Was it one that got away?
Or an okay game against a good opponent and a performance they can feel good about? Well, you don’t get a lot of chances to beat the Cavs in Cleveland if you drop one after missing eight free throws and a couple of open looks late, you can’t feel particularly good.
Anyway, we’re getting back to something close to normalcy here; thanks for bearing with us over the past few days.
Another end-of-game look
So, for all those anxious about the use of Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack at the same time, there must be some solace taken in the last couple of games.
Sure hasn’t been used much, has it? I think there were a couple of minutes at the end of the first half against the Mavs but that’s it; and then just a couple of minutes before halftime last night in Cleveland.
Well, I think Jay liked the way Belinelli was going last night, he was hitting shots and getting in the paint and he’s a longer, more active defender than Jarrett.
And, as I’ve mentioned a few times before, I think Jose’s a better option at running the offence and, with the Cavs collapsing on Bosh every time he touched the ball when he was posted up, having Calderon on the perimeter to take an open three is much more desirable than having Jack.
On one key possession, Calderon did in fact get an open three that he didn’t knock down and I, and I’m sure the coaching staff, would rather he get it than Jack.
That’s not a knock against Jarrett, who does a lot of things well, but Jose’s shooting something like 50 per cent from the field since he’s been back; that’s the shooter I want on the court.
Setting it in motion
We all remember Horns Up, right?
Not sure if anyone caught it but in the first half, while he was taking an inbounds pass right by the Cavs bench, there was a shot of Jarrett.
He’s standing there, waiting for the ball, banging his forearms together and shouting:
Yes, a play.
It’s one of the better ones the Raptors have, it’s a read-and-react kind of thing that starts with a pass to a big at the side and goes on with some continuous off-the-ball motion.
It’s not exactly the Princeton offence or a three-man weave outside the three point line but it’s designed to get the ball moving, get defenders going side-to-side and, if the screens are set well, create driving lanes for wings.
And it just sounds better than ‘Horns Up’ doesn’t it?
How’s Marco help?
Quite effectively at times.
I know the coaching staff likes a lot of what he brings, the ability to shoot and to slash and his defence is pretty good because he’s got active hands that create deflections and disrupt sets.
We saw him out there at the end of a close game against the Cavs and I’m sure it’s a sign of things to come on a more regular basis.
There was a play late where he had the ball on the right side, right in front of the Cavalier bench.
He did a very good job splitting a screen (he might be the best on the team at doing that) but the possession ended with some kind of wild attempt at a bank shot. Maybe a drive-and-kick works a bit better, I don’t know.
But I do know that if he gives them a spark of energy at both ends, you’re going to see a lot more of him in fourth quarters.
And now, the rest of the story (Except there isn’t an awful lot of the rest of the story, given my inactivity of the last couple of days)
What’d they write about that game in Cleveland? Glad you asked.
We’re going to have a little pre-game chat today, starting at 1 p.m. East.
That’s noon in Milwaukee and that means I’ll probably have the machine turned on at about 11:55 a.m. there.
Okay, judging by my knowledge of All Things Raptors Fans, I’m going with 11:57:25 as the first time I get a question about whether Bryan blew it by taking DeMar DeRozan and not Brandon Jennings.
So, heading everyone off at the pass (yeah, right. Like I still won’t get asked), I’ll say this: No, he didn’t.
Not only didn’t Jennings work out for the Raptors here in Toronto, there wasn’t a lot of buzz about him anywhere in the weeks leading up to the draft. He was thought to be an okay prospect, not a project but closer to that than to a sure-fire star.
And, frankly, that’s kind of what he’s become, right?
Yes, he had a 55 point game earlier in the season and the Bucks got off to a torrid start.
Well, now he’s a rookie shooting less than 40 per cent from the field and three-point range and while he still averages 18 points per game, he’s had as many games of fewer than 10 points than he’s had of over 20 in his last 10 outings.
Oh, and the Bucks are seven games below .500 and 10th in the East.
Speaking of the Bucks, here’s what Tom had to report today.
Sonny Weems hurts a rib muscle in the pre-game warmup somehow?
Yeah, that’s a tough break for sure; probably could have used some of his athleticism at times last night.
