|RICHARD LAUTENS/TORONTO STAR|
|Triano has the ear of his players, and that's a good thing.|
Okay, so they’ve got a coach, the expected news finally happened and everyone got their fix of Raptors stuff, right? Hope so because outside of the possible hiring of assistant coaches we’ve been talking about for months, there’s no news until the lottery in a week’s time.
Until then, though, the good teams continue to play. And tonight could be great with the Celtics-Magic and Lakers-Rocket doubleheader providing the possibility of two gems. We’ll be here, of course, with the in-game blog off the 8 p.m. Boston-Orlando thingy. Well, not “here” exactly because I’m at home and home doesn’t have TSN2, which has both games but we’ll be somewhere. And you’ll be here, right?
And now, we bring you …
Quick answers to persistent question: Expect Marc Iavaroni to be here in the next 10 days or so at the outside as Jay’s lead assistant.
Would be surprised if either Alex English or Mike Evans are back but one could be and I’d suspect from conversations I’ve had, there’s a better chance it’s Alex.
Can’t get a read on the future of Gord Herbert at the moment.
A Professional Bum in Atlanta is not surprised at all by the news. Off the record, of course.
The third year of Jay’s deal is not guaranteed.
Not sure of exactly the financial value but if you guessed $1.6-$1.8 million for the first year and $1.8-$2.0 million for the second, I don’t think you’d be too far off. And, because Lionel Hollins is in Memphis, the lowest-paid coach in the NBA does not coach the Raptors.
They have had conversations about some kind of basketball development-assistant coach-behind-the-bench role for Alvin Williams. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it happened inside a month.
Am sure there will be more as they come in various conversations I’ll be having.
About last night
Really, the only marginal surprise was that Dallas survived itself and that spate of embarrassing technical fouls brought on by relative immaturity, and extended that series.
Dirk was great, Carmelo not quite great enough but if this one’s not over on Wednesday night, I’ll be shocked.
In Atlanta? Yawn.
The Cavs now have until at least Saturday and probably Monday before they have to get back on the court for real and that’s a huge advantage. It pays, as we’ve said all along, to take care of your business early.
Here is a list, totally subjective but I think most would concur it’s pretty good, of five attributes all good coaches must have. Tell me if you don’t think Jay has them:
Full support of his boss
As a wise man once said, ‘duh.’
If anyone thinks Bryan hasn’t been fully behind Jay since, oh, December, she hasn’t been paying attention.
Good tactical knowledge
I think it’s safe to say on such matters plays out of timeouts, plays to start games, halves and quarters, this team does all right. Not the best, not the worst but when you’re best breakdown offensive player is a 6-10 power forward, that’s rather limiting And, I think with a full training camp and season worth of practice, this is an area that will improve.
Respect of the players
Maybe you don’t believe Bryan and perhaps you won’t believe me but there was no one in that locker room last year who didn’t respect Jay’s knowledge of the game or his handling of men. The one thing that may pop up is how Jay will handle having to discipline some relative miscreant but, because of No. 1, I think you’ll see a firm hand when needed.
Ability to manage a roster
I think the rotations were crisper in the final 65 games of the season than they might have been in the first 17. There is always room for improvement – it would have been better, in my opinion, if Jay had let Roko go a little bit longer most nights – but because we’re not sure what the roster’s going to look like this year, we’ll only say Jay’s proven that he can get a rotation and stick to it.
Willingness to learn
Would it surprise you to learn that Jay is willing to listen to almost anyone in a pursuit to get better? Would it surprise you to learn that he had dinner during a road trip to Orlando late in the season with Butch Carter just to pick his brain on how Butch ran practices and managed games? Would it surprise you that Jay’s been keeping a “book” of what other teams do in certain situations for as long as he’s been around the NBA?
All true. All good signs.
A couple of other “statements” I would like the league to release unsolicited:
“It has come to our attention that the “travelling” rule remains in our rule book as an illegal move and, since it hasn’t been called consistently since Patrick Ewing joined the league, we can only blame the printing company for not removing it per our instructions.”
