Good from start to finish, go figure
That was sort of impressive, wasn’t it?
Start to finish, one of the best games they’ve played all year; maddening that they can do that and also look so bad at times but, what the heck, it must have been fun to watch.
Big week ahead: At Miami, at Orlando, home to Jersey and New Orleans. Three and one would be nice, don’t you think? Two and two’s probably more likely.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
It’s like Where’s Waldo?
With a 6-11, 250-pound basketball player, that is.
Not sure how many noticed a very slight change in what the Raptors do offensively but as Chris Bosh was going nuts from the field (11-19 on a rather economical day), you can be sure the Rockets did.
The subtle shift in a new Toronto offensive set, which Jay mentioned in his post-game dissertation, moved Bosh to the elbow rather than on the low post or midway up the lane and it worked wonders.
The set, which they just put in, works two-fold.
The option of Jack delivering the ball to Bosh at the elbow, heading to the corner while Bosh made a dibble-handoff move with Turk worked wonders. It got Turk around the corner and in paint, where he made little fades or hit an open Jack in the corner.
But, just as importantly, it didn’t give the Rockets a chance to double Bosh, who was too far from the basket to make a double-team effective. It takes a lot longer for a second defender to come and double at the elbow in that time, Bosh would get the ball moving on the perimeter and someone would have got an open look.
It’s amazing that moving a guy two steps can have such an impact but it does. And it did. And it’s a pretty good coaching move, if you ask me.
Why him? Why then?
Yes, it was a somewhat surprisingly early appearance for Pops Mensah-Bonsu in Sunday’s game. He doesn’t get a lot of second-quarter minutes as a matter of course. Good matchups and a bit of history were behind it, according to the coach.
“For a couple of reasons we played Pops today. No. 1, we saw how he played against us when he was with them after he’d been with us. There’s something about guys when they go back, you saw the game Jarrett Jack had against Indiana. You play against your former teammates and you’re ready to go. We knew that he was going to be ready for this game.
“(And) he brings energy and we were looking for energy off the bench instead of the game getting slow or stagnant and he did bring that.”
Now, I don’t think it’s going to be a regular thing but it worked okay for a few minutes. A gamble well worth it.
One win, one loss
A couple of fouls-related gambles by Jay, both wise in my humble opinion, and they come with mixed results.
Andrea, who looked pretty good early, gets a second foul with about 2 1-2 minutes left in the first quarter and Jay takes him out. It’s about his usual rest time but I’m sure the second personal had a lot to do with the sub. He goes back to Bargnani with 8:49 left in the second, which is far early that usual, and Bargs makes a big three. Alas, he gets a third foul with 5:24 left and his half – nine points, two boards – is over.
In the fourth quarter, who might have had his best all-around game, gets a fifth personal with 5:08 left, Toronto’s up 11 and it would have surprised no one if Jay had taken him right out, just in case the game got close and they needed him in the final 90 seconds or something
But, no, Turk stays, the Rockets don’t make a run and he closes out the game.
And while that was going on, so was this …
We’re standing in the locker room before the game, right after the release came that the Knicks had signed Jonathan Bender and, besides wanting to call his cousin Mo Pete for reaction, it was interesting to hear what some Raptors were saying.
A couple, Pops and Marcus Banks, were surprised to say the least; both wondered if he’d been playing at all for three years.
But it was assistant coach Micah Nori, the only basketball guy on the staff who was here when Bender first came out, who made the most interesting observation.
According to him, Bender had the single best individual workout of any potential draft pick in the more than a decade that Micah’s been around.
Unbelievable shooting range. Great quickness and agility and the kind of all-around game that can’t be taught.
That kind of went ‘poof’ once Bender’s knees broke down but tells you why he was so highly thought of back in the day.
My Man Jonathan Feigen reports on Sunday’s game thusly in the pages of the Houston Chronicle.
Okay, so Jarrett Jack has a great game with 17, 8 and 8, he sits on a Rocket after the guy falls down and he’s the first Raptor to get up in Trevor Ariza’s face after the cheap shot at DeRozan.
None of those was My Favourite Jack Moment of the game though.
That came in the second quarter after ref Eric Lewis called a rather questionable foul on Jack right in front of the Houston bench and on a perfect angle for me to watch it unfold.
Jack stands there, stunned, and stares at Lewis like he wanted to burn a hole in him. Five seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds and Jack’s just staring, not saying a word.
Lewis’s back is to us so I’m not sure what he said but he said something, apparently, to Jarrett about the staredown.
Says Jack, with a bit of smirk and his eyes momentarily averted to the stands.
“I’m looking up there.”
During garbage time in blowouts, I’m most deleting uncivil and knucklehead comments from the in-game blog thingy. Guess it’s time to start paying more attention; after all, the coaches do.
“We rank our guys every single possession. Every play of every game whether we’re up 20 or we’re down 20. That’s kind of what we tell guys at the end of the bench: ‘We’re still watching what you do. If you go 9-for-9 in your possessions defensively then we’re going to look at it a little more and think maybe we should play him a little more. That’s how you move up.’
“That’s how we keep guys honest and keep guys working hard when maybe they’re not playing much.”
Oh, do Rogers and I have issues or what?
First, there’s the whole TSN2 fiasco from a year ago. Then there’s the unseemly amount of money we pay them every month.
And now it’s the company in charge of the infernal Thunderstix that have suddenly made a re-appearance?
Here’s the gig for the rest of the week, for the dozens of you who care deeply.
No, I am not in Florida, that’s a Dave trip.
Tomorrow’s the draw for the world championships, sometime in the morning and Canada Basketball’s hooking us up on a conference call with coaches, players and grand poobahs to discuss it, pushing back our game day chat to 1 p.m. from noon. There’ll be the regular in-game blog that night, I expect, but there’s a soiree I don’t want to miss on Wednesday so I might have to sit out the Orlando contest.
I’ll let you know. Deal?