No work from cohorts in Cleveland on how long he might be on the shelf he’s the dreaded “day-to-day” which could me he goes against the Bucks or sits it out of for a week.
Okay, got an early flight, and I presume a long lineup at Pearson so …
Remember, game-day question-answer session at 1 p.m. Eastern time and then the game at 8 p.m.
Wish me luck at the airport.
Things going well, I hope
Anyway, big test for the lads tonight
Cue the scary music.
They start the second half of the season just the way they started the first, against Cleveland and brimming with optimism.
Optimism that comes from what I think was their best game of the season.
I don’t think they could have drawn this one up any better and it was truly indicative of the way the day went.
Late third quarter, the Raptors hadn’t folded, their lead was about the same as it was at halftime and Jarrett Jack turns the joint on its collective head.
He makes a crazy, “I have no idea what just happened” reverse layup that he finishes with a free throw for a three-point play.
He gets in front of Dirk Nowitzki at the other end, draws a charge, gets Dirk so riled up he gets a technical that Jose converts.
Next possession, Raps run as good a break as they did all day, a rebound, an outlet to Jack, a few dribbles and a pass that Amir Johnson finishes with a flush.
They’re up 17 with 1:16 left in the third and the game’s over.
Great, great sequence for Jack, who had this to say about the Mo Pete Tribute Shot:
“I don’t know how that shot went it. I heard the whistle and I kind of just threw it at the basket. I didn’t even know it went in until I heard the crowd start cheering.”
Sometimes it pays to be as lucky as good.
Has it come to this?
Chris Bosh makes half his field goal attempts, goes 5-for-6 at the free throw line, grabs a game-high 13 rebounds, has a couple of assists without a turnover and has a couple of blocked shots and the over-riding reaction is “ho hum.”
Seriously, he dominated everything the Mavs did to him; didn’t matter if it was Erick Dampier or Dirk Nowitzki or Mark Cuban guarding him, the kid did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.
In one first half stretch he showed it all:
Tough, tough fadeaway from the right side in front of the Raptors bench, next a drive on the left baseline (he went left, not right) that gets him fouled and to the line and the next touch he drill a foul-line jumper.
Think at about that time, we knew it was going to be some kind of day for him; didn’t think he’d become an afterthought, though. But when you’ve been seeing that kind of stuff on a regular basis, it becomes the norm.
Still unbelievably good. But the norm.
Different look, same result
With the game slipping away from them (actually, it was probably gone and this was little more than a last-gasp act of desperation), the Mavs threw some zone defence at the Raptors.
Normally, that spells trouble for Toronto; the ball tends to stick a lot when they run offence against zones and they settle for quick, and usually not very good, jump shots.
Yesterday? Well, by my scribbling – and this is not necessarily bang-on, but it’s pretty close – the Raps scored on three of five halfcourt possessions against the zone, unhead-of success for them.
Even if that wasn’t the number, they handled it well, were patient and got good shots. Guess having some time to practice against such looks does pay off.
Now, some more.
I mention this only because someone else might have noticed and I’d be sure to be asked but, please, put this in the “Don’t Read Anything Into It” file.
Saw Henry Thomas, Chris Bosh’s agent, in the bowels of the Air Canada Centre before the game but I’m assured by those who know these kinds of things that it was nothing more than a regularly-scheduled visit that agents make to key clients throughout the season.
Speaking of celebrations, I think this is the first time in four or five years that these guys haven’t played on the Martin Luther King Day holiday in the states.
Last year, it was an afternoon game in Atlanta, a couple of other years it’s been night games in Minnesota.
Oh yeah, I’m out of the loop for a little while these next two days, dealing with, you know, stuff.
Will probably get a chance to post some comments during the day today but tonight’s not good, I can’t see a way to do anything much tomorrow morning and there can’t be a regular pre-game chat.
I think I could be around for an in-game blog tomorrow night but that’s still up in the air; I’ll have to let you know.
Thanks for understanding.
Fast Eddie Sefko, who’s a big fan of Canada, by the way, reported on the goings-on thusly.
Marco Belinelli just has the flu, nothing more, nothing to serious. The rather vigilant NBA health police, along with the local physicians, did the swabbing and the testing and he came back clean for the H1N1 virus.
