It's not often a team can lose to the lowly Golden State Warriors at home twice in one night,
But the Toronto Raptors are inventing all sorts of ways to confound this season, their 113-112 loss to Golden State just the latest.
Last night franchise all-star Chris Bosh covered his head and laid on the baseline after missing a lay-up at the buzzer that would have completed a 16-point comeback by Toronto in the game's final seven minutes. Instead his try after a steal of the inbounds pass by Sonny Weems rolled off the rim and Bosh's 42-point, 12-rebound night was all for nothing and the Raptors modest three-game win streak snapped, their quixotic, lurching, playoff run stalled again.
"Sonny made a spectacular play," Bosh said afterward. "Everything happened so fast, I didn't have time to react."
The essential figure in the Warriors (25-53) win was Stephen Curry, the son of former Raptors marksman Dell Curry, and the No. 7 pick in the 2009 draft, leading candidate for rookie of the year and a star in the making.
Last night Curry staked the Warriors to a big lead early by showing his learned-on-the-job point guard chops, dishing six of his game-high 12 assists in the first quarter as he helped the Warriors jump to a 37-20 lead and inspired the first of the boo bunnies among the 17,509 at the ACC on an Easter Sunday evening who had to watch Toronto shoot just 39.2 per cent from the floor against the defensively challenged Warriors.
And he helped hold off the Raptors comeback by scoring 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning points at the foul line with 3.2 seconds left, though missing two free throws with 11.6 seconds to play and the Warriors leading by three helped the Raptors extend the drama to the limit.
The Raptors (38-38) have a one-game lead on the Chicago Bulls for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Easter Conference with six games to play.
This time last year Toronto was putting together a 9-4 finish, which might have been good for morale but hurt their draft position. The Raptors picking ninth, took DeMar DeRozan, who is still very much a work-in-progress while the Warriors picking seventh, took Curry and have themselves a picture worth framing.
"He's more athletic than you think," said Warriors head coach Don Nelson. "But he does it the old fashioned-way. He uses his head and what skills he has to get it done."
He loved coming to his father's games during his three seasons in Toronto, but not necessarily to watch them.
"We just went up stairs, turned the radio on, kept shooting until we were dripping with sweat and then went down and watched the fourth quarter from behind the bench," he said
Asked if he had any nostalgic pangs for the practice court, Curry said not at all. "I got the main floor now."
He proved worth of the stage last night.
He drilled five triples but found his teammates too. This time next year it's likely Bosh will be gone and it's hard to imagine DeRozan will be playing at Curry's level. And just in case you were wondering, he loves Toronto; occasionally visits and has a girlfriend from here too.
"I would have loved it [if I was drafted here]" Curry said. "I know the city, it wouldn't have been that much an adjustment for me. The fans are always good out here, it would have been a great place to play."
Tip sheet: Golden State head coach Don Nelson needs just one more win to tie former Raptors head coach Lenny Wilkens as the winningest coach in NBA history after logging his 1,331st win (against 1060 losses) in a career that began in 1976-77 with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors have a tough week ahead as they play three of the top-four seeds in the Eastern Conference, beginning with a road game against the Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow night (tues), a home game against the Boston Celtics Wednesday and another road game against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. In the first five games since Sonny Weems and Antoine Wright were inserted into the starting unit the Raptors increased their scoring total, a trend that ended last night. During that same stretch Chris Bosh as averaged 24.2 points and 10.4 rebounds while shooting 53.5 per cent from the floor. He upped those marks with his 42 points last night on 11-of-18 shooting. Second-year guard Weems shot 59.8 per cent from the floor in March and then made 17 of his first 19 shots in April before his 2-of-11 performance against Golden State.
Next: Tomorrow night against Cleveland in Cleveland, 7 p.m.
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