Sometimes, you get what you deserve
I think it’s pretty easy to figure out what happened on Sunday afternoon:
The better team won.
And, you know, sometimes that happens.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
DeRozan’s struggling mightily
We all knew there would be times when the kid would look a bit overwhelmed and out of place during games this year but, seriously, I don’t think anyone expected it to be this often, this early.
The numbers are mostly awful: A point, a rebound and four fouls n 17 minutes yesterday; seven and seven against Miami on Friday is okay but two points and no rebounds in Utah is bad, the 17 points in Denver’s a fraud because most of them came in garbage time and he was invisible with six and two in Phoenix and a non-factor against the Clippers.
But more than the numbers, it’s the “other” stuff he’s not getting done.
There’s very little energy, his defence is lax and while there seems to be effort there, it looks wasted at time. All those little things, like running, rebounding, setting good screens, aren’t happening often enough.
I don’t think it’s time to make any drastic changes or anything – I wouldn’t even think about altering anything until at least 20 games into a season – but they need him to work harder and be better.
Little things, again
It’s an age-old problem with this team and it popped up again Sunday at a crucial time.
They are somehow creeping back into the game, down six and the momentum seems to be going their way. Dwight Howard, who turns into some Jose Calderon free-throw shooting clone when he gets to Toronto, is at the line with about 1:47 left. The Raptors get the two misses they need but somehow don’t box out Rashard Lewis, who comes along the baseline and grabs the rebound of the second miss.
They run some more time off the clock, Howard’s fouled again, goes 1-for-2 at the line and down seven with 1:20 left is too much to overcome.
Pure hustle, purely a missed defensive assignment, purely a blown chance to make a late rally.
Seems they have one of those mental glitches at precisely the worst time more often than not.
Don’t score, can’t win.
This is a perfect example for anyone to hold up that says stats don’t tell the whole story.
If you look at the boxscore, Toronto did pretty much exactly what he wanted to do: Hold the Magic to less than 42 per cent shooting, defend the three-point line (Orlando’s 9-for-32), force Carter to take 24 shots to get 24 points and hold their own on the boards.
So, how’d they lose?
They didn’t score enough. Mostly because the Magic played great defence when it mattered most; they did a delightful job in shading Chris Bosh with Howard on his back that made it next to impossible to get the ball inside and that’s where a lot of Toronto’s swing-swing offence begins.
And the Raptors, usually one of the most powerful offensive teams in the NBA, couldn’t get the ball movement they needed in any other set.
Chalk that one up to great defence because, as we’ve seen, the Raptors generally can score on anyone.
Again, it comes down to this:
The better team won.
And in other news:
The tribute was understated and I still say it’s silly to be celebrating 15 years – mostly of mediocrity – but it was nice that someone remembered Brendan Malone because I presume a lot of fans in the arena had no idea of his contribution way back in ’95.
Stan Van Gundy did:
“I did hear them mention Brendan as the first coach and I think that’s great because I was in the league as an assistant and that’s the best job I’ve ever seen anybody do coaching an expansion team. I knew his reputation, but that first year I knew how good he was. That team competed every night and other than Damon Stoudamire, they didn’t have a whole lot and they were in there all the time.”
Now, the next time a head coach disses one of his assistants will be the first, of course, but Stan didn’t probably have to go over the top like that.
Nice that he did, though, and everything he said was the truth.
Speaking of the truth, here’s Brian’s take on yesterday’s affair.
So, as I’m lounging last night – you take your rest where you can get it – caught some of the Suns romp over Detroit on TV.
And lo and behold, there’s Good Old Sam doing the NBA-TV show.
I say again, he should be on TV more often because he’s a natural.
I haven’t spoken to the young fella in a while, I presume we’ll catch up this week, but I’ve heard from shared acquaintances that he’s doing fine, got a lot of business deals in the works in Atlanta and the surrounding area and he’s quite content.
I do know he’d like to coach again and I still say he will. I think now, with the passage of time, he may have to come back as an assistant before landing a head-coaching gig but I remain steadfast in the belief that he’ll coach again.
And he should.
Big, big night, isn’t it? And, no, not because Vesa-mania is sweeping the nation after a glorious weekend win.
Nope, it’s the finale of DWTS and I’ll probably be cheering openly for my gal Kelly.
Remember: Vote early, vote often.
More good Stan quotage, passed on by My Man Perk:
“I think it’s just become a tradition now. Half the people probably don’t know why they’re booing him. I’m going to say half the people booing never saw him play here and don’t have any idea why. It’s just a tradition. He think it’s funny; we thinks it’s funny. It’s really irrelevant.”
Of course, he’s referring to HWSNBN.