To be lucky you have to be good.
The 2006-2007 Raptors are both good, and lucky. If you watched Friday nights win against the LA Lakers you know this to be the case. For much of the game both the Raps and Lakers battled through some good defense and some poor shooting (see the 17-16 score at the end of the first Q). Slowly as the game progressed into the later stages the Raps started to pull away and with about 5 minutes left. With 5:41 to go the Raps were up thirteen and the game seemed to be in hand. The Dinos looked good. Before you could say "Bob’s your uncle" however, things started to change and after a few bad turnovers later the Lakers made a last push and in fact took the lead with just over two minutes left.
In what was some of the most exciting minutes of the year, the Raps and Lakers battled it out in the late stages of the fourth and after a clutch three by Mo Pete, the game hung in the balance. Or better yet, the game rested in the hands of number 24.
As a basketball fan you have to know that leaving Bryant open to take the game tying or winning shot is never a good idea. When the game is in the final stages there are few guys who you would rather take a clutch shot than Kobe. Well Kobe had his chance, and after being good, the Raps got lucky.
Kobe hit front iron and the Raps won 96-92.
Saying this is a big win is a bit if an understatement. This was not just some victory over the 76ers, the Bobcats, the Hornets or the disgraced Celtics. This win was against a solid Western Conference team and the win was exactly what this team needed as it enters what might be the toughest week of the season. Really what else could one want from this team at this point in the season? Right now you just get the feeling like this team doesn’t know any better. It is on a roll and there is no indication that they intend to slow down.
Of course tonight’s game was not perfect, not by any stretch. There was really no need for this game to be as close at it was and it almost looked like the Raps were trying to hand the game over to the Lakers. Peterson, Garbo and Bosh (three seconds) all had bad turnovers allowing the Lakers to get back into the game, but fortunately the team prevailed in front of the huge home crowd. As an aside, although none of the key turnovers in the fourth can be directly attributed to Ford am I the only one who notice that when Calderon was pulled the wheels fell off? I will let you draw your own conclusions.
Of course much of the win can be attributed to some solid defense, in particular on the part of Mo Pete and Anthony Parker, who with some solid help managed to do exactly what one hopes to do when playing Kobe Bryant....contain him. Sure Kobe got "his" and some of the supporting cast played well (see Mo Evans) but on a whole the Raps did a great job of preventing Kobe from taking over. I mean 25 compared to say.....81? Yeah I would say the defense has improved.
So now the Raps heading to Deeeeetroit where they face a team that has also beaten the Lakers this week. This will be an even bigger challenge for the Raps. Not only will the Raps be playing the second game of a back-to-back but on paper this game looks like a bit of a mis-match. True the Pistons do not really have anyone who can guard CB4, but the Pistons have a strong front-court that could give the Raps some trouble, and Mo Pete and AP better have their legs as they will be chasing Rip Hamilton all night long.
If the Raps pull out the W in Detroit no-one can be anything put impressed with this squad and the bandwagon will, very much like the Queen Street car at 8:15 am, get overcrowded.