One game, so much stuff
Here’s the funny thing.
In the immediate aftermath of that game, when I was still trying to slow down the heart rate after deadline stress like you can’t imagine, things were running about 95-5 that it was all Sam’s fault and the venom was spewing like seldom before.
So I wake up this morning expecting to find more and of the first dozen letters in the in-box, I’d say nine put it on the players or give credit to He Who Shall Not Be Named for a spectacular shot at the regulation buzzer and Lawrence Frank for a great call to end overtime
Of course, that’s not going to appease those who demand that heads roll today but I’m just saying, there is some moderation out there.
And it’s welcome.
So, I presume, is this stuff:
Action: Sam’s tough night
Yes, the coach didn’t cover himself in glory on a few occasions but I need to point these things out.
On the inbounds play with 24 seconds left, Bosh was open on the first attempt and the second and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the coach holding the ball out of bounds.
On the Hump turnover in the fourth, he should have called time out, 19,800 fans knew it, his coach knew it, about 20 other NBA players knew it. He didn’t, even though his coach was screaming at him to.
On the He Who Shall … ah, hell, you know who I mean, basket at the regulation time buzzer, the chance to foul was there and they had made a conscious decision not to, righty or wrongly. But wasn’t that just an incredible shot? Off-balance, hurried, about 30 feet and nothing but net. If it misses, today’s a much better day, isn’t it?
On the final play, they were going to switch a screen, the Nets faked a screen, two Raptors got confused and the lob was there. It was a case of one team executing and the other not. The strategy was there, pulling off was lacking.
So, yes, it wasn’t one of the coach’s greatest moments. Nor was it a moment many of his players should be proud of.
Action: The fallout
Reaction: How serious?
Standing there in the doom and gloom and silence of the locker room after the game, the over-riding question in the mind is: How much will this hurt?
Some losses are tougher to get over than others and the manner in which that one was achieved is going to make it hard, hard, hard to forget.
The dangerous thing is that they come out flat against Boston and get smoked, the drop one of the two others on this homestand and they head out west where you can see a three-game losing streak lingering.
Then, my friends, you can panic. Seriously panic.
Of course, they aren’t rejoicing in Jersey too much but, as the iconic Dave D points out here, they’re pretty happy with the win.
A hunk of mail:
Q: Hey Doug, how do you rate the Raptors-Nets game in terms of excitement and atmosphere compared to the home opener against Golden State? Even though the Raptors lost by blowing an 18 point lead, this game was incredibly entertaining to watch with monster performances from Bosh, Bargnani, Calderon, Harris, and Carter and spectacular plays in crunch time from both sides.
On an unrelated note, if you and Stumpy had to compete on Dancing with the Grunts, with winner getting a lifetime supply of food and adult beverages at the Harbour Sports Grille, who'd take it?
YF W, Etobicoke
A: Funny, I was thinking about that very thing as the game was unfolding and, to be honest, there was more energy opening night than there was last night. And it’s not simply a difference of winning or losing because last night was decided so late. There was just a different vibe at the Golden State game.
The dancing thing? With that on the line I’m Fred Freaking Astaire.
Action: JO’s knee
Reaction: We’re all waiting, too.
No word last night on how serious it is, a gaggle of doctors and radiologists were looking over results of tests while we were chatting to Sam and the fellas.
But here’s the question: If he’s out, what do they do?
Do they move Andrea back to the frontcourt and give Jamario his starting job back? Or give someone else a shot at the three, which is going to continue to be a trouble spot. Does that jerk around Bargnani some more, coming off three good games in four at the small forward spot?
Or do they leave Bargnani where he is and put Hump in the starting lineup? Of course, if they do that, it leaves them with a backup big no bigger than 6-8 and the bulkiest players to bring off the bench are Joey and Jamario. Ugly.
Either way is fraught with peril.
Oh, yeah, if I'm the Raptors, I make sure Stu Jackson sees a tape of that foul and ask him to consider upgrading it to a Flagrant Penalty 2. Sure looked like Sean Williams grabbed O'Neal's jersey and yanked him down. That's pretty dangerous.
Another hunk of game mail:
Q: Is it wrong for a grown man to stand outside in the west coast rain purely to hide his tears? That one hurt. Just a quick question regarding substitutions. At the end of tonight's game against NJ would it not have been more advantageous for the Raptors to pull Calderon and put in a stronger, taller more athletic defender such as Moon or Graham?
Also, the next time you run into Sam, could you please ask him just how long the book of Solomon is?
Mike M, Victoria
A: No, go stand outside. Entirely understandable. That one had to hurt badly.
Trouble with asking someone else to guard Devin Harris for Calderon, who was obviously hurting in the final stages of the game, is that even if they did a good job defensively, someone would have to run the offence.
And if the book of Solomon didn’t end last night, something’s wrong. They’ve got to give Roko his shot.
Here’s a question posed by Gary Sussman of the New Jersey Nets, a media relations big shot who became a confused television viewer sitting around his hotel in Toronto on Thursday.
“Why can we watch the NFL network but not TNT? I can see the Steelers and Bengals but not the Celtics and Pistons?”
I didn’t have time to go into the whole TSN2 issue but he’s got a point.
Action: Pleading a case
Reaction: Falls on welcoming ears
Interesting byplay in the first half between He Who … and referee Monty McCutchen.
The player was miffed about one of the various calls he felt went against the Nets in the first half and asked the ref to look at the video of it during halftime. McCutchen went right to the scorer’s table and wrote down the time of the play so he could indeed look at it.
And, just before the second half started, McCutchen called HWSNBN over and went over the play, again.
Anyway, I believe a long day awaits. Got to get to practice to find out about O’Neal’s knee and I owe you some thoughts about the remake of the Knicks, what might happen with the local s and then there’s a whack of mail to get to.