From the Milton Sports Guy:
Raptors 106 Knicks 104
There is the video evidence, ladies and gentlemen.
According to the stats, Turkoglu dunked it all of five times last season, so consider yourself lucky if you caught Hedo’s display of athleticism on the tube.
It wasn’t only the dunks — Turkoglu played probably his best game in a Raptor uni, showing aggressiveness and an urgency seldom seen in his first half season in Toronto.
And the timing couldn’t have been better — Andrea Bargnani was slowed with a sore foot or ankle (call it a ‘lower body injury’) and finished with a measley two points on the night after arguably his best offensive game of the season a night earlier in the Raps’ win over Miami.
Despite his offensive struggles, Bargnani’s most important play came with just under a minute left when he made a nice block on an Al Harrington drive and layup attempt, gathered the rebound and passed to Jarrett Jack who drove the length of the floor. Jack’s now patented floater in the lane put Toronto up to stay after trailing huge early on in the contest.
I’ve pointed it out before, but there are a couple of nice trends developing with this Raptor team: not only have they come from more than 10 points down now in their last four games to win, but this team has also showed they can perform capably down the stretch in close games.
Time and time again in the late stages of close games, this team has consistently managed to make big plays on defense as well as consistently put up points thanks to all of their options on offense.
Bosh converted a tough layup similar to one he hit in Philly to win the game a few weeks back, continuing to dispell the notion that he’s not a crunch-time scorer. However, the strength of this roster is in the flexibility — Bosh doesn’t need to be the go-to guy late — Turkoglu has shown he can both make plays and score in the clutch. And Jarrett Jack’s play down the stretch of games (inside of the five-minute mark) has been outstanding of late as he has shown an outstanding knack at being able to capably drive through all kinds of traffic and still finish.
And what about the Raptors’ recent ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ defense? In the past two games vs. the Lakers and Heat, it’s been Antoine Wright playing some tough D on Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade respectively, holding them at bay. Last night in New York, it was Jarrett Jack drawing a charge on a sloppy Al Harrington drive with under two seconds left, effectively sealing the game for Toronto.
As I’ve said before, this team doesn’t necessarily have to play lockdown D for 48 minutes — with the offense they have, playing middle-of-the-road D should be good enough, and quite frankly, about all we can expect.
Let’s talk about Antoine Wright for a moment, who seems to have found his niche on this team. Before the season started, I thought it would be perfect if Wright could take on that ‘Bruce Bowen’ role — you know, defend the other team’s wing players, knock down the occasional three, show some hustle, determination and leadership.
Well, after struggling early on, I think Wright has accepted just the role I stated above. He’s beginning to understand his limitations — I’m sure he wants to score, but on this team, he’s needed for those other intangibles. Last night, again he let the game come to him, finishing three for three from downtown.
Wright has been the subject of trade rumours and many speculate the Raptors might have to give him up for help at the two-guard spot, but I’m beginning to think you can’t make a move like that anymore — he’s become too integral to this team’s success on defense right now, which is a huge part of the Raptors’ turnaround.
Hedo finished the night with 26 points and 11 rebounds, bested only by Bosh who put up 27/15 — just another night at the office for Toronto’s now five-time all-star.
Even more impressive in the boxscore was the Knicks’ outstanding forward David Lee. Fresh off an all-star snub (although I don’t know really how much of an oversight it was — he’s a nice player, but I don’t think he’s one of the game’s elite), he put up 29 points and 18 boards.
As for the Knicks, Mike D’Antoni must just be pulling his hair out with this group. I’m still trying to figure out just why this group just comes off as such an arrogant, cocky bunch out there when quite bluntly, they just really aren’t that good.
You’ll remember last time Toronto visited the Garden, David Lee erupted in a chicken dance after a dunk, getting tee’d up for his troubles. Last night, Knicks resident village idiot Nate Robinson drew a technical for hanging on the rim like it was his first dunk ever. Memo to Nate: the dunk contest isn’t for a few weeks yet — you might want to try to help your team win some games before then. Lee was also at it again, trash-talking after an uncontested dunk like it was some huge athletic feat and Al Harrington was strutting around holding his jersey up after drilling a three-pointer with um, 2:51 remaining. Memo to Mr. Harrington: I’ll let you do the whole jersey thing if you nail that trey with under ten ticks remaining. Two minutes and fifty-one seconds?!? That’s a virtual eternity in the NBA — you’re just asking to look silly on SportsCentre afterwards. And, by golly, that’s just what happened.
Interesting times in New York.
All in all, a great week for Toronto with an unexpected win over the Lakers, an important win over the Heat who are challenging them for the 5th seed at this point, and then a gritty come-from-behind effort on the second night of a back-to-back and on the road no less vs. a scrappy Knicks team.
And of course, the interweb is all abuzz about Hedo’s classic post-game interview. For the first time ever, Jack Armstrong was left speechless.
Thanks for reading kids and check out the clip below. I’ll leave you with one word.
The Milton Sports Guy is a regular contributor to MiltonSearch.com.
Comments on this story are moderated