio Davis (10 points, 13 rebounds)…Stoudamire and Williams scored 52 of 96-97’s 89 points…96-97 guard Doug Christie suffered through a horrible shooting night, finishing 2-9 from the field…Carter had 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime…01-02 continued to get solid contributions from their bench, with Eric Montross contributing 6 points and 7 rebounds, while Tracy Murray had 9 points and 6 rebounds.

Game 2: 1996-97 Toronto 77 at 2001-02 Toronto 94

Vince Carter continued his torrid tournament run, leading 01-02 with 22 points as 2001-02 pulled away in the fourth quarter to take a 2-0 series lead with a 94-77 win over 1996-97.

Walt Williams, who finished with 21, hit a three-pointer with 4:43 remaining to pull 96-97 within six at 80-74. However, they couldn’t capitalize on 01-02’s offensive struggles, missing their next three shots. 01-02 would then put the game away with a 14-0 run over the next three minutes.

The few 96-97 fans who made the trek across town for the game were treated to a special moment late in the game when coach Brendan Malone inserted little-used point guard Donald Whiteside. The former theology teacher came into the game and the ACC responded, incredibly, by playing “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West. Whiteside immediately launched a three-pointer that didn’t have a prayer of going in.

Game Notes: writer Adam Francis cleaned up on press row when he bet the entire Toronto media contingent that Donald Whiteside was actually the MVP of the 1996 Chicago Summer Pro-Am League, a league that featured such players as Stephon Marbury, Kevin Garnett and Tim Hardaway….Stoudamire led all scorers with 25. He and Williams combined for 46 of 96-97’s 77 points….Hakeem Olajuwon’s struggles from the floor continued, as he went 3-10 for the second straight game…Keon Clark shone for 01-02, scoring 12 points and adding 7 rebounds in 16 minutes of play.

Game 3: 2001-02 Toronto 95 at 1996-97 Toronto 85

2001-02 built up a 16-point halftime lead and then held on the rest of the way to a 95-85 victory, giving them a 3-0 series lead.

It appeared that 01-02 would win going away, building the lead back up to 18 with 7:41 to go in the fourth after two free throws from Antonio Davis. However, 96-97 had one more run left in them, scoring 14 straight points to pull within four points with 4:08 to go.

Davis would score the next four points and 01-02 extended the lead to 7 when Davis hit a free throw with 1:42 to go. Doug Christie would knock down a triple on the next possession and, after Alvin Williams missed short on a three at the other end, it appeared that the hometown team could get even closer.

However, Eric Montross outworked Popeye Jones for the board and he was fouled on his putback attempt, hitting both free throws.

The first-half lead reached 22 when Montross converted a great look by Alvin Williams with 2:03 to go in the first half. 96-97 would reel off a 6-0 run to finish the half down 52-36.

Vince Carter led all scorers with 28, while Damon Stoudamire paced 96-97 with 23 points. Davis and Jones each had 12 rebounds.

Game Notes: Walt Williams struggled, missing all six three-pointers and finishing with only 8 points…Keon Clark was suspended for the first half of the game after an alleged incident at a local pub the night before…01-02 was 1-11 from three-point range…Philadelphia DJ Diplo performed at halftime, wearing what appeared to be Manute Bol’s sneakers…John Long saw six minutes of action for 96-97 and his line was filled with zeros, kind of a microcosm for his Raptors career.

Game 4: 2001-02 Toronto 86 at 1996-97 Toronto 91

With their backs against the wall, the 1996-97 Raptors came up with their most inspired performance of the series, defeating 2001-02 91-86.

Trailing by five with six minutes to go, 96-97 chipped away at the lead until Walt Williams nailed a triple with 3:15 to go to give them the lead. Jerome Williams tied it up 90 seconds later with an emphatic jam.

Damon Stoudamire then took over, hitting six straight free throws to give 96-97 a 90-84 lead with 35 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Vince Carter followed an Alvin Williams missed trey with a tip-in and was fouled by Popeye Jones.

After Walt Williams hit one of two free throws, Carter missed three 3-pointers in the final twenty seconds as 96-97 escaped with their first win of the series.

Carter, once again, led all scorers with 27. Stoudamire led 96-97 with 26. Walt Williams contributed 22 points and 10 rebounds. Jerome Williams (15 points, 12 rebounds) also contributed a double-double, albeit in a losing cause.

Game Notes: Jones was 0-5 from the floor, but managed to snag a team-high 11 rebounds for 96-97…Members of the 04-05 team were in attendance, scouting their potential opponents for the Finals. Rafael Araujo was, predictably, called for a foul on press row, sending writer Jeff Chapman back into hospital….Attendance at SkyDome was an impressive 34,576…The Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys played the American Bowl prior to the game, with the Bills emerging victorious by a 17-9 count.

Game 5: 1996-97 Toronto 83 at 2001-02 Toronto 110

The 2001-02 squad punched their tickets to the Finals of the Greatest Raptors Team Tournament with a convincing 110-83 victory over the 1996-97 squad.

01-02 led by ten at the half and then ran away with the game in the second half, extending their lead to as many as 33 points.

The game was out of hand so early that 01-02 coach Lenny Wilkens decided to have some fun. He switched positions for many of his players, allowing Hakeem Olajuwon to play point and put Chris Childs at center. Olajuwon did not disappoint, clumsily crossing over John Long before dropping a no-look pass to Dell Curry who, unaccustomed to playing in the paint, dribbled the ball off of his knee out-of-bounds.

Vince Carter led all scorers with 28, while Antonio Davis chipped in 24. Carter also had a series-high 16 rebounds. Damon Stoudamire led 96-97 with 24 points.

As expected, Carter was named the series MVP for the second straight series, averaging 27.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5 assists per game. Davis led all players with 9.8 rebounds per game, while Stoudamire’s 7.6 assists per game was a series high.

Game Notes: 96-97’s Donald Whiteside saw some more action with the game out of reach and knocked down a three-pointer…Doug Christie was an embarrassment from the field, shooting a horrible 2-14. He shot 28% for the series and was served divorce papers by wife Jackie at the end of Game 5….Jay-Z and Nas performed together at halftime, publicly squashing their beef…However, their respective significant others, Beyonce and Kelis announced that they were now feuding.

#5 2004-05 4, #1 2000-01 1

First Round:
#1 2000-01 4, #8 2002-03 1
#7 1996-97 4, #2 1999-00 0
#3 2001-02 4, #6 2003-04 0
#5 2004-05 4, #4 1998-99 3