It could be a doozy
It could be a doozy
Join Doug Smith for a live Q&A at noon today, as the Raptors prepare to take on the New Jersey Nets.
My good Lord, you people are angry.
Seriously, there was some major league venom in those comments yesterday. Maybe even eclipsing those after the Atlanta game. If they lose tonight, not sure I’m even going to turn on the machine tomorrow.
But, for now, we soldier on …
You know me, all “let’s wait, give it time, it’s too early to go all crazy and nutty and fire this guy, trade those six guys, bench those other nine guys and WHY THE HELL DOESN’T POPS PLAY MORE!”
Well, time’s up.
These next dozen games, eight against teams below .500, only one back-to-back and no horribly arduous travel, are the time to make a move.
Or a time to make some realize it’s time to make other moves.
The five that begin tonight – New Jersey, New Orleans, at Detroit Detroit back here and then Charlotte – is by far the easiest stretch of games they’ve had this season. Depending on how things shake out, it might end up being the easiest stretch of games they’ll have all year.
Now, you also know I think there’s plenty of talent on this team, more than enough to still legitimately challenge for fifth or six or seventh in the East (which is about where some had them at the start of the season).
Let’s say they go 4-1 here (and you know they’ll spit one up for sure). That gets them to, what, 15-19 15-18 on Jan. 1, which is about two games worse than I originally figured.
Can they go 4-1? Sure. No question. Will they? No idea. But it’ll be fun to watch.
If they do, do you think the season’s in the toilet then? No way. It’s not.
Now, if they go 1-4 here and are 12-22 12-21 when the calendar turns and it’s time to think about rushing to make some substantial change.
But if I’m them, I don’t even think about anything until a week or so into 2010.
This came in a few days ago in a game-day chat from someone or something known as Crackers and I promised to get to it here one day.
Doug, I'm with you with the "defense is a team effort" thing. Maybe you can elaborate more on why it is a team effort (individual skills aside)? Such as communication, bonding, knowing where a player will be in a given position, and such? Maybe that'll make readers understand the "team effort".
It boils down to this: The players, a vast, vast majority of them simply cannot be stopped one-on-one. At least not the majority of times. They are too skilled, they know where they want to and they are, honestly, very good.
So it is communication and system and here’s one example:
A guard runs a high screen and a defending team “shows” a big, that is stepping out to impede the progress of the attacking guard.
That generally means the offensive big who set the screen will roll to the basket and other defensive big, who is usually in the low post on the opposite side of the lane, has to leave his man to guard the guy going to the basket, or at least move towards him.
That big has to let the guy at the top of the key know, by yelling most of the time, that he’s got his man and to stay up with the guard.
Now, someone has to help him, and that’s generally the forward or the guard on the weak side, who has to slide over to take care of the big. He’s not only got to let his teammates know he’s going, he’s got to go quickly and to the right spot.
Here’s what happens all too often to Toronto:
The guard using the screen gets trapped, he kicks the ball to the wing and it’s passed to the corner while the Raptors defence is scrambling.
The big who “showed” on the screen has to get either down low or out to the corner while the weak-side forward has to get in position to guard someone under the basket.
How many times have you see them do a good job on the screen, close out on the shooter in the corner, only to have a missed shot drop into the lap of a weakside offensive player because the weakside defender was either too unaware, or too slow, to get inside the man he was supposed to guard and box him out under the basket? A million times? That’s bad communication and bad execution and why a good “team” defence is needed more than anything.
I have no idea if that answers your question but it’s all I’ve got for you now.
Oh, saw Bosh’s DVD thing the other night.
Sort of entertaining to me, it does present a look at the kid you won’t get anywhere else and I do know that Super Son, 13, was quite impressed with it.
There are no hugely startling revelations so don’t go looking for that but you do get a look at a guy wrestling with a decision to, well, in my opinion, deface his body.
Should anyone buy it?
