January 26, 2012
Raptors have Jazz singing the bluesToronto scores double-OT win
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
SALT LAKE CITY - On a night when the Raptors should have been celebrating, there was a definite pall over the entire locker room.
Having finally solved the Utah Jazz on this court with a 111-106 win in double overtime no less, every post-game conversation eventually got around to the big man sitting at his locker who was barely able to put weight on his left leg.
Andrea Bargnani missed two weeks and six games the first time he strained his left calf. He re-injured it Wednesday night. This time, at least initially, it appears worse.
"Yeah, this one is bad," Bargnani said after the game. "I won't know officially until we do the MRI, but I'm going to be out for a little while."
And with that a lot of the fun went out of the evening for the Raptors in what should have been a very big night.
Toronto had not won in Phoenix in 14 tries. Tuesday night they toppled that one.
They had not beaten Utah in eight years. Again, it took double overtime but that losing skid is over too.
Bargnani left the arena on crutches. He'll be re-assessed once he gets to Denver but it doesn't look good.
He left the game with 1:05 left in the first overtime and did not return.
He stayed on the bench but could barely stand up for the timeouts.
What did look good was Linas Kleiza going off for 25 points - tying Bargnani for the team high - but doing the bulk of his work in the two overtimes. Twelve of his 25 points came in the two extra frames.
Kleiza hit a pair of three pointers in the extra 10 minutes to keep the Raptors in it.
He celebrated both of his three's in Jose Calderon-style stealing the Spaniard's signature three fingers-raised salute after each one.
Calderon was no slouch himself in the overtimes with three assists and five points including a key three-pointer that put the Raps up by six with 1:26 to go in the game, a lead the Raptors finally managed to nurse home.
This one had plenty of twists and turns.
Down 18 early in the second quarter it looked like the well-rested Jazz - who were coming off a three-day break between games while the Raps were on a back-to-back - were going to run the Raptors right off the court.
But then just like they did in Phoenix a night earlier, the bench came on and got the Raptors back in the game.
For about a nine minute stretch they looked as bad as they have all year. In the next eight they looked great.
Once again, as it was in Phoenix, it was primarily Barbosa who got them back in the game after a rough start with the Brazilian Blur pouring in 10 in his first five minutes in the game.
But the well went dry soon after that. Barbosa would only score three more points the rest of the night.
The Jazz made the proper adjustments and the spark that Barbosa represented early on fizzled badly after that.
Unlike in Phoenix, Bargnani's stroke was just not there Wednesday night.
Even with the Jazz leaving Bargnani open time and again beyond the arc, and not just open but wide open, he was unable to get them to go down with regularity.
Sure he got the Raps 25 points but he needed 26 shots to do it. Not exactly efficient.
His efficiency though is the least of his worries now. For the next little while it's all going to be about his health.
It was not long before tip off and word started to filter out that Al Jefferson, the Jazz leading scorer and rebounder would not be playing. An inflamed right ankle was the reason. Derrick Favours, no slouch by any stretch, would replace him.
Early on it looked like his absence would not be a factor.
But with Favors in the starting rotation, that meant Enes Kanter, the Turkish-born big man who spent last season in Kentucky but was barred from playing by the NCAA, was the first big off the Jazz bench. That was not a good thing for the home team.
Kanter is still not up to speed with the NBA game. He's a nice big body but was abused by whatever big the Raptors put on him. Favors held his own, but Kanter was a big dropoff from what the Jazz were accustomed to coming off the bench. Kanter got some back late in the third quarter against the Raps but it was still advantage Raptors. He finished the night with just five points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.
At the rim
The past four opponents for the Jazz including the Raptors have come in here on back-to-backs. The only one to leave with a win before Toronto was the Dallas Mavericks ...For the last time a Toronto team beat Utah, you have to go all the way back to October of 2004. The Jazz had won the past 11 meetings, five here in Utah and six in Toronto.