No, not pretty but does that really matter?
All right, they beat a team with a horrible record, just like you’d expect them too and if it didn’t look pretty, big whoop.
As they say in that other game, it’s not how, it’s how many and now they’re at 34 35 and counting.
Make a move?
Is it time now to do Antoine Wright for DeMar DeRozan, make Sonny Weems the first wing off the bench and see how the last 14 13 games of the season unfold?
I think I’d do it.
It’s not so much a knock against DeRozan, although the first six minutes last night were somewhat ghastly before he turned around, as it would be a move to shore up the rotation at the crucial time of the season.
Wright’s been playing pretty well the last two games and he is the team’s best perimeter defender and I think that’s what you need on the court to set the tone at the start of games and third quarters.
The thing with DeRozan was always about his development, even if there was a cost involved. He got good minutes against good players, didn’t really cost his team any games but now it’s time for a guy who’s been there to take over.
The next four games are pretty big and could very well define where they finish – especially the two roadies at Miami and Charlotte on the weekend.
It’s time for the guys who have been there to do it; time for Wright.
Big time plays
Yes, it hasn’t happened enough; no, he hasn’t played particularly well; yes, it’s been a huge disappointment bordering on a bust.
But there was a stretch in that fourth quarter that Hedo Turkoglu did precisely what he was brought here to do and if it’s a signal that things are turning about, that can’t hurt.
First, he made a big three to quell a Minnesota run, then he drove and kicked to an open Antoine Wright for another big three and he had the ball on every offensive set.
The difference? I was talking to one of the coaches the other day and he said they’d made some very minor tweaks that seem to be working.
First, they’re getting Turkoglu the ball more in the middle at the top, rather than on the wing, which gives him more options. And, most important, they want him to get it a few seconds earlier, again so there are more options on any high screen.
I have no idea what the next 14 games will prove with Turk but it has been more engaged and more active in the last four or five and that’s pretty huge.
And to sit here and whine about how bad he was early in the season really does nothing. He wasn’t good, it didn’t take Red Auerbach, or Red Buttons, to figure it out but it’s not like the season can’t be redeemed with a few weeks of excellent play.
Soft, soft, soft
So they go up by 14 with 5:54 left in the third and they should home and cooled out, no?
They get an offensive foul on Bosh, Bargnani’s blocked by Love, Jose commits a turnovers and Bosh misses a jumper.
In the meantime, that lock-down Raptors defence gives up makes on four of six possessions and all of sudden, that 14-point lead is down to five with 3:15 to go.
If you get a bad team down, a team that’s just playing out the string, you need to close it out.
It didn’t come back and bite them in the bum last night; it will if they do it against any kind of good team and there are a lot of them left on the schedule.
Just a bit more
A story not apropos of anything, really, except Minneapolis and walking.
It was kind of funny to hear about the Raptors bus breaking down and the players having to take cabs to the arena – the coaches made the arduous five-block walk – for shootaround.
Reminded me of another Minneapolis walk that saved a season.
It was way back in 2002, March 19 to be exact, and the Raptors were drilled 112-80 by the Timberwolves in what I recall being a particularly ugly game.
They were 30-38 at the time, had lost four in a row, He Who Shall Not Be Named was hurt, I’m not entlrely sure the coach of the day, a Mr. Wilkens, was the hardest-working man in show biz and the season was in the toilet.
They were staying the night before heading off to Cleveland and Dell Curry and Antonio Davis decided to walk back to the hotel. It was during that conversation that the two veterans really got ticked at the team’s plight and decided enough was enough and that they’d finish strong. It was sort of the last straw.
Well, don’t they rattle off nine straight wins and 10 of 12 to finish the season in seventh in the East, AD plays his brains out for the entire stretch and they extend Detroit to five games in a best-of-five playoff series before losing.
Not sure what Dell said to Antonio on that walk but it sure worked.
Too bad someone didn’t walk with Turk to shootaround yesterday.
In Minneapolis, here’s the kind of stories they’re reading as the Timberwolves play out the string.
Miami 99, New Jersey 89
Chicago 98, Houston 88
Milwaukee 98, Atlanta 95
At least Charlotte didn’t win.
Oh, I think we can safely say the Bucks are out of reach and that sixth is the best they can finish.
The mind is a terrible thing to waste.
I knew that Nate Doornekamp went to Boston College, yet there I went in a story yesterday talking about how he went to Carleton as a bunch of players from the national team program who went to the same school.
Oh, dopey me.
First call of the week for mail, which you can send here. Thanks.
You know they’re now done with road games against the West and finish with an underwhelming 3-12 record.
The wins? At Minnesota, at the Clips and at New Orleans.
Road warriors they are not.