image and story by A. Dorcely
It is with a heavy heart that I write this article. The world and the basketball world was hit with a tragedy this past Sunday. One that took away lives from several different families. One family being that of the NBA. Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers former player and future Hall of Famer passed away with eight other people including one of his daughters in a helicopter crash. Death is something that happens in our lives every day. Celebrities are not excluded from this. But as one of my siblings told me, “this one feels personal”! Since Sunday NBA teams have been recognizing the legacy and THE affect that Kobe had on the world and on basketball.
Last Tuesday was no different as the Raptors got ready to face the Atlanta Hawks. The buzz outside the arena could be felt that evening. The lines to get in the arena were long early, as if fans wanted to be in the building especially tonight after what had occurred. Before the game even started there were interviews being conducted with the likes of Vince Carter on his relationship with Kobe Bryant. Prior to the starting lineups being announced there was a tribute video followed by a 24 second moment of silence. Afterwards the crowd showered the arena with chants of Kobe.
The Raptors got off to a quick start. While the Hawks were either too aggressive or “handsy” in the beginning. By the 11:00 minute mark in the first quarter they had two team fouls as Siakam went to the free throw line to shoot the bonus after a made basket. About halfway through the quarter the score was 17-10 in favor of Toronto. Both teams came out gunning. Shooting several three point shots. With 4:59 left in the first Trey Young earned his second foul and had to head to the bench. Atlanta was also in the penalty. The Black Mamba would have appreciated this battle between youth and speed vs experience (a.k.a. Old) and size.
So far experience had an audacious edge. Pascal Siakam a.k.a. Spicy P as affectionately nicknamed showed off some shake and bake dribble then shot a three pointer that had fans salivating. While Marc Gasol came down the lane for a Statue of Liberty dunk after a ball fake. At 1:06 left in the period Vinsanity gave the fans a flashback with a fade away jumper. Ibaka quickly followed it up with a three pointer. The score was 33-23 Raptors at the end of the quarter.
Vince started the second quarter off with a three pointer from the corner. Ibaka once again followed it up with a jump shot of his own. Carter came in and scored a quick ten points to keep Atlanta in the game. Needless to say the Vinsanity faithful in the arena were pleased. Trey Young’s first three pointer came around the 7:00 minute mark while he already had 6 assists. Toronto’s offense continued to flourish as the Raptors found themselves in a bit of foul trouble. At the half the score was 68-56 Toronto.
At 10:09 in 3rd quarter Toronto had four team fouls already. You would start to think that maybe they might falter. But then again maybe the “Mamba Mentality” was more pervasive than just on the screen where the tribute had been played. One dunk by Collins was answered with another by Siakam. Atlanta sensing that the game was getting out of hand called a timeout at 9:38 mark in the third. A lapse in judgement on the offensive side from the Raptors allowed the Hawks to dwindle into the lead.
The score was 76-63 Toronto at the 7:22 mark in the 3rd. Towards the end of the quarter there was some back and forth in the action. Siakam made consecutive buckets that caused the lead to balloon to 18 points. That was cut into by a couple of steals by Vince and baskets by Young. Which was then followed by a five point splurge by Vanfleet. At end of the third the score was 97-83 Raptors.
Ibaka then started the fourth quarter with two more baskets. Chris Boucher’s put back dunk at 9:07 in the 4th put the Raptors up 107-83 and got a roar out of the crowd. At 8:33 in the fourth Collins picked up his fifth foul. He had 26pts 12 boards at this point in the game. Lowry was flaunting with a triple double at this point. With 7:52 remaining in the game Kyle Lowry became Toronto’s Franchise assist leader. A blowout had commenced. The final score was 130-114 as the Raptors disposed of the Young and inexperienced Hawks on this night where Purple Reigned! R.I.P. KOBE