And the next day, it’d be cool to read this:
“Of course stars get the benefit of the calls, do you think people pay to watch scrubs? You dopes.”
A rather interesting start to the Raptors workouts yesterday.
Sam Young, the Pitt big, is doing some vertical leaping drill that involves jumping and pushing aside little levers sticking off a pole and as he does, he turns, gets “stabbed” by one of the other levers. Big cut, thing’s protruding out of his arm, he’s off to the hospital to be taken care of. He’s okay, I was told yesterday, but how’d you like to be Bryan calling the agent:
“Um, about your first round draft pick? Well, he stabbed himself doing a drill every kid who works out for every team has to do. Sorry ‘about that.”
Anyway, today’s lineup, all forwards:
Robert Dozier, 6-9 of Memphis; Danny Green, 6-6 of North Carolina; Dionte Christmas (coolest name so far), 6-5 of Temple; Terrence Williams (who didn’t work yesterday because he was paired with Young and we all know how that turned out), 6-6 of Louisville, Joe Ingles, 6-8 of Australia and local yokel Javohn Shepherd, 6-5 of Michigan.
And underwhelming group, indeed, for a team with a top 10 pick.
Oh, the Durham College kid, Anthony Batchelor, gets cut because Williams stuck around.
(Okay, here’s how crazy and unpredictable these things are. I typed that note at 8:21 this morning and at 8:23 I get an e-mail from the Raptors saying Dozier’s flight was cancelled, he’s not coming and Batchelor’s back in. Lord’s fans everywhere rejoice!).
I’m going to go to the mail for one that’s topical. Well, sort of topical.
Q: Doug, watching Raptors TV interview Brian after the press conference for Triano he mentioned that Delfino told him that he would come back when Jay is the coach. Is this because he didn't get along with Sam? If so why haven't we heard about this before today?
Steve H, Mississauga
A: It was actually reported here, oh, about six months ago. In a conversation in Beijing at the Olympics with me, Jay and Carlos, there was a joke made right at the end that went along the lines of: “Carlos, you’ve got to come back.”
“I will,” he said to Jay. “When you’re the coach.”
So file yesterday’s comment by Bryan as old, old news being revisited.
And I don’t know exactly how they got along but the fact there was some friction between Sam and Carlos over minutes and role is not news, nor a surprise.
Word just came down as we're standing in the practice gym that Jay Triano is officially the new head coach of the Raptors.
There'll be more in a bit, but thought you should know.
Big day yesterday; one hugely surprising game and one rather delightful buzzer beater. Hope the Moms loved them.
But what it’s done is made a couple of nights this week really good and a couple really easy. I fully expect Denver to dust Dallas tonight and if Cleveland doesn’t win they should call some federal enquiry, which puts all the attention on a Game 5 doubleheader on Tuesday and another on Thursday. Very cool.
And getting a Wednesday night off and a Friday without a game will be quite nice, as a matter of fact.
But before then, let’s all gather to see what transpires in Dallas tonight at 9:30; I’ve got a radio gig that goes until 7 so I’ll miss the start of LeBron Routs The Hawks, which isn’t a big deal at all.
See ya later …
Who doesn’t love the Rockets?
Houston loses Yao, their new starter is such an offensive liability they really are playing 4-on-5 and all of a sudden they look as good as they ever have offensively, with Shane Battier channeling Reggie Miller and Aaron Brooks doing whatever he pleases.
Yes, I know the Lakers were so abysmal on defence it was laughable (check out this rather sweet carve job of a column) but the Rockets really showed me something yesterday afternoon.
I guess what’s maybe making it such a surprise is the memory of how utterly uncaring and uncommitted they were they night they were in Toronto this season. That was despicable, these playoffs have been delightful.
Now, surely the Lakers will be better tomorrow, no? But even if they get that one, who among us wouldn’t think it’s possible the Rockets, spurred by a home crowd, get Thursday’s Game 6 and we’re down to a win or go home Game 7 on Sunday.
