Ho hum, here we go again
Here we are again, trying to dissect another loss, make sense of what happened and it’s getting more difficult by the day, isn’t it? They play well for a few minutes, they play poorly for a lot more and in one stretch a game that could have been competitive is over.
|TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO|
|Something's gotta give.|
Last night it was the third quarter, as bad a defensive quarter as they’ve played in a long time, and the sense of inevitability about the result was overwhelming.
It’s not like the players quit playing or quit trying but once the Pistons got it going, the Raptors started to hang their heads, force things that weren’t there and it got away from them quickly.
Confidence is such a fleeting emotion, it can be there one minute and – poof! – it’s gone the next. I really think all these guys need is a win, any win, and things will improve exponentially. They’re not going to rattle off six or seven wins in a row, I don’t think they have the talent, consistency or mental toughness to do that, but I do think they can get on a nice little roll.
I don’t know whether it would be enough to make the rest of the season mildly interesting but at least it’d change the darkness of the mood around these parts. And I’m all for that.
Action: Seven in row.
Reaction: Trying to ascribe blame
Here’s the interesting point to me: Everyone and anyone is to blame and there’s no clear-cut villain in this latest streak, or this whole season as a matter of fact.
No one’s doing a good enough job.
Sure, some nights some players play well and coaches do the right thing and the general manager’s roster looks like it might work.
And then they play again and they all fail.
Me? I have to put a lot of this on the general manager, who constructed the roster and made the move to whack Sam way back in the day.
I’m pretty sure that Bryan would agree with me that his performance has been subpar, either because he over-estimated the skill of the team he put together or because his gamble on the O’Neal trade really hasn’t paid off.
Being the general manager of any team in any sport is an exercise in adaptation and how he adapts to the mess the team’s in will tell us all a lot about his skills.
It’s easy to run things, or play for a team, when things are going well. It’s how people react to tough times that tells you all about them.
Having spoken to him and seen him after losses, this is alternately frustrating him and making him angry. Now he has to turn that frustration and anger into action and get this thing fixed.
Action: A halftime stroll.
Reaction: A strange, telling sight.
Maybe this tells you everything you need to know about a guy.
Walking down a hallway by the Pistons locker room at halftime, spied Kwame Brown coming out of the press room with a full bag of popcorn.
Seems he’d ducked in to grab some food put out for the grunts and others.
Saddest sight of the night:
Hump limping out of the locker room, a manila envelope carrying his X-rays in his hand, getting ready to get a ride back to Toronto with Messrs. Colangelo, Gherardidni and Masai.
Hump told us he’s not sure of the treatment for the broken right fibula he’s got, he’ll see the Toronto doctors today to figure it out.
But he’s many, many weeks away from being back in action.
Look at these numbers:
Vs. Detroit: 22 minutes, 0 pts, 3 reb, 3 PF
Vs. Atlanta, 21 minutes, 4 pts, 2 reb, 4 PF
Vs. Phoenix, 38 minutes, 22 pts, 7 reb, 4 PF
Vs. Indiana, 14 minutes, 8 pts, 8 reb, 6 PF
No, I’m now not entirely sure Joey Graham can handle being a starter.
Coolest sight of the night: Nathan Jawai in his stall in the locker room after the game, cell phone to his ear, no doubt talking to either his girlfriend or his family after he made his NBA debut.
It was 3:05 of pretty much nothing, a travel on his first touch, no rebounds, not shots but it was a debut and that’s pretty neat.
And from the department of ‘timing is everything’ there was every chance in the world that Jawai was off to Idaho today or tomorrow to join the D League’s Stampede but now, with Hump on the shelf, Nate’s got a reprieve.
And minus-20 weather in Toronto and a seat on the end of an NBA bench is exponentially better than the D League in Idaho.
Action: Three bigs
Reaction: So-so, as always
Yes, we saw Bosh, O’Neal and Bargnani on the court for a bit last night, most notably in the second quarter when the game was still a game.
Did it work? Barely. But it was a pretty good move by Jay for this reason: The Pistons were playing small and instead of adapting to what they were doing, the Raptors tried to make them adapt to what Toronto was doing.
It worked in one regard: The Pistons had to go back to Rasheed Wallace and he immediately picked up a third foul and while it ended up having no real bearing on the outcome, it was an action, rather than a reaction.
And when someone asked Bosh about it, and having to adapt to playing with a group he was unfamiliar with, this is what he had to say:
“I think we’re familiar with each other -- this is how many games? I’m losing count now -- but we should know the system by now. No matter who’s on the floor, we should know our spots, know the offence, and we should know just to move without the ball. I don’t think you have to be too familiar with your teammates, you have to be familiar with the system and we’ve been playing with it for weeks now, we should be used to it.”
Oh yeah, in Detroit, this is what they’re reading.
Speaking of Jawai, got this independent scouting report from Darrell Walker, who had worked him out for Detroit before the draft:
Really good hands, good footwork around the basket. Big, strong, tough kid. May be limited by lack of jumping explosiveness but he’ll get into people and box them out.
A question of money, like I know anything:
Q: Hey Doug: Got more of a question from the business side of the Raptors. With the team basically taking the same route as the economy, how worried is the braintrust at MLSE about future bball revenues? I'm assuming they've got some plan in place in case there is no playoff money coming in, but has anybody there made any forecasts about what the season ticket renewal rate might be next year, especially with an even weaker economy? Would they expect to see fewer individuals renew, or fewer suite renewals from a percentage standpoint?
Roger B, Toronto
A: I think the combination of the economy and the team’s record is certainly going to hit them in the summer, perhaps very hard.
Here’s what I would do: I’d find some way to not only hold the line on ticket prices but reduce some season-ticket costs for seats not only in the upper bowl but down below, too.
I presume some bean counter with more brains than I have tried to guess how bad things are going to be this summer but no one knows for certain where the economy is going, I don’t think.
And given how the team’s performed this year, the toughest job in the building may indeed be season ticket seller.