By Clement Chu

Wow…it’s been a while but seeing as how it was a sleepy Sunday in Toronto and big Yao was in town, I thought I’d drag my a$$ out of bed for the early tip down at the ACC.

Prior to the game, the Raps media staff always provides everybody with some team notes. Among the interesting points: Jamario Moon becomes the 3rd Raptor to have played for the Harlem Globetrotters. The others? Clifford Rozier and Oliver Miller. Man…can you picture Big O in those red white and blue shorts? A flag joke is in here somewhere but hey, why beat a dead horse?

During the pregame shootaround, Luther Head, Bonzi Wells and Carl Landry were engaged in some sort of ad-hoc 1-on-1 tournament. True to form, Bonzi kept bullying everyone to the hole, Head stayed out by the arc and Landry…well, Landry just looked lost. In the end, it was Head taking the rookie off the bounce to the rack to win the tournament. Judging from the expressions on Bonzi and Landry’s faces, you would have thought they’d lost money or something.

Onto the game notes…

1st Quarter:

McGrady was once again greeted in the lineup by boos; come-on people, it’s been 7 years, get over it..

– No ‘Stab-to-my-lou’ Alston means the first start of the season for Stevie Franchise…looking forward to some good old Yao-dump-offs-to-Francis-dunks…

– Off the tip, the ball goes to Yao in the high-post who then drops it to a cutting Francis who gets blocked by Bosh…guess things done changed from those days back in ’03

– The hour difference for H-Town didn’t seem to make a difference as they opened up with a trio of 3s (1 from T-Mac and 2 from Battier)

– With 6:48 left in the quarter, Franchise gets the ball swung to him on the right wing. The Raps, seemingly unthreatened by #3 standing in the corner, just stood there staring at Francis as he pumpfaked to nobody. Finally, after realizing nobody was going to come out to him, he let fly and made the J causing him to pop his collar and shout to nobody in particular that they better guard him.

2nd quarter:

– Raps are looking very painful shooting in the 30s. T-Mac is doing his thing dropping 14 so far.

Chuck Hayes and Landry are doing a good job of tying up Bosh into a 1-7 shooting half.

– Ray of light: Kris Humphries grabbed 4 boards and went 2-2 from the field highlighted by a 2-handed flush off one foot taking off from outside the key with less than 5:00 to go in the half.

– Jamario Moon seems to be playing out-of-sync as he’s really getting into a 1-on-1 matchup with T-Mac.

Halftime score: 45 – 34, Houston.

The halftime act, yet AGAIN, was the “Red Pandas”…which is basically a Chinese woman riding a unicycle and kicking rice bowls onto her head. I say, ‘again’ because for the past 4 years, everytime Yao comes into town, they bust out this same act. I mean come-on, does she tour with Yao or something? And why is it called the ‘Red Pandas’ when there is only one girl? Back in the day, there used to be some dude (her boyfriend I’m assuming) who used to dress up in a Chinese traditional costume and hand her the bowls. You think she got too big-time and dropped him? These are things that ‘Grind my Gears’…

3rd Quarter:

– Candice Parker’s brother leads the Raps back by scoring 9 in the quarter on a variety of jumpers and layups.

– After getting called for travelling at 4:20, with the camera right on his face, Yao yelled out “fuc*” on the jumbotron…nice to see him fully adjusted to the NBA lifestyle.

– With 3:19 left in the quarter, TJ got subbed out after a few wild plays and as he approached the bench, Sam reached out his hand to give him a tap and TJ walked right by without looking at him.

– 2:16: Mike James drove to the hole on the left side and had his floater crushed into the stands by Bosh; coincidently, the girl who caught the ball in the front row and proceeded to talk trash before giving the ball back to the ref, I believe, was CB’s gf.

4th Quarter:

– Kris Humphries takes over: during a critical 9 minutes of play, Humphries tallied 10 points to help push the Raps ahead.

– With 4:30 left, Carlos Delfino got loose on the break and Francis went up to foul. In the process, he tried to hold onto Delfino to prevent him from falling into the row of reporters (as shown in this pic). Obviously there was no intent to hurt but of course, the zebras gave him the flagrant.

– Some sort of techno-remix of Soulja Boy’s ‘Crank That’ then comes on over the system during a stoppage in play which begs to ask: does changing a rap song into a techno one make it more “fan-friendly?”

– With under 2:00 left and the Raps up 12, McGrady runs out on the break for what seems like an uncontested layup only to get his shot plastered against the glass by a trailing Bosh.

– On the subsequent posession, CB4 wraps up the game but hitting a turnaround right in McGrady’s mug.

Final score: 80 – 93 Raptors.

After the game, CB4 was dropping a new look: Brown sweater, jeans and matching brown Chuck Taylors. The hero of the game, Kris Humphries, came out to address the Chinese community who had gathered in the lowerbowl for a post-game event.

Kris: “Thanks to all of you who came out to support the Raptors. And for those of you who came out just for Yao….well…I guess we’ll see you next year…”

Fan Question 1: “What’s it like to guard Yao?”
Fan Question 2: “How much bigger is Yao compared to you?”

Thankfully, Kris was understanding and a good sport and stayed for about 15 minutes to answer various questions.