There’s an old playoff adage that says you take care of your business when you get the chance; the Lakers blew that chance on Sunday and will rue the day, I’m sure. They had a chance to bury a weak team and took a day off, it could be a costly as it is inexcusable.
Who doesn’t question the Magic
From the very first game against Philly, when they blew that big lead, there have been some concerns about the mental toughness of the Magic and we saw a big step back last night.
Sure, it took a great play and a big shot to beat them but playing at home with a chance to put a stranglehold on a playoff series against a team running on fumes with no bench support to speak of and battling foul trouble all night, the Magic were laissez-faire most of the game, Hedo Turkoglu was invisible and now the series with Boston is wide open.
I don’t know if it’s the lack of a calm leader running the team on the court (rather telling that it was Anthony Johnson down the stretch and not Rafer, wasn’t it) or what but the Magic showed me nothing with everything on the line last night.
I notice in this story that my man B. Schmitz has Stan taking all the blame; I often think that’s a ploy by a coach to take the pressure off players, in this instance, I’m not so sure he’s not telling the absolute truth.
|PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP|
|It's a surprise party, baby!|
I don’t think there’s a guy in the playoffs who has surprised more people with his play than Glenn Davis of the Celtics – the third-option-turned-hero of the season-saving win on Sunday night in Orlando.
His shooting range is a lot better that many people I talk to thought and his quickness belies his girth; the kid’s going to make some serious coin this summer. He’s a former second round pick who makes $711,000 this year and will be a restricted free agent in July. If the Celtics don’t lock him up, someone’s going to come calling offering a large chunk of the mid-level exception to get him.
On the winning play last night, he did just what was asked of him, set a screen and then drift away from the basket to create some space. That sounds pretty simple and doing it isn't that big a task but the NBA is littered with guys who get caught up in the moment, either get too close to the lane to clog things up or set such a horrible screen it really shouldn’t count.
I guess the only other guy to elevate his profile would have been Joakim Noah but he’s so limited offensively, I honestly think Chicago will be looking to replace him with some scoring low-post threat (Carlos Boozer?) this summer and use his energy off the bench.
And Luis Scola may be a revelation to some but, trust me, everyone in the NBA and anyone who saw Argentina win the Olympic gold knew who he was.
Nope, for my money, Big Baby’s the big playoff winner so far.
One quick question
Think Lamar Odom’s ever going to show up?
One good Game 3 against Houston isn’t going to cut it, no way. If he doesn’t play better, the Rockets in seven isn’t looking too bad regardless of Yao Ming’s absence; and there’s no way the Lakers beat Denver without some contribution from him.
Oh yeah, and this play isn’t making it any easier for him to go find riches on the free agent market this summer.
Three quick questions:
Are the Houston Rockets not now you’re new favourite NBA team?
Do the Altanta Hawks just mail it in tonight and save the trouble of a trip to Cleveland?
Did Derek Fisher turn 60 over the weekend or is Aaron Brooks really that good?
And on to other stuff
Okay, here are the guys working out for the Raptors today:
Terrence Williams, F, Louisville; Sam Young, F, Pittsburgh; Jeff Pendergraph, C, Arizona State; Russell Hicks, C, Florida International; Tyrese Rice, G, Boston College; Bryon Eaton, G, Oklahoma State.
What’s it mean?
They are simply doing their homework. Nothing more, nothing less.
It does not mean they have a deal to acquire some additional first-round pick (those trades invariably come up the night of) and it certainly doesn’t mean they’re trading back (a nonsensical idea at the moment since no one in the lottery knows for sure where they are drafting).
It means they are compiling information they may, or may not, eventually use.
Oh, and more compilation of information tomorrow. The tentative lineup:
Danny Green, F, North Carolina; Robert Dozier, F, Memphis, Joe Ingles, F, Australia; Anthony Batchelor, G, Durham College; G Jevohn Shepard, Michigan.
Speaking of Australian, look what landed in the in-box this weekend.
It’s got to stick.
Back to the league for a couple:
The one guy I feel worst for out of the entire weekend?
