|Overall impression? Seems about right.|
Seriously, how many woke up dreaming of a 50-win season?
Come on, some of you did. I know it.
There were some big flaws – watching the Sixers play volleyball on the offensive boards was pretty tiring, wasn’t it? – but overall, they came away happy with themselves.
Lots of room for improvement but, luckily, there are a lot of games to go.
But, for now, let’s digest No. 1
(One thing, I appreciate all the comments that came in during the game, I hope you understand that I won’t usually be able to post ‘em ‘til the morning, things get a tad hectic in the arenas)
Action: Bargnani doesn’t score
Reaction: It’s the best zero he’s had maybe ever.
Five rebounds, two blocks, two assists and – just as impressive – zero turnovers in 20 minutes certainly aren’t Hall of Fame numbers but, seriously, he didn’t play poorly at all.
The 0-for-4 night included no three-pointers, no rushed shots and at least two of the misses I recall (a drive across the paint, a jumper from the elbow) were very good looks.
He’ll score, there is no doubt of that, but if he does the other stuff every night, they’ll be happy with him.
I’m looking out my window here and can’t see smouldering cars and riot gear-clad police officers and I’m thinking, ‘wow, they had a rather sedate celebration here.’
Was rather wild around the arena after the game. We got done writing just about the time the Rays led off the top of the ninth and were all packed up and ready to go when the Mighty Hinske strode to the plate.
After his whiff, we raced a crowd of about 10,000 who’d been watching the game on TV in the arena, out to the parking lot and got out of dodge just as the fans were steaming out of the ball yard.
Skin of our teeth, we figured.
One of the best lines of the night.
We get back to the comfort of the lobby bar to find our regular waitress over the moon, parading around in her Phillies jersey and swigging shots with the bartender and other staff.
She comes over, notices we’re not as, um, thrilled as she is and the conversation goes something like this:
"You guys aren’t from here, I guess?”
"Oh, Toronto? That’s okay, at least you’re not from Tampa.”
"Ah, no. Guess you’re happy, eh? (Giving away our Canadianism).
"You have no idea how it feels.”
"How’s it feel?”
"Nineteen-freaking-eighty. That’s how it feels.”
So, it’s like 6:15 a.m. here in Philly and the gift shop in he hotel, which was run by a couple of 20-something guys yesterday, is supposed to be open at 5 and I just wandered downstairs for some fresh air and it’s closed tight. I figure the dudes are somewhere on Broad Street. Or incarcerated.
Action: JK pulls the trigger.
Reaction: Dell Curry had the quickest catch-and-shoot move I’ve ever seen, he was like a volleyball setter, the ball never actually stopped when he went into his shooting motion, I don’t think.
But I tell you, Jason Kapono gets rid of the ball in rhythm like no one I’ve ever seen.
Which makes one regular quite happy:
Q: Doug, What's the deal with JK? (that's the nominal question I'm using to disguise the fact that what follows is pure rant). He's in love with the pump fake and then putting the ball on the floor, which would be o.k. if he then took a step or two and pulled up for a jumper, but he attacks the rim (well, to the extent that a Jason Kapono can ever truly "attack" the rim. Strolling the baseline at glacial speed might be a more apt description. But I digress...). And then he takes some stupid running teardrop thingy, or more often than not gets stripped of the ball in traffic. The point is, he doesn't need to pump!!! He has as quick a release as Dell Curry, and that's saying something! So as long as he has an inch or two of space, he should hoist that sucker up until his shoulder falls off! I don't care if his percentage goes to, say, 45 from 52. I'll take that! Embrace your inner pony, Jason! (Pony as in the one-trick variety). Just shoot it. Not so much with the pumpin! and dribbling for you, my friend.
Lee Z, Ottawa
A: Good call, Lee.
And, as I pointed out to Kapono after the game, the Raptors committed only 10 turnovers and he had two of them, both on travels when he tried to catch-and-dribble.
If it’s the coaches who are telling him that, maybe they’d like to re-think that strategy.
Stepping into the mail:
Q: Hi Doug. I know David Stern wants the game announcers to stop calling out refs for blown calls, and some announcers need to be reigned in a little. But what of the fans need for validation? I mean at about the 8 minute mark of the fourth quarter (against Philly) Calderon gets called for a blocking foul that could have been substantial that seemed like a clear blown call.
The announcers say nothing of the call, biting their tongues. My question is how does this interference from Stern help the average fan know what the right call is if announcers don't have the right to question it? And I know the NBA has the hardest game to call, and the ref has a better angle and all, but someone has to support the local fan by validating our understanding of the call / rules.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: If it’s the charge you’re talking about right in front of the Sixer bench, Jose’s fifth foul, it was the right call.
And I don’t know what they said on TV but it wasn’t in reaction to anything David Stern told them. The announcers can, and do, question calls all the time. Maybe the fact they didn’t means they think, like I do, that it was the right one.
Action: No minutes for Hump.
Reaction: Sam’s good rotation.
Now, I’ve got nothing against Hump and know he can be a solid, energetic contributor when he gets his head straight and does what he’s good at.
That said, though, Sam’s nine-man rotation last night was a good one and that’s the way it should stay for the time being. Bosh at 42 minutes and Bargnani at 20 might be a bit much (I’d have Bosh about 38 and Bargnani around 24) but, other than that small quibble, don’t think there are many problems with the way the coach handled the bench last night.
I’m sure there will be quibbles as the season goes on but for one night? People gotta give him some love.
Q: Where's the best place to set up my tailgate for the parade?
Nick J, Ajax
A: Ding! Ding! Ding!