Just the usual game stuff here this morning; end of a long, tough grind, a practice to get to and a trip down to the peninsula delayed.
Have fun, we’re back with mail tomorrow.
Guess the most disheartening thing about the whole night was the effort, or toughness, or disposition, or intensity, or whatever it is you want to call it.
Lacking. In almost every player on almost every level and that’s a telling characteristic.
As we’ve said all along, this is a season about learning and the hope from the organization was that they’d learn all kinds of good things about the players; left often unsaid was the fact they could learn bad things.
Now, we are not even halfway through a truncated regular season that’s as odd as any have ever been with the absence of practice time and no real training camp and a schedule so screwed up that not once so far this season have the Raptors had even two days off between games.
And that explains some things but the feeling Friday night that we were witnessing true regression, that old habits of capitulation were creeping into the minds and bodies of the players was difficult to take.
I truly think Dwane Casey is an excellent coach, a good motivator, a fine tactitian and we have absolutely seen at times how he can get this team to play, primarily on defence where effort is just as big a factor as strategy or systems.
But now he’s got some trouble signs to work through. It’s like when things started to go bad Friday night they looked like they expected to lose rather than wanted to win.
And that’s a difficult lesson to swallow about a team with some good pieces being coached by a smart guy.
I’m not suggesting these next four days of practice – or three if he decides a day of rest is necessary – are the absolute turning point of the season but there are some hard lessons to be hammered home.
And it will be interesting to see how these guys react in a season that’s all about discovering what the players have in them.
That’s both good and bad.
Forcing his hand
Really didn’t think much of it in the second quarter when Dwane went to Anthony Carter with about six minutes left because they needed to try something to get Reggie Williams stopped.
But when Casey went back to Carter in the second half and didn’t use the apparently-available Jerryd Bayless, an eyebrow or two might have been raised.
No big deal, as it turns out.
Casey told us after the game he just didn’t think Bayless had it, primarily because of the sore ankle that seems to still be bothering him.
Was a good idea, I guess, to at least run him out there for a few minutes; without Kleiza they needed to get some scoring from some other source, and with four days off now before the next game there’s lots of time for rest and rehab.
Trouble is, he didn’t have a lot to give.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
So that’s what it looks like
It’s late in a game that’s probably already lost and it’s time for something out of the ordinary.
And we finally saw what the play at the end of the Lakers game – the one with the ill-fated non-timeout – was supposed to look like.
Except Jose made a shot.
It’s a really good looking play, a couple of backscreens for James Johnson, a lob to the rim and hopefully an easy basket. Second and third options are a guy in the corner and one at the top of the circle.
Trouble was, Jose threw the inbounds pass a bit too well, actually making the shot which, of course, is a violation.
But it was new that it was Calderon making the pass, not a bigger forward and it probably gave them another option, like the play at the end of the Utah game where he inbounded the ball and got a screen that freed him for an open three-pointer.
One of these days, maybe that first option for Johnson works; given the number of times they’ve tried it, you’d think it would.
Okay; am off to do a mid-season report card on these lads before practice.
Wish me well.