He’s the ref – and he’s known as a pretty good one – who missed the Antoine Wright foul on Carmelo Anthony on Saturday that effectively ended the Dallas Maverick season and was then, as they say, thrown under the bus by the league.
Yes, he should have made the call but, no, there is no way in the world the league should have put out, unsolicited, that entirely bizarre statement in the immediate aftermath.
It shows a horrible lack of support – an issue that rankles many referees throughout the NBA – and served no purpose. I cannot remember a single instance in more than a decade covering this thing when the league issued such a statement in such fashion in such unsolicited a manner.
If your bosses did that to you when you screwed up (and we all have), how would you feel?
Speaking of statements from the league, the next one I want to see is one detailing the quarter of a million dollar fine on Mark Cuban for pushing a cameraman.
Imagine if that was a player or a coach? People would be screaming for a hefty fine or even a suspension. To me, it’s like this: Cuban loves the spotlight (I can’t think of another reason that an owner would sit behind bench and make a fool of himself at times) and if you welcome the attention when things are going well, you have to take it when things are going bad.
Sure, he was frustrated and angry, his team had just been all but eliminated from the playoffs but pushing a cameraman doing his job is bush league and over the line.
I’m sure he’ll be fined; I want to know when and for how much.
Happy Mother's Day, Moms.
So, did I miss anything?
Refs blow a call and league admits it (it still doesn’t excuse Dallas for quitting on the play when the whistle didn’t blow), Yao Ming’s done for the year (I get a Mulligan on the “Houston in seven” thing, right), and one of the titans of the coaching ranks, Chuck Daly, passes away.
Tough day to shut the machine down and coast.
Did see a lot of LeBron decimating the Hawks, that’s one the more thorough dismantlings we’ve see in the post-season.
So, not sure what’s left to get jazzed about in this round; kind of hope Boston wins tonight so we can get some juice in that series (I fully expect the Lakers to go up 3-1 and of expect Artest to go for the Thrown Out Trifecta but maybe there’s some hope there.
Oh, and we will be around doing the in-game blog tonight for the Celtics-Magic, check back in around 8 for all the fun and festivities. (I promise we’ve got Friday’s wireless issues worked out here at Casa Doug).
Until then, and before you spend the day worshipping Mom, have a read of this:
Q: Two of Toronto's bigs, Hump and POB, are both top 15 picks and "big" on talent (although different strengths). However, both seem to come up short on work ethic and desire. They also are likely still trying to adapt from being "the guy" in high school and university to being a role player in the NBA. Questions are: a) is this a fair assessment? and b) what is the likelihood - that after a few years of spending a lot of time on the pine - that they "find religion" by accepting to their roles and training hard this off season on rebounding and defense?
Tom L, Toronto
A: Sorta fair. I do think both of them were accustomed to dominating at a lower level and can’t quite come to grips with the fact it doesn’t come as easily up against the men.
I don’t think Hump lacks work ethic, though. He lacks a consistent understanding of just what his role is and every now and then, it looks like he gets it. I know coaches think he can help if he ever figures it out; ever figure out that he’s more Jeff Foster and Michael Jordan.
Patrick? The coaches love his athleticism – he’s a legit 7-0 with about a 7-6 wingspan – and he can do a lot of things on the court. Trouble is, he’s the kind of guy I think needs to be a week-to-week contract; he needs to understand he can’t even coast for a practice, let a game. But the potential is there and if develops that work ethic, he could be a steal. Do I think he can? He’s never shown that he could so I’m skeptical, much more skeptical that the coaches are.
Q: Hey Douglas, you've said you tend to think NBA coaches are over-valued (or something like that). That they get too much credit when their teams win and get too much blame when their teams lose. I'm wondering if you think it's different in the playoffs. That is, is their role more prominent come playoff time? Should they get more of the credit/blame? Is coaching a factor?
