The Start of Something Big?

By Clinton Hosannah
Updated: March 29, 2008

Toronto RaptorsTORONTO — The Raptors came ready with all pistons firing as they defeated Detroit 89-82 in a game that could very well spark a winning streak for the ailing Dinos.

Almost all of the Raptors played well throughout the game. They seemed well rested and played with confidence, authority and like they had a statement to make.

This is the right time to step up because placement in the standings has a direct bearing on who they will play in the first round of the playoffs. That of course could be the difference between a long or short stay in the post season.

This is a game that the Raptors should have probably lost. Detroit came into the game with a 50-20 record against a Raptor team that was sitting at 35-35.

The Pistons had just won a hard game against Phoenix, but Richard Hamilton was a no show against the Raptors. Were the Pistons tired? Was Hamilton’s absence crippling? Or did the Raptors just come out to play ball?

“We didn’t play enough with a purpose offensively,” said Piston’s coach Flip Saunders. “They did a good job. They pressured a lot of our initial entries and sets, and ate up our shot clock.”

“And we took a lot of our shots with five seconds on the shot clock and they were almost desperation type shots. They did some things defensively we didn’t react very well to.”

The Air Canada Centre was packed and the fans were in the game along with the Raptors. Rasho Nesterovic continues to play great ball and shot seven for 15 ending the night with 15 points. The big man on campus played a marathon-like 46 minutes and pulled down, a game high, nine rebounds.

Jamario Moon also had an amazing night providing the bulk of the fanfare with some crazy dunks and a beautiful alley oop courtesy of T.J. Ford. Speaking of Ford, he started in the game tonight because of a-not-too-often-seen-in-the-NBA, selflessness by fellow guard Jose Calderon.

“Him and T.J. have been very unselfish with their starting positions, they want what’s best for the team,” said Chris Bosh. “I think it showed tonight with Jose making a move like that, I mean that speaks a lot about his character. I don’t think a lot of other players around this league would do that.”

Speaking of selflessness, There probably won’t be much of that where Jamario Moon and new Raptor Linton Johnson are concerned. The six foot eight small forward was signed to a ten day contract on Thursday.

His job, it seems, is to bring some hustle and some toughness to the team. As a result of his arrival Darrick Martin was waived and it looks like Martin will be assuming a role within the corporate side of the ball club.

It is going to be a battle for minutes between Moon and Johnson who happen to be contemporaries. (Born on the same day and year). At stake could be riding the pine or even being traded.

Johnson didn’t play against New York Friday night but he was suited up in number 13. The Raptors beat the Knicks, 103-95, but it wasn’t easy. Bosh had five turnovers, and although Nesterovich had another great game, The Raps found it hard to pull away from the Knicks.

Johnson will be able to play in the play-offs. But will his presence help if the Raptors have to play Cleveland in the first round? Not likely. But if the Raptors can play Washington, there is a very good chance the Dinos will advance to the second round.

Not to mention the game will be very competitive and great for the Toronto team. The Toronto Maple Leafs have disappointed the city again for the third time in a row, not making it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So the Raptors making it to the second round could be the right thing for a city looking for a team to support and cheer on.