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News » Raps figure out winning can be fun


Raps figure out winning can be fun


Raps figure out winning can be fun
The wins won't ultimately mean a whole lot in this season of darkness, but they do indeed brighten the mood and are far better than the alternative.

On a night when it looked as if they were truly having fun, the Raptors ran and dunked and executed at the quickened pace that they most enjoy in their third consecutive easy victory.

For a team that's now 27-45 and whose dreams of greatness were dashed early in the season, some fun at the end at least provides a wee bit of comfort.

With five starters sitting and cheering for the final quarter - or, more accurately, standing and cheering on one of the few nights of open expression of glee - the Raptors routed the young Oklahoma City Thunder 112-96 at the Air Canada Centre before an announced crowd of 17,127.

It was the third straight win for Toronto, coming on the heels of a rout of the Los Angeles Clippers and an easy victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, continuing a resurgence totally unexpected given what transpired for most of the season.

But seeing the guys on the bench standing and cheering every hustle play, watching five Raptors score at least 12 points each and two come up with double-doubles in limited minutes, was welcome, if strange.

And to have them hoist 95 shots in the process, moving the ball with speed and precision on fast breaks and halfcourt sets is to see what coach Jay Triano has asked of them since he took over in December.

"I think we've shared (the ball) a lot better the last little bit and it shows with different guys touching it, different guys moving it," Triano said. "The ball's not sticking as much as it was earlier on. We've found a little something.

"It starts with Jose (Calderon). With his ability to turn the corner now, guys have to respect that, so he can make passes that start our offence and get us rolling a little bit."

But why now? Is it simply good health and weak opponents? Or is it playing free and easy with no level of expectation? A combination?

Big minds with big titles in the Raptors' front office will have to deal with those questions; right now, the guys on the bench are just enjoying the moment.

"It's everybody," Triano said. "It's us running and us not caring about who scores the Basketball. It's about us putting up points as a team."

It helps, of course, that Toronto hasn't been playing the Clevelands and the Lakers of late. The Thunder, while young and athletic, are still very much a work in progress and went long stretches last night when they looked utterly confounded on defence.

"They're still a great team," said Oklahoma's Jeff Green, in perhaps an overstatement. "They're very different now, more fast-paced. Shawn (Marion) makes them that much better; he's a great defender, he runs the floor."

Marion did have one of his best games in weeks, with 20 points and 11 rebounds in only 35 minutes. He finished two textbook fast breaks with dunks in the decisive third quarter, when Toronto stretched an 11-point halftime lead to an insurmountable 19-point bulge heading into the fourth.

Even more than that, it was his defence on Oklahoma's Kevin Durant that made Marion stand out. Durant scored 18 points, but nine came from the free-throw line and he never got a roll.

"I thought Shawn did an outstanding job guarding him to hold him to four field goals on 13 attempts," Triano said.

Chris Bosh had 21 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and the entire fourth quarter off for Toronto while Jason Kapono had 15 off the bench.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 28, 2009

 

 
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