Guy M, Vancouver
A: I think there’s a bit more emphasis on coaching in playoff games – and there should be – because of things like managing timeouts, riding the best players for extending minutes and adjusting defences to stop a hot hand become more significant in the result. In a regular season game, a coach may be able to loosen the reins a little bit, to find out what certain guys can do, to let players learn by failing so they can succeed in the future; in the post-season, that’s simply not possible.
So, yeah, I guess coaching does carry an added importance in the playoffs.
Q: As I was laying back last night kicking myself for moving in the middle of the playoffs (it's been 5 days and cable still isn't hooked up yet), I was thinking about the 3-point hand signal Jose does after every 3 pointer. I've seen a lot of other NBA players do it. Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to name a few, and I was wondering when this all started. Who was the inventor of this 3 point hand signal?
I only started seeing people doing it after Jose coined it, but maybe it was there all along and I didn't start noticing it until Jose brought it to Toronto. Can you recall anyone doing it before Jose's time? Sorry if this question has about as much importance as a Monk's Cafe rambling between Jerry and George but I'm curious to know!
Amanda F, Barrie
A: There were other guys who used hand-signals after big three-pointers – Larry Johnson and Mark Jackson come quickly to mind – and I don’t know if Jose “invented” that finger thing he does but it does seem to have caught on.
Q: Doug, is there any non-American player on the Basketball Hall of Fame? If not, who do you think will be the first one? Yao? Dirk? Note: I know Tim Duncan is from Virgin Islands or whatever, but let's consider him an American for now.
Pete K, Ottawa
A: There’s an entire wing of the Hall of Fame dedicated to international players, coaches and builders.
|Not all of the point guards got suspended.|
Was nice to take a night off, anyone who did the same comes back today a tad refreshed. Which is good, because now the playoffs should be outstanding for a day or so.
Forget the dog of a series between Cleveland and Atlanta, the Boston-Orlando, Rockets-Lakers doubleheader tonight could be off-the-charts good and then tomorrow afternoon we get to see if Denver’s as tough on the road as they were at home and whether the Mavs grew any stones on the flight back to Dallas.
And fresh from a night of mindless crime dramas and Glorious Red Sox Victory, I guess I’ll be back with the machine watching games and offering high comedy and brilliant insight. There’s an extra-special super-secret coaching staff meeting for me and the fellows who guide the Mighty Yankees right after work so I’m thinking of being in place for the Lakers-Rockets at 9:30. Maybe earlier, if the mood strikes, but definitely for that one.
See you then
Guess I could be Stu Jackson, without the whole Bryant Reeves-Steve Francis thing.
Rafer gets a game, Derek Fisher gets a game and the NBA’s VP of discipline just does what was expected in the light of the contretemps the other night in Boston and L.A.
What’s it going to mean on the court? You have to think that Orlando’s going to miss Rafer more than the Lakers are going to miss Fisher but taking both starting point guards out of the lineup at such a critical juncture in huge.
Without Rafer, the Magic will have to rely on Anthony Johnson when Hedo Turkoglu isn’t initiating the offence and that could cut hugely into Orlando trying to get the game at somewhat of a quicker pace to avoid facing Boston’s halfcourt defence, which has done an excellent job limiting open shots and Dwight Howard so far.
Without Fisher, the Lakers may get someone in that spot who can make a shot every now and then; Fisher’s been shooting about 41 per cent from the field and 14 per cent from three-point range and the Rockets really haven’t had to guard him all that much. And while it’d be nice to think L.A. could use the veteran leadership he brings in what’s sure to be an emotional, rollicking, rough affair, the fact he went and got himself tossed from one game and suspended for another makes one wonder about that veteran leadership.
I see Atlanta only lost by 20 last night.
Moral victory, I say.
There is a regularly scheduled meeting of the board of directors of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment today, Bryan Colangelo will speak at it as he does at every one of them He will discuss many issues regarding the Raptors. It’s simply logical that the coaching situation will be one of them.
I have a sneaking suspicion – confirmed by no one, not even my spies – that we are getting close to end of the saga.
Here’s one thing I learned:
Man, you guys and gals love Ron Artest.
