A little bit of this and that on another big comeback
The goal’s always to get this up by 8:30 or so every morning and as I glance at the clock over there, it’s about 7:20 a.m. and I’m just about to post it.
Guess there are some benefits to being in this time zone.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
Fourth quarter menaces
That fourth quarter defence on Friday night was as good as the other night against Chicago and if you’re going to be good at that end of the floor, that’s the time to do it when it’s going to have the greatest impact.
The Clippers shot 29 per cent in that quarter – 5-17 from the field, 1-7 from three – and went scoreless for the last 6:58.
Yes, not one single solitary point in the final seven minutes of an NBA game. That’s shocking.
Now, it’s not all on Toronto, the Clips took a dizzying array of weird shots but, even the most hardened critics of the way this Raptors team defends has to admit that’s pretty good.
And coming on the heels of a 3-21 fourth from the Bulls, it’s a pretty good trend.
I’m thinking that, eventually, DeMar DeRozan’s going to look back on last night fondly, it being his first game in his hometown as a pro and everything but I also think that, as soon as the game was over, he wanted to put it entirely out of his mind.
Four shots, one made, two airballs (“His jumper had about three extra feet on it,” was how Jay described it), no rebounds and a turnover.
But you live and learn and at least he’ll never have to go through that again. You could tell from the first time he touched the ball that he was too geeked up to really have an impact, which is why he ended up only playing 11 minutes.
But he was the subject of the night’s best line.
Pre-game, big crush of local reporters around Jay trying to get the inside scoop on the DeRozan Development.
Reporter: “What does DeMar bring to the team?”
Jay: “I heard Hedo say inside (the locker room): Donuts.”
And them, of course, Jay went on to laud the kid for working hard and getting better and yadda, yadda, yadda.
Time for change?
Not sure how many noticed – heck, I imagine TV sets and computers around the world were being turned off at halftime in disgust – but there was another subtle defensive alteration at halftime that had a huge role in Toronto’s second-half improvement.
After trying to defend Chris Kaman one-on-one to relatively disastrous results, the Raptors went to a double-team for a lot of the third quarter that really messed up his rhythm. And, as Jay pointed out to us in his post-game session, just when Kaman got used the double, they didn’t.
“We started coming a little bit and then late in the game, we didn’t come. We could have settle for his twos but we didn’t want them to get a couple of threes and rally behind that. So we trapped him in the second half and he turned it over a couple of times, had a more difficult time scoring and then late in the game, we decided just to stay at home and force him to take tough twos and not give up the threes.”
Not a bad shift in strategy, as it turned out.
And, in other news:
Just want to get this straight:
LeBron James is going to change from No. 23 to No. 6 to “honour” Michael Jordan for what he did for the game? Yeah, that Bill Russell and Julius Erving really didn’t do squat for the NBA.
And I’m not entirely sure where this cockamamie notion came from that the league should change it’s logo to make it Look Like Mike but that might be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.
Yes, Jordan did wonders as a player, won titles, competed ruthlessly and made a lot of players and a lot of owners a lot of money.
But the game was pretty good when he got there thanks to Magic and Bird and I’m sure the shoe company that made Jordan iconic would have glommed on to someone else eventually.
Look, Jordan was brilliant and – maybe – the best player ever, although you can make a case for Oscar or Russell.
But to suggest they change the very mark that identifies the league itself – a mark that would no doubt evoke more memories of a shoe company than anything these – is a disservice.
Thankfully, this idea will have no legs and die a peaceful death
Riding in to the Staples Center for LAX, the cab passes by the exit for the Coliseum, which is right near the old L.A. Sports Arena, where last night’s Raptors opponents used to play.
And it gave a guy rise to think about what might have been the lowest point in Raptors history. Believe me, having seen so many lows, that’s a helluva statement to make.
It was in March, 1998, the Clips – who were 13-49 going into the game – hung 152 points on Toronto, which remains the most points scored by an opponent ever.
Was like a 48-minute layup line before about 3,000 fans in a stinky old arena that smelled like urine. Oh, and they have to give you an armed guard to walk you to your car in the media parking lot after the game.
Now, cue the scary music.
That was a Friday the 13th, too. Just like last night.
The L.A. Times says this about that one.
Oddest sight of the night?
After the game, walking back along the court to get to the locker room, there’s Clippers owner Donald Sterling standing at midcourt surrounded by a group of fans.
One lady: “I just want to thank you for all you’ve done.”
Ah, yeah. Right.
I presume you all saw the Bryan quote about The Legend from the notes in the paper today?
“The timing is purely coincidental. He’s someone we would have to consider but I’ve heard there may be a deal in Europe in place for him.”
Now, I know so many of you are going to go off half-cocked – or fully-cocked, I should say – about the notion of Pops Mensah-Bonsu coming back so you might find that interesting.
But if it happens, please riddle me this: Would you use him before Amir Johnson, who’s bigger, younger, better? Or before Reggie Evans, when he gets back in a couple of weeks? Or Rasho? Well, maybe Rasho.
Truth is, you’re talking about the fifth big at best so please keep that in mind.
Speaking of ex-Raptors, looks like Quincy’s going to land on his feet.
Was told last night Douby is likely headed to Turkey if no NBA team puts a claim in on him over the weekend before he clears waivers on Monday.
And there you have the reason they kept him around for a couple of weeks, as I expected. By not holding firm to the original Nov. 1 date to have his contract more fully guaranteed, it allowed Douby’s agent, with some help from the Raptors and their European connections, to find a job.
All right, a Steve Nash piece to write for tomorrow’s paper, a flight to catch and, hopefully, a nice sports bar to find by the hotel in Phoenix to watch a fight and work on some morning mail. Sounds like a good day ahead.