Guess it’s good he got that vaccine, eh? And guess it’s good that there are all kinds of the stuff left and the botched process of doling it out wasn’t ruined by the fact the Raptors followed all the correct protocols in getting it, right?
Of course, if he’d had someone take it off a nurse in a bar late on Saturday night, we’ve have a Pulitzer Prize winner to write.
Speaking of Canada, we’re standing talking to Rick Carlisle before the game and I wondered just how many people he’d have in the crowd, seeing he’s from Ogdensburg, N.Y., and all and I recall many visitors coming when he’s been here in the past while coaching other teams.
Well, he says he’s got more than a few and Fast Eddie wants to know how far his hometown is. Carlisle, displaying a rather out-of-the-ordinary knowledge of international matters for a guy from the NBA, answers:
“Is that miles or kilometres?”
I can’t wait to catch up with these guys in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Should get great quotes, lots of solid insight, complete sentence answers to questions and generally good conversation.
Why, you ask?
Well, because today when they get to Cleveland, the Raptors will take part in a mandatory media-training session that’s a joint venture of the NBA and the players’ association.
It happens once or twice a year, they sit around and get some tips on how to handle the marauding hordes of media that engulf them every day.
I’ve never actually sat through one but I know the drill and I can hear three tips right now:
“Look the questioner in the eye.”
“Call him or her by name if you can, it makes them feel, you know, significant.”
“Don’t roll your eyes at silly questions.”
If history holds, it’ll last about a week.
(Seriously, though, this is a pretty good group of guys in that regard but a refresher course is never a bad idea.)
We're back to the usual, at least for one game.
Anyway, have fun today
Good morning, folks.
Pretty good job again, even if we did lose a day or so because of a little interweb blip.
Some good stuff here, though, that’ll get you through until the usual in-game blog returns for the 12:30 start.
See you then.
Q: Hi Doug. Just read Rosie Dimanno's column about the challenges of suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous readers. http://www.thestar.com/news/article/750024--dimanno-they-don-t-shut-up-why-must-i?bn=1
While few of us put ourselves out there, inviting the volume of comment and feedback that you do, many of us have found ourselves on the receiving end of a sharp email at one time or another.
I was wondering if you could share some of your strategies on how you are able to read some of the venom laced missives and not totally lose it or become so cynical or hardened that you stop listening when even good suggestions come in.
I think this would be a good skill to have in an era where as Rosie describes, people can spout off and send emails without a thought.
Richard Y, Kincardine
A: The strategy, mostly, is to try mightily to ignore those kinds of notes, consider the sources and live with the knowledge that some people are – frankly – sometimes simply mean.
But, to tell you the truth, it’s hard. Very hard sometimes not to fire back but it plays into their hands, perhaps gives them a sense of legitimacy and makes them feel like they’ve accomplished something.
If you do this kind of thing you do put yourself out there and open the door for people with no sense of decency and anonymity I can’t possibly have. Which is really unfair but what can you do?
In some cases, perhaps I’ll write something but not send it, go get coffee or walk the dog and come back and delete it.
It tries a man’s patience, that’s for sure.
Q: Hi Doug. What advice would you give a basketball coach working with 10 and 11 year old boys and girls?
If you ever get the chance, maybe you could ask some Raptors (players and coaches) to offer advice to young players and their coaches. This request doesn't need to be answered any time soon. But, maybe advice from the pros could be included in your blog somewhere down the road.
Thanks for all the time and effort you put into it.
Will R, Toronto
A: I will see when I can get to ask a player or a coach but I honestly believe they will offer much the same advice I’m going to: Teach them all to do everything, to dribble, to pass, to shoot, to rebound. Don’t ever pigeon-hole any of them because of something like size and athletic ability. Let everyone do a bit of everything.
And I will add this personal advice, which I offer to Mighty Yankees at the start of every season: Respect the game. It was here long before you arrived and will be here long after you’re gone. Enjoy it, have fun, but treat it right. Don’t cheat yourself or your teammates or the game by loafing or not trying your best.
It’s doubtful that anyone you know will make a dime off basketball, or baseball in my case, and they need to enjoy the game because it’s a game. One that, if treated well, will give them decades of enjoyment.
Q: Sorry for you loss. Even the ones expected hurt.
A non-rant, non-Raptor question for a bit of a change.
When I read the AP report, I often wonder who writes it. Could you enlighten us on the ones from the 'wire' work? (as in, are they sometimes your words?)
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: The Canadian Press, which has sadly moved The First Lady Of The Beat on to the Olympics right now, generally uses a stringer to write Raptors game stories now, either veterans of the business picking up some work in their dotage or kids trying to break in. The AP has staffers in each city that cover most games but also have stringers every now and then; they do have a “regular” guy here in Toronto.
And I know they are anonymous but that’s on the papers that use their stuff, each wire story that’s transmitted has a byline on it, the papers generally strip them off.
Because The Star is a member of CP, and by extension AP, they get our stuff as a matter of course but only use in rare instances, like from an off-day practice when they want to move a Raptors story but aren’t staffing that day’s activities.
Q: Hey Doug, before the season started several teams axed parts of / their entire scouting department. Now that the season is half over, and some teams are performing above expectations, and some are spiralling downward in hurry. Is there any moves to hire back these scouts or are they staying with the freelance guys? And do you think any team has been particularly hurt by axing their scouts?
Brad L, Guelph
A: No, not really. In fact, I’d think that as teams drop far out of the loop they might cut back on advance scouting and the like.
Not sure if there’s been one hurt or helped; I presume there are cases to prove both sides. I know two teams that made cuts were the Nets and Grizzlies; New Jersey is horrible and Memphis is having a good year so I guess there’s no clear-cut answer.
Q: Hi Doug, One of my favorite ways of enduring winter is by planning The Summer Vacation. A quick look out the frosty, snow covered window by my desk says it is the perfect time to begin thinking about lazy, hazy summer roadtrips. A couple of years ago I began an excursion to some of the lighthouses located in the Great Lakes Region; this year I plan to visit those ones remaining on the list, and thought I might include a couple of side trips to some of the more historically notable ballparks in Southwestern Ontario. Excluding Labatt Park (very lovely and very historic - but too familiar for a resident of the city) here in London, can you don your baseball historian cap for a moment and suggest one or two parks that might be included in this year's expedition? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Wow, it’s been more than a few years since I’ve been traversing the concession roads of the province, coaching and playing but …
I’ll give you a couple off the top of my head: You need to get our way and check out a game sitting on the hill at Christie Pits and, speaking for truly personal experience, if you don’t get to Oakes Park in Niagara Falls, I’ll be hurt (I kidd, but it’s a nice spot).
Just down the road from you in Tilsonburg, they’ve got a nice little yard in the middle of the town, too.
But you know what else is cool? Check the Ontario Baseball Association schedule in about May, find the various small town tournaments and simply drop by one, it’s a blast. You’ve got, I believe, Corunna and Strathroy up that way, I know they do a lot of stuff in Kingston and Ottawa; just pick one or two and spend a day watching games.
Q: Doug: You are right about what a mug's game it is to judge a specific trade.
Life is not linear. Especially the games in our lives. In baseball announcers sometimes say, "If he had not tried to steal and been thrown out then he would have scored on the next batter's triple". Really? MAYBE the next batter would not have seen the same pitch had the runner been on second base and therefore there would have been no triple. It is a logical fallacy to think we can know what would follow from a specific event had another course of action been taken.
On another score: Some of us have to make webcam presentations from time to time. What are the top lessons you have learned from your successful appearances in front of the computer webcam for Grunt TV?
Charles N, Toronto
A: I think “successful” may open for debate.
I’m still trying to figure it out, actually. I know looking directly into the camera works, it takes a bit of editing since you tend to look at the finger clicking it on before you speak. Getting the camera at eye level works best.
And lighting is big. A reading lamp just on the other side of the screen tends to work best, at least it does in this little escapade we’re trying.
Other than that? What I do is pretend I’m sitting on a stool talking to a friend rather than chatting into a laptop screen.
Well, that was some day.
I have to say, the number of notes and kind words and offers of condolences and sympathy was overwhelming.
Really. Really overwhelming.
Please know that Super Family appreciates every single one of them.
And, since there won’t be a visitation until Monday and a Tuesday service, I guess you’ll have me to kick around for the weekend, although I’ve been entirely out of the loop for a day and cannot promise anything, you know, insightful or good.
Kind of like normal for some days, right?
