Of crowning the Kings and more fun and games
Getting this done early today, or late last night depending on where you were. The alarm’s going to ring in about three hours and 45 minutes for the early flight up to Portland so I’ve got to get this done or it’ll be late morning your time before it’s finished.
Not a bad game, eh? O’Neal’s first 30-pointer since Dec. 4, 2007 and if he’s going to keep playing with that efficiency, there’s no way in the world they can even think of moving him.
And if he and Bosh ever really get it going in the same stretch of games, this team might win a few in a row and lessen the angst level out there.
I imagine things are a bit better for the true diehards today. Yes, the Kings are hardly a juggernaut but it was one of those tough games to figure with the Raptors. Hardly the most mentally tough team in the history of pro sports, they could have just as easily shown up after three days off for Christmas and mailed it in.
They didn’t, which is a positive sign.
On to the stuff:
Action: JO’s last basket.
Reaction: A gem out of a timeout
I’m sure you all saw it but it bears talking about again. Up four with 1:17 left, five left on the shot clock and, arguably, the game’s biggest possession.
Not only do they get the ball inbounds without having blow another time out, they get it to Bosh, who gets it to O’Neal in the post, who makes the basket and the game’s effectively over. It was a specific play out of a timeout that worked to near perfection.
That’s not something we say very often around these parts.
Oh, big error in The Goods On The Game.
I’ve got Hump growing his hair and reprising his role as a Wally Dow lookalike.
Of course, that should be Tony Dow.
And for you young ‘uns who have no idea who that is, ask your parents? Or your grandparents. Or do that Google thing.
Action: One play.
Reaction: And we see how it works.
I have no idea what the television angle was but there was a play in the final 30 seconds that perfectly summed up what Toronto wants to do defensively. And it unfolded right in front of us on a perfect angle so I saw it develop from the start.
Salmons has the ball in front of the Raptor bench, Kings down four and you know he’s driving.
The primary defender, Joey, guides him to the baseline and as Salmons gets a step on him, Bosh comes over to cut off the drive, forcing him to the baseline and almost under the basket.
As Bosh comes over, JO slides into the paint from the weak side and when Salmons gets trapped between Bosh and out of bounds, he’s got nowhere to pass the ball.
He tries to throw it to the far corner, O’Neal picks off the pass and the game’s over.
That’s exactly the kind of defence Triano wants.
Here’s what they were saying in Sacramento about last night’s game.
It’s a matter of styles:
Q: Now every team has strengths and weaknesses. For the Raptors those strengths are 3 point shooting, free throw shooting and low turnovers, while the weaknesses are rebounding, getting stops and perimeter defense. What do you really value more: 3 point/free throw shooting or rebounding/perimeter defence.
Chirag B, Mississauga
A: Personally? As a fan of the game, I’d rather see a team light it up from three-point range but the reality is, defence and rebounding should be valued more. They are much more effort-based and if you’re a coach or a player and you want to win, it honestly does start with stopping the other team. That can be a constant as opposed to a variable like shooting.
Now, ask me who I’d rather watch, the ’06 Suns or the ’08 Celtics and there’s no doubt it’d be Phoenix.
Action: Early bonus
Reaction: It’s no bonus
Sure, they won and that’s the point of the whole exercise but still ...
With 7:31 left in the third quarter, the Kings commit their fifth foul of the quarter and the Raptors are in the bonus. O’Neal’s having a monster night, Bosh can get to the line with the best of them and surely they attack the rim at every possible moment, right? Wrong, Jump Shot Breath (Check old Carson tapes for that one).
The Raptors manage to shoot a total of four free throws the rest of the quarter. The other possessions end up with stuff like an 11-foot Bosh jumper, a Moon three-pointer, a 16-foot Jose J, an O’Neal fadeaway and a Bargnani three.
A clinic? Not quite.
Oh, and this is what they’re talking about in Portland, where it rained so hard Friday, we’re told the Blazers couldn’t deliver our information packages to the hotels ‘cause of the deluge. Sweet.
The Things You See On The Road, Vol. Something or other:
No, not a lady in a plane with a giant tomato.
How about thespian Timothy Busfield checking out of the team hotel and driving off in a nifty looking Audi.
Yeah, not quite the most famous guy in the world but it was the day after Christmas.
Action: 100 shats?
Reaction: Yeah, right.
Check out the boxscore. See the field goal attempts. See Toronto. See 69.
Lowest of the season and far cry from the high-velocity hopes some are harbouring for the team.
But, having lived through the Kevin O’Neill era, even 69 shots seems like Showtime.
Here’s Jay, Friday morning, on why he’s gone to Will Solomon over Roko lately:
“In the last couple of games, Will Solomon’s done a real good job. He’s come in and … controlled the tempo a little bit. Not that Roko had done anything wrong, it was a gut feel and we went with Will for a little bit.
“Roko’s still a part of what we’re doing, who knows when he’ll get his chance again to get in the rhythm, but he did nothing wrong. We felt we needed a shooter on the floor and Will came in and shot the ball well.”
A Celtic question sent before they went into the tank, such that it is:
Q: Hey Doug, love the blog, has been a nice basketball-fix while temporarily living in dark, basketball-starved Norway! My question is actually about the Celtics, because this run is getting to be really quite historic. Do you think it's possible that the loss of Posey has actually had the reverse effect to what was wildly assumed to be the loss that would cost them the championship? If you were one of the proud reserves on that team, wouldn't all the talk about how losing Posey has almost nullified their bench motivate you to no end? Thus we are seeing everyone playing with that extra fire, leading to this 18-win (and counting) streak?
Devon M, Oslo
A: I think it’s got far more to do with the big names, like Garnett, Pierce and Allen. Those are the guys you’d worry about coming back less motivated since their careers were validated with last year’s championship. But they are as intense and driven this year as last and they’re pulling everyone along with them.
Arco Arena is a dump. They ought to tear it down. Today.
Not only is it bad for us Worker Bees, it’s awful for the players, too.
How cramped are the locker rooms?
Well, in every other arena in the league, everyone gets his own stall. In Arco, Hassan Adams and Nathan Jawai had chairs, underneath tape on the walls telling them where to sit.
A dump, I tell you.