Ace free-throw shooting and all kinds of fun stuff
Yes, that was a win. Who cares that it came over a terrible team and was kind of in doubt with two minutes to go, it sure beats the alternative, no?
And as I get ready for Toronto-Minneapolis-Oklahoma City (now that’s a Lewis and Clark kind of route), you get this:
A defensive gem?
Now, we don’t often write about staunch Raptors defence and you do have to take into consideration the quality of the opposition but …
There was a stretch of 5 1-2 minutes in the second quarter, after a Jordan Crawford bucket and before a Yi basket – when the Raptors held the Wizards without as much as a single field goal as they took control of the game.
It was, by my calculations and we know how I am with math, a 19-4 run that turned a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead and gave them back the confidence they had in the first quarter and first couple minutes of the second.
Doesn’t mean they’re going to do it all the time or that they can against quality opponents but they still did it when they had to on one night at least.
One from the files
I remember talking to Jay after a game earlier this season, the one where they got a really tough shot for DeMar on the sideline on a last possession to try to win a game, and him lamenting that night they he had so few options (a lot of guys were out with injuries) that he really didn’t have many plays to call that would have worked.
I remember him grabbing a notebook and saying what he might have done, had he had the right guys, was start Leandro in the backcourt, get him a couple of screens to create some space, hit him with a pass on the fly and see what he could do. Maybe one of the screeners would come open but, mostly, maybe he’d just be too quick to chase down and he’d get a good look.
Less than 10 seconds left in the first half, Raptors call a 20-second timeout to set up a last play and what do they do?
Put two guys in the backcourt to set screens if needed, curl Barbosa off them, hit him with a pass in full stride and he was simply too quick for the defence. He went almost the length of the court in about four seconds, made a layup and got fouled and all I could think was Jay had stored that play in his mind and when he had the chance, he broke it out.
And it worked.
Things you didn’t think you’d see
Reggie Evans, intentionally fouled, hitting two free throws with just over two minutes left in a four-point game and then hitting two more to ice the win with 72 seconds left.
Those two made him 5-8 from the line on the night, he was 4-for-4 on Wednesday in Detroit and shooting like that is going to allow Jay to keep him on the floor all the time in close games, rather than going only defence-offence with him.
Sure, there’s some as the sunrise hits and another good day dawns
Oh, you’re quite welcome on the Marquette thing, by the way.
Lot of friends went to journalism school there – hello, Sheridan! – and I’ve spent a hour or two in establishments near campus so it was a bit of a no-brainer.
Plus, there’s a Toronto kid – Junior Cadougan – who plays a key role and why not think about the locals?
I’ve got nothing, really, but I line of like Notre Dame over Utah in the women’s tourney.
Stevie Boy was the crack photog on the scene Friday.
Oh, this is shaping up to be a dream road trip.
I’ll probably delve into this more for a story in the paper but did you know that, against the first four opponents on this trip (Thunder, Nuggets, Suns, Warriors) the Raptors have lost – get this – 22 straight road games!
Four against Oklahoma City and six each against Nuggets, Suns, Warriors.
Oh yeah, this could get ugly.
Wonder where Jalen and Grant are getting together today to watch Michigan-Duke?
We’ll get this one out of the mail just to ease the glut and offer one last shot at writing to say hello by putting the click, write, send link here:
Q: Hi Doug. Couple of quick ones. First, will Jack Armstrong be back sometime after the NCAA Sweet 16 or so? He hasn't called a game with Devlin in, what, a month? Second, think John Bitove would be interested in taking another run at co-owning a basketball team? Thanks!
David M, Ottawa
A: A whole lot of you have missed Jack, haven’t you? Many a note wondering about his whereabouts but the good news is I expect to see him on the streets of Oklahoma City tonight (or perchance a couple of stools over) so you’ll hear his dulcet tones tomorrow night.
Bitove? Haven’t heard the name at all and doubt there’s any interest but now that they’ve got a Wake Forest guy on the team, he might want to honour his alma mater and do it. Or not.
Must be tough writing something of interest off a game when the team you cover loses its 31st of 32 road games, no?
Let’s see what Michael Lee said in the Post.
All right, I’ve got a stop at Mickey Mantle’s planned for later tonight in Oklahoma (a restaurant, not his house) but if anyone’s got anything else, I’m all ears.
Haven’t spent a lot of time there so am still getting the lay of the land.
Please, for the love of all that’s good in the world, can we ditch the green jerseys forever?
Not just between now and next March but forever?
I’ve got to tell you, the comments the last 24 hours about waning interest and what it might all mean were among the most interesting I’ve read in a long time and I hope whatever henchmen are reading this tell the grand poobahs over there to have a read of them to take the temperature of the populace.
I guess the overall impression was that they need to win more than anything else to bring back the over-the-top passion and that makes entire sense.
But just to prove that there is still a lot of interest out there, I note that attendance for Friday’s Washington game was 18,017, a huge gathering given the quality of the opponent, average crowd size and lack of success this season.
And it seemed, to the eye at least, to be a legit 18,000 or so.