Long day, taking the morning off, have fun with this -- it's long but figured it was easier to run it all rather than break it up -- and we’ll see some of you later today.
Q: My questions don't seem as relevant after the big win in Phoenix, but one game isn't a trend. First, how do you rate the Rudy Gay trade now that we have a decent body of work to evaluate? Clearly the games haven't been as fun to watch. At one point, the common reply was "they're 7-2, so who cares". But now that their record with Gay is .500ish, and not too different than the 20-30 games before the trade (ignoring the 4-19 start), what are your thoughts? Is it possible to separate the two big changes - the addition of Gay, and handing the team to Kyle (from Jose)?
Second, what does Casey think about the poor defence the team has been playing? It seems to me that as individuals, they gamble a lot and make a few big plays on D. But that they get burned more often than not. And, most importantly for a Casey coached team, their 'team defence' seems terrible - no system, little effort, few fundamentals, and way too much individual play. Doesn't that absolutely drive him nuts? Why is he not doing more about it (i.e. sitting guys to send a message)? Or is this something that just takes time and practice, and we shouldn't expect big improvements through the end of the year?
A: The defence was answered in an early story for Saturday’s paper that I trust you saw so we’ll let that go at that.
And, no, the acquisition of Gay and the handing over of the team to Lowry cannot be separated, they will be forever linked. That said, look where .500 would get you, if you steal a couple of games past that it gets you somewhere else and the growth continues.
Q: Hey Doug.
I watched the Warriors game on TV the other day. I could have swore that I saw someone wearing a pair of one of those new Google Glasses in one of the front row seats at the game. Did you see that person, do you know who it was, and how did the glasses look?
Further on that, what are your thoughts on new technologies like this?
Would you consider wearing those glasses and hosting a live video streaming version of the IGBT? Talk about interactive! What do you think?
Thanks for great Blog all these year, keep it up!
A: I had someone else comment on that, too, and given where we were, it wouldn’t surprise me.
I, of course, couldn’t see from where we were sitting had to google Google Glasses but that would be a pretty wild way to do an IGBT, wouldn’t be?
Not sure how many, or any, of you who would want to see me role my eyes at some comments but it’d be neat.
And the way the world and technology and my job are going, who knows what the future might hold.
Q: Hello Doug,
Cute anecdote about those young ladies in Phoenix and their tattoos. Young ladies and their fondness for tattoos is a subject that strikes close to home as I've recently watched two of the Daughters walk up the aisle on their wedding days with their body art proudly displayed on their bare shoulders and backs. And as part of their wedding day attire...do you think tattoos fall into the "something old" or "something (that makes their mother) blue??? And yes, I know there's body makeup that will temporarily hide them on such occasions. Which is all well and good if the person in question actually wants them hidden. Sigh. Anyway, you and I both know that what one thinks is cool and hip when you're 21 isn't usually what you would choose to have on your body when you're 51.
But ... and here's the question ... if today you were to put a meaningful - or meaningless if you're going for guffaws - on your arm or somewhere else, what would it be? Wise
words from the Dalai Lama or Mahatma Gandhi? Or wittier insights from the likes of George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield? Or someone else? Or perhaps - as some NBA stars have done - a self-portrait?
Now, truth, Doug! Exactly how did you happen to notice the artwork if it was located on the 'lower back'? :) Thank you! And safe travels home!
Lorie P, London
A: Suppose … “There once was a man …” wouldn’t work, right?
But why not go old school and just do “Mother.”
But it’d probably be more inspirational than comical but if I get one, I will have suffered some severe psychological or physical breakdown and it won’t really matter, I’ll be hidden away.
And we noticed simply because of the, um, uniforms the servers and saloon keepers were required to wear. We really couldn’t help it.
Q: Wow, that was fast. All the momentum from the Knicks win has dissipated sadly. It's another rerun of Ground Hog Day. Do you think senior management have seen enough positives that the HOTH are headed towards being a competitive team or do the remaining games have an impact on managements decision?
Johnny C, Mississauga
A: No, I have s feeling there is still some evaluating to do throughout the organization. But from the people I've spoken to, there is a general feeling that things are headed in the right direction. I can't get a good read, however, on the patience level at the very top.
And pardon a digression here but anyone out there foolish enough to equate the pucks and the hockey simply doesn't get it. They are two entirely different organizations working under absolutely different circumstances in entirely different leagues and the personalities of the men in charge are, frankly, apples and oranges.
