Of going home again, irksome officiating items and so long, Skip
Join Doug Smith at noon Tuesday for a live basketball Q&A, as the Raptors get ready to take on the L.A. Lakers.
Odd day today. Up now to do this, no shootaround but a game and while it was nice to have a day with no practice, no game, no flight for the first time in weeks, it was at the same time a wee bit strange.
Same thing tomorrow; it’s going to take some getting used to.
But, alas, the blogging thing must go on. So it does:
One of the more interesting aspects of this evening’s Match of Real Professional Men’s Basketball Teams out in Los Angeles will be the play of youthful Raptor DeMar DeRozan.
Yes, he was all over the papers this morning (you can read Dave’s offering right here) talking about now nice it is to be home and how he’s relaxed and ready for a big game.
Well, I recall the first time he went back home, way back in November, when, quite frankly, he was overwhelmed and stunk the joint out. Played about 11 minutes against the Clippers and had no discernible impact on the game.
Maybe he’s more mature now, better to handle the distractions and tugs of being home but he’s also 20 and could quite easily get caught up in it again.
And just in idle chitchat with a few folks around the team, I get the sense that DeMar’s on a rather short leash these days as far as his position in the starting lineup goes.
No one’s suggesting a move to replace him – and I’d imagine it would have to be for Antoine Wright – is imminent but if he doesn’t start having a great impact on games, I can see it happening.
And by impact I don’t mean 20 points and eight rebounds. I mean a consistent effort every night at both ends of the floor, no floating, no constantly losing his man on screens, no long stretches of indifference or one-on-five play. Pure and simple hard work.
They don’t get it long enough.
I was all for the way they used him this season, a crash course in the tough night-to-night life of a NBA shooting guard and there can be no question he’s a better player today than he was on opening night.
Kid’s still got a good work ethic in practice, at post-practice and during his preparation for games but it hasn’t translated often enough into anything special once the ball goes up.
But it’s truly winning time now and the mild sense I get is that there are those in the organization who think a change may eventually have to be made.
Questions and answers.
Be there or be square.
Did you check out the Cavs-Spurs last night on the tube? As I’m watching and seeing one of the omnipresent promo ads for Raptors game, there’s a shot of Jose heading back up the court after a bucket and he runs past a ref.
Sure, it comes from the pre-season but if some noticed, I bet they grew a bit wistful for The Replacements.
I don’t know why but there have been more criticisms of officials this season I ever remember. Perhaps it’s because we’re doing more stuff during games and lots of people like to break down every possession but, man, the refs get ripped. Guess what?
They’re not bad.
Sure, there might be a missed call every now and then but it’s far, far less often that they actually blow one than a lot of you think. And I’m sure if you talked to fans of other teams, they’d feel the same way.
Truth be told, refs don’t “target” players, they want to get every call right but I think they also know they cannot blow the whistle on every possession and if they went strictly by the book, they probably would.
That said, here are the three ref things that rankle the most:
The late whistle.
You know the one. Guy goes up, tries a shot, it misses, there might have been contact and all of a sudden, a second or two later, the whistle blows. You know that if the ball had gone in, there’d be no call.
That truly bothers me. And a lot of people.
Refs used to be entirely approachable. If they made a contentious call, they’d explain it, or at least engage a coach in conversation. Not sure if they’re just tired of incessant whining (and believe me, it’s incessant) but the lines of communication are closed far too often.
It’s not that they’re called, it’s that they’re called so inconsistently, I can’t blame players for complaining. I know it’s awfully subjective but it was supposed to be a “point of emphasis” with refs this year and all it’s done is become even more confusing.
A wee bit of consistency – even from the same crew during the same game – would be welcome.
In Los Angeles, where the Lakers are mired in a three-game losing streak for the first time since they stole, er, acquired, Pau Gasol this is what they’re reading and writing.
Yeah, guess we should try one of the usual in-game blogs tonight, even with the stupidly late 10:30 p.m. tip. It’ll be interesting to see how many of the irregulars show up; I imagine we’ll lose a lot of our European contingent because of the time but the west coasters will like it, I bet.
Anyway, we’ve been hovering right about the usual numbers of late, anywhere between 1,400 and 2,000 depending on the opponent.
Where I’m noticing a bit of a drop off is in the daily hits on this usual stuff, we’ve been below the average of about 13,500 for a couple of weeks or so.
Guess we better pull up our socks and get some more interesting stuff here.
My, how the mighty have fallen.
Got one of the usual notes from the league about changes to the national television broadcast schedule in the United States. You know, like when they dumped Raptors-Knicks earlier this year because it was a dog of a game and they went with Suns-Hawks instead.
Well, next week, what might have once been considered a pretty promising game between New Orleans and Golden State has been taken off the schedule by ESPN.
Bucks at Clippers.
And that should tell you all you need to know about the drawing power of the Hornets without Chris Paul.
They’d rather go with a Clipper game, even if it is against the surging Milwaukees.
Seems Skip is gone for good.
Am sure you know the story: Rafer Alston bailed on the Heat late last week after losing his starting spot and being relegated to third string; he hasn’t been in personal contact with the team for days and has been suspended indefinitely.
No way I can see Pat Riley or Erik Spoelstra or his teammates welcoming him back and no way I can see any team taking a flier on a 33-year-old mercurial free agent in the summer.
It’s always struck me that Rafer lived somewhat on the edge, dating back to his Toronto time, an era that included the night in Atlanta when he simply refused to pass the ball to Jalen Rose for entire game, surely one of the oddest moments in franchise history.
He stormed out of practice one day because he was pissed about the attitude, he fought with Sam and called out teammates.
He was an odd duck.
That his career flamed out comes as no surprise at all.