With seconds left and down two, Suns slash-and-burn specialist Shannon Brown pulled his chute as he thundered through the lane. Brown made hard contact with a bevy of Raptor bodies and went tumbling to the floor out of bounds. He looked up for the foul and found himself the recipient of some commiserations, but nothing else.
By this point, Suns coach Alvin Gentry could no longer maintain the amused smile that comforts him through the hard times. He was left screaming in disbelief. Moments after it ended, Gentry had his coaching staff huddled around him outside the visitors’ dressing room, running down all the uncalled fouls that sank his team.
“(Luis) Scola? Definitely a foul,” Gentry grumbled. The staff nodded sympathetically.
Toronto to Alvin — your Dwane Casey impersonation needs work.
This one had all the hallmarks of a Toronto Raptor Loss (trademark pending).
Second unit fightback? Check. When the starters couldn’t get a thing going, the subs were able to claw their way back in to things. Special citations for Ed Davis (eight rebounds) and Jose Calderon (13 points, nine assists). Citation plus a purple heart for Amir Johnson, who contributed 16 enormous points despite being a game-time decision with a wonky ankle.
Third quarter stalemate? You’re getting the hang of this. Check. It was a see-saw encounter until DeMar DeRozan drove the basket at the third-quarter buzzer. Though his shot went up late, upon review officials decided he’d been fouled on the way to the rim. The additional free-throw put the Raptors up 80-76. They would not surrender that lead.
But it sure looked like they might, didn’t it? Of course it did. This is Toronto. If you ask Toronto to move your piano, it’s going to carry it all the way down the fire escape by itself. It won’t realize there was an elevator until the ambulance gets there.
The Raptors were up nine with nine minutes to go.
And you know what happens in tight games requiring defensive stops? Put the name of a Raptor together with the word “time.” After 12 tries, you’ll get to “Bargnani time!”
First, when Lowry lost counterpart Goran Dragic in the haze, it was Bargnani who ended up marking the slippery Slovenian. Bargnani moved his feet and backed Dragic onto the baseline, where a panic pass ended up back in Kyle Lowry’s hands.
Bargnani’s third and fourth points on the night put it out of reach.
It was only the club’s fourth win from 17 games. A gruesome five-game road swing out west looms. But you have to appreciate the small moments in a season like this, and coach Casey is a, “Hey, are those roses?” type of guy.
“I don’t drink beer, so I’m having a Gatorade,” Casey said as he entered the press conference room afterward. Perhaps you were also popping a bottle at home. As a Raptor fan, it’s more likely you were knee deep in your third (litre).
This morning, you may need reminding — the Raptors won.
We’ve now passed the point where any reasonable fan can believe this will be the year he/she had hoped. But it also won’t always be the one they’ve quickly grown to hate.
“We know ourselves that we don’t win these kinds of games,” Calderon said impishly afterward.
Once in a while, just to confuse you, they do.