I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money (unless it’s to buy me a nice gift or a cold beer) but it’s quite a unique look at an athlete.
Way back in the day, say six months ago, I imagine the vast majority of you would have been hugely interested in the goings-on with the Nets.
Atlantic Division rival, that No 15 guy, a team you loved to hate.
Now? Not so much.
But here’s one of this morning’s offerings about them just to get you up to date, although I notice my man Dave D seems to have enjoyed a day of rest and relaxation. Smart man.
Speaking of the Nets, we all recall that yesterday was the anniversary of what has to be the single worst player transaction in franchise history. That’s when you take several factors – return obtained, short-term implications, long-term implications, blows to collective psyche – into consideration because there have been other doozies (hello Araujo over Iguadala, which actually started this downward trend).
It got me thinking, which is often a dangerous proposition.
What was the single best?
And after careful consideration (okay, some time on the couch watching Heat-Magic and a few minutes while driving for coffee) this is what I’ve come up with:
Antonio Davis for Jonathan Bender.
Say what you will about AD, and you bashed him ferociously when he left just as you lauded him greatly when he was here, he gave them an edge and inside presence and a sidekick for Oak that was just what they needed.
Bender? Well, too bad it didn’t work out for him.
The other to consider would definitely be Oakley for Camby but considering what Marcus went on to achieve in his career, it has to come in second.
Sound about right to you?
A couple of writers scribbled yesterday to the mailbox wondering how on earth the Raptors could have taken the day off.
They needed it.
Back-to-backs in Florida to end three games in four days and four in six; late flight back from Orlando that would have got in during the wee overnight hours; the theory of diminishing returns.
Now, know this: A handful of players – the rookie among them – would have got into the gym to get a workout in so it wasn’t like everyone went home to play video games all day.
The idea of a “punishment” practice, while sweet, is best saved for some future time. It’s not like they should have beaten Orlando, or that they lost by 60 in Miami.
They lost to one better team and one that, at the moment, is better than them and probably ends up on par with them at the end of the year.
I have no problem with them not having a practice scheduled yesterday at all.
Speaking of mail, last chance to get some in. Pretty full over there now but I don’t have a lot going on Saturday so there’s time to answer a few.
All right, don’t forget: Game-day chat at noon my time, in-game blog at 7. Be there, or be square.
Well, at least the soiree was nice.
Fun, fellowship, a story or two, good friends and I was still able to stay in touch with the game a wee bit. Not a bad night, at all.
But that’s not what we’re here for, is it?
We’re here to talk Real Professional Men’s Basketball.
And the Raptors.
Let’s change up the order today; the sameness of the game in Orlando made it virtually impossible to learn much, except that this group has very little heart, next to zero determination and less will some nights than any Raptors team I’ve covered.
Of course, if they beat New Jersey, New Orleans, Detroit, Detroit and Charlotte on a five-game winning streak and some will be singing a slightly different tune but, until then …
All fans wearing black today? As the inimitable Jalen Rose once said, “right down to the drawers?” Why, you ask? Well, if the franchise is finding some reason to “celebrate” a bogus anniversary like 15 years, you should be to “celebrate” the fifth anniversary of, ta-da!!!!!
The Vince Carter Trade!!!
Talk about black days in franchise history. I don’t think there’s been a blacker one. Really.
Yep, five years ago today, we stood stunned in the hallway of Conseco Fieldhouse, waiting to get reaction to the trade.
Jalen, and he’s was in full-on great quote mode, first said, as he walked by us:
“For the first time in his life, Jalen’s speechless”
A bit later, we got something along the lines of …
“When I first heard New Jersey, I figured we had to get Richard Jefferson.”
Thomas Jefferson might have been more like it.
Anyway, we’ve deconstructed that deal far too often, I just wanted to mention the anniversary.
Kind of fitting, isn’t it, that it comes on a week when Toronto sees Alonzo Mourning’s number hanging from the rafters in Miami a night before Vince gets an easy dozen against them for Orlando.
