Checking in from Texas
What’s a guy to do on a night off on the road? Go watch a game, of course. Caught Spurs-Bulls last night in San Antonio, which provided some grist for this mill.
Here we go
|Raptors better keep their eyes peeled for this tomorrow night. Or else it'll be too late.|
You should have seen Tony Parker shred Chicago last night. Kid was unbelievable getting to the rim and finishing, getting in the paint and spotting open shooters and all I can think is that Jose Calderon’s in for a long, long night tomorrow.
How good is he? He could be the MVP quite easily and there’s a sense that there’s a passing of the torch from Tim Duncan to Parker as the best player in San Antonio.
Ran into an assistant coach at halftime and the first words out of his mouth (well, second after “Why are you here? The Riverwalk closed?”) was, “How do you stop Parker?”
No answer, really. The kid’s that good.
Let’s get into the mailbag early today:
Q: Best of the season. Transplanted Torontonian living in Nashville...read you and the Swirsk pretty much every day. It's a little bit of home.
Do you think that playing the dozen or so players every night is hurting the Raptors? I think giving different offensive looks helps us, but I think the defence is being killed by it, because the rotations seem to stiffen up a bit.
Thanks a lot ... peace on earth ... yada yada yada ...
Gerald F, Nashville
A: I thought all you folks in Nashville were diehard Predators fans who couldn’t handle the team leaving for Hamilton and rallied around the pucks? That’s what Gary Bettman told me.
Anyway, on your question: Yes, I think it does hurt them and I think they eventually have to settle on an eight-man rotation. Maybe nine.
Trouble is, I don’t think they’re sure every night what they’re going to get out of their twos and threes so that’s why they get to 10, or even 11, players some nights.
Until two of Moon, Parker, Delfino and Kapono rise the occasion, I think Sam Mitchell’s gonna have to mix and match.
He’s set at point guard (Calderon and Ford, or Dixon with Ford out), the bigs seem settled with Bosh, Bargnani and Hump (Rasho has to be the odd man out, unfortunately) so trouble is, there’s not enough separation between those other four to make a decision easy.
Happy Holidays, blah, blah, blah.
Every day, a couple of people ask: What’s up with T.J.?
Honest answer: No one knows except T.J. and he’s not talking yet.
In fact, he’s not even around.
Ford’s going to meet the team somewhere here in Texas but it wasn’t in San Antonio on Wednesday night so no one got a chance to ask him how he’s feeling or when he might be back or even how Christmas was.
Just glancing at the schedule, I’ve always thought Jan. 4 against Detroit was by far the earliest he could be back, given the lack of practice time he’s going to need.
Now I’m not even sure of that. Now maybe Jan. 9 against Philly?
Whenever it is, it’s going to be Ford’s decision. Everyone connected with the team is giving him wide berth to make up his own mind and that’s a classy move.
Wouldn’t be a trip to San Antonio without a chat with Matt Bonner, who remains one of the game’s good guys. And with Matt, it’s always about transportation.
With no streetcars or subways down here, he was forced to buy a car last year – a white Grand Prix as you may recall – but sometimes that’s not even enough.
"Actually I drove the minivan today,” he told us Wednesday night. “My parents are in town and my dad rented a minivan so we drove that today so we could fit everybody.”
Can you just picture the Red Rocket tooling down the highways riding high in some minivan with mom next to him and dad in the back? Of course you can.
After San Antonio on Friday, it’s Houston on Saturday and it looks like the Raptors will avoid Tracy McGrady.
A sore left knee has T-Mac on the shelf and Jonathan Feigen of the Chronicle reports it might be a week or so before he’s back.
Cleaning out the mailbag a little bit more
James from Kingston writes:
"I wanted to thank you for posting your blog and stories early in the morning so fans have something to start their day with. I bet I'm not the only fan who look forward to coffee and Raptor news/insights before getting on with the rest of my boring life.
Now, if I could get you to realize that Calderon is better than TJ and that Mitchell can't coach offence, you would be the perfect basketball reporter.”
And Jamal of Ottawa chimes in:
"Doug, damn you’re a Bargnani apologist. The guy sucks, He can't rebound, defend and now he can't shoot 3's. I guess NBA players figured out his game and what he likes this year. I couldn't believe he was defending Stoudemire against Phoenix, too. He really needs to go to D League. Do you get some of salary to be his supporter?”
Why, thank you all. Now I have to spend some of my weekly stipend fron Bargnani.
This just in: The Bulls suck.
Big time. Kirk Hinrich (career low 38 per cent from the field) and Ben Gordon (career low 38.5 per cent from the field) can’t make a shot, they have absolutely zero low-post presence on offence and Ben Wallace looks old. Very old.
You’re going to hear an awful lot of Pau Gasol to Chicago trade talk in the next little while but he is certainly not the answer.
It’s amazing how a team everyone thought was on the rise got so bad so fast but that’s exactly what happened in Chicago.
Back to Bonner for a line about him, not from him.
Dude had 25 points and 17 rebounds in one game this season, prompting a guy who knew and loved him during his tenure in Toronto to remark:
"I didn’t know they played doubleheaders in the NBA.”
Told Matt what the guy had said. He response: “Tell (him) I have no comeback for that.”