The short handed Utah Jazz appeared to be on their way to an upset for their 11th straight road win vs the Toronto Raptors Friday night. All of Utah’s starters were out for this game along with most of the key reserves against a mostly full strength Raptors team. The fact that the Jazz almost walked away with another impressive road win is encouraging to see if you are the Jazz, who have been experimenting with different lineup combinations this season. Credit to the Raptors team though, moral victories don’t count for anything and Toronto did a good job of fighting through a bad first half and coming back for the win.
The Raptors had a balanced attack tonight with all five starters scoring in double figures. Guard Fred Van Fleet had himself a heck of a game with 37 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The Raptors have been trying to make a move into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference this season and a quality win like this has the potential to boost the confidence of any team. Toronto has now won four in a row and plays the next two games at home before heading out on a long road trip.
The Jazz were led by newcomer Eric Paschall tonight with 29 points. Even more eye opening may have been the play of second year guard Elijah Hughes with 26 points on 9-15 shooting. Utah just did not have enough to firepower to keep up with the Raptors for the full 48 minutes tonight. Honestly there is not much to take away from this game, it was nice for the Jazz to get a look at some of their non-rotation guys but in the end it’s a game that Utah probably wins if they have at least a couple of starters and/or reserves playing tonight. It’s not to take anything away from the big second half that Toronto had but it’s just to say that the Jazz probably aren’t panicking right now or lamenting this loss too much.
The Jazz will have another tough test tomorrow night vs. the Indiana Pacers, who already beat them in Salt Lake City earlier this season. We shall see if any of the main rotation players are back tomorrow night, but if not it will interesting to see how the young guys bounce back so soon after a game like tonight. The Raptors will be at home for their next game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans.