What's that old saying?
All together now …
“That’s why they play the game!”
Just what they need
If a guy who’s seven feet tall and a rather bulky 260-plus pounds can be understated, that’s just what Aaron Gray was against the Celtics.
Now, I’m not entirely sure he can keep it up in a lot of matchups with quicker big men but for this week, if he does that, they’ll be more than happy.
Andrew Bynum tomorrow. Amar’e Stoudemire or Tyson Chandler on Tuesday, maybe DeJuan Blair on Wednesday; some equally bulky bigs the Raptors got Gray specifically to play against.
Not sure where he fits long-term – I’d say at the very, very best he’s the fifth big man next year if they have any interest whatsoever – but he’s recently been giving them everything they’ve asked.
One of the knocks on Gray – at least from scouts and other NBA types whose opinion I trust – was that he’s got a propensity to try to do more than he’s capable of; if he just plays his game like he did against the Celtics, there might be room for him.
Why coaches go gray
Dying seconds of the first quarter, Pierce has the ball in isolation at the top of the circle, everyone in the gym knows he’s going to try to get into the paint and do something.
Dwane Casey’s up yelling. Scott Roth’s up yelling. All directed at Amir Johnson, who’s guarding Mickeal Pietrus, who is standing in the corner right in front of the Celtics bench.
“Stay at home, Amir! Stay at home!”
Of course, Pierce drives, Amir slides over in the paint, Pierce hits a wide open Pietrus, who drains a three.
Why would he do that?
Simply a logical reaction to a play that’s unfolding and when you hear coaches talk about the need for “discipline” on defence, that’s precisely the situation they’re talking about.
I’ll give Amir a bit of a pass on that one; it was an instinctual reaction and he does so many other things well, he gets a bit a break.
But it’s the kind of thing that drives coaches batty.
Quite the gem
There’ve been a couple of so-so games of late for Jose Calderon but that was some performance Friday, wasn’t it?
A tidy 38 minutes, 17 points on 12 shots but just three three-point attempts and a game for the franchise record books in the most important point guard stat.
Against a team that’ll press you full court, he had 14 assists and zero turnovers. No bad lob passes that were impossible to complete, no rushed feeds in the paint that get knocked away, no offensive fouls, no being stripped in transition.
Second-time in history that a Raptor has had that many assists and no turnovers in the same game; Damon had 15 and 0 back in ’97.
(Full disclosure: It’s an odd stat because I’m told there was one game where Oak had a dozen assists and no turnovers and I can’t believe I don’t remember that one because it happens about as often as an eclipse).
A wee bit more before I head out to practice while grinding Super Son to have the driveway nice and shoveled for my return:
I hear there’s some big ceremony or somesuch at the pucks tonight?
So where do we rank Mats Sundin among the sporting heroes of our era and our area?
I don’t pretend to know the intricacies of the game on the ice – I’m going to leave that to experts like Mr. Cox, who can surely help me out next New Year’s Day – but I do know a thing or two about personalities and professional athletes.
And I think Sundin – who I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken to outside of a scrum or two – was precisely the kind of guy who should be honoured.
He was honourable and loyal during his career, there is no question he was physically gifted as a hockey player, and he seemed, from afar, to genuinely care about his teammates, his franchise. He worked as hard as he could, carried himself with distinction and class, he gave an honest effort every night.
I’m not one for retiring numbers except in very extreme situations that begin with championships.
I am, however, in favour of finding other ways to celebrate greatness on rare occasions; I believe this to be one of them.
Mail? There was a request in the mailbag but we may as well make it here. Besides, if we’re going to do “Question Of The Day” here in the newest Faceoff thingy (Sorry, Jenni, I mean Facebook thingy) I need a stockpile.
Thanks. Work your magic here, people.
When you people of Toronto get around to waking up and realizing two insane siblings are running your city into the ground and making it somewhat of a laughingstock, I know who you want to vote for:
With this quote and this quote alone, he usurps Pinball as The Sports Figure Most Likely To Win An Election In A Landslide In A City That Elected The Puppet Of The Brother As Its Mayor.
“Our crowd was unbelievable. I can just imagine, once we get this program built, how the crowd is going to be. That’s one thing that’s impressed me about Toronto. I’ve been in some great sports towns in Dallas and Seattle but the fans in this city are great. They love sports, they know sports and, like I told the guys, once we get this thing going, once we get it built the way we want it built, we’re going to have the best fans in the NBA. They just tonight showed it.”
Okay, off to practice if the Smelly Ford Focus doesn’t balk at the snow; don’t forget IGBT here tomorrow. It’s an afternoon game so I expect a large gathering.