The Morning After The Night Before, XIV
Lucky ticket buyers, eh?
You get LeBron on a Friday night, pack the joint and he sits it out. Sweet.
My man Larry Millson, ably filling in for the Absent M. Grange, made an interesting point. Larry’s got the pulse of the FCs and wondered why there was no hullabaloo over the possibility James might not play when there was such a stink over that Beckham footballer this summer. James is a far better basketball player than Mr. Spice is a soccer, er, football player, but no one was burning up the airwaves Thursday or Friday morning suggesting ticket refunds if James didn’t play.
(Okay, you football fans, before you start e-mailing, ask yourself this question: Is Beckham one of the half dozen best football players in the world? Not a chance. Is James one of the best half dozen basketball players in the world? Without doubt.)
Abject apologies to regular Vancouver contributor Erich Isopp, whose name got mis-spelled in the transfer from e-mail file to my Friday mailbag. The ol’ fingers don’t work quite as well as they once did.--Anyway, gotta run and catch a flight so on with the show.--
Three Things I Learned
Sometimes you just can’t win
Jamario Moon stops the ball on offensive set instead of making the extra pass and Sam climbs all over him, rightly so. Chastised, Moon makes sure to not do the same time he catches on the perimeter but instead of finding, say, Anthony Parker in the corner, he makes a nifty pass to … Rasho! About 20 feet from the rim on the baseline. Sam rolls his eyes ‘cause that’s exactly the time Moon’s got to catch and drive, not catch and shoot or catch and pass.-
Taking the sting(er) away
Sure, T.J. looked out of sorts on Friday, his first shot was about a foot short, his first pass when right to Drew Gooden, I believe. But he’s healthy and the concerns of fans who wrote wondering about his propensity for ‘stingers’ (two in his last 15 games or so) should be eased.Sam told us not only did Raptor doctors take a look at him last week, the surgeon who did the original operation on his neck and back was also consulted and says there’s nothing wrong with the little fella.-
And another thing
You know what else Carlos Delfino does well? Shoot contested threes. He made one from the corner Friday with someone (can’t remember who) draped all over him. Delfino should still drive the ball more ‘cause if they’re going to close out that aggressively on him, not matter how well he shoots it, he’s only a pump fake and a dribble from a layup.
Three Things You Wondered
Q: I'm a Juan Dixon fan in Maryland; he brought us a national championship down here in 2002 and has been a reliable scorer in the NBA when he gets minutes. What gives in Toronto? Has he fallen out of favor or is he hurt or what? Can you shed some light?
A: Nothing like a couple of DNP-CDs to make folks wonder. Dixon isn’t hurt, he’s not particularly out of favour but he’s also not in a rotation. But it was interesting Friday night that the Raptors de-activated Darrick Martin and kept Dixon dressed, which makes me think he’s taken over that third-point guard role at the moment. He told me this week he hasn’t played point since he was at Washington so it’s taking him some time to re-learn the job.But knowing injuries and Sam and this team, he’s going to get a shot to play again.-
Q: Doug, is there a chance Hump has been less receptive to Sam's comforting muses of guidance about not shooting so much and staying within himself because he signed that big contract? Now he can get paid by sitting on the bench!
Roy W, Thornhill
A: Nah, can’t imagine the Hump doing that. However, I can imagine him not quite grasping that Sam’s serious when he says run, rebound and defend or don’t play. And watching him get on the wrong side of his man going for rebounds twice in the 1:17 he played Friday sure won’t get him back in his coach’s good books. He didn’t take a shot in that time, though, so that’s a plus.-
Q: I sent you this question a couple of weeks ago but never got an answer. Are there any updates on what Norma Wick is up to right now?
Also in an effort to make this more Raptors related, in your Friday mailbag you talked about free agents that need to be dealt with and you forgot to mention Delfino. How much do you think he will get on the open market? Will he also be a restricted FA?
Michael, Richmond Hill
A: You and a few dozen others have written to ask about Our Friend Norma. I talked to her this week, she’s doing well, living a life free of the hassles of big-time sports and delving into all kinds of fun stuff. She does keep her head about the Raptors, though, suggest Moonwalking will be the new way to describe Jamario’s travelling calls.
As for Delfino, he is restricted and there won’t be a whole lot of teams with a whole lot of money to spend out there right now so I’m betting he gets a couple of full mid-level exception offers. And the way he’s going, I’d lock him up here for four years at that money.