Guy takes an elbow, gets a technical and instead of letting it go, races three quarters of the way across the court to provoke a confrontation, gets himself thrown out of a vital playoff game and he’s the aggrieved party?
Try this exercise.
Look at this video.
And then this video.
And then this video.
And then this video.
Was it an elbow thrown back to shrug off Artest? Yes. Did it hit Artest in the throat? Don’t know for sure. Did it hit him in the chest? Can’t say with certainty from any of those angles and you know the NBA had a lot more. Did Artest milk it by falling back in a HWSNBN-esque diva move? Sure he did.
Is it a play that should warrant a suspension? From all the angles and video I’ve seen a Flagrant I which carries an automatic fine, is probably right. Worst thing about it, ref Bill Spooner should have called the original foul on Bryant and then Artest doesn’t go off, he doesn’t get the technical and he doesn’t charge across the court to confront Bryant and get tossed.
But then we wouldn’t have dozens of comments and some very, um, colourful e-mails here.
So, workouts start Monday for the Raptors and the pre-draft runup starts in earnest.
Let’s off this annual disclaimer early, although I’m sure it’ll have to be dragged out again between now and draft night:
The individual workouts that will be conducted mean relatively nothing.
Every kid who’ll be in this week has already been scouted, most many more times than once, and getting them in the gym here is just to add to the body of work compiled on them, not to make a determination on their suitability one way or another.
And, yes, there will be Canadian kids who are brought it – this Russell Hicks big man from Niagara Falls and Florida International will be here Monday, for instance – but birthplace means less than zero. They want players, from here or there or over there or Mars; a Canadian passport has no bearing whatsoever.
Speaking of the workouts, it also presents us grunts with an opportunity to grill the young ‘uns after they practice.
And, just like the service provided before Bryan’s end-of-the-season media session, here’s a glance at what will be said, and what will be meant, so we don’t have to go through the whole exercise a handful of times.
Grunt: What do you think of the Raptors?
Kidlet: “I know Chris Bosh is a great player, they had a tough season last year but I know they can get it turned around.”
Translation: “I have no idea, they were never on network TV, I barely knew they were in the league.”
Grunt: How would you fit in here?
Kidlet: “I think I bring energy, especially on defensive end; all I want to do is work hard and do whatever the coaches tell me.”
Translation: “If I can’t start here, I want to go somewhere else. And wait until you see me break a guy down. I’m great.”
Grunt: What do you think playing with Chris Bosh?
Kidlet: “He’s a great player and I can learn a lot from him.”
Translation: “Chris Bosh? Tall guy, right? I hear he’s good.”
Grunt: Would you have any problems playing Canada?
Kidlet: “I don’t care about that, I just want to get drafted.”
Translation: “Canada? I’m in Canada? Is that what that passport thing’s all about?”
Big few days shaping up for Jay, I imagine.
Kids in to workout, a job to be offered and accepted probably around the first of the week and then a trip back home Monday night to receive an award at a banquet hosted by our good friends at Brock.
And it’s not just run-of-the-mill award, actually, and I’m going all Niagara Peninsula history on you here.
It’s the Jimmy Rose Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award and as awards go in that neck of the woods, that’s about as big as it gets. Rose was a legendary coach at Niagara Falls Collegiate Vocational Institute (a school almost as prestigious as Stamford in those parts and just a notch above A.N. Myer) whose teams were perennial provincial champions in the early-50s (no, I didn’t play for him).
What has to make this even more special is that Jay’s dad, Howie, played for Jimmy Rose and won three straight Ontario titles in ’51-’53 and as well as I know Howie, he’ll be beaming with pride. As well he should.
Okay, end of sappiness for the moment but, trust me, Monday’s going to be an emotional – and very fun night.
|Ron being Ron again.|
Well, that was quite a night, wasn’t it?
Slaps, banishments, ejections and a couple of games.
I believe the playoffs have truly begun and it sure looks like the Lakers-Houston series has some juice, doesn’t it?