(Now, I didn’t pay rapt attention to the goings on at The World’s Most Over-Rated Arena but I did see enough).
Maybe it was the dunk invite thing?
The one number that stuck out more than any other from the boxscore I looked at – and the thing I had to talk to people about in New York – was 14.
That’s the number of free throws DeMar DeRozan attempted (he made 11) and the coaches tell me they were mightily impressed with the aggressive nature of his game.
To which I say: “Where’s it been?”
Considering he’d only shot more than seven in a game once before (a dozen in that 146-point Atlanta nightmare) I think it’s fair to say we’ll need to see more of that before pronouncing him “arrived.”
But it did earn him those fourth quarter minutes everyone was hankering for and he looked pretty good.
I’ll say it again …
Who is that guy wearing No. 7? Sure, you’re going to get good shooting nights from Andrea Bargnani but even his harshest critics have to at least raise an eyebrow over his willingness to go inside and mix it up of late.
And coming off 17 rebounds in Indy and putting up a dozen against the Knicks?
The reason? Confidence. I have no idea why it’s taken this long to develop the feeling of relative invincibility that he seems to have but there’s just a greater level of, I don’t know if this is the right word, but “belonging” to him.
He’s more vocally engaged, he’ll suggest things now and it’s not just feeling more at ease with the language, although that might be a very small factor.
He’s just more assertive.
And if he keeps it up, this team’s going to be a whole lot better.
So much for that
No, Jose and Jarrett were not on the court together down the stretch of what was kind of a close game for moments. But don’t get all excited.
I imagine it was a one-time thing (at least Jay had told us two days before that he fully expected to use them together) and I think Sunday, when Dallas goes with Kidd and Terry, you’ll see Toronto use both Calderon and Jack again.
Oh yeah, the rest of the story.
There isn’t much (See: Loop, out of) but here’s what Mr. Isola had to say about the shenanigans last night.
Hey, Dallas is here this weekend.
Sadly, no Hump, of course, but I’m sure Shawn Marion will be a hot topic of conversation, given it’s his first foray back here since the summer trade.
And knowing Shawn a little bit, he’s quite unimpressed with the snow and the weather.
And knowing you folks a little bit, too, there will be so many “Marion would be a much better fit for us than Turkoglu” comments it won’t even been funny.
From the Department Of Heading It Off At The Pass, I’ll just say this: It wasn’t going to happen.
The Raptors were not ever interested in giving Shawn the money he wanted and I’m told by people I trust that Marion was not all interested in coming back to Toronto. It wasn’t a fit either way and it ended the way some of us thought it would the day Marion was obtained: In a sign-and-trade.
So save yourselves some angst and put it out of your mind.
Speaking of the Mavs, I understand they have some gym time booked here and may practice after the Raptors do today.
If you want to catch on them, here’s what Fast Eddie Sefko’s serving up today.
More than a few mailbag submissions arrived yesterday, I see. But there’s always room for more and since I’ve got a few hours to kill today, send ‘em along.
Wonder if they’ll set up giant screens in the piazzas? Doubt it.
But still …
At least they won’t play the same cheesy music they did here in the Vincenzo Era. At least I hope they don’t.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a Roman influence to tonight’s big tilt at the World’s Most Over-Rated Arena and it’s the one thing I’ll be quite interested in seeing when I’m watching the game (more on that later).
Andrea vs. Danilo.
Seven-foot set-shooter vs. 6-10 shooter for bragging rights.
It will undoubtedly set off a round of Which Guy From Italy Is Better discussions and let’s just say right now there is no clear winner.
Bargnani has been emerging this season as a very good player, his offensive game is expanding, his defence is improving and, yes, he’s even getting on the boards every now and then.
Gallinari’s good, at least he’s been in the few Knicks games I’ve seen, but he’s different than his compatriot. He does more things now than Bargnani did at the same stage of his career and to compare games is actually unfair to both.
Let’s call it a tie at the moment, with the slight edge to the Toronto guy and I don’t think tonight solves anything.
Here’s one for you, though.
Given the Knicks play at a rather frenetic pace and a somewhat helter-skelter, drive-and-kick style quite unlike any other NBA team, I can see the other guy from Italy – the rather frenetic and somewhat helter-skelter Marco Belinelli – stealing the show.