I know enough of this group to realize that what happens in one doesn't necessarily have any correlation to what may or may not happen in the other.
Q: Greetings Doug!
Had to chuckle when I read your comment about Sebastian Telfair's 'you gave this up' moment in the Phoenix/Raptors game. It made me think on the inevitable moment coming our way when Andrea is traded and comes back with a great game, that aside, we all know big egos can provide some entertaining payback. Any great or memorable 'in your face' moments you recall that you can pass along?
K MAC, Huntsville
A:Well,Vince coming back and hitting a series of wonderful shots and a game-winner would be at the top of that list but it's the lesser knowns I find mildly interesting. I've seen guys like Jerryd Bayless, Charlie Villanueva and Jarrett Jack relishing in big shots and making it a point to let the Raptors bench know that they could hit a shot.
Q: Dear Doug,
I read the blog every day even when I am too busy at work (end of obligatory thanks to Doug). Today you mentioned Natalie Achonwa making the first team in the Big East. Perhaps you have forgotten or didn't know about Kayla Alexander from Syracuse who also made the first team. She is a graduate of Milton District High School and was in my son's grade and some classes. (Chris Hadfield is also a graduate of Milton District High School.) She played on Canada's national junior team but has not made it on the senior national team, yet. However, she is leading the Syracuse women's team to its greatest season ever. I have never followed the WNBA but if Kayla gets drafted I will start following it. Is there any chance you could make some comments on the WNBA in future? You cover it a little but not much. Could you at least cover the Canadians in the WNBA? Is it possible to have a regular feature in the blog or an article chronicling the Canadian players in the NBA? I know there is Steve Nash, Tristan Thompson, Robert Sacre, and Cory Joseph. Are there others?
Richard G, Milton
A: Yeah, I absolutely blew it on Kayla Alexander, big mistake on my part.
And we'll try to dona wee bit better job on the WNBA but if the great Tammy Sutton-Brown doesn't play again, I don't believe there's another Canadian in the league.
You forgot Mississauga's Andrew Nicholson of Orlando on the Canadian NBA list.
Q: Doug: A question for the weekend: I concede that Rudy Gay has multiple talents that are welcome on this roster. To name one, I've been surprised by his playmaking ability, although less impressed with his ball handling if that's not too great a contradiction.
But how can he be convinced that he is not a three-point shooter? Is this a delicate conversation for the coach or is he okay with Rudy taking those shots.
James A, Victoria, B.C.
A: I know this staff well enough to know there are several cringe-worthy moments when some of those shots go up and that there are private, delicate and sometimes loud conversations. But it is a never-ending process and the knee-jerk reaction to say "sit someone down immediately" often does more harm than good. Sometimes you just have to put up with what's seen as a bad shot and move on.
Q: Hi Doug,
Is it too early to start talking about the possibility of old friend Glen Grumwald as executive of the year?
M. Sohail G
A: Depending on how the rest of the season unfolds, I can see him getting some consideration. I haven't personally given it much thought yet but he has made some astute and put together an old but effective roster. But I haven't looked all that closely at who the other "contenders" might be.-
Q: Hi Doug,
Was playing NBA 2k13, they have some classic teams in the past. Now the Raptors is playing the Lakers, this got me thinking, which pair of Lakers 1-2 punch are the best ever? Which pair will you pick to start your team?
The NBA logo/ 100 points man (Jerry West/ Wilt Chamberrlain)?
Magic and Sky-hook(Magic Johnson/ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
The black Mamba/The big diesel(kobe and Shaquille O'Neal )*
I think I will go for Magic and Kareem. you?
A:I don't see how many could make a case for either of the other two. Has to be Magic and Kareem, no?
Q: Hi Doug:
I was wondering what happened to the NBA mandating players to wearing jackets etc. during their arrival to the arenas? I remember the furor when the NBA instituted this policy as some felt it was discriminatory but, recently, saw images of Melo showing up in a baseball hat and a t-shirt. Did the rule get repealed? I don't really care one way or another and thought the rule was silly but I hadn't heard anything about the league eliminating the rule.
A: Not repealed but eased and I'm not sure precisely what the guidelines are regarding players who may not be active for a game. I do know jackets are required for inactive or injured players to sit on the bench which is why sometimes, if a player gets hurt during a road trip, you might not see him on the bench the rest of the trip.
