An angst-free day? It won't last
I know everyone took a deep breath Tuesday, what with no game and no big news.
I also know everyone took a deep breath Tuesday because after getting about 100 e-mails and 70 comments on Sunday and Monday, you were down to about half that number on the off-day.
You regulars will know that there are a couple of things I’m not real big on: Andrea Bargnani as a small forward and stats.
Well, and this pains me greatly to say, Bargnani as a small forward is working out quite well, as the numbers show. In the six games since he moved there, he’s averaging 16.6 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.
Now, I can hear the howls of protest now that 5.5 rebounds a game sucks for a 7-footer but consider this: The exponentially more-athletic Jamario Moon averaged 6.2 rebounds from that position a year ago and many were fine with it.
One of the reasons there aren’t a lot more Bargnani rebounds? Bosh and O’Neal were routinely in double figures in those games. And in three of them, Toronto out-rebounded its opponent and they were never more than a minus-seven on the boards.
Anecdotally, Bargnani’s defence hasn’t been nearly the worry I thought it would be, either. He’s been able to keep whoever he’s guarding in front of him most times (and on this team, ‘most times’ makes him Gary Freaking Payton) and they haven’t given up a career game to some marginal opposing three.
One thing I’d like to see as this continues is more post-ups offensively for Bargnani. I saw enough good moves on the block when he was playing centre and power forward to think he’d be able to exploit smaller defenders more often than not.
I still think, when his career’s over, that Bargnani is a centre with shooting range rather than a three with post-up possibilities but you can’t argue with success. And so far, this move’s been a success.
Of course, if Jermaine O’Neal can’t go against the Bobcats, Bargnani’s back at centre so this is all moot.
Entertaining, but moot.
Honestly, this is what we saw in the practice gym when were summoned in to chat yesterday.
Sam, Alex English, Mike Evans and Jay Triano at the whiteboard drawing up plays with a fifth guy hovering on the edge of the session.
That guy? Jason Kapono.
I have no idea what it all means but it can’t be bad, can it?
You know, I like Mike D’Antoni and I like Donnie Walsh and I really don’t have anything against the Knicks but why does a very little part of me hope they get drilled in every single game between today and opening night of the 2010 season?
I presume whoever owns the Internet (I believe it’s Ted Rogers or Bill Gates but I’m not sure) is hoping and praying for a Raptors win over Charlotte tonight because if they lose, I’m pretty certain this thing will overload and crash forever with the angst a defeat will cause.
Remember List Time?
Well, had some time on my hands Tuesday (this whole not having to write about practice for the newspaper is something I could get used to) so I got to thinking, a very dangerous happenstance, usually.
And with all the talk about smoking and Vlade and the Yugoslavia-Argentina game at the 2002 worlds, I was trying to recall the best five games I’ve ever seen in person.
And this is what I came up with:
1998 world championship final: Yugoslavia vs. Russia in Athens.
Fans lighting flares in the crowd, all kinds of political undertones and a brilliant game by Zeljko Rebraca.
2002 world championship final: Yugoslavia vs. Argentina.
Hobbled Manu doesn’t play, Argentina robbed at the end of overtime by a shockingly bad non-call by a ref. This a day after - I swear this is true – Vlad Radmanovic sitting in the stands, in his warmups watching ‘cause he and the Yugoslavia coach were squabbling during the semifinal against New Zealand.
Canada vs. Yugoslavia, 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Maybe biggest Canadian national team win over, Peja passes up open three that might have tied the game in the dying seconds, Steve Nash at his absolute best.
Chicago-Utah, Game 6, 1998 final.
Loudest NBA arena I’ve ever been in, Jordan pushes off on Byron Russell and should have retired the second the ball went in the basket.
USA-Spain, gold medal game 2008 Beijing Games.
Drama. Close game. High intensity. Players playing for pride and each other. Brilliant.
1992 Tournament of Americas United States opener
Dream Team debut against Cuba; wrote what I thought was a great lead that was changed by cranky desker without telling me. The lead:
“If only the Bay of Pigs had gone as smoothly.”
Well, I liked it.
First Raptor home game, 1995
Never mind the game, it was three days after the referendum, the Bare Naked Ladies sang O Canada, the crowd cheered when they did a stanza in French and I’m not sure I didn’t tear up. (I was much younger and far less cranky and cynical back then)
A question about Wednesday’s game. What a novel idea.
Q: Hey Doug, do you reckon there could be a re-emergence of a Jose-Roko backcourt against Charlotte, seeing how Larry Brown is deciding to play Augustin and Felton together?
Peter S, Melbourne
A: I asked Sam about this very thing Tuesday because it does seem to be one of the few matchups where it’d be possible.
You might see it a bit but only for a short little while for one very big reason:
If Jose’s running the point you want a shooting guard who can actually, you know, shoot.
And besides, looks like Charlotte might get Jason Richardson back so that probably ends Augustin-Felton.
Here’s what they’re saying down in Charlotte as they get ready for Thanksgiving. And, please, check out the Larry Brown quote at the end of the story.
Back to the Wizards thing:
Q: Doug, in your blog, you named Michael Jordan as one of the people who made a mockery out of the Wizards organization. Can you please elaborate on this? Thanks.
Ahmed B, Toronto
A: Five words:
Kwame Brown and Leonard Hamilton.
Oh, toss in the Rip Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse trade and the ridiculous final comeback to add a bit to the equation.
Not bragging or anything but I’ll reprise this from Tuesday morning:
Know why I like Mondays? (Other than Warren Sapp, who I fear is destined to finish second?)
And, of course you all watched Sapp finish second, right?
And, to top it all off:
Q: Hey Mr. Smith, with all this 'Fire Smitch' talk I'm constantly hearing, how about we bring in Cito Gaston, eh?
Edward C, Toronto
A: What? You don’t think Bobby Cox or Jimy Williams would be better?
Off to shootarounds this morning where I’m sure we’ll be told O’Neal got some treatment and we won’t know until tonight whether he’s going to play. Just warning you.