Toronto Crowns The King

By Clinton Hosannah
Updated: October 31, 2009

TORONTO (BASN) — The Toronto Raptors surprised fans with a convincing win over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on the organization’s home opener night at the Air Canada Centre Wednesday.

Cleveland had just lost their home opener to a newly beefed up Boston Celtic squad the night before. But there’s something about the new Raptors that suggests they would have won no matter what shape the Cavs were in.

The Dinos played like they wanted to win on Wednesday. They were creating opportunities off of the weak side by driving to the net. Proof of that is in the 28 points Andrea Bargnani contributed to the 101-91 victory.

Bargnani was 11-of-15 on the floor and had five boards. But his presence was mostly felt when he earned, that’s right earned, five legitimate fouls. No one can say he’s not passionate about winning.

President and General Manager, Bryan Colangelo, couldn’t be happier.

“We weren’t sure what to expect tonight, because we haven’t had a lot of continuity with the roster in pre-season. We’ve had some guys available, some guys getting hurt, not great performances because people were still kinda getting used to things,” said Colangelo.

“But the way it clicked tonight, I’m hoping we can bottle that and reproduce it night after night.That is the litmus test indeed. Last season, the Raptors started off great, winning their first three games and displaying a bulkier and quicker Chris Bosh.

This season there have been many changes. Jarrett Jack could provide a tandem attack with a healthy Jose Calderon. They could be what Calderon and T.J. Ford were trying to be.

“It’s good to have another guy who can make plays out there for our teammates. Get the ball out of my hands and a little bit less pressure for me; in that situation I can be out there trying to hit some wide open shots too…it’s good,” Said Calderon.

But what happened to Shaquille O’Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varajao and Lebron James? Where was their game? James shot 7 for 19 on the floor. He missed 6 out of 14 free throws. Sure he had 12 assists, and that’s great, but he needs to put up more than 23 points if the Cavaliers expect to win games.

But James could be excused to some degree. What can’t be excused is the way Bargnani manhandled Shaq and Ilgauskas. At least Varajao put up a fight. They had no answer for Bargnani and he took advantage of their cumbersome play.

It seems the Cavaliers have a lot more adjusting to do if they plan on being the dominate team they were last season.

“We lost our offensive coordinator to the Pistons; he’s the head coach of the Pistons now. We’re bringing a whole new offensive situation with Shaq coming into the line up and other guys, so it’s still an adjusting period for us,” Said James.

When asked about how his style of ball is affecting the adjusting period Lebron said he believes he can make passes that would other wise seem impossible. “They might get used to the system they [were] in before, they’d be open and guys just can’t find them…even when they don’t feel they’re open I can still get through there.”

“It may be an adjustment period for some of the teammates and maybe an adjustment period for [me] also for me learning other guy’s weaknesses and strengths also.”

Chris Bosh summed up Wednesday’s win in the best way possible.

“It’s good to start off the season against such a good opponent and it’s even better to get a win. This is one game, and we still have a lot more basketball to play. We just have to make sure we take something from today and build on it.”

This season will be interesting.

Key moves like Boston acquiring Rasheed Wallace and unbelievable acquisitions like Ron Artest joining Kobe on the Lakers means there are a lot of teams with deep benches.

Greg Odom is apparently healthy, so Brandon Roy has some help over in Portland.

It’s on! NOTES: Despite a game-high 37-point effort by Bosh, Toronto fell to Memphis 115-107 Friday night at the FedEx Arena. Jose Calderon chipped in with 15 points for Toronto, Hedo Turkoglu added 14 and Andrea Bargnani scored all 12 of his points in the third quarter. The Dinos will host Orlando at the ACC Sunday afternoon.