What a great game, no?
Exciting, Kobe’s brilliance, a big Nash three in the overtime and enough HOTH mistakes for you to chew on for a week or so.
Big night, indeed.
Make or miss, one of those nights
There will be – and has been – all kinds of dogging of Rudy Gay for the 7-for-26 night and the desultory fourth quarter and overtime that he had.
But as the game story points out, it wasn’t as if they could have gone to DeRozan – that Bryant fellow made sure of that – and it’s funny how many people who had slagged Alan Anderson figured he’d have been a better option.
But Dwane made it clear post-game that in those circumstances, it’s going to be Gay.
“He’s our go-to guy. He’s our closer. He and DeMar both … We were trying to get him looks that he normally hits but he had a tough night. We still have to depend him and have him put us on his back.”
Sometimes the back’s a bit wonky.
Now, the only thing you might want is a bit more pick and roll but that’s not this team’s specialty and the presence of Dwight Howard dissuades that, too.
Maybe some 3-2 screen roll or even 1-3 screen roll might have worked and when they come to getting more creativity in the offence, I’m sure that’s what they’ll work on.
But for now? It is what it is.
Oh, yeah, Andrea
Kind of got lost in the night but Bargnani leaving after just about nine minutes was troubling.
Ran into him in the hallway outside the locker room while waiting post-game for Dwane and got a really brief word:
“I don’t know what happened. I got caught up in a pick and roll. We’ll see how it is tomorrow.”
Now, it’s not like he’s integral to any late playoff run but it was, I thought, important for him to finish well. For his own psyche, for the team’s and for Bryan to have a bigger body of work to peddle on the market this summer.
Of course, we don’t know how long, or even if, he’ll be out – I won’t go guessing until there’s some legitimate report – but it kind of sucks that he suffered any kind of setback.
A great place
I can watch Laker games at Staples forever.
Not sure if you noticed on TV but there’s no inane “in-game host” screaming, the scoreboard doesn’t tell anyone when to cheer and how loudly to cheer and, with the exception of a bit of that Gangnam Style stupidity for a wee bit in the second half, they kind of let basketball be the story and the show.
Shocking, I know.
And they gave us a little of this in one timeout and not sure you can get enough Cotton Eye Joe during a break in a game.
Quickly because it’s late and I have to get up, write and fly all day.
Yeah, we missed on Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood for sure on the Cool Canadians thing yesterday. But that’s about all I’m going to give you, despite the overwhelming, and much appreciated comments we got yesterday.
Lots of okay names but in too many cases, I think we might have forgotten that there’s a distinction between famous, rich, accomplished and cool.
Cool is relatively undefineable as my man Potter Stewart would say.
(Google him and pornography and you’ll see my point)
What is it about Italy and Canada in the baseball?
No, I didn’t find a place to see it at lunch out in L.A. so I have to try to follow it on the tweeter and it was a tad disheartening.
And wasn’t it last time, when they were in Toronto that the Italians beat Canada out as well?
Déjà vu all over again as the man once said.
But I think the entire format of the event is so messed up that it makes me wonder if it will ever take off.
I’d love to see a bigger first round – where one upset loss isn’t debilitating – of maybe six teams with the top four moving on to a single elimination medal round (I believe that’s how they did it in the Olympics, if I’m not mistaken) but the limits on pitch counts and time of year probably make that impossible.
Too bad because a global tournament should probably be a bit bigger and differently run.
That said …
They lost to Italy!!!
You know, I had to look back at my boxscore for what might become something of a regular happenstance here given how halftime arrived in Phoenix the other night.
But John Lucas made a shot to make it 52-40 with about six minutes to go in the second quarter and the Raptors couldn’t get a stop and a bucket.
But in honour of the other night …
Okay, I’ve got a whole whack of mail done (I think you’ll get an omnibus mail bag Sunday morning unless enough people think breaking it into two makes more sense) and since the flight is going to eat up most the day, you’ve got until about noon to get your questions in.
And – be warned – I’m only taking one on the decision, right that it was, to use Gray in the OT over Valanciunas in the overtime.
As we did the other night from Oakland, here’s a game story on Friday’s Raptors-Lakers thriller.
LOS ANGELES – Kobe being Kobe.
