TJ Ford brought back memories of Vince Carter in LA with a buzzer beating jumper to down the Clippers 98-96. With 15 seconds left and the score tied, Sam Mitchell called the best play: nothing. Just let TJ go one-on-one. Quentin Ross stumbled and the rest is history.
Raps started this one off on positive notes with TJ Ford hitting the highest rainbow shot you’ll ever see to score the games first points and Joey Graham reminded Chuck Swirsky of Magic Johnson with a sweet hook shot. Anthony Parker and Joey Graham got the Raptors off to a good start before Elton Brand and crew neutralized the scoreboard by the end of the first quarter. Raptors showed good energy and had put the Phoenix debacle behind them.
After Bargnani nailed a three in Kaman’s face, Kaman got called for a violent offensive foul. Adding insult to injury, Bargnani nailed another three in his mug. But the play that epitomized the second quarter was a Darrick Martin air ball which only PJ Tucker caught up on to gather the rebound and put it in for a three point play. PJ Tucker, Darrick Martin and Fred Jones (yes, Fred Jones) lead the way as the Raptors found themselves up eight at the half, partly due to some poor Clipper turnovers. This would’ve been a much bigger lead hadn’t it been for official Raptor killer Sam Cassell who refused miss any jumpers keeping the Clippers within striking distance. Fred Jones hits a last second three to give the Raps a cushion.
At this point I noticed Penny Marshall in the crowd. Wasn’t she supposed to be a Laker fan?
Clippers make an expected run to come within a couple points but the Raptors respond by keeping the Clips busy in transition defence. Amazing things can happen when the defense isn’t set. Fred Jones’ (23, 2, 3) coming out party officially started with a distance three and Bargnani is getting credit from Chuck Swirsky for dishing out hockey assists. Great ball movement in conjunction with Clipper turnovers restore the lead and then some. Up by nine at the end of three. Things are about to get heated.
Jack Armstrong yells out “Ho Ho Ho” after checking out the Clipper cheerleaders.
Raptors and Clippers decided to trade baskets and no-scores for a few minutes when the surpirsing substitution of the half takes place. Anthony Parker for Mo Pete. Mo Pete does not like it and neither do I. Soon after, Clippers crank up the defense and suddenly Raptors aren’t running anymore and neither is the scoreboard. The offense is stagnant and a Mitchell timeout didn’t help. Clippers come back via Kaman, Brand and Livingston who all manage to contribute in a run that ties the game with the help of Raptor turnovers. Clippers briefly take the lead on two Livingston free throws before Ford misses the opportunity for a three point play but gets fouled and sinks both FT’s.
Cuttino Mobley has his jumper blocked by Fred Jones on the ensuing possession to setup Ford’s heroics. Jones’ block will be overlooked but it is huge. Mobley makes that shot 9 out of 10 times.
As I said before, mission accomplished on the road trip. If we one out of the next two, the party is on.
Misc Game Notes: Some milf type lady was checking out TJ Ford when he was giving the post game interview with the TV crew….Sam Mitchell went nuts after the game winning shot, started jumping and waving his arms wildly…This was literally a nail biter, my nails can prove it