He's back, and not a moment too soon
|JEFFREY M. BOAN/AP|
|Dwyane Wade is back and almost beat the Raptors all by himself.|
Really, tell me the truth, how bad would you have felt if they’d really blown a 17-point third-quarter lead and coughed that one up in Miami? Would you have stormed the ACC demanding heads roll? Cancelled the tickets? Gone off to watch the pucks?
But they didn’t and I bet you all feel better, don’t you? After all, the object of the game is to win and it doesn’t matter how.
Was nice to have the little No. 8 back in there, wasn’t it? Wasn’t there just a sense of calm on the court when he was out there? Funny what an all-star-calibre point guard will do for a team.
On to the stuff:
Action: Jose returns
Reaction: Makes the game-saving plays.
Never mind the 7-1 assists-turnover ratio, forget getting AP involved in the second half and Andrea going right off the bat.
Jose saved the game with some defence and his own offence.
That strip of Chris Quinn with 1:20 left and the layup he made at the other end turned a three-point game into something approximately comfortable for the Raptors in the final minute.
It wasn’t flashy, just quick hands to make the steal, but the finish at the other end was impressive.
Why? Because he finished with his left hand.
Check Jose out closely the next little while. When he goes left, he invariably pulls up for a jumper, going left and getting to the rim was unexpected. And maybe the play of the game.
Things you don’t see when you’re actually at games, No. 1:
Now, I’m sure Nov. 26 is going to be a very special night for the more ardent Jose Calderon fans among you (and you know who you are) because it’s Jose Bobblehead Night.
But watching the promos for the big event leads me to wonder: Just who did they use as a model? The picture on my TV is pretty darn good; it shows a doll that bears little resemblance to the guy.
Is this guy supposed to be me?” Jose wonders.
So do others, so do others.
Action: Fourth quarter foibles
Reaction: Sam gambles and wins.
Yes, Jose is not 100 per cent healthy and probably couldn’t have given them much more than the 32 minutes he did but the coach waited about 90 seconds or two minutes too long to get Solomon out and Calderon back in when Miami was taking the lead.
I understand the need to protect Calderon but, yeesh, that was a huge gamble. And a mistake. Not a costly one because the object of games is to win and they won but still.
Doug, 10 games into the season, in hindsight would you make the Jermaine O'Neal trade? Next question, would you agree with the assessment that this is the best Raptors team to be put on the floor?
Jeffery A, Scarborough
A: It’s 11 games now but you sent this the other day so that’s okay. And seeing how O’Neal is rounding into from – he’s had five straight double-doubles, is working seamlessly with Bosh and Bargnani, is averaging 19 and 13 in his last five, I’d make that trade again in a heartbeat.
And, no, this is not the best Raptor team, by far. The 2000-01 team was more athletic, deeper and better from No. 1 through No. 12 without question, in my mind.
Things you don’t see when you’re actually at games No. 2:
Those post-game, walk-off interviews. Wednesday night it was Andrea Bargnani, who is the master of understatement:
"The ball was going in, so it’s a good day"
Gotta love the succinct nature of that commentary.
Action: Play out of a timeout
Reaction: Whose fault is this?
End of the first half, Toronto calls a 20-second timeout to set up a last possession.
Play ends with Andrea Bargnani getting a shot blocked from behind, Will Solomon committing a ridiculous clear-path foul with about a second left, as silly a play as there was all night.
So, terrible play, right? Wrong.
Wasn’t supposed to be that at all. If you were watching closely, Jermaine O’Neal was setting a nice back screen for Jason Kapono, who was going to drift to the corner for a jumper.
Trouble was, Solomon didn’t go far enough left to get a passing lane to Kapono. If he’d taken two more steps, the pass would have been there but the point guard reversed himself too early and had no other option but Bargnani.
The clear-path foul? Well, that’s whole other brain fart for another day.
More mail, an oldie but maybe this puts it to rest:
Q: Super important question Doug. Why is Smitch wearing glasses again? Did his laser eye surgery go south?
Sean K, Ottawa
A: I think I’ve alluded to this a couple of times but, yes, there were some issues with the results of the laser surgery and Sam’s wearing glasses more often the past week or so.
You remember Ira from the other day? Here’s how he chronicled Wednesday night’s affair.
Action: Scouting works
Reaction: If players make plays.
About 90 seconds left in the first half, Heat have the ball and Chris Quinn is setting up a screen at the top of the key. Plain as day, you can hear the Raptor bench erupt with “flare, flare.” They know Quinn’s going to flare off the screen to the three-point line and they’re warning Jason Kapono, I believe, who was covering him.
So, what’s Quinn do. Flares to the three-point line, Jason’s a step too many behind him and he drills a three.
I’m not sure what constitutes a “block” of games, which is what Sam Mitchell said he was going to give Will Solomon as the primary backup to Jose Calderon but I’d seriously consider the “block” being over. Solomon had six (with two starts) since the proclamation was made that Sunday in Charlotte, maybe it’s time to give the kid six.
Last mail offering:
A TV question to end it off:
Q: Hey Doug, seems as though it's not just the Raptors' Brass that have increased confidence in him this year to help in his development but also you media types. He's been getting interviewed a lot more this year. Who decides on which players get interviewed after the game? Leo, Sam, BC, or do they have a quick team vote as the final seconds tick down? I've always wondered for all sports in fact. Adam R, Scarborough
Q: Hey Doug, seems as though it's not just the Raptors' Brass that have increased confidence in him this year to help in his development but also you media types. He's been getting interviewed a lot more this year. Who decides on which players get interviewed after the game? Leo, Sam, BC, or do they have a quick team vote as the final seconds tick down? I've always wondered for all sports in fact.
Adam R, Scarborough
How it works for post-game and halftime is this: The producers in the TV truck send down a request with a couple of minutes left in the half or game with the players they want to be interviewed on the court. Jim LaBumbard, media relations guru, considers the request and if it’s not absolutely ridiculous, he goes with it. There are night when he tries to get the interview subject changed because maybe one guy’s having a better night than the TV guys think, but that’s only on the odd occasion.
I presume it’s the same for the pucks, baseball and football but don’t quote me on that.
Remember, the dudes are off Thursday so there’ll be the regular mailbag here Friday. The inbox is full of post-game
rants (very few questions, unfortunately) so if you’ve got something not game-specific, it’d be welcome.