Friday, January 18, 2008

In what looked like it could have been a close game, the Raptors ended up pulling away and beat the Hawks 89-78. This is an important win for the Raptors, who (although I think they are better than the Hawks) are close to the Hawks in the minor league (Eastern conference without Orlando, Boston and Detroit) playoff run.

In this game we saw some things we don't see in many games. Hawks guard Anthony Johnson was called for a flagrant 2 for elbowing Jose Calderon in the head. I know he let his emotions get the best of him, but Johnson is a veteran guard and expect him to handle this professionally. I also wouldn't be very surprised to see the NBA fine or suspend Johnson (most likely a fine, though). Two players stood out to me on the defensive end for both teams: the always exciting Josh Smith and the up and coming Jamario Moon. I think these players and one other (the Bobcats Gerald Wallace) are a part of an exclusive defensive group. They can get up high for seemingly impossible boards and come from the other side of court for a block (well, almost). I thought Moon helped seal the game down the stretch, but Smith's defense was more unbelievable. Sometimes he would get called for fouls, but the blocks were great regardless.

Chris Bosh led the way for the Raptors with 22 points and 6 boards. When he laid in an assist from Moon, that was one part of what stopped a comeback from the Hawks. Bosh did well as always, but I just hope his commercial can help him get into the All-Star game. Here's the video:

Jamario Moon
provided the much needed defensive help, and finished with 7 points and 4 steals. Without Moon, the game would have been a lot closer. It would have been very entertaining, if he would have guarded Josh Smith; I mean who wouldn't love to see two defensive generals go at each other? Anthony Parker provided momentum at the end of the third quarter with some threes, and finished with 15 points and 2 boards. He was a big part of 17-4 third quarter run for the Raptors. He and Joe Johnson both hit some very tough threes.

Josh Smith did it all for the Hawks and finished with 22 points, 7 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Although Smith has a better offensive game than Moon, it's the hustle points that count in my opinion and Smith beat Moon overall. Smith should have tried to give Joe Johnson more help in the second half, because only 2 of his 22 points came in the second half.
Photo by: Ron Turenne