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  Wed, December 3, 2003


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Trade breathes new life into T.O.

By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

The Raptors looked alive.

Even when they were making mistakes, they looked alive.

How important that is can't be overstated. Previously this season, even when the Raptors won, they looked half-dead.

Maybe having a player who clearly wanted out had more of a negative impact on atmospheric conditions than anyone realized. Regardless, the Raptors don't have to worry anymore about the mental state of Antonio Davis, who was traded to the Chicago Bulls along with Jerome Williams and Chris Jefferies.

Last night in Philadelphia, the new-look Raptors responded to the arrival of Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall and Lonny Baxter with a 95-88 win against the 76ers. Rose didn't have a great game, but Marshall was spectacular and Baxter contributed more than reasonably could have been expected.

The game would not even have been close if the Raptors hadn't been brain dead at the free-throw line, missing nine of 29 attempts. But the Raptors also benefited from the fact the 76ers were horrible, save for Allen Iverson's wild forays to the hoop and the aid of some gushing officials.

So what do we know about the Raptors this morning that we didn't know before the game?

Ironically, perhaps the player who is going to have the biggest adjustment to make post-trade is Vince Carter, and we don't mean that in a bad way. Playing alongside Davis and Williams for many years, Carter got used to counting on those guys for certain things and not for other things.

Early on last night, Carter was the most confused player on the court, lobbing passes to teammates who weren't there and cutting for passes that weren't coming. But by the end of the night, Carter had amassed 21 points (including some key buckets at crunch time) and 12 assists.

Rookie Chris Bosh looked great from the opening tip and was slowed only by foul trouble and a wonky stroke from the line as he racked up 10 points and 11 rebounds. Then again, Bosh's NBA career is 17 games old, so what do new teammates mean to him? He doesn't care if he's playing with Eli Pasquale, as long as things go well.

The real revelation was Marshall, whose smooth shooting and timely rebounds frustrated the Sixers every time they threatened to take control of the game.

"The coach did a good job of simplifying the offence," said Marshall, who had a team-high 27 points and nine rebounds.

Hmmm. Maybe no one told Marshall that previously the Raptors didn't have an offence. Last night they scored more than 90 points in a regulation game for the first time this season. No one poured Gatorade over coach Kevin O'Neill, but it was a significant accomplishment nonetheless.

Of course, the Raptors offence was more loose than usual, since integrating new components on the fly necessitates a free-flowing brand of basketball. What will be fascinating to watch in the next couple of weeks is whether O'Neill allows this to continue, or if he'll try to slow things down again.

Morris Peterson and Alvin Williams had flashes of brilliance, too. Interestingly, the players left completely out of the rotation were Mengke Bateer (no surprise), Milt Palacio (good news) and Lamond Murray (an eyebrow-raiser).

The Raptors gave up a lot of rebounding in the trade and they got edged 49-43 on the boards, despite the fact the Sixers lost starting centre Marc Jackson to a fractured finger in the first half. However, 18 of Philly's rebounds came at the offensive end, and other teams around the league will be able to expose the Raptors' weakness in that area even more. If the Raptors have adopted a rebounding-by-committee approach, they'll need another board meeting or two to make sure all the would-be executives clearly understand their assignments.

But at least the Raptors were breathing, sweating, pumping blood. They weren't perfect, but they were alive.

Welcome back to life.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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