As far as I can tell, an entire day went by yesterday without one breathless report suggesting this team or that is interested in Chris Bosh.
Thank heaven for small mercies.
But you know it’s coming. This morning, no doubt.
I will say this for Chris, though.
For all the crap that’s been swirling around, about this summer’s free agency mainly but about trade chatter as well, he’s handled it like a true professional and far, far, far better than, say, the guy in Cleveland or the fellow down in Miami.
He’s been steadfast in his public belief that it’s not something he thinks about, he’s never once tweaked the fans here by suggesting some other city is Nirvana, he hasn’t once worn a silly shoe with I (Heart) Dallas on it or anything. He hasn’t been openly suggesting he’s open to suggestions.
He’s been polite when asked but consistent.
And guys like me appreciate that.
I’ll say what I’ve said since, oh, the start of last season: I truly and honestly believe he’s not sure what he wants to do but I also truly and honestly feel there’s a far better chance he’s a Raptor next fall than many others do.
It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out in the summer but that’s when it has to play out and the way he’s handled it so far has been first-class.
Speaking of New York, readers of Mr. Isola got to read this today.
Someone mentioned the mail link was down for a while yesterday? Well, I’ve passed that on to the powers that be just now and I presume they’ll get it fixed forthwith.
And when they do, click on it (it's at the top right of the blog, I believe) and send a question; the mail’s really slow.
(Note: In trying to fix the mail form, we have changed the link. Click here for the new Raptors mail form).
That DeRozan fella has some confidence, doesn’t he?
Gets in the dunk contest to get into the dunk contest – I still don’t quite understand that – and tells me he plans not only to win that, but to win the whole shebang.
I’m not a big fan of dunk contests as some of you may know. The Vince one way back in the day was something to behold, now it’s degenerated into an hour of fixed schtick it seems.
Superman capes, human props, theatrics.
I don’t know what the NBA can do to jazz it up, I suspect nothing really, so maybe the kid can at least add some local juice to it for us.
I will say this: Friday night of all-star weekend is generally a night to do social networking, not watch the idiocy of the rookie-sophomore thingy (it was so much better when it was Phenoms vs. the Sensations). But, alas, not this year.
Oh, you learn about the contestants in real contest next week, I hear.
I’d like to think that the latest installment of the Gilbert Arenas gun story – which you can read right here – will put an end to this whole affair.
We are just beginning folks, no matter what plea Gil comes up with in court today and what the judge ultimately sentences him to.
A felony conviction paves the way for the Wizards to initiate the process of voiding his contract; it will, I’m sure, also pave the way for the players’ union to fight to have the terms of the deal honoured.
I have no idea how that will ultimately play out but I do know some people who will be watching intently: Other owners and the NBA honchos who are in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.
If this contentious issue isn’t resolved to their satisfaction, I can certainly see the “morals clause” or some other language being built into the next CBA that might make it more clear-cut, and easier, for teams to walk away from contracts in instances like this.
That may ultimately be the best legacy of this whole sordid affair.
I’d love to tell you that airport security – all the dozen layers – was a snap and I was at the gate way too early because it was like the olden days.
Super Grandma lost a long, hard fight last night and has gone to be with her husband; Super Wife lost a mom, Super Son lost a grandmother and if there’s been a crappier three months in their lives, I can’t imagine when it was.
Anyway, I’m not in New York and services are still pending so I don’t know how much I’ll be around these parts the next few days. I’m guessing that be dropping into post comments and whiling away time late at night doing mail and usual stuff might work but I don’t think I can chat today or do the game thingy here tonight; I’m sure you understand.
Talk to you periodically during the day.
A check of the trusty old schedule shows that after this three-day break between games, they’ll come fast and furious. Nine in 14 days starting Friday in New York.
Lots of games to dissect and the emotional ups and downs a fella experiences over a nine-game stretch are hugely entertaining.
Like this is.
Because, sadly, this is what we some people do too often around practice, there was lots of looking back during the various chat sessions with players and coaches.
And about the only thing of real interest was Chris Bosh doing a little reflection on the mental state of the Raptors:
“When you get down 20, guys start playing harder and I think sometimes we feel the pressure a little bit. Sometimes, you think shots are going to in and it doesn’t happen. Coach showed us about four clips where we took shots with about 18 seconds left on the shot clock.
