We're almost at the quarter mark
Okay, they’re 7-11, probably should be 8-10 and I imagine more than a few of you had ‘em right around that mark, no?
But it’s the way they’ve got to 7-11 that’s cause for concern. And maybe time for some fixes:
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
What do they do?
Well, it’s almost the 20-game mark, which is about when I think you should evaluate teams with as many new guys as this one does, and contemplate change.
And by that I don’t mean major trades (they don’t generally happen this early in the season) and I don’t mean anything crazily drastic in other areas of the game.
But tweaks, to starting lineups, rotations and the like.
As you read this morning in these parts, there is no desire to make changes coming from the coach, even where the rookie is concerned (and he’d be one place people would look). Jay said:
That being damning with faint praise, it doesn’t seem to be a move the coach wants to make.
“Obviously, you could take a guy like DeMar and say, ‘yeah the rook’s screwing up for us’ but he’s not. His coverages are as sound as everybody else.”
So, what else?
Well, this runs counter to the prevailing opinion out there but do you really, in your heart of hearts, think Jarrett Jack would be a more consistent and capable starter than Jose? Really? Jose has his flaws and hasn’t played well for long spurts, no question about it, but I’m not sure the other way is any better.
So, what do you do then?
Start both Jack and Calderon at the two and one and try to juggle point guard minutes? That’s too much juggling.
Start Antoine Wright at the two? Yeah, right. He’s giving them nothing at either end.
Start Marco? And take away the energy from the second unit backcourt? Don’t think so.
How about this:
Do you take a gamble and start Amir Johnson for Bargnani, knowing full well Johnson’s likely to get two fouls in three minutes and Bargnani would be back in there? It gives you a dose of energy and rebounding in the starting five, that’s for sure. Bargnani has never, ever, warmed to the idea of coming off the bench and he certainly hasn’t been the worst of the Raptors offenders this year.
So perhaps that’s the move I make.
And maybe it’s time to see what Sonny Weems can bring you – besides a penchant for shooting the ball every time he touches it – in Wright’s role. Can’t be worse.
I have no idea if Jay is truly contemplating any of these or other moves and he was caught off-guard, I think by a question in the post-game media session yesterday.
Now, I will say this: The season is not lost, they are about where a lot of us thought they would be at this point in the season and there is every possibility they can turn it around even without altering anything.
But maybe it’s time to try something.
Sign of the times
A couple of minutes into the fourth quarter, Raps down nine and kind of making a move.
After a Toronto miss, Suns look like they’re getting a runout lauyup as Jason Richardson takes off down the floor. Amir Johnson, the only Raptor hustling, gets down the court and blocks the layup attempt in what could be a pretty nice momentum-changing play.
Trouble was, Johnson was the only Raptor really hustling back and when he blocks the shot, there’s no teammate there to gather in the loose ball.
The Suns do, they keep the possession alive and it ends with an Amare Stoudemire dunk.
Had even one or two of Johnson’s teammates sprinted as hard as he did, it’s entirely possible Toronto goes on a break back the other way and the game gets closer.
An indictment of effort.
Yes, you saw Chris Bosh get knocked down hard by Amare Stoudemire on a flagrant foul and yes, a bunch of Bosh’s teammates reacted in appropriate manner, most specifically Calderon, who got an elbow into Stoudemire’s chest to move him away.
And yes, it was duly noted by teammates and coaches.
But I’m not sure how many of you looked to the bench, where everyone got up and a couple made motions like they were going onto the court.
And there was Marc Iavaroni, doing precisely what an assistant coach has to do, making 100 per cent sure no Raptor actually took a step onto the court, which would have drawn an automatic suspension.
Watching it, it struck me that of all the people in the building, Marc would be the one with the most first-hand knowledge of how allowing players to even take one step towards an altercation can be a crippling blow.
And in other news …
Who says the league doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on with the Raptors?
Got a release last night that said three players had been fined – Charlotte’s Tyson Chandler and Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire $7,500 each for posting twitter messages during games and Boston’s Rasheed Wallace $30,000 for ripping officials – and I’m thinking, wow, the office does pay attention.
Two of them – Chandler and Wallace – came in games involving Toronto.
We know what Wallace did (him complaining about officials also elicits yawns) but I don’t have a clue what Chandler tweeted ‘cause I pay little or no attention to that form of communication because I think tweeting is for the birds.
So here’s what I can only presume he said during that Wednesday game:
“Hey, this is easy!”
“Do they have five guys on the floor, or four?” “Come on, let me get in on this layup line.”
“Wow, another steal and dunk.”
“How’d these guys win seven games?”
Marco Belinelli played 17 minutes and six seconds Sunday, missed all five shots he took, including three three-pointers, had one rebound and a turnover. Oh, and his team lost by 19.
He was a plus-13.
See my point about that useless stat?
Not sure if I misrepresented the question when I posed it to a friend, or if I misinterpreted the answer I got or whatever but there was a boo-boo in Sunday’s mailbag.
Came in the last question, the one about whether an assist can be given to a guy who inbounds the ball to a teammate who immediately scores.
Yes, that can be an assist.
I was wrong in saying no.
There. I feel better.
I offer this paragraph from a Canadian Press story from the Grey Cup last night about Saskatchewan Roughriders fans:
“Many sported watermelon helmets or the occasional watermelon bra as lines of fans slapped high fives with strangers and stopped to compare shades of green or admire white-and-green body paint.”
How could you not like that team?
Now if the coaches or players could only count to 13, we’d have something to talk about today.
In Phoenix, Paul Coro summed up that one like this.
So, Lawrence Frank. Out of work.
While it was hardly his fault that the Nets gave away his best player in a money dump and that is point guard got hurt and his centre got hurt and the rest of the team’s not that good, I don’t think there was anyone in the game who was surprised he got fired.
Doesn’t make it right, just makes it expected.
Now, did he become a bad coach over the last month? No way. And I bet he coaches again but please, please, I beseech all of you, do not ask if they should make a move for him now in Toronto.
I will tell you this from talking to people here and from my own opinion, nothing – NOTHING – is going on here. Nothing.
Frank, if he’s a bright guy, sits around for the rest of this season, spends some of the money he’s getting and waits for jobs to open up this summer.
I cannot imagine why any coach fired mid-season would want to jump back into a difficult job without sitting around a little while decompressing.