With three incredible shots – each more difficult and significant than the previous -- Kobe Bryant had a couple of minutes for the ages at the Staples Centre on Friday, basically single-handedly carrying the Los Angeles Lakers to a 118-116 overtime victory over the Raptors.
It was a tour de force from one of the game’s great closers and no matter what the Raptors did, it wasn’t good enough.
Bryant hit a three-pointer that was nothing special with 1:41 left in the fourth quarter to carve a five-point Raptor lead to two.
Bryant hit a three-pointer practically falling out of bounds in the corner with 29.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter to carve a four-point Raptor lead to one.
Bryant hit a three-pointer while being double-teamed and the game on truly on the line with 5.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter to carve a three-point Raptors lead to nothing.
Sense a theme?
Three shots, three shocking, clutch, game-deciding shots that most mortals would not make.
“That’s what he does,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. “He makes great shots and that’s why he’s a great player.”
Bryant shouldn’t have had the chance to get off the game-tying three, however.
With the Lakers inbounding the ball at midcourt with 8.4 seconds left, the basic basketball play was to foul whoever caught the ball as soon as he caught, give up two free throws to get possession back and try to run out the game.
But Amir Johnson couldn’t get his hands on Bryant, Rudy Gay didn’t close out quickly enough to get anywhere near him and Bryant did his business.
“On the catch,” Johnson said of the time he was supposed to foul. “But I missed him and he made a tough shot.”
For Casey, another mental breakdown with a game on the line was as frustrating as it’s been all season.
“It was a valiant effort and it’s to the point now where you’re playing for the playoffs, you have to put the mental part into it,” he said. “Our guys are fighting, scratching their behinds off. Now we have to understand the intensity and the speed of the game and how much thought you have to put into the game and execution at the same time you’re playing hard.”
Bryant, who finished with 41 points, also had four points in the overtime as did another wily old veteran in Steve Nash.
But Nash, astonishingly given his history, missed one of two free throws with 6.6 seconds left that gave the Raptors one last chance to tie.
But on a night when he couldn’t hit the ocean from a boat, Rudy Gay missed a prayer at the buzzer, capping an 0-for-4 overtime and a 7-for-26 night.
“Did I like them?” Gay said of his looks. “They didn’t go in, so I guess not. I don’t like to miss.”
The reason Gay was taking all the shots was because Bryant was taking DeMar DeRozan out of the picture with some great individual defence. Left to operate against the likes of Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake, DeRozan had 28 points on 10-for-18 shooting but he didn’t score in the overtime and had just four points in the fourth quarter with Bryant covering him.
“(He) just tried to bother me, make my shot tough,” said DeRozan. “I knew I wasn’t going to get anything easy. He was just trying to get me off the post and I just tried to be aggressive.”
Everyone still awake?
Our usual morning update for tonight’s Raptors-Lakers game.
TORONTO (24-38) at L.A. LAKERS (31-31)
TIPOFF: 10:30 p.m.
TV: TSN2; RADIO: FAN590
WEB: For the late-night crowd (at least it the East) we’ll be here just before 10:30 p.m. to get things going.
Toronto: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Andrea Bargnani, Jonas Valanciunas; Los Angeles: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark, Dwight Howard.
Key backups tonight
Toronto: Amir Johnson (he’s been on an incredible role), Landry Fields (back home in the L.A. area again); Los Angeles: Antawn Jamison (he’s been on a resurgence), Jodie Meeks (adds some offence off the bench.
Toronto leads, 1-0.
It was an eventful affair, Dwight Howard was tossed in the first half after getting two technical fouls and the Raptors came away with an entertaining 108-103 victory.
What happened this morning
Given that it’s about 9:15 a.m. L.A. time when I’m doing this and the shootaround is to heck and back out at UCLA, it’s going to be a slow morning.
Chatting with Dwane Casey last night there seems to be very little in the way of news but they are preparing for a Lakers team that’s playing far better than the group Toronto saw at the Air Canada Centre earlier this year.
That’s especially true of Dwight Howard, who lasted less than half of that game and is at least a force defensively now.
A stat to remember
The last time the Raptors won at the Staples Centre was Nov. 13, 2009. And that was against the Clippers.
Last win in L.A. over the Lakers? Dec. 28, 2001.
What’s up in L.A.?
A bit more angst and a goal to chase as the Los Angeles Times told us this morning.
