If you missed the game tonight, no, that’s not a typo up there.
The Raptors came up short against the Bobcats despite a good effort on Wednesday, so we were at the point where we were all thinking even a good effort all year long couldn’t get this team much more than 20 wins.
It certainly couldn’t get them a win in Orlando…absolutely not. And even if an admirable effort had them in a close game against the Magic, there is no way anybody on this Raptors team could make the big shot, let alone take it, right?
Here’s what happened tonight in a nutshell.
The Raps and Magic come out of the gate flying, and Orlando had a 9-5 lead less than three minutes into the game, on 4-4 shooting. It looked like we were in for an offensive showcase from both teams, and that the Magic would ultimately pull away and run.
Jay Triano then called what might have been the timeout of the season so far. An unexpected early timeout with his team down only four, it seemed innocent enough. But what that timeout did was halt a Magic offence that was ready to roll. It never fully clicked again all night.
After that point, the Raptors outplayed the Magic and matched them shot for shot, blow by blow. Neither team was able to pull away until the Raps opened up a seven point lead after three, and eventually a 10-point lead early in the fourth.
Admit it; you assumed the Raptors would either shoot themselves in the foot and find a way to lose, or the Magic would simply find a way to shoot themselves past a helpless Toronto team.
Orlando did make their expected run, and a three-pointer from Mickael Pietrus tied the game with less than 30 seconds left.
And then it happened. With every Raptors fan across Canada already breaking down how the Raps let another one slip, Jarrett Jack pulled the defence toward him, then dished to Sonny Weems, who knocked down a clutch three-pointer.
The Magic didn’t even get an attempt at a tying shot, as they did their best late-game Raptors impression by turning it over on the inbound.
I will say this. There were moments in the fourth quarter when bounces around the rim seemed to favour the Raptors for the first time this season, and I kind of had a funny feeling at that point. Up until then, I was definitely one of the many expecting 1-8 after tonight.
Lastly, give this young team credit tonight, and give Jay Triano and the coaching staff credit. Some will blow it off as simply, “Orlando didn’t come to play or under-estimated the Raptors.” But if we are going to lay it on this team when the effort isn’t there, then we should commend them when they play over their heads for a full 48 minutes and get a stunning result like this.
Wow, nearly 500 words and no mention of Vince Carter?
From one “He Who Shall Not Be Named” to another, Miami is up next tomorrow night.
Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 40 Min, 26 Pts, 8-13 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 10-12 FT, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl (DeRozan played the game of his NBA life)
Magic Player of the Game: Mickael Pietrus - 30 Min, 24 Pts, 8-11 FG, 8-11 3Pt, 2 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl
Goat of the Game: Quentin Richardson – 18 Min, 8 Pts, 3-8 FG, 2-7 3Pt, 4 Reb, 1 Stl