A good rookie, a tired veteran and a guy off to Dallas
Okay, this is getting up in the ether stupidly early because I have a stupidly early wakeup call to make my way to Dallas and it was easier to get it done before rather than after.
Don’t get used to it, okay?
The Kid Was All Right
Final minute of the second quarter, things seem under control, and Jarrett Jack finds himself kind of boxed in with the ball under the basket and nothing really to do. He puts up a somewhat half-baked layup with spin on the ball hoping for his Mo Pete Moment but it’s not going in under any circumstances.
Out of nowhere, it seems, here comes DeMar down the lane, he elevates about six feet from the rim with no one paying a bit of attention to him, grabs the miss and dunks it; perhaps his best play of a pretty good game.
And it strikes a guy that maybe we should see more of that outstanding athleticism because right now, it’s the best part of his game.
The kid was really good Wednesday, assertive on offence, not a defensive liability and if he gets more comfortable making plays like that one, it’s going to be a fun final 30 games.
But before anyone gets all worked up about the three minutes DeRozan played in the fourth quarter – quite an usual happenstance – let me point out that when Jay was asked specifically about it during his post-game media session, he explained that the Raptors were down a man (Hedo), another wasn’t playing well (Marco) and when Sonny needed a blow, the coach was kind of out of options.
But, still, it was good to see DeRozan finish the unofficial first half of the season with one of his best all-around games in a while.
Speaking Of Marco
No, not a very good game at all (I’m wondering if that ankle isn’t giving him a little trouble) but there was still one play that stood out.
Early in the second quarter, Willie Green misses a long jumper which yields a long rebound that Belinelli corrals. Without a second of hesitation, he’s off on the break with Amir Johnson running beside him.
Now, I’m immediately thinking Marco’s going all the way to the rim and something wild might happen but he ends up making a perfect pass to Johnson for a dunk.
Two things about what’s little more than a routine play:
In past years, the Raptors didn’t really have a backup wing – or a starter for that matter – who’d get that ball and go, which is exactly what Jay wants. Jamario? You shuddered at his ball-handling skills. Joey? A charge waiting to happen. Jason Kapono? Yeah, right.
That’s why this team gets so much in transition when it gets stops, because it has guys who can get it and go and it seldom did before.
Second point: Maybe Marco’s decision-making is improving; I don’t know how many times we’ve seen him not give up the ball or take some crazy shot. To make the smart pass to a finishing big is not remarkable, just a bit out of the ordinary.
A Good Decision Not Made
Don’t know how many caught it, or if you did on TV, but just before what turned out to be a pivotal jump ball with about 90 seconds left between Bosh and Elton Brand – after the second of two “inadvertent” whistles in the game, which is surely a season-high – the Raptors had Jose at the table to check in for Sonny.
Well, seems to you can’t make a sub on an inadvertent whistle and Jose had to wait. Bosh loses the jump, Sixers get the ball and Sonny, who could have been on the bench watching – makes a steal that leads to Andrea’s dagger of a three.
I asked Jay about it after the game and he said they weren’t going to get Jose in until Toronto took possession because he really wanted Sonny on the floor to cover Lou Williams (smart move since he ended up turning him over) but it sure looked like Jose was trying to get on the floor before the jump.
Sometimes, things just work out well.
Sure. Why not?
I’m sitting there watching the warm-ups about two hours before tip-off, Alvin Williams is working out DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems and down the other end of the court, the Sixers TV analyst Ed Pinckney is getting some pre-game work done.
And after I mention to Al that this might be the first time he was the second-best Villanova Wildcat in a Toronto gym, he goes on to make about eight straight shots over DeMar and Sonny in a rotating game of one-on-one.
Of course, I hold to my contention and when I made the same point to Ed, all he said was he was glad there weren’t any members of this year’s Villanova team in the building.
So, the Olympics start on Friday, right? And since I’m not there and won’t see any scary giant bugs or wonder how they get the horses in the pool for water polo, maybe an every-now-and-then trip down memory lane will keep me connected.
I hear Clara Hughes will carry the flag and I cannot think of a more appropriate choice, especially since I have some history with her.
Back in Atlanta in ’96 (and Olympics I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to entirely erase from my mind because they were so poorly run), I’m working as an all-around Grunt for The People’s Wire Service.
Well, we don’t have a lot of staff and we’re spread all over the place when word comes down that this cyclist from Winnipeg had won a medal.
It’s up to me to high-tail it from wherever I was up to, I believe, Buckhead, to get to the post-race news conference and all I can think while I’m in the cab is, what the heck race did she win a medal in?
And then I find out, get some quotes, write a not-bad story and become, for a couple of hours, an expert in cycling
And that’s what covering a Games is like for a guy like me:
Today I am an expert in …. (fill in sport you know little or nothing about).
Lucky, lucky readers, I say.
So, Reggie, how’d you feel?
“I was tired. Just one word: I was tired. When I came out of the game, it felt like I wanted to pass out. The inside of my shins were burning. I had to go into the locker room to cool off, get away from everybody and get some fresh air. It felt good though.”
Okay, this is too cool.
I’m having some quiet time after the game, typing and sipping and generally letting the post-game adrenaline slow down when The Chicken – sans costume because who wants to wear a costume all the time – wanders over to cluck that he/she/it will see me in Dallas.
And then the beans get spilled and I can’t believe I didn’t find this out during the game.
One of the other fellows at the table – and in one of the seats – was the guy who was the original Vancouver Chicken! Yes, Griz and its alter ego Super Griz took in the game.
I can’t believe they couldn’t have come up with some schtick, which would have been spectacular but Griz has apparently gone on to ply its trade in the world of moving pictures.
Guess there is life after being a Chicken.
In Philly, this is what one of the stories read like.
All right, what’s the plan for all-star weekend for The Irregulars and Me?
No firm idea but the thought is to do some kind of a Friday Question and Answer to set up the weekend; I’m thinking noon so I can go and make all the media things that afternoon. And then, perchance, an in-game blog thingy on Sunday night? Not sure about Saturday, to tell you the truth, since I’m not sure about either the interest back in Toronto or the setup down in Dallas.
Guess the best thing I can tell you is to check here Friday morning because, eventually, I have to get this worked out for my own schedule and yours.