Of the game and Gil and goodbye O-Rena
Lads looked good, played hard, defended, hung on.
All in all, I’m sure they’re quite proud of themselves. And going through Boston-San Antonio-Orlando 2-1 is entirely unexpected, isn’t it?
Of course, its meaning will be diminished if they spit one up in Philly tomorrow but that’s for another day.
For today, it’s this:
Three Things I Learned
(I’m wondering if Three Things I Learned is still appropriate and or entertaining or if we need to change the format up a bit just to jazz this joint up as the second half of the season approaches? Suggestions welcome.”
Who is this guy?
It really is quite something, what we’re seeing with Andrea Bargnani in the last little while.
It’s not just the strong individual defence he’s playing on other big men (there are those among us who never thought his one-on-one play was nearly as bad as many contended) and it’s not just the big shots he’s hitting (and those two threes off the Jose drive-and-kicks were huge last night.)
It’s the way he’s “engaged” in the game, emotional, talkative, demonstrative.
If there was one infuriating thing about him, it was his tendency to be laconic, to kind of loaf through stretches of games looking like he’d rather be in a dentist’s chair than on a basketball court.
I noticed it as long ago as the Milwaukee game in early December, a more vocal Bargnani.
And now we’re seeing it nightly.
I know the kid has taken his shots over the years for a variety of issues real and perceived but it’s kind of interesting that he’s come through it and out the other side a more confident, capable and involved teammate.
Maybe there is a level of mental toughness that’s been long dormant.
It’s a small world
Irregulars will know that I’m not a big fan of the Jose-Jarrett backcourt, at least not for long stretches of games. I understand the reasoning – it gets another ball-handler on the court – but there are issues of size and quickness that are troubling.
And in light of what happened last night, I will say this:
If they use it – and they are going to because, believe it or not, the coaches don’t take advice from us – the primary ball-handling duties have to be Calderon’s.
He’s got better skills in that department than Jack and he makes better decisions.
So any time Hedo isn’t initiating the offence, it has to Jose.
Oh, and would the dozens and dozens and dozens of you who swore up and down that that’s a better team with Jack and Marcus Banks as the point guards than it is with Calderon and Jack please explain your thinking to us again.
Two of the biggest baskets of the night came when Calderon drove right, got right to the rim and kicked the ball out to a wide open Bargnani, who made three-pointers.
No one else on the roster makes those plays.
Yes, they committed 10 fouls in the fourth quarter before the referees deemed to call one on the Orlandos and yes, there were some dubious blows of the whistle, particularly on Andrea Bargnani, who cannot get a break it seems.
But, truth be told, the majority of those fouls were legitimate and the Raptors will continue to play with fire unless they start playing smarter.
Jay brought it up in Boston on Saturday and he reiterated it again last night.
“We have to find a way to play defence without fouling.”
How? Well, by moving feet instead of slapping with hands might be a good start. Getting into position as play develops instead of waiting to react a second too late might be another good idea.
I don’t know how many fouls this team commits simply out of laziness but it’s going to bite them in the bum repeatedly unless they clean it up.
And now, as another great man once said, here’s the rest of the story.
You do not – I repeat DO NOT – piss off David Stern.
And you absolutely do not make fun of him while local and federal police forces are investigating you for bringing guns in an NBA locker room.
It came as absolutely no surprise to me yesterday when Stern sat down Arenas indefinitely – and my best guess now is we might see him back on the court at the start of next season – after Gil’s antics of the last couple days.
Holding court and joking about the issue? Asserting at one time it was a “joke” to put three guns on the locker room chair of a teammate?
Pure, unadulterated idiocy.
And entirely deserving of an indefinite suspension because the commissioner deemed Arenas “unfit” to play in the NBA.
Good for Stern.
There is a larger issue that will be fascinating to me to watch play out.
We have no idea how law enforcement officials will ultimately deal with the gun-toting dope. But let’s say for the sake of argument that Arenas is not charged and convicted of a felony, that he gets some relative slap on the wrist. It’s inconceivable to me, given the gun issue and the blight it is on Washington, D.C., but maybe it happens.
What then? I’m told the morals clause in the standard NBA players contract is relatively vague absent a felony conviction and the question will be whether, or if, the Wizards can void Arenas’s contract.
History might suggest not. After all, Ron Artest attacked fans, Latrell Sprewell choked his coach and neither had their deals torn up.
I know it’s a bit apples and oranges but I imagine there would be a protracted fight should the Wizards try to get out from under an odious deal worth about $80 million after this season.
It would be a fight worth taking up for the Washington franchise, though.
Back to the local heroes and here’s how B. Schmitz summed up last night’s game in Orlando and I must say, I’m quite disappointed that Mount Van Gundy didn’t erupt.
A kinder, gentler Stan, indeed.
Oh yeah, I hope you TV viewers – and a couple of area locals I heard were at the game – took notice of anything to do with the Orlando arena.
Barring a playoff series between the Raptors and Magic (wouldn’t that be juicy) it’s the last time we’ll see that old dump. Orlando’s due to a move into a brand spanking new joint next year and it can’t happen soon enough.
The old arena is small and dingy, the working facilities for us are cramped and uncomfortable (it is, after all, all about us) and I cannot imagine fans enjoying the experience, having trudged the concourses myself during the playoffs a couple of years ago searching out sustenance.
Now if we could get them to blow up Arco in Sacramento at the same time, the league would be a much nicer place to work.
Like you care.
Speaking of kindler, gentler, how about Jay giving the lads today off?
Normally, they’d get a workout in today in Orlando before flying up to Philly but the Benevolent Dictator cancelled practice right after the game.
Sounds fine to me, though, when you realize Bosh and Bargnani have logged some heavy minutes of late, 38, 39 and 40 for Bosh over the last three, 31, 42 and 40 for Bargnani, each well over his usual workload.
Not to worry, the guys who need work will get it, some guys will get up shots, some will do some weightlifting work, some will get treatment but not having a full practice is no big deal, I guess.
And it’s not like they’ll all be hanging at the beach getting sunburns or finding some golf course to lollygag on; it’s still unseasonably cold in Orlando.