This, that and a couple of other things
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.)