Back to .500 and back on the winning track.
I can’t even imagine how the comment section of this recap would have read if the Raptors had not pulled out this W – and in all honesty they just pulled it out.
If anyone still doubted whether CB4 had taken his game to the next level, just show them a recording of this game.
On a night where the other four starters shot 11 for 33 Chris Bosh carried this team to a badly needed victory scoring 39 points to go alongside 11 rebounds. It was another scoring outburst for the Raps big man but it wasn’t just how many he scored, but just how he scored that was so impressive.
It’s one thing to score 39 points while taking northward of 25 shots from the floor. It’s another to score 39 points while shooting the rock a mere 20 times (with 10 free-throw attempts). Yes folks, that makes out for just shy of 2 points per shot…and for those keeping score at home that’s about as good as it gets. Bosh was simply on fire on this evening and absolutely dismantled the Bobcats defence. CB4 offensive display frustrated Emeka Okafor to no end and gave help defenders fits.
Bosh has gotten scary good. There is no longer any hesitation in his game and he is showing unbelievable poise in crunch time. His passion and desire to win is almost second to none.
Bosh was not however, alone on this evening.
Despite the poor play from the other starters there was help to be found. If CB4 was Batman it was Joey Graham who played Robin. Yes, the same Joey Graham we at the HQ have been pining to see get some minutes.
In unquestionably his strongest game of the season Graham took the opportunity granted to him by Coach Mitchell and took full advantage. Joey did a fantastic job getting to the rim, mixing it up defensively and getting to the line. Unlike Jamario Moon, Joey didn’t force the action and picked his spots. Other than two badly missed jump shots Graham gave the Raps the spark they needed and despite having 5 fouls continued to play with great intensity.
To that point some credit needs to be given to the oft criticized Sam Mitchell. It would have been very easy to pull JG when he picked up personal foul number five, or even number four. Mitchell however not only allowed Graham to play through the foul troubles he also inserted him back into the line-up late after giving him a quick rest. Graham did everything he could in the 21 minutes provided and he produced. I can only hope it is enough to prevent Mitchell from sending him back to the depths of the Batcave and he looks to get Graham involved in this Friday’s match-up against the Hawks where athleticism and toughness will be needed to compete.
Now the hot topic over the past 5 days or so has been defense and although the Raps were by no means stellar on the defensive end on this night the effort was much improved. From the opening jump the Raptors were showing "fast hands" and were tipping and deflecting a number of Charlotte’s passes which helped to disrupt the flow of Charlotte’s offense. There were definite breakdowns at times but the effort was clearly there which is something one could not say following Sunday’s debacle.
There were a number of occasions where the Raps continued to be….well, the Raps. Gerald Wallace got the paint almost at will (although with less frequency when Mr. Graham was his match-up) and had Augustin and Felton looked to get into the paint as they did against the 76ers a few nights earlier I am not so sure that this game would have ended in a W for the home squad. The play of Augustin and Felton of course is not something that should concern the Raps but the defensive shortcomings of this team are still readily apparent.
There was however one defensive stalwart on this evening and that was Il Mago. Slowly but surely Bargnani is making solid plays and doing a much better job recognizing match-ups and situations. He is now being proactive on the court rather than always reacting (and in most cases when it is too late) and his defense on the blocks has been very strong. As each game goes by I am starting to understand what BC see’s in this guy and why he would be reluctant to move him.
This was not a perfect game by any stretch but a W is a W and as Bosh alluded to post game it’s time for this team to move forward and get rolling. At lease we know he’s going to do everything possible to make that happen.