And now, regular stuff:
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
As I mentioned …
It was tough to really concentrate on the game with all the hullabaloo going on around me but it sure seemed that the old “lack of energy” thing got ‘em again.
Now, as you well know, I think Orlando’s the best team in the East and if they played Toronto 10 times now, I’d say Orlando wins eight of ‘em, maybe nine, so the result should not be surprising to anyone.
But the danger sign is still there.
I was talking the other day to someone closely connected to the team, a guy who’s around it an awful lot and someone whose opinion I respect as much as anyone in the game.
What is it, I ask, what’s missing.
One word answer:
It’s committing to doing the right thing the right way on every single possession at both ends of the floor. It’s not easy, and I think if you wanted to you could closely look at every team and every player and see moments of, um, laziness, for want of a better word.
But thing that separates the good teams from the middling one – and 11-17 aside, this is still a middling team right now – is having that commitment more often than not.
And until they get it, not only are they not going to be able to stay close to better teams – like Orlando – and hope for some upset win, they’re not going to be able to beat even lesser-skilled teams.
Sam used to say all the time the more important thing was finding some way, every night, to stay in touch until the fourth quarter and hope someone would make a play to win a game.
This team doesn’t stay close until halftime most nights.
It’s a different look
I think Jarrett Jack’s done a fine job filling in as the starting point guard, he brings a different look to the offence, and the defence.
That said, I’ve noticed in the last two nights a subtle move that seems to take them out of one of their best offensive sets.
Watch him when they run a high screen.
More often than not it seems – and this is anecdotal rather than something backed up with numbers – he’ll “reject” the screen and dribble back into the paint.
Now, that’s a fine move every now and then, especially if the big is showing hard on the other side of the screen because it gets the defence scrambling, but for a set designed for the point guard to turn the corner and either find the big rolling, get an open shooter in the corner, pull up for a jumper or find the big (Andrea) picking and popping for a three, turning back isn’t always prudent.
Little thing, for sure. But something that’s been noticeable the last two nights.
Oh, yeah, he’s a shooter.
I’m standing right under the TV with My Man Perk as the first quarter draws to a close, chatting with him but watching the action rather intently (yes, it was very much a multi-tasking kind of night).
Anyway, last possession, Orlando’s up eight and it’s still a game.
But somehow, as only the Raptors can do I believe, they manage to blow a defensive coverage and leave Ryan Anderson so wide open on the perimeter it’s not even funny.
He catches, is probably stunned that there’s no one really close to him, lines up a three and drills it.
Shocking, but true.
Now, some more junk.
Speaking of bad trades and apples and oranges, how about that Blue Jay trade?
My learned baseball colleagues before and during the fun-fest yesterday were mentioning that maybe it was the best deal Boy GM could have made but, really?
Three guys many have never heard of, one who’s already had Tommy John surgery and a couple of prospects who “might’ be ready late in 2010?
I will tell you this, when Super Son and I venture to the dome, it’s generally planned around a Halladay start and I presume we’re not alone in this.
I’m sure not going to watch Ricky Romero, that’s for sure.
On a positive note, it seems the price of getting murdered in a trade has gone down to $6 million from $9 million, which is the amount the Heroes Of The Hardcourt had to fork out to Alonzo Mourning.
In Orlando, Brian Schmitz summed up the Wednesday affair thusly.
Not only are there just a few mailbag submissions, there aren’t a whole lot outside of the “They should trade everyone. Your thoughts?” type of query.
And since I don’t plan on leaving the house today except for the obligatory journey to Starbucks momentarily, dropping some good questions here might give me a chance to get a head start on the weekend.
Or they’ll give me something to ignore whilst lounging around watching another of the CSI franchise shows, we seem to have usurped Law And Order as the mindless, endless repeat show-of-the-day now.
