The Toronto Raptors continue to take advantage of their recent favourable schedule as they beat the Indiana Pacers at home and extend their winning streak to 5. This matches their season high win streak and builds upon the work they have accomplished in the past week. Winning with a strong performance by nearly everyone and getting a big boost off the bench. The Raptors played the way they should, going up by double digits and competing the entire game with the exception of a 3rd quarter lull. No come-from-behind drama this time. They face Indiana again in their next game for the second half of a home-and-home series.
Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems were the story in the first half giving the Raps some much appreciated bonus offense. Amir's game continues to blossom as he seems to be in the right place at the right time, grabbing offensive rebounds, and hitting his hooks, and put-backs. Now if only he can learn how to be more consistent on the free throw line. I don't think any fan watching expects any of his free throws to go in, but it'd be nice if he hits just a bit more then he usually does. Sonny provided a series of nice open jumpers as teams continue to overlook his shooting ability and leave him open for the j. His jumper looks very smooth and he's shooting with confidence. He also played some noticeably tight defense particularly on Indiana star Danny Granger. I hope other teams continue to underestimate his jumper as Demar continues to nurse those ankles.
Other things of note:
- Chris Bosh was an absolute beast tonight, imposing his will on the outcome of this game and making the Pacer's bigs look like pylons. He scored when he wanted and was an absolute animal on the boards. It's nice to see that his game has not tailed off this season like it did last. Knock on wood. It's refreshing to see him wanting some self improvement in the offseason and if adding a bit of muscle to his frame has helped this much, perhaps it's time for him to hit the weights some more and hulk up.
- Reggie Evans was doing his best Miami Vice impression with his sweet ass light coloured jacket. He's quite the fashion guru. If he were in the land of giant ogres he'd be a fashion model and a ladies' man.
- Andrea seems to have regained his touch scoring 17 points tonight while taking advantage of several open jumpers in the lane and utilizing his mid range game. He seems cool, calm and confident out there scoring with ease. On the defensive end he played well for the most part with exception to his play on Roy Hibbert who seems to be giving everyone problems lately. Coach Triano kept him on the bench for most of the fourth as the team seemed to have the game well in-hand and provided the coach a good chance to rest up his banged up big-man. Bargnani finally seems very loose out there while showing some continued emotions, and being very verbal on defense. I have to wonder if manager Bryan Colangelo finally shelled out some cash for him to go down to the local gentleman's club or massage parlour.
- Jose and Jack worked well together and exposed the slow, weak defense of the Pacer's guards. They combined for 28 points and 14 assists. Together they would make an all-star point guard but being two players they provide the Raptors with consistent play-making and sweet shooting throughout the length of a game which can NOT be underestimated.
- Hedo Turkoglu followed up his untypical performance in New York by turning the ball over once, fouling someone and running into Mike Dunleavy's elbow. All in one minute of work. Hoorah!! He's truly garbage, human garbage.
I am beginning to wonder if Toronto can ever find a point guard duo who can co-exist with one another. There are rumblings that Jose feels like he's been wronged by keeping him off the starting line-up, despite the team doing very well and the point guard tandem performing very well as it is. As everyone remembers, Jose and T.J. Ford ran into the same problem, when T.J. proceeded to whine and complain like a baby after he lost his starting role. Jack has been solid as the starter and team chemistry has seen it's highest levels under this arrangement. Sometimes I wish people would just shut up and play their best game regardless of the situation. During the post game interview, Jose expressed his intention of helping the team regardless of if he comes off the bench or starts. Here's hoping he actually means what he says. Jack and Calderon are both locked into lucrative long term deals and there is no reason for them to be unhappy, especially since they are winning.
Is it just me or does Indiana coach Jim O'Brien look more and more like Harry, the Sasquatch from Harry and the Hendersons? I think it could be his forehead and hair. Maybe that's how he motivates his team, if they don't perform he threatens to go all Samsquanch on their asses.
Also on a bright note, Raptors' nemesis Boston have lost 6 of their last 8 and dropped a game against L.A. today by a single point in their home arena. I normally don't cheer for L.A., but this loss by the B's makes me feel all warm and toasty inside, especially when it's capped off by a Raptors win.