‘We need to move the ball, put the defence in motion and not be so quick to shoot it.”
Of course, he’s dead on in his assessment and the immediate thought as he said it was, ‘I believe we’ve heard this all before.’
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times, mental toughness is not something this team has in spades right now. It can be developed over time, through lessons learned in hard losses and narrow wins, but it hasn’t come quickly enough.
To paraphrase the great Rudy Tomjanovich:
“Don’t ever over-estimate the heart of a Raptor.”
You what I don’t get?
Like from the guy who e-mailed me the other day to suggest that this version of the Raptors, with its depth and athleticism, would be so better with Shawn Marion instead of Hedo Turkoglu and if I didn’t understand that, well, I was a dope.
It is one of the tenets of sports, especially the team-building aspect of it that you cannot do that sort of thing.
Why? Because if they keep Shawn Marion, they likely don’t make the Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson trade; they probably don’t have a chance to get Jarrett Jack, Antoine Wright’s not a possibility.
It is not a linear world, pro sports; to think so makes no sense at all.
It goes back as far as Araujo instead of Iguodala and what that would have meant. Well, maybe it doesn’t mean Bargnani, maybe it doesn’t mean the same Carter trade, maybe it doesn’t mean Joey instead of Danny Granger.
Folks, it’s not worth getting yourself worked up about; it’s a game that can’t be played.
So much for my idea that maybe putting Jose back in the starting lineup made sense, eh?
Shot down in flames pretty much by everyone involved, as you read this morning, I presume.
Oh yeah, mail for Saturday. We could use some good stuff over there in the inbox, pretty slim pickings at the moment.
This is apropos of nothing, really, but nothing is what we do here every now and then.
Super Son, as a Christmas gift, put together a couple of CDs for me and the Smelly Ford Focus, music we had lying around but not compiled.
One of them includes Springsteen’s The Rising and I have to tell you, it’s like the first track I click to most days.
One of those songs you never hear but always want to and, I will admit, it used to be a little goosebumpy when they’d play it in Miami before Heat games right after it was released.
That’s all. Back to basketball.
Bogus Bosh-to-Denver chatter yesterday?
Add another team to the list and this is going to a wild, wild five weeks.It is my fervent hope that we get to 24 teams linked to him before this is over.
By “wild, wild” I mean excruciatingly painful.
I tell ya, I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for a sports franchise owned by Donald Sterling, a guy who, and I quote from the Los Angeles Times
"has agreed to pay a record $2.725 million to settle allegations that he discriminated against African Americans, Hispanics and families with children at scores of apartment buildings he owns in and around Los Angeles”
but, man, I do feel bad for Mike Dunleavy and the rest of the Clippers.
Blake Griffin done for the year after knee surgery?
I had a chance to chat briefly – very briefly – with Griffin when we were out in L.A. in November and he struck me as a good kid who’d do whatever was necessary to get back on the court.
He was months away at that time from playing, rehabbing hard and being as much a part of the team as he could.
Marcus Camby, when I talked to him, spoke highly of Griffin’s character and personality and the news yesterday just kind of stunk.
But it may have prolonged Camby’s time in L.A., actually.
Had Griffin been able to come back and contribute even a little bit, it might have made it easier for the Clips to deal Camby and his $9.1 million contract that expires this year.
Now, with a team on the periphery of the playoff race – 3.5 games out now – it might be worth hanging on to him and seeing if they can make a run.
They’re holding a dunk contest to get into the dunk contest?
I guess that just creates another possibility for Young DeRozan to get in after all the lobbying he’s done. The more in the potential pool of contestants, the better for him.
But, man, they’ll do anything to jazz up the rather boring – read ‘mind-numbing, eyes-glazing-over, stupifying’ – Friday night of all-star weekend.
I’m just trying to figure out what they’re going to do the juice the Saturday, which remains stuck in about 1998.
Hmm, flight to New York today and new “heightened” security measures.
I can’t imagine how “heightened” they can be from the last time I flew, when you went through the scanner, had the computer bag emptied and searched, couldn’t carry on luggage and then, after passing through security, were forced through another check where they, for a change, emptied a computer bag and performed a full body pat-down.
Maybe a third layer of intrusion?
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).