Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rough Ride for the Raptors

The loss to the Sixers was not the main story of the night last night in Raptorland, Philly's revenge was unfortunate but there were other matters to attend to. Toronto is facing its first obstacle of the season, it's just now a matter of finding of how significant it will actually be.

Two injuries last night haunted Raptors fans - they both came around the same time, at some point throughout the 2nd quarter. Both absences were telling, there were glarring omissions as the game went down the stretch. The extent of both of these losses have not been revealed as of yet, what impact this will have on the team and the organization as a whole, so for now Raptors fans just have to wait for the results to come pouring in. They could be minimal distractions or big concerns, but for now here's a summary of what took place in the ACC on Wednesday night.

Jose Calderon, the winner of last seasons battle for point guard surpremacy in Raptorland, limped off the court in the First Quarter of last night's game, a horrific sign to see for the Toronto faithful. While he returned in the Second Quarter he certainly didn't look like himself out there and then, he had slowed down and was makinguncharacteristic turnovers. Tragically, he was done for the night before halftime. The Jose Watch will be a main concern of so many around this city that there is no need not to worry, the media will most definitely keep everyone updated as this plays itself out!

The lack of depth at the point was pronounced after Calderon left the game, as Will Solomon was unable to establish anything and Roko Ukic looked a little too inexperienced at times. Both did alright at times, but then also looked quite lacking at others. Down the stretch Coach Sam Mitchell actually had Anthony Parker playing the point, going with a bigger line-up of Parker, Jason Kapono, Andrea Bargnani (who played a good game with great intensity last night, a definite bright spot in the loss), Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal. A starting 5 of this make-up cannot happen consistently though, Jose will be needed to make a return and as pronto for Toronto's sake. With all hopes the tightness in his hamstring is nothing to be concerned about, nothing more than a cramp or at very worst a tweak (fingers crossed)

I mentioned two injuries, it seems the other injury was just an added insult on top of everything rlse. On a attempted trampoline dunk the Raptor, well, the Raptor missed...his leg went right thru the coils as he made his first approach during a stoppage in play. He shook it off and bounced back up after he was untangled, got ready to go again - which could make one question initially if that was a staged miss or or not (but really that would have been beyond impressive for a staged failed dunk!). But alas staged it wasn't, the Raptor made a second approach and hit the mark but missed the dunk, landing on his side. Quickly getting to his feet the Raptor hobbled off the court in a hurry, clearly in pain. Much like Calderon his presence was also missed, especially down the stretch when the 60 seconds of madness - which occurs at the end of the Third Quarter - lacked its usual intensity. Just as with Calderon the Raptor made a brief return, this time towards the end of the game in the Fourth Quarter, hobbling out to the courtside, trying his best to pump up the crowd to help rally the troops. And just like Calderon, fans hope they will see the Raptor, in all his inflated and non-inflated glory, back in action soon!

The bright spots were certainly overshadowed by bad luck last night, and unfortunately the bad luck mainly dealt with injuries. With a roster lacking depth heading into the season this was a concern for the Toronto unit, now there's a bullet to be dodged to return to full strength and right back into the thick of contention in the East. Stay tuned for the latest updates on the Raptors...

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