This is better than the alternative, no?
|STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR|
|Shawn Marion: Potential glue guy.|
And now the road beckons, where there’s no snow or cold but plenty of good teams. Guess you do have to take the good with the bad in this gig.
But it is better to be going out having won two in a row instead of losing two in a row. Beating the Knicks, eight under .500 at the time, or the Timberwolves, a mere 20 under .500 is hardly enough to get the playoff tickets printed or the parade route planned. But consider how many mornings you’ve woken up to remember “damn, they lost to Oklahoma City?” or “Hey, did they really shoot 29 per cent in Memphis last night?” these are such horrible times.
Oh, those times are coming again, I’m sure of that, but for now? Why not feel a little bit good?
Action: What’s glue?
Reaction: A lot of things
Promised a gal, or maybe a guy, in the in-game blog last night I’d try to explain what I think a “glue guy” is since it’s a rather nebulous term that gets tossed around an awful lot.
To me, it’s a veteran who knows how to use his mind as much as his body to get his job done; it’s someone respected in the locker room because he’s had success and seldom, if ever, takes a night off. It’s someone who doesn’t care what other people think of him, he’s going to do his job, do it well and if pisses people off, so be it. Someone who’s been around the franchise a while and knows the people, knows what it takes to be successful in that market, has a connection with the fans.
They don’t have a true one on this team, I don’t think. Parker’s close, Marion might be if he sticks around but that’s about it. I think Bosh is held in too high esteem by management and many fans to be considered that guy, it really has to be someone who makes the most out of relatively limited talent.
Action: 34 assists
Reaction: That’s the way it works
I don’t think anyone who watched that game last night would consider the way Toronto played “run-and-gun” yet they had a season high in assists, shot almost 54 per cent from the floor and hung a 66-point second half on the Timberwolves.
That’s how it’s supposed to work, not some kind of willy-nilly, hoist-it-soon-as-you-can offence that does nothing more than give the ball back to the other team more quickly. There were more controlled breaks – if an open shot isn’t there, get into a set – than we’ve seen in a long, long time and that’s the kind of intelligent offence that’ll win games.
Of course, they could fall victim to Phoenix’s style and lost 160-130 on Friday but at least that’d be wildly entertaining.
Shawn Marion, bless his naïve little soul, said this last night in a post-game scrum:
“I’ve been on teams where you get down 15, 17 points and you just kind of hang it up a little bit. We’ve got some fight in this team, we were out there grinding and pulling for each other.”
No one laughed out loud, I know at least one guy who smirked and supressed a giggle.
“Fight in this team?” “Grinding and pulling for each other?” I dunno about that.
Out in Minnesota, they woke to find this today.
Action: Joey leaves
Reaction: He better come back
No word last night and with no practice or media availability likely no word today, on how bad Joey’s hamstring issue is but – and I cannot believe I am going to type these words – they need him healthy in a hurry to have any chance at doing anything.
Jay’s only playing eight guys – a wise decision considering what’s been available after them – and to have one of them on the shelf will lead to some serious depth issues, serious over-work for the starters and that last thing Bosh or Calderon needs right now is 44 minutes a night.-
But if Joey can’t go you’d presume Marcus Banks gets some extra playing time as that eighth guy and no one has any idea what he’ll bring. He’s not as big as Joey, not as versatile, cannot play the three. No Graham is a big blow.
And, sure, the possibility exists that Bryan could go out and sign a three-four kind of guy but that guy is going to need time to fit in, that guy is going to be looking out for that guy as he pursues either a second 10-day contract or a job for next year and I don’t think that’s the answer.
Q: Thanks for all you add to an otherwise mostly unenjoyable Raptors season.
Q1. To my untrained eye, what grabbed my attention foremost about Marion was his offensive rebounding. Given this is partially due to it being so lacking from his teammates, could they somehow learn from him or would they have already learned if they could?
Q2. Bosh seems to have lost his Olympics-inspired intensity. Is he just not the kind of guy that can sustain a high level of mental intensity? Heard Coach K on PTI yesterday talk about how he mentions the work ethic of Dwyane, Kobe and LeBron to his college boys. Didn't exclude Bosh specifically of course but didn't include him either.
John P, London
A: Marion’s a freak, pure and simple. Amazingly quick second jump – check out how many boards he gets at either end on a second leap – but he’s also in his 10th season in the NBA and just has a knack for knowing where the ball is going.
I think it’s hard for anyone but the true greats, and you rattled off three of them on that list, to maintain extraordinary intensity for 82 games or even 75 games. Bosh has lost some of that, but it’s lost in part because of the physical condition his knees are in; I’m sure he wants to be at that level but when he asks his legs for some extra, it’s not there.
So muchfor my advice to Donny Walsh, eh?
Action: The coming schedule
Reaction: A seven-pack of toughies
At Phoenix, at Dallas, at Houston, Miami, Utah, at Philly, Detroit.
Is 5-2 necessary? How about 3-4? I think even playing important games in April will depend on them at least coming through this stretch with more wins than losses.
Of course, too much depends on what teams above them do, and there remain an awful lot of them between Toronto and even eighth, but the Raps cannot afford to lose more ground.
An end-of-the-bench question:
Q: In your opinion what do you think the Raps have planned for Patrick O'Bryant? The reason I am asking is I am looking at this guys body language on the bench and he doesn't look too enthusiastic to be here.
Leroy B, Lethbridge
A: Personally, I think what they have in store for him is to use him only in the case of dire foul trouble- or injury-induced emergency and then either package his salary as cap ballast in a draft-night trade or release him outright before July 1. That will save them $350,000 or so.
I will say this: Kevin McHale is a much better coach than he was a GM. Not sure what the plans are for him next year – at least one guy with some knowledge of the Timberwolves franchise thinks the Minnesota icon will walk away – but the team plays hard and there some nice pieces.
Of course those nice pieces – I like Randy Foye a lot, and Ryan Gomes – are in the West so they may be years from sniffing the playoffs but McHale’s doing a not-bad job coaching them.
And if he sticks around, it’s one fewer gig out there for Sam to try and get.