A mention yesterday that this was a homecoming for DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson forgot to mention Landry Fields, who hails from Los Alamitos.
The men in charge
Just because we do, the officials for tonight are Bennett Salvatore, Bennie Adams and James Williams; the last one is an unfamiliar name.
If you care …
It’s the penultimate road game against a Western Conference foe; Toronto has a stop left in Minnesota in early April. I’ve got them at 2-11 vs. the West on the road with wins at New Orleans and Phoenix.
Okay, we should have known nothing good would come of this.
Gumby, Griff and I are sitting around the saloon after the Phoenix game and, of course, we get to talking about Stompin’ Tom and his demise and his place among all-time Canadians and we go with him being an icon, as we should.
But then the glasses start emptying and we start talking about the greatest living Canadian and that’s too subjective so we switch gears and try to figure out the Coolest Canadian Alive.
Well, now we have to order a second – we’re about 20 steps from the hotel so there’s no real rush – and start really thinking.
(Well, that’s relative for three sportswriters about 11 p.m. in a saloon but …)
But here’s the thing: What constitutes cool?
Is it things you do and how you do them? Or is it how you carry yourself? Do you have to do something serious and globally significant or just, you know, be cool?
And you can’t just be famous because there’s a huge difference between famous and cool. Oh, and you have to be alive.
We probably came up with 25 or 30 possibilities, all duly noted in the Handy-Dandy Notebook (and bonus points for anyone who gets that) and because this is my space, I’m narrowing it down to a personal Top 10.
In no particular order (except for the top three) here’s what we got.
She croons, she’s world famous, she’s married to Elvis Costello for goodness sakes.
He’s got that geek chic thing going for him, he’s got global interests outside of sport and he produced that wonderful Terry Fox documentary.
The guy was part of Cheech and Chong. Has to be on the list, doesn’t he?
Gumby and I had no reason to disagree with Griff on this one and I may be pandering to the younger set but he seems cool whenever I’ve seen him. He’s no Wale and that’s not a bad thing.
In the old-school folkie cool kind of way, right?
Duh! Plus, his dad was a sportswriter and he survived that.
And he was good
The guy was an intern at The Fan, for goodness sake. From such humble beginnings … (Plus I wanted to see if I could type his name correctly the first time. Let’s just say thanks, google)
Now, my personal top three, from three to one.
The guy’s an astronaut, rolling around in space doing big things, he tweets great pictures and talks to students. That ain’t cool?
Come on now? This is a no-brainer, right?
If you want cool, he’s it.
So, how’d we do? I’m not going to give you the rest our list because I figure some of you will come up with the same runnersup.
Yeah, you never know what you’re going to get here, do you?
Yeah, guess there was some yesterday for the HOTH, who got to LA overnight and spent part of the afternoon working out at UCLA.
Wish I had some news but there really isn’t any; and there’s really no burning issues to discuss. These are the end-of-the-season dog days (oh yeah, I know that feeling very well) and I have a feeling it’s going to be slow on more than one occasion the rest of the way.
One of the few things worth thinking about is whether Dwane uses Sebastian Telfair more often in the final 20 games to see what he’s got.
And even that’s not that big a deal because I think there’s got to someway to upgrade at that spot as the summer rolls around.
You folks did well on the whole mail thing yesterday but there’s always room for more.
You know the drill, right? Either click over there at the right or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ll be glad you did.
Man, how much does it suck that Hobbs has to pull out of the world baseball thingy?
I was never sure Canada’s offence was going to be good enough to make some noise and now it’s even worse.
But they still should get out of the first round, I’d suggest and, really, isn’t that probably all they would have done anyway?
Might be a fun team to watch but I don’t know that they can play with the big boys.
And now all I have to do is find some place near this hotel where I can go watch Canada-Mexico at lunch here; seems to be a good thing to do to kill a Friday afternoon waiting for a late game.
You know, if you’re on the road for about a week and go Central time to Pacific time to Mountain time and back to Pacific time with a game every other day and practices and shootarounds, you can get worn out.
Thanks for the tips on LA Live area but it was ESPN Zone, bar food, the first bit of Knicks-Thunder and an early night.
Yeah, livin’ the dream.
So, remember way back when we had an Irregular asking about one of our favourite Canadian women’s basketball players, Guelph’s Natalie Achonwa at Notre Dame?
Well, she’s back in the news again, one of three Irish players named to the Big East first all-star team. Not bad at all.
