TORONTO -- Wins over the New Jerseys of the world are expected.
That being said, the win by the Raptors on Saturday night had an element that has been missing from their repertoire.
And not just any element, but the key element to the Raptors success.
The fact that it was there on Saturday night made the 16 offensive rebounds the Raptors allowed and the 14 turnovers they committed tolerable.
The ‘it’ was Chris Bosh.
Bosh was asked after the game if he felt he got back to playing the way he did before he got injured.
“I had a couple of good games before,” Bosh objected. “It’s just playing basketball. Sometimes shots go in and sometimes they don’t. I just always try to play well, try to stay with it and just keep playing hard no matter what happens.”
Bosh may believe that, but even those sharing the same locker room noticed a definite up tick in his game on Saturday.
“We haven’t seen Chris like that in a while,” head coach Jay Triano said. “That alone is huge for us especially when I don’t think Turk or Andrea played particularly well. He got it going tonight and that’s when we roll. We haven’t seen him play like this since he came back from his injury.”
Triano wasn’t alone in this assessment. Antoine Wright, one of the guys Bosh referenced as getting him amped up for the what turned out to be a 36-point night, saw a different Bosh too.
“I think he might have been questioning some of his shot selection just because he was a little rusty coming back,” Wright said of Bosh’s play the past couple of weeks. “So then he tends not to play his game. His game is to shoot that elbow jump shot, face guys up, get to the basket and when he’s playing like that we’re a much better team.”
Bosh had 13 points in the first half and but was not particularly on top of his game against the Nets. He was settling for much of the half, hitting jumpers over Brook Lopez but not facing him up and driving to the hoop.
Even at the beginning of the third quarter he was scoring, but not imposing himself on the Nets. That ended at the 5:47 mark of the period when he drove baseline past Lopez and jammed home a reverse dunk while absorbing contact for the foul.
Bosh celebrated that particular bucket like no other the entire night. It gave the Raps a two-point lead that would grow to 10 by the end of the quarter. The Raps never trailed again.
When Bosh is hitting from the outside and a willing driver to the tin, his game is better and the Raps game as a whole becomes better.
Wright gets that and that’s why he and Marcus Banks and Jarrett Jack were all over Bosh from the time they stepped into the IZOD Center.
Give his take
“I might have said a few things to him,” Wright admitted. “I might have been saying things to him .... like the whole game.”
Wright wasn’t sharing what exactly those words were, but he did give his take on how Bosh’s play affects everyone else on the team.
“We’re an inside out team,” Wright said. “If we can get the ball on the inside, the defence collapses and our three-point shooting can line them up. Then the lanes open up because they’re not worrying about the guy getting to the basket. They’re worrying about the dump off. When (Bosh) is playing well, it opens up everything. It opens up the jump shot for Andrea, the jump shot for Turk, the drive for Jarrett. We just have to stay on him to remain aggressive, shoot the ball as much as possible.”
So not everything got cleaned up with the Raptors final visit to the IZOD Center.
But they just might have managed to clear the most important hurdle to success over at least the rest of this season.