Big game, big shot, big finish. Oh, and AI is ticked
What a terrible, stinky, horrible game.
Now they’re percentage points better than New York.
They might have the – gasp! – ninth pick in the draft instead of the eighth?
|A little win streak to end a crappy season is sure better than an elbow to the chest.|
And all because they gutted out a big win on the road against a very good team late in the season. Damn them!
Seriously, that might as good as they’ve played since the San Antonio game just before the all-star break; the Magic is very good.
They decided early not to aggressively double-team Howard, to let him get his if he had to and take extra care guarding the three-point line. Worked out pretty well, I’d say and runs counter to the usual philosophy of packing the paint and taking your chances with the shooters. Not a bad piece of adaptation, I’d say.
Action: Bosh’s game-winner
Reaction: Remember when?
Tell me what the difference is between the shot Bosh missed at the end of Game 2 last April and the one he made last night? He’s being lauded for being “clutch” after the make and was killed for being a soft bum when he missed it in April.
Both were the right play at the right time, one he made and one he missed.
And no one who crucified him for not driving last year (a play after he’d been mugged and didn’t the call) really should be allowed to heap praise on him for making the 20-footer at the end of the game last night.
His game last night – 24 and 12, 50 per cent shooting from the field, enough good defence on Howard and Lewis when he had to chase him to the three-point line – was pretty much the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from him.
Hey, remember when Bargnani fouled with Jake-like frequency? When the gambling pool courtside was how long it would take him to get two quick personals and a seat on the bench? Well, those days are gone and that might be one of the most significant things he’s learned this year – how to defend without fouling.
Last night’s disqualification, and there were a couple of cheapies among the six for sure, was only his second of the season. That’s a huge improvement and shows more about his growth this year.
This prank sucks and they should give the guy a job or something for jerking him around.
And, besides, isn’t noon the moratorium on April Fool’s Day jokes?
Okay before anyone gets too excited, consider this when thinking about the ultimate season-ending miracle.
Not only do the Raptors have to run the table (and a 13-game winning streak to end the season is a bit much to ask), Detroit has to lose every game it plays and/or Chicago has to win no more than one and only a magical abacus can tell me what the means for Charlotte, Indy, Milwaukee, the Nets and Knicks.
So let’s take this for what it is, a very nice finish to a very bad season.
A quick one from the rapidly-filling mail bag:
Q: I know stats miss a lot, but which stat do you think is the most valid indicator of a team's defensive proficiency? Is there any sort of formula for calculating an individual's defensive prowess?
David S, Toronto
A: In my opinion, field goal percentage surrendered is the best stat to determine a team’s efficiency. And I have yet to see any single formula for determining an individual’s defensive ability.
How much did you want Charlotte to knock off the Celtics last night? Not just because it’s Boston and there’s a lot to loath about the C’s but because it would have (a) given the Bobcats back-to-back wins over the Lakers and Celtics and that would have been very cool and (b) tightened the bottom of the East standings immeasurably.
As it is, it’s going to be a wild finish over the next fortnight. I still think the schedule heavily favours Chicago to get one of those last spots but, I’m serious about this, do not sleep on the Bobcats to catch the Pistons.
That would be very cool, in my opinion; more new teams in the playoffs the better and I’ve always been a big Larry Brown fan.
Speaking of Detroit, how’s this for a much-needed distraction with the season on the line and two weeks to go?
Somewhere, I presume Chauncey Billups is smiling.
Action: Bargnani fouls out.
Reaction: It’s gotta be on Jay
I know they weren’t scoring a lot in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter and they probably needed his offence but to bring back Bargnani and his five fouls with just over seven minutes left was an ill-advised gamble.
One, of course, that backfired since he fouled out on his first defensive possession.
I’m rubbing my eyes in disbelief here – and not because Super Son seems all ready to head to school and it’s 45 minutes until departure time – but because in the last five games, the Raptors are plus-69 in rebounding.
Read that again.
PLUS-69 IN REBOUNDING.
The Raptors are.
The Toronto Raptors.
In Orlando, where they might be thinking that game will be the one that keeps them from getting second overall in the East, they awoke this morning, raced to the newsstand (or the porch, or the computer) and saw this from Good Old B. Schmitz.
You know I was gonna run this as soon as I saw it:
Q: I dare you to write an article tomorrow about how great Howard is like you did with Shaq ...you know the other game where we got completely screwed by the refs and you BLEW the story. I also dare you to print this.
Stephen P, Burlington
A: Dwight Howard’s great. The Raptors still won. What do I get? (If it’s money, send it to my office today, thanks).
Seriously, that was a poorly officiated game, Howard got the benefit of a handful of calls. Games are going to pop up like that every now and then, all refs are not created equally.