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Jose played some solid D, and showed he is rounding back into form

I’m not sure if it was due to the Thunder missing Kevin Durant, but you could tell by the Raptors’ body language early on that they believed this was a game they could win. Over the last couple of years, there have been too many nights when you couldn’t say that.

Toronto came out of the gates aggressive and got running, a style of play they have had success with this season. The quick pace of the game got a solid Friday night crowd rowdy and energetic, and the Raps fed off of that energy.

Andrea Bargnani got off to another good start, and the first half, overall, was good from a Raptors perspective. However, a second quarter lapse and some Sonny Weems turnovers had the Thunder up seven at the break.

Then, as if they believed they were the better team, the Raptors simply came out and dominated the second half, taking it to the Thunder for a consistent 24 minutes. The third quarter, in particular, was the difference-maker, as Toronto outscored Oklahoma City 34-18 in that decisive third period.

Much of the credit for the third quarter explosion has to go to Jose Calderon. Jose had the Raptors running, and did his best to get everyone involved, throwing perfect lobs for Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis.

Jose (and Jerryd Bayless) also deserves credit for working his butt off on the defensive end tonight, keeping Russell Westbrook as contained as possible. Calderon has been better defensively of late, and he deserves praise for that improvement, in addition to the way he is running the Raptors’ offence.

Those who have read my stuff over the last few years know I have often been critical of Jose, especially his defensive inabilities. But I’ll definitely give him his credit when it’s due, and right now it’s more than due.

Bargnani also continued his improved play, notching his first double-double of the season by adding 12 rebounds to his 26-point outburst.

Leandro Barbosa got in on the fun by netting 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting in just 26 minutes. You often hear of guys who can score in bunches, but there is perhaps no one who does it like Leandro.

No matter how you square this one up, the Raptors picked up an impressive victory with another total team effort. Sure, it’s easy to say the Raps grabbed win no. 8 because Durant wasn’t on the floor. But admit it, even without KD, most of you still probably assumed another loss was on the way.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 42 Min, 26 Pts, 11-20 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 3-4 FT, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

Thunder Player of the Game: Russell Westbrook – 32 Min, 20 Pts, 9-19 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 3 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl

Comments (5)

  1. I think this is my favorite Raptors squad ever, I absolutely love watching them play. This is a huge change from last year when I found myself turning the TV off in disgust. The difference isn’t the number of wins obviously, since we are in about the same position, but rather the hustle, team play, and just the fact that I think this team actually enjoys playing the game together. I think I might have to buy a DeRozen jersey.

  2. Entertaining affair. Can’t say anyone on our squad did not have a good game.
    Gotta mention Amir. A perfect 5 for 5 from the field, 4 for 4 from the line, 9 boards and a solid 31 minutes as a starter.
    I don’t know about you but thats the Bargnani I want to see every night. Combination of him, Johnson and Davis has potential.
    Calderon and Bayless and a dash of Barbosa has worked out well. Thats the Jose who BC gave the contract to.
    Gets you thinking that with Peja’s and Reggie’s expiring deals, and the trade exemption what deal is to be made? Do we take on a bad contract for a second rounder? Who’s out there? Where’s our biggest need?
    Or do we stand pat? Are we still lottery bound? Can this team make the playoffs?
    This has been a real enjoyable start to the season as a Raptor fan. Lets keep it up.

  3. Totally agree Tinman.

    Except, this is not a roster to “stand pat” on. We still need a creative wing. A buzzer beater money player. And with all those assets, you would think one is attainable. But who? Melo isnt coming to T.Dot.

    For now, I will just enjoying the “funnest” Raptor team in years.

  4. But we don’t need him this year. Still haven’t ruled out that Demar will grow into the role. Look at him, he’s still a kid.

  5. Agreed that, if we could swing it, Melo would be an excellent fit for our core here. We could probably make the Nuggets at least consider it – Barbosa, Wright, the remainder of the Bosh trade exception, and one or more picks would be worth them at least thinking it over, I’d say – but Carmelo wants to join Amare and Chris Paul with the Knicks, and I don’t think that even playing .500 ball for the season is going to make us attractive enough to change that, unless Chris Paul decides he’s staying put and the Knicks do noticeably worse than us. Maybe not even then.

    I’m still pondering what’s going to happen with our tradeable assets (the trade exceptions, expiring contracts), given that we could conceivably bring in a max contract player plus at least one other useful piece with them, and given that we do have young players with upside to package in if the deal is right. It’s interesting that two of the non-Carmelo assets expected to change locations within a year or two (Chris Paul and Steve Nash) are point guards; if we bring one of them in, we could turn around and deal our resurgent Jose for additional assets.

    Sure is an interesting – and fun! – time to be a Raptors fan.

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