The Morning After The Night Before, VI
That was an odd finish, wasn't it? The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight returneth but they've still got a chance to win or tie in the final few seconds until they botch the game's most important possession.
(No, I don't imagine the Kris Humphries-T.J. Ford high screen and roll is on Page 1 of the playbook).
But, still a long season to go. So ...
Three Things I Learned
Okay, there’s no timeout with 17 seconds left ‘cause Sam wants T.J. to penetrate for a quick two, a foul, and an attempt to extend the game. Arguable but that’s okay. Not sure about the suggestion he didn’t call timeout because he didn’t want Utah to set up its defence – on a made free-throw, the defence is going to be set up.
The perfect scenario is to have T.J. drive and kick to an open shooter for a game-tying three, which gives Utah one last shot to win. If second-best scenario is for a quick two, a foul and – likely – two Jazz free throws, a three-point deficit again, the need to blow the last time out to set up a game-tying three. Worst-case scenario, they don’t score, foul, give up a free-throw and lose by four.
So, to recap: At some point, Toronto is probably going to have to use its last time out to call a play designed to get a game-tying three-pointer. Do you want to call that timeout with 17 seconds left? Or with, let’s say, six? Me? I want it with 17. But I’m not an NBA coach. And I don’t even play one on TV.
And here’s another thing to think about: During the Williams free throws, they subbed Jason Kapono for Jamario Moon, giving them a better three-point shooter in the corner. Why not send Andrea Bargnani in for Humphries? First, despite being 1-for-11, he’s an exponentially more dangerous offensive player. Second, if they left Hump in because of his rebounding, that’s silly. They’re probably not going to have to rebound anyway, if the free throw is made. And if 7-foot Andrea Bargnani can’t get the rebound of a missed free throw when every Utah player would have been skedaddling back down the court, that’s unbelievable.
With Bargnani in the game, the Jazz have to cover him behind the three-point line and maybe Ford gets a better look if he insists on taking a three. Or maybe Bargnani actually hits a shot. Whatever happens, we aren’t subjected to Ford and Humphries playing some sort of goofy hot-potato game with the outcome on the line.
With 20-20 hindsight, I’d call the timeout with 17 seconds left and, if I didn’t, I’d have Bargnani in for Humphries. Oh, and I’d make sure T.J. knew he was supposed to attack the rim, not shoot a three.
Not Sam’s greatest moment. But, as my son’s report card says, a Learning Opportunity.
Tough night for Jason Kapono, although he did keep his three-point shooting percentage right at 50. He was beaten off the dribble once by Gordan Giricek, who is as quick as sludge; committed two offensive fouls in his first five minutes in the game and, in one unmemorable moment, knocked a defensive rebound away from Jose Calderon that led to a turnover and two Utah free throws.
I’m not sure if he’s still getting used to new teammates and new system or if he’s just trying to find his place on this club, but he’s been average – at best – most of the season. On both ends of the court.
On the block
Okay, so everyone’s watching Chris Bosh shoot jumpers for the first 46 minutes and, if they’re like me, thinking ‘why isn’t he driving, getting fouled and shooting free throws?’
No real good answer. The Jazz did clog the lane, Carlos Boozer is an all-star but still …
So we asked him what’s up:
“I think I’m going to have to start doing a better job of getting the ball on the block,” he said. “I think I’ll start there the next game. I’ve been catching the ball at the elbow for the last two games but I have started or finished like I wanted to.”
We will be watching.
Funny statistical anomaly last night: Toronto had more field goals (35-33), more three-pointers (7-3) and lost because Utah made 23 free throws to 11 for the Raptors. Let’s say Bosh shoots 12 foul shots rather than four. A different result?
Three Things You Wondered
Q: Disappointing loss, but it was fun to watch Jamario Moon play. He plays a very explosive style of basketball that the Raptors have not had since Vince Carter was in town. He just plays all around good basketball on both sides of the ball. He reminds me of Keon Clark and Jerome Williams, but with a jump shot. If he keeps this up can you see him making the all rookie team?
Dan West, Newmarket
A: Moon was good last night, he took only good shots in the flow of the game and while three rebounds aren’t enough, he defended Andrei Kirilenko quite well.
All-rookie team? I suppose anything’s possible but let’s let the young fella play, oh, I dunno, 20 games before we start thinking about that.
Q: Is our depth a problem, when it leads to starters not playing enough minutes? Perusing the boxscore against Utah, I take away the following:
T.J. +9, 32 minutes; Parker +5, 30 minutes; Bosh +8, 31 minutes; Moon +4, 33 minutes; Rasho, even, 19 minutes.
I understand Rasho got banged up, but I really think Sam needs to settle on a normal 8-9 man rotation. Do you think the starters should be playing more minutes?
Brian Sherman, Toronto
A: Interesting numbers, aren’t they? Sam seems to have settled on 10 players, leaving Dixon and Garbo out and that may indeed be one too many.
But the question is, who doesn’t play? The trouble may be that there is no obvious difference in talent. Hump’s as good as Rasho some nights, Delfino, Kapono and Moon are all about the same and you can’t mess with either of the point guards or Bosh and Bargnani.
I think, eventually, you stretch out the starters five or six more minutes, cutting the time for the backups but that might lessen their effectiveness. It’s a tough balancing act. One they really haven’t figured out yet.
Q: Well it looks like Moon is turning out to be a pleasant surprise and all those Moonies out there have got to have those "I told you so" looks on their faces. Of course it’s a long season, but it looks like we got a real gem of a player that could contribute a lot.
But my question is, what's going on with Jorge? He was so great last year, and everyone rants and raves about his basketball IQ, toughness, hustle, defense, etc. And yet from the playing time (and the actual times in the game) he is getting its obvious that he is way down the list for Sam.
Randy Gabrielson, Warsaw, Poland
A: You cannot imagine the love for Garbo in the mailbag. He’s like Mo Squared.
Here’s the reality, after talking to people around the team.
Right now, they don’t think he’s as good a power forward as Kris Humphries, who rebounds better and is more energetic; and they don’t think he’s as good a three as Moon, Delfino or Kapono.
So where’s he going to play?
Things may change if Rasho’s out and they need another big, and if one of the threes struggles Garbo might get back in the rotation, but right now, he’s out of it.
It sucks for him, it sucks for his fans but this is a tough business and everyone can’t play every night.
Now, don't forget, tomorrow's a mail bag day, just click here to send in a query and if you've got some post-game comments or questions, don't be afraid to send stuff along after the game or overnight, it makes for interesting reading in the morning.