The four game winning streak was nice, but this was a true test, against the Orlando Magic, albeit in a lost season. Both teams started out the game on fire, seldom missing shots and with little defense played, which is a regular feature of the Raptors, but not the Magic.
Now, right to it. How clutch was that Bosh jumper? Or perhaps maybe you'd prefer to say, lucky? That seemed like a desperate shot, but bottom line, it found the bottom of the net. Let's rewind it back a couple of minutes first. Most of the game, Bosh was taking stand-still jumpers without even hinting to drive. Even with an 11-point lead, you knew the Magic were gonna make a run, it just happened even much faster than I thought it would - they stormed back in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Finally, CB4 decides to drive, but he didn't get the call and looks at the refs astonished. It's not gonna happen - you take jumpers all game, and then drive once into the lane, the refs aren't gonna be tempted to blow the whistle unless its an evidently clear foul. Then, to my surprise, he drove the ball again on another possession, and whadaya know, he got fouled. On another trip down the floor, ball goes to Bosh, and Bosh goes to the bucket, falls hard to the floor, and gets the call. See what happens when you drive?
Now, that jumper. You can say it misses 9 times out of 10, and you're probably right. Hell, I thought it was probably gonna miss - it was a crazy shot - right over the outstretched arms of Dwight Howard, much less from basically the 3 point line (he had his foot on the line). But it went in, and no matter how much of a fluke it may have been, he made the shot. No matter what way you put it, so you gotta give him credit. I'm sure Bosh's tip in and-1 against the Bulls had most fans saying "well, its only the Bulls, not an elite opponent", but the Magic are just that. Plus it made it a little sweeter that it was in Orlando, where Bosh missed the game-winning shot in game 2 of the playoffs last year - a much closer and arguably easier shot by the free throw line. I'm not saying Bosh has suddenly transformed into a clutch player, but for once, against a top-tier team, the pressure was on, the Raps put the ball in his hand, and Chris Bosh delivered. Now:
- How bad would it have been if Joey Graham missed that second free throw, and the Magic somehow tied it, and won in overtime? That was the most disgusting clutch free throw performance I've seen by the Raptors this year (next to AP's classic 1/2 last game), and you almost have to make Joey Graham the second hero by default for actually hitting one and pretty much sealing the win.
- Bargnani was aggressive early, scoring 12 points I think it was, on an array of dribble-stop jumpers, some free throws, and an easy dunk on a nice find by Bosh. Unfortunate he missed most of the game with foul trouble. Speaking of which..
- Third quarter, the Magic are going to Howard down in the paint consistently, drawing fouls back and forth on Bosh and Bargnani. Why did Triano wait till they both got 3 fouls to sub one of them? And somebody explain why Pops Mensah-Bonsu wasn't in the game, couldn't he have at least been worth a try on Dwight Howard. Putting Joey Graham was a worthy try, because even though he gave up numerous fouls on Howard (really, who doesn't), the Magic commentators themselves said something to the tune of (in the 4th quarter) "you know why the Magic haven't been able to take a lead yet? Joey Graham has kept Dwight Howard off the offensive glass."
- I was impressed to see Triano take Anthony Parker out instantaneously after AP was getting dusted by Courtney Lee out of all people...but with Kapono?
- The Magic commentators: talked about Bargnani's improved defense, particularly how he doesn't commit silly fouls anymore, and that whatever he did in the summer should be given much credit. They also know about the Good Joey/Bad Joey reference, and mentioned that Roko Ukic looks like he's 14 years old. Oh yeah and this observation about the Raptor defense: "Every pick and roll that the Magic have run, they seem to get an easy score out of it." No surprise there.
- Bosh took a fadeaway jumper on Gortat.
- Mickael Pietrus looks like a skinny/fit version of Nathan Jawai.
- Love seeing Calderon passes to Marion on fast breaks, it gets me excited about the possibility of Marion signing here in the offseason and it actually working out.
- Calderon took it upon himself in the third with Bosh and Bargnani out, great to see. In fact, he actually drove whenever he could straight to the hole - just how badly did that hamstring injury affect him??
- For once, Dwight Howard didn't get a 20-20 on us. Not only that, he actually didn't even get a double-double, very rare, as he's the sole player to average double figures in rebounding this year in the league.
- Stan Van Gundy apparently told his squad before the start of the 4th that they'd need to limit us to 20 points in the final stanza, along with scoring 27 themselves to win the game. They ended up holding the Raps to 19, but scored 22.
- Marion with FIFTEEN rebounds. I'm just going by mere observation, but it seems like Marion gets us the same amount of rebounds, if not more, than Jermaine O'Neal did.
- April fool's joke at halftime from ESPN's game recap: "In an April Fool's joke, the Magic made the crowd think a real fan was shooting a half-court shot for $100,000 at halftime. The fan was blindfolded, and the crowd was told beforehand to cheer as if he made the shot. The young contestant missed badly but acted as though he believed he won and danced around the court in a frenzy. Before being told it was a joke and showed the replay he said, "I just got laid off at work." He was given a 100 Grand Bar of candy, but the joke was on the crowd."