Think it’s going to be fun around the Air Canada Centre tomorrow night? Back in the day, a Friday night visit by New Jersey and the place would have been buzzing, there would have been some kind of electricity in the air.
Now, it’s a truly dreadful 2-25 team facing one that’s slip-sliding into oblivion if it’s not careful.
If there’s 16,000 people in the joint, given the way the team’s going and the way attendance has been, I’ll be surprised.
But it’s also a Huskies night and another of those “recognition” nights for players of the bygone era.
Tomorrow it’s Muggsy Bogues and I’m sure there’ll be all kinds of wistful memories of the 83 total games he played in Toronto.
Join Doug Smith for a live Q&A at noon today, as the Raptors prepare to take on the Orlando Magic.
Bit of a schedule change for today, I’m afraid.
The regular game-day chat goes back to noon from 1 p.m. but, alas, there cannot be an in-game blog this evening.
I had forgotten about the department’s Post-Work, Pre-Christmas Buss-toss And Social Soiree taking place this evening at an establishment across the street from where we ply our trade.
I don’t get to hang with those folks too often and with some of them departing soon, I should. So I will.
Some of you know how to reach me if you want; other than that, we’ll do the in-game thingy Friday.
Until then …
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
Wanna ease the angst?
Come to this realization:
This is what they are right now. A middling team that’s good one night and bad the next, inconsistent of effort and, more importantly, execution.
The infuriating thing has to be that they can do it. They can play their defensive system to good success, as we’ve seen on a handful of occasions, the most recent being Sunday.
And despite the fact they haven’t hit a three-pointer in eons, it seems, they are still one of the more potent offensive forces in the league.
I was talking to a rival assistant coach one night recently and asked him for an honest assessment of the Raptors.
What I got was this, and I paraphrase because my tape recorder wasn’t on and the hand-written notes I jotted down are almost indecipherable.
But the gist of it’s right:
“It’s a good team, a playoff team. Probably fifth best in the East. But I have no idea why they can’t play hard every night. If you get them down, they go away.”
Pretty good assessment, don’t you think?
And maybe that’s where you’re going to be for the next 10 or 15 games, like you’ve been for the first 27. Highs and lows. Some good games, more bad. Effort lacking one night, effort there the next.
And all you can do, I fear, is hope they find some magical consistency, that they get on some kind of role and it sticks with them. There are no magical solutions, no huge trade, no shocking moves to be made. Maybe something big happens a month from now but for the time being this is what they are.
Of course, t feeds into the oft-bipolar attributes of some fans and will undoubtedly cause more angst than some would like to suffer through but, a third of way through the regular season, it is what it is.
It’s easy, but it’s wrong.
Every day after losses like Tuesday nights – and that’s quite a few days now that I think of it – the e-mails flood in.
“Jarrett cost them that game.”
“Jay cost them that game.”
“If Bargnani was better, they would have won; it’s his fault.”
“Did you see the bench? That’s why they lost.”
Oh, were it so simple.
You cannot ascribe blame to one player or coach, it’s foolish and dead wrong.
Like last night, for instance.
On one possession, Andrea would do a good job defending his guy, force a miss and watch a weakside offensive rebounder grab the ball.
On one possession, I think Sonny Weems forced Mario Chalmers to dribble out about 16 seconds of the shot clock but Jack couldn’t fight through a screen and the Heat got an open look.
Bosh holds off O’Neal on the boards, Turk lets his guy slide in to grab a miss, forgetting the basic box-out tenet of defensive play, which is to find your guy and put a body on him.
It’s never one guy, never one play. It’s a collective team game and, believe me, there’s always more than enough blame to go around.
We’re seeing regression.
Remember, about 10 days ago, everyone was gaga about DeMar DeRozan and how maybe he finally “got it” and was about to turn some mythical corner.
Not so much.
Check out the last five shooting games: 2-9, 1-4, 0-5, 2-4, 4-10.
