Not much to say about that one last night, was there? Better team won and, look at the bright side, they didn’t get drilled by 39 and no one’s getting fired today.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
Not tough enough
They are not going to consistently beat big, physically tough teams in a million years and we saw why last night.
The Nuggets took it to them in the paint, they battered them with aggressive defence and it should have come to the surprise of no one that the Raptors wore down as the game went on.
It’s not a fatal flaw but, in the parlance of the day, it is what it is.
Chris Bosh is stronger this year, no doubt about it, and he’s rebounding more aggressively more consistently than he ever has. But he’s alone.
Andrea is what Andrea is, a good shooting big who every now and then goes to the rim. He can’t successfully guard Nene any more than you can so they had to try to junk up the defence to lessen the hit they would take.
Antoine Wright’s a lot of things. Strong enough and big enough to guard Carmelo Anthony are not two of them. So they had to junk up the defence on Anthony, too.
Chauncey? Stronger than Jose.
Kenyon Martin? Maybe the most under-rated post defender in the game and a veteran who knows all the tricks.
Those old saws: “Horses for courses” and “styles make fights” held true; it’s simply the way it is and to have expected the Raptors to slug it out with the Nuggets and win was wishful thinking.
There will be games where those shortcomings aren’t an issue – they weren’t in Phoenix, they probably won’t be tonight in Utah, they won’t be Friday at home against Miami.
Luckily for them, they only play the Nuggets twice.
One step slow
I guess at its core, the decision to send a second defender at Carmelo Anthony wasn’t a bad idea. He’s that good and probably could have had a career night operating in a vacuum last night.
But to watch the Raptors be slow to rotate on the diving big time after time after time after time was too much.
Maybe it’s because they haven’t doubled a three on the wing all year and weren’t used to the rotation – although Jay downplayed that suggestion when I asked him about it post-game – but if they ever have to do it again, they have to do it better.
One good sign?
I think we’re starting to see the Marco Belinelli that they hoped to see from the very first game of the season.
Three three-pointers in the second quarter, 16 points on 11 shots, a couple of drives, four rebounds, a couple of assists and a couple of steals.
Not bad numbers but, as you know, I never think numbers tell the whole tale so I will say this: Just watching him play with some energy – at both ends – was even more impressive than his shooting, which is going to come and go.
I thought he’d morph into a solid contributor a bit earlier than 10 games into the season (and that’s an issue I’ll get into more in tomorrow’s newspaper) but now he’s giving them what they want.
And what it’s also going to do is allow Jay to abort, for the most part, the Jose-Jarrett backcourt. I can see Jack getting all his minutes, barring foul trouble or injury, as the backup point guard, a role I think he’s best suited for.
And in other news:
The things you see on the road:
About 2 1-2 hours to game time, step out of the cab and see this woman standing at the side of the road by the players entrance with a bundle of signs.
One on display says:
Nuggets: We believe in you.
A very nice sentiment.
Walk around her and see one she’s going to display later:
We still love Sonny Weems.
All right, Pops.
Here’s the deal. In the summer, they only wanted him back if he’d play on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract and that made me think they weren’t really interested. Which they weren’t, according the people I talk to in the organization.
And, no, they did not waive Douby last week so they could go get him; in fact, they made the decision on Douby before Houston made its on Pops.
Yes, they made a waiver claim and got him on a non-guaranteed deal to be the fifth or sixth big on the team.
He’s a likable guy and all but, really, his popularity is not commensurate with his talent.
In Denver, this is how that one played out in the paper.
The schedule is what the schedule is and all the teams will have a chance to complain at some point.
But there are murmurs around the Raptors about the stretch they are currently in that actually has some merit.
Denver played last Friday and was off, sitting at home waiting, before getting Toronto last night.
Utah hasn’t played since Saturday and has been off, sitting at home waiting ever since, for Toronto to arrive to finish off its back-to-back.
It doesn’t excuse lack of effort or shoddy preparation but it is something people with the team have noticed.
Speaking of other stories in other cities, here’s what they read in Salt Lake today as the Jazz went through another off-day.
When the Raptors finish in Utah tonight they will have played one-fifth of their road schedule and the season is just three weeks old.
What I’m wondering is if the citizenry of Salt Lake will still be celebrating the DWTS finals appearance by favourite son Donny Osmond when we get there today.
Me? I’m now firmly in the Osbourne camp.
Okay, today’s schedule has to change a little bit thanks to a mid-day, Mountain-time flight. We’ll have to go back to the 4 p.m. Eastern chat since I don’t land in Salt Lake until almost 3 p.m.
So, if you want, we’ll see you then.