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Tip-In, Toronto Raptors’ Post-Game: A Tale of Two Jump Shooters

Devin Harris gave Toronto problems on the evening but came up short when it counted most...

Devin Harris gave Toronto problems on the evening but came up short when it counted most...

Let’s start this off by saying that I’m not really sure how Toronto won this game.

And after seeing my Blue Devils fight back from being down 13 to Wake Forest, only to lose off an inbounds play with two seconds left, I assumed the Raptors were going to do the same with the Nets charging back in the game’s final minutes.

Only Devin Harris’ jumper at the buzzer came up short, and here we have our Dinos on only their second 3-game winning streak this season, as Toronto escaped with a 107 to 106 win.

The funny thing about the Harris shot is that:

a) he scored on the exact same play with eight minutes to go in the second quarter, only that time Jose Calderon was defending him and

b) Matt Devlin erroneously yelled "overtime!" after Harris missed.

Harris is one of the best in the league at that stop and pop move and luckily for the Raptors (and Joey Graham would was faked out of his shorts on the play) he just couldn’t get it to go down. Had the shot dropped, it would have been a fitting way to cap off a game that came down to jumpshots, and who made the most in the end. This time around, it was Toronto who shot a better percentage from the floor (55.7%) and a slightly superior percentage from long range (50% as opposed to 46.9%.)

However it be hesitant to say that the Dinos grabbed this W because of any type of defensive effort.

No, in fact ex-coach Sam Mitchell probably would have stated quite matter-of-factly, "we just made more shaaats."

And he’d be correct.

Take a look at last night’s box score and you’ll see that both team combined for an incredible 56 three-pointers!! I took a look around the NBA boxscores last night and in the other 11 games, there wasn’t ONE MATCH that featured nearly this many long-range bombs.

In fact, New Jersey took more 3’s by themselves last night than both teams COMBINED in 8 of those 11 matches!

Last night really saw two fairly similar clubs in that both are far too reliant on outside shooting, and often forget to try to attack the rim. It’s perhaps over simplification but Toronto won by a single point and looking at the box score, the Raptors made one more free-throw than New Jersey; in the end, the difference in the final score.

The Nets are a weird team actually and must be frustrating as hell to watch as a fan, much like our own Raptors. Sometimes they look like they can beat anyone, especially when Carter is looking to attack. He helped New Jersey come out focused and aggressive and mixed things up from inside and outside in the first quarter to the tune of 16 points.

But after that he seemed more content to get others involved. While he’s perhaps the best passer in the league from his position, he attempted ten 3-pointers while getting to the free-throw line but four times; numbers that Raps’ fans are all too familiar with and must have Nets’ coach Lawrence Frank ready to tear out what remaining hair he has.

On Toronto’s side, the team played ok, but didn’t bring the intensity necessary through most of the game, and got little from their bigs outside of Chris Bosh. Andrea Bargnani had his first single digit game in what seems like ages and was ineffective against New Jersey’s smaller lineups. He got in foul trouble and in the end only took eight shots.

Jermaine O’Neal was fairly efficient, but I didn’t feel he was aggressive enough looking for position closer to the basket, and therefore had to settle for leaning fade-away shots too often. I’m not sure if Brook Lopez is in O’Neal’s head, but again Lopez dominated the majority of his low-post match-ups.

The positive for Toronto though was the play of the bench, in particular the wings. On a night when Bosh, Bargs and JO combined for only 34 points, it was Joey Graham and Jason Kapono dumping in an extra 25 and Joey was probably the most aggressive Raptor on the night looking to attack the basket. I liked the way Jay Triano doled out minutes too and while Andrea will probably get more on most nights with Kapono a bit less, Triano looks to be settling on a much tighter eight-man rotation, with a sprinkle of Roko and Voskuhl mixed in.

I think the other player who needs some attention here is Anthony Parker.

He lead the Raptors in scoring last night with 21, had seven rebounds and six assists, and while he did have four turnovers, he simply looks reborn since he took over some back-up point guard duties. It’s enabled Parker to be much more of an offensive threat as he’s not always chasing around the opposing team’s best player, and on top of this, it’s provided some much-needed stability behind Jose Calderon. Last night was a perfect example of his rejuvenation as he repeatedly beat his man down the court for open 3’s.

It was just what the doctor ordered on a night where Toronto’s go-to guy, Chris Bosh didn’t score until the 6 minutes in the second half outside of free-throws and had four turnovers, three of which were simply bobbled passes.

The win gets Toronto within two games of their next foe the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks lost to the Pacers last night as TJ Ford went off on the team that drafted him, and have been in a bit of a slump since Michael Redd was pronounced out for the season.

As my partner here Vicious D alluded to yesterday, last night’s game and tomorrow night’s are must-wins if the Raps want to make a late-season run at the playoffs and while the victory over the Nets was a good start, I’ll be looking to see a much better overall effort Friday night.