Half a season remains. Is that good or bad?
That sucked, didn’t it? And it’s going to get pretty lonely around these parts as we move forward because another handful of the folks have left. Well, at least they say they’ve left, I surmise five wins in six games might entice them back but I also surmise that’s not something that’s going to happen any time soon.
We’re a game away from the halfway point and, yes, it looks horribly bleak at the moment. The playoffs are a faint hope today, there seems to be no immediate answer and now the pressure has to increase on the general manager to pull off some deal to perhaps salvage the season.
|STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR|
|17 points in the fourth quarter from Derek Rose. Ouch.|
But the fact remains there are 42 games left on this journey so there’s be plenty to talk about no matter what happens.
Action: The shot.
Reaction: A bad one.
Even Chris Bosh knew that was the wrong decision with the game on the line and no one had any argument to the contrary.
“I made a mistake. Joakim Noah played good defence and I need to keep my dribble next time. It won’t be the last time that we’re in a situation like that or I’m in a situation like that. You learn from it and keep going.
“You just know it (the clock) is ticking and you want to get a shot off. When (Noah) came out, I should have just shot the ball. Instead, I pump-fake, hesitated just a little bit and I let him get back in the play.”
Admitting it’s one thing (the first step of the 12-step take-a-better-shot program, I believe) but it’s not good enough in this situation.
It was a bad play by a guy who knows better.
Action: The shot redux
Reaction: Who else?
Go try to find another NBA team that, with the game in the balance and a basket a must, that would ask its power forward to create a play. Can’t find one in my feeble mind because it’s always, always, always a guard or a small forward. Would Boston put the ball in Garnett’s hands? No way. San Antonio for Duncan? I don’t even think he was on the court when Roger Mason beat the Lakers last night. Utah and a healthy Boozer? Not a chance. Any team? Anyone? Nope.
And that’s the fatal flaw of this roster.
Maybe – maybe – they would run a screen and roll with Jose if he’s in the game but even then I doubt it.
There are simply no creators on that roster and the GM has to address that need.
A trade question that’s not a trade question:
Q: As the Raptors kept on losing, does the "trading" power of Bryan becomes weak? And the more Bryan waits (and Raps keep on losing) the lesser value he will get from the other team?
Paul M, Toronto
A: Probably both, to a degree. In fact, I bet more teams come calling because they smell blood in the water. Of course, the come calling with crap offers and the one thing Colangelo can’t do is make a panic move but the calls will be increasing.
But nothing’s really changed no matter what the team’s record is. He doesn’t have many great assets to dangle.
There’s no way he trades Bosh, Bargnani or Calderon. O’Neal? Maybe. Parker’s expiring contract? That’s his one bargaining chip left. Trust me, I might not be an NBA GM but I guarantee you no one is salivating at the chance of obtaining Jason Kapono or Jamario Moon or Joey Graham or Kris Humphries or Will Solomon or Roko Ukic.
Here’s how my boyK.C. Johnson chronicled it in Chicago.
The Noah story.
I’ve only covered two Final Fours, in Minneapolis in Mo’s final year, and Indiana when Florida beat UCLA.
And I saw the coolest guy maybe I’ve ever seen: Noah’s dad, Yannick.
Quag and I had great seats for the final game, first row of media seating right behind the Gator bench and right across from Yannick, who is now some kind of huge rock star in France or something.
For the entire game, a rather close one I recall, Yannick sat there being Yannick, cool, unperturbed by what was going on around him and, as befits his place in the world, seemingly surrounded by a bevy of beauties.
I really expected him to sit back, light a Gitane and blow smoke rings.
Coolest guy ever.
And it was, without question, the first time I’ve seen a dad upstage a son after the son has won a significant championship.
Action: Bargnani’s best night
Reaction: What about the finish?
So Bargnani goes for 31 and at times it looked like he was toying with anyone who was guarding him. He shot, he drove, he hit pullup jumpers.
And yes, he should have had the ball at least a couple of times down the stretch. Not sure who to blame – the point guards, the coaches, the other teammate – but if a guy’s going that well, they at least have to try to find him.
Action: The JO saga
Reaction: Maybe ending soon?
No, not his future, just his knee. I’m told he’s planning to practice full out today and if there’s no serious swelling tomorrow, he could very well play in Indy.
And if he does play against his old team – and probably whenever he returns if it’s not Friday – I’m betting he comes off the bench for at least a while.
No way he’s in game shape or has his game timing and limiting his minutes against backups is okay with him, I’m sure, and his team.
I believe I’ve seen them all this season at least once and if I had to vote for the rookie of the year today I’d take Derrick Rose and maybe leave the other two slots blank.
That kid’s going to be special. Very special.
Let’s get this one done because there a few like in the mailbox:
Q: Hi Doug, big fan of the blog. Tonight's game certainly wasn't our finest, but what is even worse in my mind was the handling of Chuck's return. I know you mentioned that you wanted the tribute to be "understated" out of respect to Devlin, and I agree, but MLSE or whoever makes these decisions completely dropped the ball on this one. To hold a ceremony during HALFTIME when most of the fans weren't even in their seats turned what should have been a very special moment into a very ho-hum affair. In the words of Chuck, "Are you kidding me?!" To do that not only did great disservice to Chuck, but also to all those who came out to the game to support him. I was lucky enough to have gotten back to my seat in time for the last half of the ceremony, but I cannot believe that MLSE so completely botched what should have been a great moment for one of the most beloved people in Raptors history.
Grant T, Toronto
A: In my opinion, they did it perfectly. They gave him a fine honour without turning it into a circus. When should they have done it? Before the game when no one was in their seats? During some timeout to detract from the game?
As much as you and others lionize the guy, and he did a great job for the team and the fans when he was here, last night was not about him, it was about the game. And the players.
I’m glad they did something for him. Something relatively under-stated.