And The First Lady of the Beat knocked this piece off before she’s off to chronicle the lutzes and toe loops and kiss-and-cry set.
We didn’t run it but one paper did that I found and it’s a pretty good look at the big picture.
That was a laugher, wasn’t it?
Actually a pretty awful game at a lot of levels but it was easy to write about (and we know …) and was over in 2:04 because no one needed to call a timeout in the final five minutes and I’ll take that every night.
And some stuff happened, at least.
But let’s do a bit of more first.
When you go to the list of Canadian icons, Stompin’ Tom has to be on it, right?
He was a character and a homespun dude who was pretty simple and kind of entertaining. Probably doesn’t resonate at all with the younger set and certainly wouldn’t fly in today’s entertainment world but what the heck. He was pretty special.
RIP, good man.
Share and share alike
Now, 24 assists on 37 made baskets isn’t going to set any world records or anything like that but seeing how the HOTH had 16 in the entire game the other night in Oakland, it was kind of notable.
There’s still a ways to go to get some fluidity in the offence on a consistent basis but they did show last night that the main group can move the ball effectively and efficiently, even if it was against an opponent that was gawdawful for most of the evening.
But a baby step, for sure. And proof to themselves that they can do it.
Changing of the guard?
I don’t imagine Sebastian Telfair will supplant John Lucas as the backup to Kyle Lowry but he was okay last night.
Sure, as Dwane mentioned in the game story the fact Telfair was playing one of his old teams and was a bit juiced up for the assignment had a lot to do with him getting some time but I was impressed with what he did with it.
Now, Lucas is a shooter first and a scorer second and there’s a spot for a guy like for him but Telfair’s defence was exemplary. And I’m told by friends in Phoenix that it’s his calling card so maybe there’s an extender spot for him the final 20 games?
He’d like it.
“I was expecting to get some minutes but I didn’t know how many. I appreciated the 26 minutes though, I will tell you that.”
A wee blip
It’s the end of the third quarter, Raptors get the ball with about 35 seconds left and Dwane’s on the sideline yelling “two for one, two for one” because it’s a perfect chance to get a couple of shots before the quarter ends and the game’s pretty much in hand so why not try it.
Well, they go missed shot, offensive rebound with time to hold for a final shot, a turnover and them commit a foul at the other end.
No, that’s not how you draw it up. At all.
The rest of the more?
Heard something last night at an NBA game that I’ve never heard before and I hope I never hear again.
You know how much sponsorship has crept into professional sports here with too much signage, too many companies “presenting” games, too many events “brought to you by” and I won’t be surprised when company logos show up on the jerseys of major professional sports teams.
(Yes, I know the CFL already does it and teams have the logos of the manufacturers discreetly sewn into their jerseys now so we’re pretty much there).
But last night was too much.
At the end of each quarter, the PA announcer would, as they do in every gym, give the score.
This was over the top:
The Toronto Raptors 28, your Phoenix Suns brought to you by some casino and resort 24.
Isn’t that too much?
To say nothing of a sponsorship deal with a casino for a league that’s had some shady moments with gambling, I just think it’s wrong.
Right? It is wrong, isn’t it?
I guess it should be seen as inevitable so teams can maximize revenue streams but for some reason it just irked me an awful lot.
Hey, let’s start mail, okay?
It’s email@example.com and I’m going to have a whole lot of Friday to do it so help a fellow out, would you?
You know who you are.
So, what do you have for me at LA Live down by Staples? Never stayed there before but should arrive late afternoon and need a place to relax and maybe watch some games.
Okay, this is weird, too.
We’re in this sports bar/lounge about 20 metres from our hotel in Phoenix on the night before the game and then last night and it’s a typical joint.
Except one night we notice a woman working behind the bar with tattoos down the back of her calves and then last night another barkeep’s got a huge poem or something on her lower back.
Both of them had to be in their 20s, as most beer slingers are these days, so tattoos shouldn’t be too odd (I don’t get it, guess it’s a young person thing). These ones, though, were noticeable in that they were long, written passages.
Now, being the conversationalist I am, this couldn’t go without comment so I asked each of them what they were.
The first? Lines uttered by Audrey Hepburn because she’s a big fan.
The second? A passage from a Robert Frost poem that was used in one of those Twilight movies.