That’s a whopping 9-32 by my math and that’s simply not good enough. Oh, and in his last four games, he’s shot a whopping four free throws – and they all came in one game against Atlanta.
That’s 21 minutes of free throw-free play against the Rockets and another 28 minutes without a trip to the line Tuesday night in Miami.
I know he’s a rookie and he needs to be cut some slack but isn’t his play rather indicative of the entire team? Shows up one night, doesn’t the next.
And there’s also this:
The lose and they lose big
What have they lost? Sixteen games?
By my count, they’ve lost six of those games by 20 points or more. A quick glance of last season’s scores shows the lost six games by 20 or more points in the entire season.
I’m going to bring this up even though it’s a rant and ends with some rhetorical questions.
So yesterday a guy calls me a “fool” for the misuse of one word in a 1,200-word blog post.
Then during the live chat in the afternoon, an idiot writes “u suck” (which tells me he or she is about 12), another wants to know about my sexual orientation, another demands that I answer his or her question and if I don’t I’m a racist and that’s the just the stuff I remember off the top of my head.
Does doing crap like that make people feel, what? Significant? Smart? Comical? The least bit relevant? Or does it just feed some basic mental defect that says, “hey, look at me even if I don’t give you my real name.”
And people wonder why I’m cranky every now and then.
Of course, there are so many of you who are smart and insightful and I appreciate the comments because it adds an awful lot to this tiny community.
But, really, reading that kind of tripe can get a guy every now and then.
And that should make entire season, er, I mean entire sense to you.
Oh, in Miami, this is what Ira wrote off that one.
It was interesting to talk to the Canada Basketball people yesterday about the world championships draw and what might transpire between now and then.
The one thing that go to me:
The continued expectation that Matt Bonner will get his citizenship act together to ride to the rescue and that they continue to hold out Jamaal Magloire as a possibility.
Now, I’ve been pretty clear on this in the past, but it bears repeating: These worlds need to be as much about developing the program and the young players and looking ahead to 2011’s Olympic quaiifying even than anything.
Matt needs to give them a commitment for three summers – I imagine he will but they need to make that clear – and as much as they talk about Jamaal, I don’t think they need him on the court.
Where they need him is in his community, telling the kids in Toronto that the national team program matters. Maybe there’s room for him on the bench in some advisory role, at least as a teacher during practices.
But on the floor?
On the floor this summer has to be about kids in their early 20s gaining invaluable international experience. Look, with or without Matt Bonner and Jamaal Magloire, this is a team that will be life and death to win two games in the preliminary round and advance to the knockout stage.
That’s a legitimate goal, difficult to achieve, and something realistic to shoot for. And if they reach it with a young team learning, it’s only going to help in 2011, maybe 2012 and after.
From Orlando, Brian Schmitz tells us in this piece that the Magic is quite happy the league took exception to some over-exuberant physical defence the Pacers played on Dwight Howard the other night and upgraded a foul on Troy Murphy to a flagrant.
Bet they won’t be worried about the same thing after they play Toronto tonight.
I must say my scheduling skills leave a little bit to be desired.
Join Doug Smith for a live Q&A at 1 p.m. Tuesday, as the Raptors prepare to take on the Miami Heat.
This is pretty cool. We don’t do a lot of breaking news around here but today we do.
And we also fill you in with all kinds of other little tidbits to make your morning go a little quicker.
So, here you go …
The draw for the 2010 men’s world championships is done and, at first blush, Canada is in tough.
In the opening round-robin they get Lithuania, France, Spain, New Zealand and Lebanon and while not the Group of Death, it’s at least the Group of Critical Condition
It’s Group D for anyone who cares and see how four of the six will advance, Canada is going to probably have to come up with a couple of victories at least and that’s no easy task.
Spain is, well, Spain; France is loaded, New Zealand’s always under-rated, Lithuania’s very, very good and you have to think only Lebanon would be considered a group minnow with Canada.
