Good morning from Atlanta; where's Sam?
Are they done? Does is matter if they find a way to go 24-16 the rest of the way and sneak into seventh or eighth with 40 wins, which is what I think it will take?
|RICHARD LAUTENS/TORONTO STAR|
|18 assists for Nash, including one of the all-time best passes.|
I think squeezing into the final one or two playoff spots is not going to make this even a passably successful season, although it will be better than the alternative.
It’s always better to be in the playoffs rather than out of them, in my opinion; the draft is too much of a crapshoot, any player you get in the late stages of the lottery takes too long to develop before he makes a significant contribution.
But that’s just me.
Action: AP as the point guard
Reaction: Another good day
I’d say 26 points and five assists is a pretty solid day for the newbie.
And I would fully expect him to start this afternoon here in Atlanta against the Hawks and Mike Bibby with Joey Graham guarding Joe Johnson. But as a long-term fix? I don’t see Parker getting all that much time at the point when Jose gets back, which should be sometime this week.
Parker’s stuff works against the likes of Steve Nash, who isn’t going to guard him full court, who isn’t particularly quick or, sometimes, all that interested in defence.
If teams start guarding Parker for 94 feet, like I expect Detroit will, and Atlanta might, I’m not sure AP has the ball-handling skills or quickness to get Toronto into its offence.
Maybe – maybe – he gets a very few minutes backing up Calderon but that’s it. They need him as the two-guard for his regular minutes when the regular point guard is available.
I think it would be totally hilarious if Sam showed up here this afternoon wearing a fake beard and moustache and sat in the front row right across from the Toronto bench.
And it would be entirely cool if he then invited the grunts out for dinner.
Neither, I suspect, will happen.
A question, which leads to a list.
Q: What have you learned that you hadn't expected to at this point of the season? That Dave D'Alessando, while a terrific b-ball writer, is lacking in his assessments of athletic shooting guards? That Jorge Garbajosa deserves even more credit for the season two years ago than anyone realized? That it is crucial to have at least one backup point guard with NBA experience? Or the slow unraveling this is the best thing that could have happened, in the long-run, since the Raps have assets - O Neal, Kapono and Parker - that teams (Orlando for instance) could use if they feel they need for a run at the title? If possible, I'd like to see your top 5 list. Many thanks.
Jason P, Nova Scotia
A: I’m giving Dave a pass on Hassan Adams ‘cause no one could have known a guy clinging to a pro basketball career would come in to camp in the same physical condition as me.
What have I learned? Not sure it’s learned as much as had confirmed:
You cannot win in this league without consistent, athletic play and scoring from twos and threes. It’s a simple fact that’s hammered home repeatedly in Toronto games.
There were two glaring holes on this team last summer – interior defence and athleticism on the wings. They addressed one with the O’Neal trade but didn’t take care of the other.
And that’s the reason they are where they are more than anything else.
The rest of the top five, in order
Andrea Bargnani should have been left as a five all season.
Jose Calderon’s health was the most vital thing to protect.
Firing a coach in the first week of December is using the big bullet way too early.
Fans are crazy. In a good way. Most of the time.
I’ll tell you something, I’m watching the highlights of the Suns game here on ESPN at the moment and they just show the low, 45-foot bounce pass Nash threw to Barbosa for a layup and I will reiterate what I wrote in the in-game blog yesterday.
That was the best pass I can remember in any of the games I’ve been at this season. And it’s probably in the top five I can remember all-time.
Going at full speed and making any long pass is tough, going full speed, threading the needle between two defenders and hitting a teammate in full stride is magic.
Action: Bench scoring discrepancy
Reaction: You expected otherwise?
Phoenix gets 33 points from its bench, Toronto gets 14 from its.
Duh! With no disrespect to the men, but a group of Roko Ukic, Will Solomon, Kris Humphries and Jake Voskuhl does not strike fear in the hearts of anyone.
The better question is probably: “How’d they get 14?”
Things you see in an airport in the wee, wee hours of the morning: A family – I presume Mom, Dad, a couple of urchins and a very yappy, very tiny dog on a leash – hanging out at the luggage carousel at 1:15 a.m. Sad, really.
Oh, and we being wise, declining the offer from illegal cab drivers –- or drivers impersonating cabbies at 1:30 a.m. – was one of the smartest things we did.
Action: Nash (hearts) Toronto
Reaction: Don’t order the jerseys yet
This from Captain Canada post-game
“To play in Toronto would be a dream come true in a lot of ways. I have spent my summers here playing for the national team for about a decade, since I was a teenager. I have tons of friends and a lot of people here that I care about and it is one of the world’s premier cities and that, coupled with the fact … that I love what the team has done here, it’s an understandable situation.
“But I love playing in Phoenix, I built a home and a career there .. The Phoenix Suns are playing well and that is probably going to be a No. 1 priority for me but, if not, Toronto would have been on top of the list as far as considering other markets.”
That’s as much a shot across the bow at the Suns management as anything.
My best guess, and that’s all it is (like everyone else) is that he ends up in New York with Mike D’Antoni. Toronto? A remote possibility. Very remote. But him using Toronto as a shining example of somewhere he’d like to go can’t hurt.
Just don’t order the jerseys yet.
Hmm, an interesting query:
Q: Hi Doug, I was at the game (Sunday) and have a burning, trade-related question: when the lineup changes, what happens to the opening video?! Do they splice in some clips of Marion grooving to Flo Rida? Thanks, and great work as usual.
Kate D, Toronto
A: Ooh, maybe it’s a way they can change the whole thing. I imagine that’d make more than a few people happy.
A nice Motown tune, maybe?
And, finally, I’m hearing whispers that Nathan Jawai may be on his way to the D League soon to get some game work in. I’m not sure how much it will improve him – the D League is much more a guard and wing league than it is a big man’s proving ground – but it will help his conditioning.
And it’s not like the Raptors, with the schedule the way it is in the next couple of weeks, are going to have a lot of practice time, which is where the rookie’s getting his work in up here.