At least it didn't last long
We’re glancing at our boxscores while waiting for Jay to begin his post-game dissertation and this comes to me:
Of all the numbers on the sheet of paper, the most significant to me, by far, was 2:07.
As in time of game. If you’ve got to sit through nights like that, best that it’s over quickly.
And on that note …
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
What to do, what to do
Yes, it was a bad loss to a good team and at no point in the evening did it ever occur to me that Toronto could win the game. And there will be more like that as the season progresses, just like there will be times when things click and they win.
But I do think they need to tweak the rotation, a point I’ve been hammering home for a few weeks now and something that I’m hearing from people in the organization now.
The bench isn’t producing like it did, the starting unit is okay but inconsistent and maybe some roles need to be altered.
So, what do I do?
Well, nothing to the starting lineup that’s for sure.
But, again, I say give Weems the minutes that Wright’s getting, I’d run Belinelli out there a bit more to see if he’ll respond to more responsibility and, last night’s horrible effort notwithstanding, I’d get the rookie some more fourth quarter minutes.
That’s a tightening of the rotation if Jose’s going to be out, going with eight guys mainly – the five starters, Belinelli, Weems and Johnson – but maybe that’s worth a try for a few games.
I will also caution you of this:
There is still a lot of time left, the season is not over by any stretch of the imagination and they will actually win some games and play well doing it.
Not taking orders
I don’t know if you remember this play, but it’s sort of telling in a “they don’t listen” kind of way.
Sonny Weems finishes a break with a dunk, a pretty impressive runout on a night when they had so few, and he’s got a couple of teammates near the basket with him and, I think, maybe two Hawks.
A perfect time to apply some pressure in the backcourt, to stay up, maybe force the Hawks into a turnover and keep the momentum.
The coaches thought so, too.
Jay’s up off the bench, Marc’s up off the bench, Reggie Evans is up off the bench screaming “stay up, stay up, stay up” while waving their hands indicating they would like the Raptors to, you know, STAY UP!
What happens? All the guys in the front court retreat, the Hawks walked the ball up the floor and take the air out of the moment.
Not a big thing but something.
Déjà vu all over again?
Remember back in the day, after they lost a Sunday afternoon game to Orlando and really didn’t play that poorly? It was suggested then but some that the simple fact was that the better team had won and that usually happens?
Well, how about we dredge that up again and suggest the better team won last night.
The Raptors could play the Hawks 10 times and I’d set the over and under on Toronto wins at 1.5 and maybe take the under (if I was a gambling man, that is).
The Hawks are everything Toronto isn’t. Long and athletic, great finishers and able to break you down at nearly every position.
I don’t know if they can win the East because they don’t have a lot of front court depth and they’re not overly large – which could be fatal flaws against Orlando – but I like that team a lot.
I also don’t know if they can keep it together – Joe Johnson’s destined to make a lot of money as a free agent and the Hawks didn’t even think about re-upping him last summer – but they are a very good team.
I said it during the in-game blog and I’ll say it here:
I’d rather have that roster one through nine than Cleveland’s right now.
More of this, and some of that:
We have nothing new right now on Jose. He had an MRI overnight, Jay said it’d be good speculation to think this is a longer-term situation (and, no, I have no idea what kind of timeline he was talking about and he hadn’t even spoken to the trainers at the time) and that’s very troubling.
Marcus Banks is not the answer as a backup and maybe it’s time to unleash Belinelli a little bit as Jack’s backup at PG.
We saw a little of Turk at that spot in the second half last night, sharing the court with Marco, and it might be worth seeing if Belinelli can bring the ball up and run some stuff when Hedo doesn’t have it in his hands.
Can’t hurt, can it?
Here’s one that’ll rile up a whole bunch of you.
I can see the end coming for Pops.
(Don’t throw things, hear me out)
Later this month, right around the 20th, I believe, maybe a couple of days later, his contract becomes fully guaranteed if he’s still on the roster.
And with it looking more and more like they’ll need the flexibility of a roster spot, either for a trade, maybe a third point guard, maybe a big, I can certainly see that spot being created by his departure.
This has as much to do with money as ability – there is no one else they can waive and save money doing it – so it might turn out to be the logical move.
I’d love to tell you what the beat dudes at the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote about that one but none of them actually traveled here. So you’ll have to do without.
Instead, here’s what’s going on with Houston, seeing how tomorrow’s going to be a mailbag day without the usual delights.
Nice of Canada Basketball to trot out Rowan Barrett and let the crowd cheer at halftime and it was nice to see a few members of the national women’s and men’s programs introduced before the game.
But you know what? They missed a guy who’s in the building every day, who does a lot to further the cause of basketball in the country and a guy who did an awful lot in his playing days.
Where, I wonder, was Sherman Hamilton when all this Canada Basketball love was going on?
He should have been somewhere so the fans could have cheered.
That’s a boxscore anomaly you don’t see very often.
I mentioned this in the in-game blog but I need to elaborate because it’s a pretty good story.
Marvin Williams, who is really under-sized and a bit of a tweener, gets by on the post and on the boards because he’s got, well, he’s got a large derriere. And that makes him tough to move and gives him a good base.
The one and only Doc Ryan, former national team assistant in Canada, a long-time CIS coach in Nova Scotia and a man of some bulk himself, once enthralled a group hanging in a bar with the following story:
There are two kinds of bums that basketball players have, especially big guys who do the dirty work on the boards.
You either have, Doc was telling us that night eons ago, a “pro butt” or a “bucket ass.”
Pro butts are large and make you immovable – think Charles Barkley – and are much desired. Bucket asses are just there and make you weak and easily shoved aside.
There you go, Basketball Anatomy 101.
You’ll be checking out rumps for days now, won’t you?
Speaking of Canada and the world championships (a trip I’m going on, right boss?) they’re giving out the four wild cards to the 2010 men’s tournament today and the main draw is Tuesday in Turkey.
My spies – and I have them spanning the globe – tell me Russia, Germany, Lithuania and Nigeria have the inside track on the four spots.
Cameroon maybe sneaks in there and only a true cynic would point out that they’ll get a spot if they write a big enough cheque.
(This just in: My sources were close; they gave the wild cards to Russia, Lithuania, Germany and Lebanon. Three out of four right isn't bad).
Anyway, for the draw, Canada Basketball will be represented by the inimitable Maurizio Gherardini, who’ll drop by Turkey to take part in the festivities during a globe-trotting scouting tour of half a dozen countries or so.
It’s Tuesday, in the morning our time, which means we can deconstruct it during the game-day chat to set up the Miami game later that night.