Chris Bosh, is not, as some people suggested, an idiot.
He's not the type of player to simply turn a blind eye to his team's deficiencies and not bring them up to someone.
No, I'm also sure that Bosh is the kind of person who stews about something until it becomes too much to bare. And yesterday afternoon, for those watching on MLK Day, we saw that boil over with Jamario Moon.
And frankly, I can't be happier.
Over the course of a year and a half, I've seen Moon give plenty of "Aw, Shucks" moments. We've listened to him give flimsy excuses for blown assignments and horrible shot selection as if to say that he couldn't do any better. Perhaps today, someone on the Raptors' staff listened to him.
You see, today, Jamario Moon played like he wanted out of Toronto and wanted to be back in the D-League.
The blown defensive assignment against Joe Johnson might have led to Chris Bosh's tirade against Moon, but to hear Moon explain it, he doesn't understand why people are upset about his transition 3, the more eggregious of the two final errors. Moon supporters (if there are any left) will say that he made a 3-pointer earlier, but that shot wasn't a transition 3 either with about 30 seconds on the clock when the team's only down 1.
And while we're at it, we'll toss in a weak drive to the basket near game's end, which resulted in a contested, difficult shot by Joey Graham because Moon refused to take it all the way to the basket.
But against that backdrop, the Raptors did have Bargnani doing his thing again (20 and 10), along with Anthony Parker giving us a near triple-double performance. While I might wonder if Bargnani can keep up this offensive intensity, it has been his consistent defensive presence that has made Jermaine O'Neal an expendable commodity. Without O'Neal around for a second straight game, Bargnani showed that same ability to play some hard-nosed defense coupled with hard drives with decisive pull up jumpers. Registering ten rebounds for the afternoon, Bargs cleaned the glass in traffic and effectively boxed out his man. Sure, he only had to fight against Zaza Pachulia and Josh Smith, but there were times when he truly had to pin his man to his back with some aggressive footwork.
Anthony Parker, once again, has been showing us the form that made him MVP of the Euro League. Being a steady, experienced hand on this Raptors team, he gave the Raptors everything they needed out of of him by getting 9 assists, 9 rebounds, and 12 points. He also kept Mike Bibby from completely exploiting the Raptors in the paint, and while Bibby managed to get his share of points from the perimeter, it wasn't until Ukic played that Bibby began to slash and open up the Raptors' interior.
And Chris Bosh? Well, Chris Bosh's ankle looked good.
Getting to the line and making his regular quota of shots and rebounds, Chris Bosh put in a good days work that should have sealed the deal. When the shots weren't falling towards the later part of the first quarter, Bosh looked to attack. Most impressive lately has been how Bosh and Bargnani switch up posting and taking up position up on the perimeter. Unlike with the bigger and slower Jermaine O'Neal, the ability to constantly move in and out of the paint between the two big men allows the Raptors to have two posting options that both can shoot from the perimeter. It also means that the Raptors' offense is less predictable thanks to that interchangeability.
Unfortunately, the Raptors in the third completely fell apart offensively. With Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby lighting the Raptors up from the perimeter as per usual, the Raptors were never able to build a significant lead. At half time, they managed to build some momentum, but lost every single step of it coming into the second half. Add in Josh Smith's share of acrobatic moves, including a pretty sick alley-oop, and the Raptors could ill-afford lapses on either end of the floor. If the Raptors didn't shoot 25% in the third thanks to stagnant ball movement and poor shot selection, the game would have been put away easily.
Atlanta was never able to get all that much traction, having shot 42% for the night. In fact, I've never seen a team shoot so many airballs.
To start the fourth, Chris Bosh entered the game to try and re-establish the flow of the game. But the Raptors continued to take contested perimeter shots until Kapono made a 3-pointer to bring the Raptors some breathing room. However, Chris Bosh continued to get no respect from the refs and the Raptors continued to settle for outside jumpers. As a result, the Hawks overtook the Raptors in the fourth. But a four point play that had Bargnani making a driving pull-up shot and Bosh tipping in the missed free throw managed to keep the Raptors in striking distance.
Then, came the Moon fiasco.
Oh, and of course, it wouldn't be a game in Atlanta without some kind of controversy. As is prone to happen in Atlanta, Anthony Parker gets hit with a hard moving screen from behind. The fact that Solomon Jones laid his knee into the back of Parker's his leg didn't help the situation. With these refs, as always, it's a non-call.
At the end of the day, I'm personally using these games to look at the Raptors as a whole, and to me, the signs are encouraging once a trade is consummated. Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani are proving to be the kinds of players we need them to be if we're going to lose Jermaine O'Neal's presence in the paint. Anthony Parker is regaining his touch, which is always an encouraging sign. Roko Ukic is making his share of rookie mistakes, especially with the travelling calls lately, but he's the player that we need developed right now and is getting his time on the club. Joey Graham continues to be his aggressive self, both in a good and bad way. However, on a team lacking aggression at times, his presence was really needed for this game. It's really unfortunate that he was saddled with foul trouble for most of the game and was having a pretty tough go of it defensively for the afternoon.
Yes, the holes at starting SF, and back-up positions are glaring, and I have to say that trading away Jermaine O'Neal looks better every day.