A little bit late but worth the wait. Probably
Better late than never, right?
Anyway, sorry for the wee delay, airport issues but the good folks at American Airlines got me here to Dallas on an earlier flight so we’re not nearly as far behind as expected.
And given that today’s a rather busy day and the first back-to-back of the regular season (which takes some getting used to, as a matter of fact), having an extra couple of hours to get stuff done sure helped.
And, perchance, this will help you get though the start of the day.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
Trouble was brewing
Half way through the first quarter, with the shot clock winding down, Mo Pete hoisted a zany shot just because he had too. No way it was going in but it grazed the rim and the backboard, bouncing back up the lane and three Raptors – and my notes are fuzzy so I can’t name them without guessing – stand around and watch it.
New Orleans grabs the rebound, finishes the extra possession with a dunk and a rather miffed Jay Triano calls timeout.
It was exactly the kind of possession that kills coaches. They defended the first 22.5 seconds of it perfectly but just could not – or would not – finish it off.
It was kind of representative of the entire first half, actually. The Raptors were average to below average for most of it but it’s to their credit that the hung around and didn’t let the Hornets take control.
Down two at the half must have felt like being up six after the way they had been playing. And that Mo Pete play typified it.
Maybe gambling’s not so bad
Don’t imagine any of you were able to see much of this but everywhere you turn in the back-of-house hallways of the New Orleans Arena, it was a gambler’s paradise.
Ads for Harrah’s Casino on the hallway wall outside the locker rooms (one slogan: After You’ve Run The Floor, Run The Tables) and a huge banner ad a couple of feet deep ran across the top of the wall in the Raptors locker room.
Now, gambling’s legal in Louisiana and there were the requisite mentions of help lines available to gambling addicts but, really, isn’t that a bit hypocritical of the NBA?
I don’t think seeing an ad would move anyone to develop a gambling problem or start supplying inside information on games to nefarious types but, really, isn’t that a wrong message for this league to send at this time.
In related news, Tim Donaghy got out of jail this week.
Guy’s got some passion, no?
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jose quite as jazzed up as he was for most of last night’s game.
In the third quarter, Chris Paul was defending like a madman, cutting off his lanes, going over screens to limit where he could go, right in his chest and Jose was cheesed. Might have been a foul in there, might not have been but Jose, who finally had to almost dribble out the entire shot clock before taking – and missing – a bad three, was all over the refs.
The Hornets in-bound the ball, Jose sneaks up behind Paul, waits ‘til he turns after taking a pass and initiates contact. The refs, quite correctly, call traveling and both guys end up on the floor.
Jose gets up, yells, talks some trash to Paul and I’ve never seen him quite so animated.
Now, don’t get me wrong, that kid plays as intensely as anyone on the floor and he’s got a bit of a temper. But he hardly ever shows it and the more he does, the more you should like it.
And now, what else is new:
You remember that nifty contest we’re running – two tickets to Dec. 13’s game, time spent courtside watching them warm up, time spent listening to us grill Jay post-game (I’ll be the grumpy one) and time spent hanging with yours truly – right?
Well, much chagrin about the fact it’s only open to people who reside within 75 miles of Toronto, which really bites, in my humble opinion.
People who know these sorts of things tell me that’s a Maple Leaf Sports requirement to meet NBA regulations.
Not sure what those rather ridiculous regulations are supposed to do, but they’re in place.
Sort of figured the long arm of New York was involved when they used miles instead of kilometers in the fine print.
Back in New Orleans, this is what people got up to read about the game (at least those who weren’t up all night traipsing up and down Bourbon Street).
And while we’re tuning around the dial, the good burghers in Dallas awoke to find this in the local fishwrap setting up tonight’s struggle.
Speaking of Dallas, here’s a trip down memory lane:
Feb. 25, 2006, at Dallas, Toronto leads by 24 with six minutes left in the third quarter and loses in overtime.
Nov. 20, 2007 at Dallas, Toronto leads by 24 with six minutes left in the second quarter and loses in regulation.
They remain the two biggest blown-leads in franchise history.
One joker says last night:
“Maybe this year we’ll get down, come way back and lose that way. Give you something different to write.”
That’d be nice; the old way was boring.
Mo Pete says hi.
Had a nice chat with him pre-game, he’s looking really good (says his weight’s down to 212, his old Michigan State fighting weight) and that’s because he’s finally healthy after battling a bunch of nagging injuries last season.
But the truth is, he looked a bit slow on the court and was not at all an integral part of the New Orleans offence.
He only played about 12 1-2 minutes, missed four of five three-pointers and finished with just six measly points.
But at least he’s still in the league, which is all Alvin Williams could think of after they chatted before the game.
“Mo’s only 31, of course he should still be playing.”