And that, folks, is why they play the games.
I feel sorry for the dozens and dozens of you who told us yesterday you knew what was going to happen because I presume in your infinite wisdom you didn’t watch and that’s too bad because it was the best game of the young season.
Less than 10 seconds to play, team down three with the ball out of bounds.
They call timeout, set up a play and before they can even get it off, they can’t get the ball in and have to burn another timeout.
They come out of that timeout, still panic trying to get the ball to someone inbounds and end up botching the play beyond belief, committing a turnover that pretty much ends the game.
But for once, it was Toronto on the good end of that, not the bad end and watching them defend that second-to-last Orlando possession was unreal.
Not only did Jose make a great play to steal the eventual inbounds pass, the other guys simply denied their man any chance to go get the ball, switching some screens, chasing around others and generally playing as good defence as they are capable of.
Odd to see. In a good way.
With Andrea running out of gas a bit and drawing so much attention from the Magic defence late in the game, it was left to DeMar DeRozan to carry the load.
And Jay gave him every chance to.
On a couple of key possessions late in the fourth quarter they ran plays where Bargnani went down to the baseline or about mid-lane to set a screen for DeRozan, who curled into the paint to take the ball from whichever point guard was on the floor at the time.
It worked like a charm, mainly because DeRozan mixed it up, attacking the rim or pulling up for short jumpers depending on what the defence gave him.
I’d look for that to be a staple of their offence from now on.
Using all his tools
It was notable that Jay went to Jose with about five or six minutes left in a tight game when the offence was really struggling with some stagnation and some turnovers because, as you know, some of us think Jose might be better in those situations.
But it was also notable that the coach put the ball in Jarrett’s hands for the last possession. Not sure I would have but I don’t get the big bucks to coach and it would appear Jarrett was just as taken aback, as he mentioned post-game.
“I was shocked I was out there. I mean I had been sitting over there the whole fourth quarter and then it’s like ‘What? I’m in?’ And then he drew the play for me. I was like ‘all right.’”
And, elsewhere …
Oh yeah, Vince’s beard?
His daughter likes it, it’s not going anywhere.
You know how Chris Bosh is saying a lot of stuff now that’s causing a kafuffle or two in the media?
Kind of funny, isn’t it, that we of the Professional Basketball Writers Association are going to formally present him with our Magic Johnson Award in a little pre-game ceremony tonight.
The award goes to the player who best combines on-court performance with steady co-operation with the media.
Bosh won for 2009-10 and tonight will be the first time we’ve had a chance to see him and make the formal presentation.
(Guess I better do a good job ironing the shirt tonight, shouldn’t I?)
Anyway, say what you will about Chris – and a lot of you are saying an awful lot – but he is good with the media, respectful of our needs, accessible, accountable and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he didn’t want to talk in the seven seasons I covered him on a daily basis.
How’d they report that one in Orlando?
What are they saying about tonight’s game in Miami.
This new Amway Center in Orlando is pretty darn nice.
It’s huge – even though it’s got fewer seats than the ACC it’s simply a far larger building – and since we were sitting among the people I got to walk around a bit.
Wide concourses, a variety of services, several different levels of seating and all kinds of cool amenities; I approve.
And I know there are some of you who’ll be in the neighbourhood, which is a bit rejuvenated and there seem to be all kinds of bistros and restaurants to hang out at. They’ve done a really good job revitalizing the area.
Speaking of Miami, a stroll down memory lane:
Another Sam blowout
This was a classic.
It’s the night he’s got on this cool cream-coloured suit, Larry Tanenbaum’s sitting about two seats over from the bench and the Raps are losing.
Well, some call goes against them – I don’t remember the specifics but it was apparently some egregious wrong done to them – and Sam snaps.
Gets a first technical, gets a second technical that gets him tossed out of the game and he walks about six steps on to the court, stands there and points directly at the three officials and says:
“Bleep you. Bleep you. Bleep you.”
And there’s a big shot from the league at the game doing some pre-playoff site surveying and to this day, I believe he’s deathly afraid of Sam.
First day on the job
It’s 1997, Isiah’s just left, Glen Grunwald’s got the gig and his first game as the new GM is in Miami.
He shows up entirely unsure whether or not he’s up to the task – in fact, he wondered that aloud to a couple of reporter types in a private moment – and he’s ready to hit the ground running.
He meets up with a team that’s really playing poorly and schedules a meeting with then-coach Darrell Walker to imbue him with a sense of confidence in one of those “okay, don’t worry, we’re going to get this thing turned around, let’s work together and make it work” meetings and about the first thing out of Darrell’s mouth is: “Hey, when you fire me, you’ve got to pay me all my money” or words to that effect.
And somehow, Glen went on not only to survive, but to thrive.
A crazy night
Not entirely basketball related but there haven’t been a lot of memorable moments in South Florida over the years so I’m digressing.
You know how the season always starts in late October, right? Well, that means we’ve been on the road for a few Halloweens over the years and the strangest one I remember was one in Miami way back in the 1990s.
We used to stay in Coconut Grove in those years and there’s this little nest of restaurants in a little courtyard-walking mall kind of area and, I tell you, you haven’t experienced Halloween until you’ve seen it “celebrated” by the boys and girls in Miami.
The streets were closed, the liquids were flowing and since I was much younger in the day, it was fun to sit around and watch the party rage on.
Love some. I’ve got very little to do Sunday and another long layover at Dulles so why not give me something to do.
Send ‘em here and I’ll get to as many as I can.