Hard work, loud people and a clipboard bites the dust
Means work gets done a wee bit later but what the heck, it’s a lazy Sunday morn.
Getting the job done early
Yes, the game was won shortly after 9:30 Saturday night (and that’s quite enough of the 2:38 marathon games, thank you very much) but the work actually began about 18 hours earlier.
With so many new guys in so many new spots, the Wizards were horribly difficult to prepare for and this coaching staff in Toronto is rather anal about knowing what teams like to do, what kind of stuff they run, how it should be defended.
So with nothing to go on, it was a scramble to get ready. They had a freelance scout at Friday’s Denver-Washington game and by the time I was talking to Micah Nori (who handles the preparing of scouting reports) about 45 minutes after the Raptors-Nets game in Jersey, he’d already received an e-mail with the play calls of Nuggets-Wizards with corresponding times they were called in the game. Like, “thumbs-down, 7:25 first; floppy-get, 5:29 first” and so on.
Micah also already had a DVD burned of Nuggets-Wizards and he spent the plane ride home matching play call actual play, compiling a report that said things like “thumbs-down is a down-screen for Howard” so something.
It was on Jay’s desk early Saturday morning, Jay got the arena about 11 a.m. to start figuring out how they’d like to defend each set and the coaches met in the middle of the afternoon to discuss it. By the time the players arrived for a 4:45 p.m. walk-through on the practice court, all the strategy had been devised and the teaching took place.
So when you saw Jay patrolling the sidelines, screaming out defences and what to look for whenever he heard what the Wizards were planning to run, it wasn’t out of guesswork. It was out of a lot of quick preparation.
Quite a loud gathering
I’ve been known at times to mention that perhaps the crowds at the Air Canada Centre are, well, maybe not so good or attentive. Focusing on sauce-covered cardboard, a tad over-reactionary early in games; you know the knocks.
Well, not so much Saturday.
Maybe it was that the rare Saturday game gave them a chance to get more warmed up than they usually do in the post-work rush to get their midweek.
But they were in full throat from the start and really provided a boost in the game-turning fourth quarter run.
Shows you that momentum aided by from-the-heart cheering really can help a home team.
Second-best crowd of the year was the general assessment, behind only the Laker game but ahead of opening night.
Live and learn
The Ljubljana Legend had another pretty good one – 10 points but only one rebound in 19 minutes of what had to be a tiring back-to-back to someone not used to playing much – and he did show he’s a quick learner. About four minutes into the third quarter, Rasho lumbers down the lane and hits a little floater that he throws up overhand to avoid any defenders.
Big deal, you say? Well, a night earlier, he tried some underhanded thing in the paint that Super Son could have blocked, a shot that never got more than eight feet off the ground before it was swatted away.
Saturday’s runner-like field goal was quite something to see.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
Here’s one for you:
In 2008-09, the Raptors won their 31st game in the 80th game of the regular season; they got to 41 31 in Game 55 this year.
Yeah, it’s been quite the turnaround.
Did you notice that another clipboard paid the ultimate sacrifice at the Raptors bench during an anger-filled timeout last night?
I believe that’s two this season that have given their lives so the Raptors could play better.
You folks don’t know Michael Lee, who has the unenviable, and tiring, task of covering those Wizards. Let’s see, he’s had to deal with, in order:
Slow start, all kinds of injuries and chemistry issues; the seemingly never-ending Gilbert Gun saga, season-long suspensions, almost daily trade rumors and, finally, a week with two major transactions. Oh, and now he’s got the buyouts of Zydrunas Ilguaskas and Mike James to worry about daily.
Saw him before the game, had to laugh a little at his plight (we enjoy our gallows humour) and then told him I figured he had to glad all the off-court shenanigans are almost over. He looks at me and says:
“Gilbert’s in court next month, it’s never going to be over.”
Tough year for Mike. Very tough.
And here’s what he wrote about last night.
Somewhere in the bowels of the Air Canada Centre, I would presume someone’s in a video room cutting footage of Marcus Camby for one of those 15-year tribute thingies, right?
He’s coming Wednesday with the Portlands and I hope they don’t get caught unaware and forget.
I mention this only because it apparently got out there during Friday’s New Jersey broadcast of the Nets game, thanks to Mike Fratello, who has been a decade-long friend of Hedo and who shares representation with him, I’m told.
The quick trip back to Turkey last week was because Turk’s mom had open-heart surgery and when I talked to him about it Saturday night he said everything’s under control and she’s doing better.
And I will say this: If Fratello hadn’t said anything, I wouldn’t have asked him and if I had found out, I don’t know whether I would have told you.
So, what’s up this week?
Portland here Wednesday, Cleveland here Friday, at Oklahoma City on Sunday where I’m pretty sure the citizenry won’t be glued to an Olympics pucks game that afternoon (although, who knows, a Russia-Sweden gold medal game might catch their fancy).
Anyway, it was pointed out to me that the Blazers are on a back-to-back when they get here and so are the Cavs so that’s got to maybe help.
The weekly guess: 1-2 would be pretty good, no?
All right, I’ve got all kinds of mail to get to for tomorrow morning as it turns out, some kind of off-day story to drum up and, perhaps, a few hours of long-neglected couch time to deal with. Gotta love no-game Sundays.