Do you know what a scary stat is for this Raptors team? Scary, to me, is watching the Raptors score in the mid 50’s for a percentage for the first half of the game, and then finally ending up at 51% for the game. But that’s not the scary part. The scary part to me is that shooting at that efficiency, they only managed to have a single digit lead at the half, and didn’t even manage to break 100 points for the game. The Raptors actually only rank 16th overall in points scored at 96.93 points per game, so why was this game closer than the main shooting statistics would indicate?
For one thing, the Hornets continued to out-rebound the Raptors for the majority of the game. Of particular note was that the Raptors only made three offensive rebounds as compared to the Hornet’s own twelve. Another reason was that we consistently failed to attack the basket against Tyson Chandler. I mean guys like Jamario Moon should have been laying it on thick under the basket, but instead elected to take outside shots for the majority of the game. Yes, I’ll recognize that his two dunks were pretty awesome, but at the same time, it was way too far and few for a guy that shoots as low of a percentage as he does. At the very least, he shouldn’t be taking many 3 pointers on a team that has this many shooters. I mean, let’s say he drives and everyone plays him for the drive, I’d rather have him kick the ball out from inside the lane, or try and draw a foul inside the paint than take that far away shot.
Enough of that anyways, as Bargnani deserves a large write up. A lot of people have continued to dog him for the better part of the year, but this was one game where we got to see quite a bit of movement from the guy, and some offense initiative that led to some baskets when the Raptors were unable to score. More importantly, he managed to get to the line three times for six shoots, and made five of them as well. Finally, Bargnani kept moving the ball several times after driving to the hoop, and also with a touch pass that almost took off a trio of player’s heads. It’s that kind of play that excited us about Bargnani, and it’s really nice to see him get it back in him. Hopefully, with January rolling around, we’ll see what he can do at home.
One last thing about last night. It was good to see some Raptors like Chris Bosh finally take it to the line before it was too late. It was just embarrassing to see Chris Paul get to the line more times than the entire Raptors team did in the first half! Therefore, it’s pretty surprising that at the end of the night, the Raptors managed to get to the line more times than the Hornets did.
Looking ahead to the rest of January, I have to say that if we don’t at least come close to last year’s January run, we’ll be in a difficult position to reach to top four of the league by the end of the year to secure home ice advantage in the first round. It’s time now to show the fans consistency and to grind out wins against teams that should have little to no business competing with the Raptors. There just can’t be lapses against the Supersonics of the world anymore. If the Raptors finish around .500 for the month of January, I think we can all say that it was a month of disappointments and Bryan Colangelo might have to pull a trigger on a trade sooner than later.
Next Game: Detroit @ Toronto