Of Marco and Andrea and a chatty group of multi-lingual Raptors
Join Doug Smith at 1 p.m. Wednesday for a live basketball Q&A, as the Raptors get ready to take on the New Jersey Nets.
Won’t be the last one, certainly wasn’t the worst one, it was just one of those nights that are going to pop up in a season.
Nothing you can do about it except put it behind you and get on with the next one.
But first, read this:
(I know, it’s up crazy early, isn’t it? All three hours of sleep I got were wonderful and it was nice of the indy airport folks to have wireless throughout the concourse so a guy – a tired guy – can do his job.
Best of Marco
I have no idea where he’d been the last two games – when he went scoreless in a total of about 29 minutes – but the Marco Belinelli we saw in the first quarter last night was impressive.
Not that he had 11 points but how he got them caught my eye.
He made a couple of jump shots – one that prompted an unsolicited e-mail from a friend suggesting it was the first time this season that Marco had set his feet before letting fly – but he also got to the rim aggressively.
Maybe it’s because it happened right in front of me (more on our seating later) but I was mightily impressed with how quick he was and how strong.
On one he simply beat Brandon Rush around the corner curling off a so-so screen and finished with a nice lefty layup.
I don’t know what it is with Marco, some nights he’s got it, some nights he tends to take a few minutes off, but I know the coaches want more of that power and determination on a consistent basis.
One other thing really stood out:
One of Toronto’s favourite plays – and it might be “boom-boom” is to have the point guard dribble to the sideline, hand off the ball to Turk, who then gets a couple of screens from bigs coming back to the middle while there’s lots of other motion, too.
Turk generally drifts to the sideline, or away from contact, but last night, when Marco was running the play the dozen or so times they called it, he always turned the corner and tried to get to the rim.
Didn’t always work but it was a new wrinkle on an old Raptors set.
A talkative group
Mentioned during the game a few times that the media seats at Conseco – front row of the baseline at about a 90 degree angle to the Raptors bench – are among the best in the NBA at affording opportunities for eavesdropping.
I can dutifully report a fair bit of trashtalking went on during the contest, most notably between ex-Denver teammates Sonny Weems and Dahntay Jones, and that the Raptors as a whole are a chatting group, shouting out plays and defensive assignments and encouragement.
Was a tad confused very early in the game, though, when I heard Hedo chattering away in some language that I’m entirely unfamiliar with and I had no idea who he was talking to.
Well, as it turns out, Hedo was chatting way in Turkish to young ref Marat Kogut (the one that looked like Peewee Herman).
Hedo told me after the game that he knew one of Kogut’s parents – he wasn’t sure which – is from Turkey and he figured he’d just have a little conversation.
No, I have no idea what was being said but it looked quite friendly.
Good. Really good
I don’t know if I’ve seen Andrea Bargnani better offensively than he was last night.
I know, that’s a “duh!” statement given he scored more points in that game than any that he’s ever scored in a game before but it was the way he took over in the third quarter that was mightily impressive.
He went to the rim and hit three-pointers, had a couple of those two-dribble pull-ups and was virtually unstoppable.
The best thing: How assertive he was.
Even when he’s going good, he has a tendency to wait for the ball rather than demand it or initiate things; there were, I believe, two possessions in a row where he went to the low right block, set up, put his arm up to say “throw me the damn ball” and when he got it he scored.
No idea if that lasts, no idea if it was just matchup driven but it was a welcome sight.
More stuff? You want more stuff?
I’ve got more stuff.
Hmm. Let’s see: The last time Toronto gave up that many points was in the now-infamous 146-115 spanking administered in Atlanta way back in January.
Don’t think there’s a team meeting today, though.
How about those Hawks!
No, not Atlanta.
The Hawthorn Hawks, who opened the Peel Grade 8 hoops season with a 28-18 drubbing (defensive-minded team, I guess) of the dastardly Lyndwood Eagles on Tuesday.
Super Son went scoreless (which means he was as productive for his team as Sonny Weems was for his later that night) but it doesn’t matter, everyone had fun and they got the W.
And you think some NBA teams have wacky schedules?
The Hawks are back at it Wednesday – I know, back-to-backs have to be tough on 13-year-olds, what with the demands of homework and all added on – and that’ll take care of fully half of their regular season.
Really. It’s a four-game season and I imagine being a grunt covering that squad would be a dream gig.
After they got up and tried to get through all the Colts stuff in the local rags, readers here finally stumbled upon this Mike Wells yarn.
Speaking of the Colts – and I’m thinking Saints by 10 – there was a distinct lack of hype and hoopla in downtown Indy.
Saw maybe two banners and one flag and the only souvenir stuff was just being set up in a trailer outside of Conseco as we were walking out after the game.
I’m thinking it’s rather understated, perhaps because of how bored they are of constant success, and figured that’s just what it’d be like if the pucks got in the Stanley Cup.
The first round, that is.
Tell you this, Turk is entirely unimpressed with this whole mask thing.
He told us before the game “maybe not one game, I’m telling you” because he doesn’t like the way it feels.
We never got to see it, but he reports it’s more like a Zorro-type look rather than, say, a Hannibal Lecter thing.
The Nets, as we know, aren’t good. In fact, they may be historically bad. But, still, they’re NBA players, they might actually play hard and who knows what can happen.
Here’s what happened with them last night as – you guessed it – they lost.
Air Canada and Canada Customs willing, we’ll chat today, right? At 1 p.m. after I get ferried to Casa Doug.
See you then.