We’ll delve into this a little more as the day progresses – there’s a conference call with Leo, Maurizio and other Canada Basketball types later this morning and I imagine that might be a somber group.
But wanted to get the news up now because, you know, it all can’t be fun and games around here.
The rest of the draw:
Group A: Serbia, Argentina, Australia, Jordan, Germany, Angola.
Group B: Croatia, Brazil, Tunisia, Slovenia, Iran, United States.
Group C: China, Turkey, Russia, Puerto Rico, Ivory Coast, Greece.
Group D: Lithuania, Lebanon, France, Spain, Canada, New Zealand.
We’ll talk about this a little later. Don’t forget the usual game-day chat’s going at 1 p.m. today, after we get off the call with the Canadas.
Funny, but I’m not hearing from the huge faction of Raptor fans who were utterly disgusted by the mere existence of Marcus Banks on the roster earlier this year.
You know who you are: Waste of money, why not just waive him, what’s he bring to the team, he’ll kill them in the locker room, why doesn’t Bryan just buy him out.
Well, over the last few games, Banks hasn’t been spectacular but he’s been solid, and a solid pro.
It can’t be easy coming to the arena every night knowing you’re going to be either inactive or sitting on the end of the bench for every game with little or no hope of ever getting on the court.
But say this about Marcus: He’s kept himself in tremendous shape and when he got a chance to fill-in when Jose got hurt, he didn’t let anyone down. With just a couple of blips – bad shots and bad offensive decisions – he’s done what a backup is supposed to do: Maintain things while he’s on the court.
He didn’t sulk, he didn’t try to do too much, he didn’t go all crazy freelance when he got some minutes.
He played and gave them what he could, and what they needed.
For that, he should be lauded because we all know how easy it would have been to go the other way.
While I was loafing at home, Ira was working give lucky readers this on what’s up with the Heat.
I guess Miami held one of those soul-cleansing team meetings after being whacked at home by Memphis the other day. Wonder if they had “communication” problems?
You know me and fashion, right?
Well, while flipping the dial last night, I came across a few minutes of Dallas-New Orleans and all I can say is that Dirk Nowitzki in a white headband is not a particularly good look.
I will mention he had a season-low 10 points in that game and not mention the reason.
Speaking of flipping, I spent a few minutes trolling the Houston Chronicle site checking to see if the Ariza suspension had come down and saw this little item where coach Rick Adelman killed the NBA for he figures is a ridiculous schedule.
This might be the year I’ve heard the most complaints I ever have about the schedule and not just from Toronto, which had a brutal opening month or so.
Too many games jammed in. Too many back-to-backs, too much zany travel. Adelman’s miffed at Houston’s Christmas schedule and I’m sure if you looked at all 30 teams, there’d be legitimate beefs from about 20.
What to do?
Well, how about this?
Cut the never-ending pre-season by two weeks and add that to the regular season.
Arenas are already booked for the meaningless exhibition games so their availability isn’t going to be an issue; most national TV broadcasters pick up at least a game or two in the final two weeks and the players are more than ready to pay for real.
Makes entire sense to me. Which is why it’ll never happen.
I heard the Winter Olympics are coming soon or something like that?
And so is the flame.
A few weeks ago, when I mentioned that Steve Nash is going to carry it on the Thursday night before the Games open in Vancouver, I also mentioned they needed to find a time for Jay to carry it, given his Olympic past and stature in Canadian sports history.
Well, he will.
Thursday here in Toronto.
Makes entire sense. Which is why I’m surprised it ever happened.
I am told by people in the know that just because any free agent who signed a new contract on the first day the NBA moratorium was lifted last July can be dealt again tonight there is nothing cooking for this afternoon in Toronto.
It’s not like they’re going to trade Hedo, Jack and Rasho – the three free agents they could move – but they’re not looking to acquire anyone imminently, either.
So the trade watching lives some of you might be living can be put back on hold.
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?
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).