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Friday, October 12, 2007

Real Madrid Beats Bosh-less Raptors, 104-103

Real Madrid defeated the Toronto Raptors 104-103 in the final game of the NBA Europe Live Tour. Raptors' All-Star Chris Bosh did not play in order to rest a knee injury that is not believed to be serious. Although this was the second victory by a non-NBA team over an NBA team during this year's NBA Europe Live Tour, it is ironic that most of the damage for Real Madrid was done by two American players while three of Toronto's top four scorers are not from North America. Louis Bullock led all scorers with 27 points, while Charles Smith shot 5-8 from three point range and scored 18 points. They received a lot of help from reserve point guard Sergio Llull, who scored 11 of his 17 points in the final 4:15 of the game. Andrea Bargnani led Toronto with 23 points and seven rebounds, while Jorge Garbajosa added 15 points and Rasho Nesterovic had 13 points. T.J. Ford had 18 points and eight assists. Both teams like to use the drive and kick game. Occasionally the big men post up but there is not a steady diet of that and this is demonstrated by Real Madrid attempting 30 three pointers (making 14 for an excellent .467 percentage) and Toronto attempting 18 three pointers (making 7 for a .389 percentage).

Toronto jumped out to a 9-0 lead as Ford repeatedly broke down Real Madrid's defense off the dribble and delivered the ball to open shooters. Real Madrid is obviously a poised and confident team because their players never got rattled during this stretch and Coach Joan Plaza did not even call a timeout. Smith finally got them on the board by making a three pointer and they pretty much played the Raptors even for the rest of the quarter, trailing 29-22 after 12 minutes.

Real Madrid cut the Toronto lead to 35-33 five minutes into the second quarter but then Toronto went on an 11-6 mini-run that was capped by Ford stealing the ball from Llull and racing downcourt to convert a three point play. Real Madrid drained three three pointers in the last 3:21 of the quarter--two by Llull--and only trailed 56-54 at halftime.

Toronto took a 63-58 lead early in the third quarter but then the Raptors started playing very sloppily and lethargically, turning the ball over and not getting back on defense. Real Madrid went on a 10-0 in two minutes to go up by five. Toronto briefly regained the lead but Real Madrid led 79-75 at the end of the quarter.

Neither team scored in the first 2:49 of the fourth quarter. Jet lag anyone? Toronto led for the final time with 4:41 remaining when Anthony Parker's jump shot put the Raptors up 86-84. Llull answered with a three pointer, the start of his late game 11 point scoring barrage. Real Madrid snuffed out any chance of a Toronto comeback by shooting 7-8 from the free throw line in the last :22 of regulation. Ford's three pointer at the buzzer was too little, too late.

Plaza's initial statement after the game is interesting: "This was just a training game. Though it may sound arrogant, I am not going to open a bottle of champagne after this victory." He also said that he would have been satisfied if his team had played hard but lost a close contest and that the important game for his team is next Saturday (presumably when Real Madrid's regular season starts).

The Raptors were outrebounded 48-38. Obviously, Bosh's absence hurt but Coach Sam Mitchell seems to think that the problem runs a little deeper than that: "Any time you get beat the way we got beat on the glass it's hard to win...We're not going to make excuses. They deserved to win and we didn't because they just beat us up physically." He later added, "We've got to find guys who are going to go in there and do the tough things. We've got guys who can shoot the basketball. We've got guys who can pass the ball. We've got to find some guys who will do the dirty work."

posted by David Friedman @ 3:09 AM



At Friday, October 12, 2007 5:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Real Madrid's regular season started last week, the Spanish League has already played its first game. Their forthcoming game is against Tau (Scola's former team), a powerhouse in the league and thus their first game against meaningful opposition.

Technically, the season started even earlier for Real Madrid as the SuperCup (a short final four-style tournament) is considered an official competition, but many people including me consider it more like some sort of glorified pre-season.


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