Harried, but here. And now for our regularly-scheduled stuff
Here. In Milwaukee.
Just an hour or so late and I’m sure there are people scarred for life after seeing a rather large, stressed gentleman running down the concourse in Cleveland to make a connection (only to sit on the plane for half an hour while we waited for maintenance workers to bring some parts we were bringing to Milwaukee for a busted plane that’s stranded here) but now in the cozy confines a room.
I take it all back.
All that stuff about them never winning a game shooting 31 per cent?
All those times I’ve said they cannot win missing 19 of 21 three-pointers?
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
No way, Jose
Nope, Calderon did not make the flight to Milwaukee so he’s out tonight and that means Jarrett gets the start – and the chance to chase Brandon Jennings around for 35 or 40 minutes of action.
It also means Marcus Banks is going to get some burn as the backup and as he showed last night, he’s ready to give whatever he’s got.
And seeing how he’d played a whopping five minutes all season before last night – one possession for about 20 seconds in the opener against Cleveland five mopup minutes in Dallas – the fact he was ready to do what he could speaks to a pretty good level of professionalism.
But the fact does remain that the trickle-down effect of Calderon’s absence is significant.
The starters looked out of sync at times last night and while Banks was okay, there was a significant drop off in offensive production when he was on the court.
Jarrett did fine – 17, 8 and 7’s a pretty good line – but they can’t go too long without a resumption of normal point guard play.
I think, eventually, you’re going to see Turkoglu out there with Belinelli and DeRozan with the first two acting as kind of point-forwards and no true point guard the court.
I’m kind of surprised we didn’t see it a bit last night; I’m betting we get a look at it this evening.
Not sure how it’ll work, the out-of-sync factor will be just as big, but it’s something worth trying.
Where was he? I’m sure a few of you were mystified that DeMar DeRozan, who had looked pretty good at times, was on the bench in the final four minutes and Antoine Wright was on the floor.
It’s not like Wright was going to give them something offensively – oh, except the dagger with 63 seconds left – and DeRozan hadn’t been getting killed defensively.
But Jay saw something.
It worked out all right but I think the next time, maybe it’s time to give the kid some trial by fire.
“We had DeMar in the game for a while and they weren’t really sticking on him in the corner and he was having a hard time driving to the basket. Things were getting clogged up and we just went with a veteran guy more for defence than anything else.”
Some defensive props
Okay, the Antoine Wright three was a shocker, no question about it.
But a game turning on Andrea Bargnani’s one-on-one defence of Jonny Flynn?
That told me something strange and unusual was unfolding in front of our eyes.
I remember three times in the last five minutes, with the game absolutely in the balance, where Bargnani was iso’d on Flynn after switching on a screen.
Three times, Flynn tried to drive him right and get around the corner and all three times Bargnani kept Flynn in front of him and didn’t let him get to the rim.
We asked Jay about it and he said he’s quite okay with Bargnani, Chris or Amir getting switched on guards because they’ve got good footwork and can keep guys in front of them.
It was a rather charitable comment where Amir’s concerned and I don’t think Bosh ever wants to be out there on an island but Bargnani? Well, for one night and three huge possessions, he proved his coach right.
And surprised the heck out of a few of us who saw fouls, and-ones and free throws coming.
And, now, the rest of the story
Was very nice to see Dee Brown at the game, and as it turns out, it could have been extra special.
See, Dee was on the team back in February, 1999, which was the last time the Raptors had a game where they didn’t make a three-pointer.
So, the Dee story.
He was part of the single best play-call ever, in my opinion, a little ditty they used to call “Hot Soup” where he or Dell Curry would flare off a screen and get a quick three.
Hearing Butch standing on the sidelines hollering ‘hot soup’ was comical at times.
So I see Dee courtside before the game, he spies me, hand out-stretched to say hello and give him the old “Hot Soup’ hello.
He looks out at old teammate Alvin Williams, who’s working guys out on the court and says, “hey, Doug’s got ‘hot soup,’ you gotta be an oldtimer to remember that one.”
Alvin doesn’t miss a beat:
“Hot Soup? You mean ‘pass me the ball.’”
Minnesota, home of one truly struggling professional men’s basketball team, got this report with their morning papers.
Milwaukee stories? Oh, I’ve got Milwaukee stories. Not sure which one’s best so here are two:
It’s January, 2006 and we’re headed to Wisconsin for a one-game road trip and because I’m frugal (at the request of my company), I’m flying there through Chicago, which was Mistake No. 1. Anyway, sometime between me going to the airport and landing at O’Hare (about the same time the team is flying direct), the infinite wisdom of the powers-that-be decide that’s the time to fire Rob Babcock. I land to about a dozen frantic voicemail messages from the office.
Well, as I go to make my connection and meet the team in Milwaukee to get the story (no one’s spoken to Sam or a player to get reaction), some weather hits, my flight’s cancelled and no one can tell me when I might get another.
Irked, as you can imagine, I survey the options, go grab a rental car and drive to Milwaukee, getting in just in time to high-tail it to the team hotel (which, shockingly, is not my dumpy Marriott Courtyard) with then-Sun Grunt Quag, as I recall, and interview Sam and some players writing in their lobby before filing from there.
It’s April, 2004 and a rather tumultuous KO season comes to an end in Milwaukee. We all make arrangements to fly home early after the season’s final game because we’re pretty sure KO’s getting fired and if he doesn’t it’s even a bigger story.
Well, phone rings in the room about 4:30 a.m., it’s a disgruntled Super Wife calling to tell me the airline had just called the house to tell me my 8 a.m. flight was cancelled and they could get me home at 2. Well, I figure that’s not quite good enough so I drag my sorry self to the airport, groggy as you’d expect, and find out that, in fact, I could get a 7:30 flight to Chicago and be home by noon.
Get it, get home, get to hear KO tell us there are “people in the organization who don’t care about winning” and figure it’s hours before he’s fired. It was and I’m glad I was there to chronicle his last utterances as the team’s head coach.
Speaking of Milwaukee, here’s what they read this morning in the Journal-Sentinel.
I think maybe they found a new song.
Game’s close, crowd’s into it, the June Taylor Dancers come dancing out and they’re playing Cotton-Eyed Joe, which is a catchy tune you can dance to.
Fitting and something I think the game ops people should keep.
Reminded me of way back in the day when I believe it was Scotland The Brave they played to get the crowd going. It worked, too.
In other fan matters, there really is a bone to pick and I’ll simply serve it up and duck.
No, they are not playing particularly well on offence – but look at the tape, the overwhelming majority of those shots were good ones – but the defensive effort was quite solid.
The game’s getting close, though, Minnesota goes ahead by one and there are boos. Seriously. Boos. I would suggest that in about two dozen other NBA cities, you would have heard some kind of urging on of the home team, rather than denigrating it. There was no issue with effort, especially defensively, and sometimes, as an old coach used to say, “you need to make shots.”
All right, the plan is to have a regular game-day chat at noon Eastern time but I have no idea when, or if, weather clears and I end up in Milwaukee.
So I’ll either talk to you then.
Or I won’t.