And both said about the same thing:
“Bet you didn’t expect that answer, did you?”
Maybe the best thing about the pucks?
One more Stompin’ Tom.
Good evening, ladies and gents.
Remember way back in the first month or so of the season when things were going so horribly wrong for the HOTH and I wondered if there weren’t some trust issues between new teammates?
Well, now I’m wondering again and Dwane kind of brought up that point when we were chatting yesterday.
Not in a terrible way like they don’t trust each other and hate each other and will never get along; that’s simply not true.
No, it’s trusting in ball movement and the willingness to share.
There’s no doubt the offence has been more stagnant in the last month or so and lost amid discussion of defensive lapses the other night in Oakland was the fact they only had 16 assists.
That’s nowhere near good enough.
Dwane’s explanation was pretty simple.
“I think some of it is we were getting in the habit of throwing it to Rudy and watching Rudy – or DeMar – go to work and we can’t do that … We have to respect the other team’s ability to stop those two guys and when they send two guys to them, that means someone else is open, we have to start trusting the pass.
“I thought we trusted the pass more.
“We’ve been going through times where we don’t trust the pass and that we’re going to get it back. That’s what we have to do with this team. It’s learning to play with each other.”
It was always going to be a process and you can see snippets of good ball movement and player movement and cohesion at times, you just don’t see it enough.
That’s another task for the final 20 or so games of the regular season and another reason they need to stay with the regular rotation as much as possible.
It’s all well and good to say “play the kids” but if there’s work to be done with the grownups, that has to be done.
No, it is not at all my cup of tea but since there’s a joint called Cooperstown right behind the arena here, why not a little Alice?
This is a total and unequivocal jinx and we know my powers in that regard, right?
(Although I have still not been the least bit flu ridden so take that, germs!)
I don’t know if it was the timing or what but we left the hotel in San Francisco about 6:45 a.m. yesterday and were checked in and through security by 7:17 a.m.
Now, I know TSA will screw me over at least once on this trip by having only one of four lines open with dozens of people waiting and LAX has the potential to be horribly ugly but someone got something right in San Francisco.
And if my enemies at Pearson are reading this, I’d suggest you send some people with common sense out and about to learn how to manage lines and set up security checkpoints.
Oh, and then blow the damn airport up and start again, perchance seeking input from people who travel.
So we’re at practice and talking to Dwane about Amir (you can see it here if you’ve missed and I can’t believe you haven’t) and he mentions that he talked to him about putting Bargnani back in the starting lineup.
Did he have to?
“No I didn't. But I talked to him (Johnson) like I try to communicate with all our guys. You never know so you do it to make sure. You do it out of respect more than anything else. He's huge. He's the spirit of our team, kind of the fibre of our team and going forward, people talk about the core of this team, he's a big part of the core.”
Yep, that’s Phoenix. Not only can you barely find one with a search warrant, when you get one, it can be a harrowing thing.
Context to the first story: Downtown Phoenix is hardly “sprawling” because it’s about eight blocks big and right at the bottom of it are the ballpark and the arena.
Okay, we call the cab to get to practice, it arrives after about a 15-minute wait, we tell the guy we’re doing to the US Airways Centre and he says, “where?”
The arena. Downtown. Where the Suns play.
“Do you have an address?”
No. It’s the freaking arena. Big place. About 15 minutes from here.
“I think I know it.”
Get the address off the trusty iPhone and we get there.
Now, after a great pizza at Pizzeria Bianco (and if you don’t get there when you’re here, shame on you) we have to walk about seven blocks through desolate downtown before we stumble on a cab stand at a hotel.
Tell the guy where we want to go, he swears he knows it and by the time we figure out that he has no clue what side of our hotel the bar we want is on, he’s almost drilled a cyclist going across the street and leave a slight bend in the corner of my glasses frame when I hit the back of his seat as he stopped just short of killing a guy.
Gotta love Phoenix cabs.
Okay, the grandfather who was sitting three rows across from me at SFO before 8 a.m. Tuesday should probably have been USING HIS INSIDE VOICE when he was telling the two urchins he was minding how much they’d enjoy going to the opera.
As Things That Bug Me About People At Airports, loud talkers is most certainly in the top five.
WE DON’T WANT TO HEAR YOU!
And seconds after I thought that, Gumby looks over and says: “Do you think that guy ever shuts up?”
Do you think the Champions League will apologize?
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).