A great game and more of the mess that is the Clippers
Join Doug Smith at noon Wednesday for a live basketball Q&A, as the Raptors get ready to take on the Sacramento Kings.
Great, great game, wasn’t it?
Second-best of the year maybe; only after the other Laker game which makes me think a Toronto-Los Angeles NBA Final would be epic.
Now, quit dreaming and read this:
Back in his old spot
It was pretty much matchup driven, and as always a way to make it difficult for the Lakers to quickly run a double-team at him, but the Raptors had Chris Bosh at the elbow far more often last night than they have in some time.
It worked pretty well – he didn’t drive the ball as much as a lot of people would have liked – but it was much easier for him to get quick jump shots off and find guys open on the perimeter when wing defenders cheated over to help.
What I’d like to see, though, is more weak side movement from his teammates to make it even more effective.
That’s stuff like the weak side wing – DeRozan or Weems, depending on who’s in the game – curling off screens and down the lane rather than fading to the other elbow or the three point line.
There’s also got to be lots of opportunities for Bargnani to flash to the middle of the lane and get off that little jump hook that’s becoming a staple of his inside game.
However they decide to use it in the future, it was good to see more of it against the Lakers and I presume we’ll see it more often now.
But, and this might be what happens, they may want to save it for a bit, too, so other teams don’t get a real good handle on how to double him out that far.
They did it right
I’m not sure they could have defended that last possession by Bryant any better and sometimes great players make great shots.
They tried to deny him the ball on the inbounds play but when you’re watching the replay, watch how sneakily he pushes off on Wright to get clear, which is a smart play any number of great players will make and not something that’s going to get called.
And once he caught it, they did what they should have, forced him away from the basket to make the sideline and baseline extra defenders and than ran a second guy at him in the corner.
Both Wright, and I believe it was Bargnani, had hands up in his face when he shot it; good defence again.
No, if you’re analyzing that last play, there’s not a whole lot more you could get out of the Raptors.
Great player made a great shot.
Whaddya gonna do?
The staple of his game
You know what Amir Johnson does better than any other big on the roster?
Roll to the rim.
No, not roll up the rim; roll to the rim.
It gets him easy looks right in front of the basket, always occupies a second defender who slides over the help because that’s the first instinctual thing you do.
The next step in Johnson’s development will be when he stops his roll a step or two shorter after taking the pass.
Not so he can launch a 12-footer (our retinas don’t need that) but because with the defence moving to pay attention to him, there have to be guys open in the corners. And if he stops and looks around, there are going to be wide-open threes available.
I’ve seen Alex and Marc working with him on the roll, I’m sure they’ll start working with him on the passing as the next step.
And now, the rest of the story:
Here’s a comforting thought.
The Raptors are 2-11 all-time in Sacramento.
They won in 1997 and they won in 2008, when this Jermaine O’Neal bloke scored like 36 points.
So Mike Dunleavy is out entirely with the Clippers, fired in what can only be called Clipper Fashion.
Seems Dunleavy found out he’d been fired over the internet; got back to his cell phone to find a message after the news had been out a while.
Now, I don’t know Mike Dunleavy all that well but I do know there’ve been times when he’s thought to have been quite a good coach, like in 2006 when he got the Clippers not only to the playoffs for the first time since 1997 but into the second round.
Guess he, like so many others, became a bad coach rather quickly.
I think this move says more about the Clips than it does Dunleavy, who I expect will get another gig this summer if he wants it.
Oh, as an aside, my impression of Dunleavy grew quite a bit when he brought the Clippers here in 2007-07. Los Angeles had signed Alvin Williams to a 10-day contract that spring, hoping Boogie had something left in the tank.
He didn’t – he didn’t get a second 10-day which meant he missed the Clips trip to Toronto that season – but when I asked Mike about him during a pre-game chat he said something along the lines that Alvin was one of the best guys he’d ever coached and that he deserved a chance to see if he had anything left.
Dunleavy had drafted and coached Alvin as a rookie in Portland and he’d become a big fan back then.
From that day, my estimation of Dunleavy’s character and ability to judge players grew.
Nothing that happened in L.A. – where Baron Davis would try about six games out of 10 for a couple of seasons, where the owner would get tight-fisted just about any time a significant move could be made, where Blake Grifin got hurt last fall – was Dunleavy’s fault.
Let’s look at the Clips for a second:
They fired Elgin Baylor amid accusations of age and race discrimination.
Sterling, who is a piece of work indeed, was convicted in court and forced to pay a fine for racial discrimination in a housing suit that found he refused to rent to blacks and Hispanics at property he owned in Los Angeles.
No, I think the winner in this whole mess might be Dunleavy.
Anyway, in another Los Angeles Story, here’s what they wrote about the Laker game, another homage to Kobe. As it should be.
Speaking of other stories, here's one from the Sacramento Bee.
I may have answers.
Be here at noon to find out.
(Yes, this means there will be a game-day question and answer session in case that wasn’t clear enough).
Look at things this way:
No matter what happens tonight with Miami and Charlotte, the worst the Raptors can be tomorrow morning at this time is tied for eighth.
Or tied for sixth, depending on whether you look at your glass half empty or half full.
Guess yesterday might not have been a day to suggest NBA referees weren’t quite as bad as many of you thought, was it?
No, they were not good last night at all; the calls on Bosh and Wright were atrocious and I’m trying to figure out what they could have done about the fan trying to interfere with the ball Jose was chasing. Not much, actually, since it was L.A.’s ball when the incident took place and they couldn’t anticipate a save.
But, and I’ll say this knowing slings and arrows will come, while those blown calls on the fouls were bad, they did not determine the outcome of the game. Not any more than missed shots did, or bad passes did, or silly turnovers did.
They were part of it, but not the reason the Lakers won.
Okay, I told you I’d be a bit late and I am; I have no idea how tomorrow’s gonna work with a 9 a.m. flight to San Francisco but we’ll make it work somehow, won’t we?