First half of sea­son a suc­cess

StarMetro Edmonton - - SPORTS - Doug Smith SPORTS RE­PORTER More at thes­tar.com/sports

Bril­liant one night, bru­tal the next. Hurt or sick or sore or tired, but more than hold­ing their own through it all.

It has not been the great­est of half sea­sons for the Toronto Rap­tors. Ex­cept that it has.

The team reached the mid­way point in the grind of an 82-game sched­ule on Satur­day night, dis­ap­pointed in some facets of their play but jus­ti­fi­ably OK with where they are at the mo­ment.

A blis­ter­ing 20-4 start to the year gave way to a rather pedes­trian 9-8 stretch, but for­get­ting for a mo­ment the hot takes that change with the wind, a 29-12 record has them right in the thick of the fight for first over­all in the league.

They don’t shoot from three-point range well enough most nights, ex­cept when they make 14 in a game, like they did Satur­day. The de­fence has shown some slip­page, ex­cept it is still among the top 10 in the league. The bench has been shoddy, ex­cept for the odd night when it car­ries the starters.

It’s re­ally not been that bad. But they want more. And they prob­a­bly should have it.

“I think you don’t want to judge too much just where we are all the time,” Rap­tors coach Nick Nurse said.

“I like our ros­ter. I like who we are. I like our ca­pa­bil­i­ties. I think there is still a lot of growth.”

It is the long game that in­trigues the Rap­tors and, not­with­stand­ing the nightly en­ter­tain­ment quo­tient they pro­vide for fans, it will be the way the sea­son is ul­ti­mately re­garded.

That, how­ever, is months away from be­ing de­ter­mined. To­day, as Nurse said, the is­sue is get­ting by, get­ting bet­ter and get­ting ready.

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