Early morning after a bad night
The 4:15 a.m. wakeup call came awfully early out here today. Pardon the typos you’re going to see, I’m sure; it’s not like I’m all fresh as a daisy.
Oh, and it’s a San Antonio-Chicago-Toronto travel marathon, not sure when I’ll get to read comments and get ‘em up, but will do it as soon as I can.
See ya tomorrow.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
Troubling times indeed.
The question, in the wake of Saturday’s slaughter in Dallas, was how they would compete against the Spurs.
Not so good.
Yes, offensively they were fine but that’s the easy part of the game. It’s doing the, pardon the expression, grunt work that separates bad teams from even mediocre ones and the Raptors failed miserably in San Antonio.
Sixteen offensive rebounds surrendered? It was like volleyball at times on the glass and all it would have taken was a modicum of effort.
And it’s even more than just putting a body on someone.
Late in the first quarter, a shot goes up, it bounces twice in the lane before someone, I believe it was McDyess, calmly bends over and grabs it, with Raptors on three sides of him.
Third quarter, right in front of us. A shot goes up from the wing, long rebound bounces back towards the shooter and George Hill comes from the other side of the lane to beat everyone in a black uniform to the ball.
That’s just not trying hard enough.
Fans are? Well, fans are …
A bit nuts.
This may not be what anyone wants to hear, and it’s certainly not what many of you thought, but you’re not supposed to win games, no matter who’s on the other team.
Never mind there was no Duncan and no Parker, those were NBA players out there in the Spurs uniform and anyone who expected Toronto to simply come out and win because they had all their guys is naïve to the Nth degree.
Doesn’t work that way, never has, never will.
Doesn’t necessarily make it easier to win, either. Different matchups with different guys cause more problems than the usual, expected ones, do. Toronto has never seen the kind of small, quick lineup the Spurs had out there and that, in part, led to San Antonio’s dominance on the glass.
No, the loss doesn’t hurt more because two guys didn’t play, that loss hurts because of the manner in which it was accomplished. Against legitimate NBA players.
Hill would be a key rotation player in Toronto, so would Bonner and Blair and Richardson, McDyess, Finley and maybe Bogans. Ginobili’s outstanding against any competition.
No, the Spurs didn’t have Duncan or Parker, but that’s a pretty good team they put on the floor. I can’t think of eight that are better than them in the East.
Richard Jefferson on Andrea Bargnani? Mike Finley on Chris Bosh?
Yeah, we saw some odd stuff in that game.
And it all added up to the most entertaining game of the season. By far.
No defence at either end, lots of great shots, good ball movement at times and a game in doubt until the final minute.
No, Toronto fans didn’t get the win they wanted but, tell me the truth, it was fun to watch at times, no?
And isn’t that why we watch sports? To see good entertainment and have a good time?
And in other news:
Oh, that zany Chris Bosh.
We’re talking about rebounding and how it’s not all that hard, you find a guy, box him out, go look for the basketball.
And, of course, an aging grunt, more than half a century old and decades removed from the days of athletic ability, suggests it’s not all that hard.
Says Bosh, with what sounded like scorn:
“You don’t have to be talented to do that. You can do it.”
Tough to do carrying a defibrillator and a six-pack but if he says so …
A quick and rather strange chat with Matt Bonner before the game last night, he was lying on the floor in the middle of the room working some kinks out of his back and stretching while a handful of us stood around asking him questions.
Great line on the TTC fare hike (“Will the old tokens still work, though? I have some left”) and, yes, he’s still quite interested in playing for Canada next summer.
But, as much as I like Matt – and he’s a great guy and a good player – that’s not enough, in my opinion.
If he’s going to go through with this thing, he’s got to give Canada Basketball a three-year commitment.
Look, the truth of the matter is that Canada is not going to compete for a world championship medal next summer whether they’ve got Matt or not; it’s got to be about getting some young players significant international experience at the highest level.
So the best thing he can do is commit to playing next year, at the Olympic qualifier in 2011, which is a huge tournament, and the 2012 London Games, if Canada gets there.
The national team program is on the right track, I truly believe that. But it can’t be about trying to grab one year of success at the expense of program development.
Having a guy like Bonner around will be a huge help; it’s just got to be for more than a one-off tournament.
In San Antonio, here’s what they’ve written about that one last night.
Oh yeah, the San Antonio guys were telling me the 131-124 final score was the highest scoring non-overtime game in the Gregg Popovich era.
And while I’m sure he’s glad they won, I’m also sure he was dying with every defensive lapse the Spurs made, and there were dozens.
As one of the Express-News guys said, if that game had been an important one in March, Pop’s head might have exploded. Last night, it was a good win for a stumbling team minus two of its best players.
But Pop wasn’t looking a gift win in the mouth.
“Wins are always enjoyable. If one can’t enjoy a win, that’s a real problem.”
Know what this is like?
An eight-game road trip with one of the games in Toronto.
Seriously. Wake up in San Antonio, fly to the next city, have a night off. Get up, go to shootaround, do a game, get some sleep and get up early the next morning and fly to the next city.
Only change is I get to spend time with Super Wife, Son and Dog instead of some other grunts or Raptor types.
Oh yeah, the floor.
With all the technology available to arena staff these days, it was odd to see about three dozen workers two hours before game walking up and down the AT&T Center floor stubbing their feet trying to dry up the oily substance that threatened the start of the game.
Reminded me of the two other times serious floor issues arose.
One, of course, was in St. John’s when they ended up canceling an exhibition and absolutely screwing the fans out there by reneging on an organizational promise to come back.
The other was the 1996 Naismith Cup in Calgary when water seeped up through cracks in the court and the game was delayed and almost called off. But because it was such a big deal as a Naismith Cup, they did everything they could to get it in.
Not sure what it is with these guys and courts but that’s a relatively large number of issues for one franchise.