Not sure what the schedule is around these parts for that in-game blog stuff we do; I know for certain that there’ll be nothing going on tonight (I don’t really care about Game 2 of Cavs-Hawks and could use a night away from the game) but I’m thinking perhaps a long night of doubleheader action tomorrow and then an idle weekend? Whaddya think?
Until you figure that out, though …
About last night
Ron-Ron being … .well, Ron-Ron
Welcome back, Mr. Artest.
It’s one thing to get a technical for complaining about a call or a non-call; it’s an entirely different thing to go charging halfway across the court to try to get at Kobe Bryant and the incident just underscores the edge he lives on.
I don’t think he’ll get suspended for his actions – although if the league takes his history into account, I guess anything’s possible – but for a guy who had played with such composure for so long, a regression was the last thing his teammates expected.
Well, he got hit with an elbow jostling for a rebound? That happens on just about every single missed shot, intentionally or inadvertently, and you have to just go and play.
This was most likely a one-time blip; the Rockets can only hope so.
Check out Jonathan Feigen’s story here, it does raise a point about Kobe and past indiscretions.
On the other coast
Speaking of, um, mercurial personalities, how about that little Rafer slap to the head of Eddie House in the Orlando-Boston game?
Now, I can guarantee you there are probably 400 NBA players who’d like to give the yappy House a cuff every now and then but to do it in a playoff game with everyone watching and your team getting drilled is rather ridiculous, don’t you think?
To me, a slap upside the head, no matter when, lands a guy a one-game suspension so it would be no surprise if the Magic got a call from the league sitting down Skip for a game.
And that’s where he kills his team, actually.
Having already wrested homecourt from the Celtics – and it absolutely does count for something – Orlando might end up giving it back by losing Game 3 when they are forced to rely on a tremendously thin group of backup points.
I guess they’d start Anthony Johnson and let Hedo Turkoglu be the starting small forward and backup point guard but that’s asking an awful lot.
Skip’s little slap may end up being very costly.
On yeah, the games
What the Lakers did so well to rout the Rockets was get the game at quick tempo – the fast-break points were 20-5 for Los Angeles – which sort of runs counter to what you think should happen, no?
Should the Rockets, with Aaron Brooks, want to get out and run? Shouldn’t the Lakers, with Derek Fisher and the triangle offence, want to play halfcourt games?
That’s what you’d think maybe but it’s not reality. With a great defensive team like the Rockets, getting easy baskets in transition is the best way to attack.
Speaking of …
Derek Fisher, what kind of zaniness was the shoulder-slash-cross body block he threw into Luis Scola that earned him the ejection?
I know Scola’s a guy who can maybe get under your skin but Fisher’s a wise enough veteran that he should be able get back at him without resorting to a Flagrant 2 and an ejection.
Stu Jackson, who was sitting in the stands watching, has to automatically review every Flagrant 2 and if the criteria for suspension is a guy thrown out for making something other than a basketball play with excessive force, Fisher’s got to get Game 3 off, doesn’t he?
That’s the Jackson decision that’s going to be very interesting to watch. The Rafer slap should be a suspension, the Artest ejection shouldn’t be; the Fisher situation is a little grey.
Fisher, of course, pleads innocent in this yarn.
And on to other matters, quickly (hey, I need some mailbag stuff, too, it seems)
Hmm, my colleague, the esteemed Mr. Zelkovich, makes it sound likeit's pretty lonely being a TV viewer watching basketball.
I guess it’s understandable given his past here but the number of questions out there about Tracy McGrady really are a bit much.
Tracy had major reconstructive knee surgery in February; probably the absolute best-case scenario would put him back on the court in December and it’ll be a couple of months after that before he’d be ready to play.
So, Houston cannot trade him (what team’s gonna take him before he’s healthy); there’s a chance he won’t even play again and there is no way on God’s green earth that the Raptors would even be remotely interested.
End of T-Mac queries, okay?
Speaking of the Raptors, nothing happened again yesterday.
No one got hired, no one didn’t, no one got interviewed, no one had his or her contract renewed.
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).