The fans did not boo T.J Ford - well a few did here and there in small pockets around the ACC, however they were easily outnumbered by those showing appreciation for the diminutive Point Guard. For the majority the response was positive, and yes to my surprise the Toronto fans DID remain classy and gave a warm response to Ford as well as Rasho Nesterovic (although that was not really a surprise in any way).
And then once the game began, the play on the court had to make Raps fans happy with the decision Bryan Colangelo made in the offseason. Yes, Ford is an extremely talented player there's no denying that but he is also quite a streaky player, and that talent comes and goes (which is probably why the Pacers remain the most dangerous team sub .500 right now). Ford's passes were forced tonight, his ball handling skills very questionable, and he was stripped multiple times throughout the game as he finished with minimal minutes and 4 points to go along with 4 assists.
It was Jose Calderon (11 pts, 14 asts), who ran an effective uptempo game and controlled the ball throughout fared better than his counterpart and former teammate tonight. While the debate will rage on surely for years to come here in Toronto of who should have been kept, if you're comparing consistent quality versus streaky excellence I'll take consistent quality. The top point guards in the league right now follow the floor general formula (Chris Paul, Devin Harris, Derrick Rose, Derron Williams, and yes, Jose Calderon), and this group is presently outplaying the flashy guard style that did gain popularity (Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, and other players along that prototype).
In the end however the much anticipated showdown was never really that much of a showdown at all, so it is quite hard to draw any definite conclusions. And on the other side of the equation not mentioned much at all leading up to this game Jermaine O'Neal (1o pts, 9 reb) was also on the more quiet side while facing off against his old team. Although O'Neal did contribute at times it did not appear that significant tonight.
The story of this game - beyond the heightened play of Jason Kapono (25 pts, 8 reb), quality games by Jamario Moon (17 pts, 8 reb) and Joey Graham (12 pts, 2 reb) and the horrendous shooting percentage of the Indiana Pacers (34.7%) - should be twofold: a return of confidence for the Toronto squad ending their losing streak, and the first victory for a Canadian Head Coach in the NBA. Because really, the rest of it...well, this game never quite lived up to its billing.
In the first T.J. Ford return game the Raps put to rest fans cause for concern if only briefly, and assured all this trade was NOT the end of the world and this season can be saved. And they also showed that maybe there IS a light at the end of the tunnel - the offence moved the ball at a fast tempo, and in the end the Raps won. Hey, it's a start!