Archive for March, 2007

More on tonight…

Yeah, that last post was long, but there’s a bit more.

Forgot to go on about Bosh. That display in overtime once again shows how Bosh is truly one of the best players in the league. That’s how big players show up. Crunch time. That’s when even though you know it is going to them, you still can’t stop it. He broke out everything. Drives, jumpers, hook shots. Even got away with some push-offs, so it’s nice to see that he’s getting some star-quality calls in his direction (I like to call them “Jordan No-Calls”). I like the fact that after he had taken a couple of jumpers that didn’t drop, he went right back inside and attacked, eliminating any thought that he was going to pull a Carter and shy away from the basket and going inside. That was a real leader tonight.

Also, let’s give Sam some credit for dealing with the injury situation well, but not so much on the court as off it. I like how Sam has been very direct in any questions about the inury situation, saying that they can’t just pack up and quit because of some injuries. I like that he has cut that off right away, not letting it turn into a bigger issue than it really is. Good for Sam. Personally, I still think there is a lot of room for improvement from Sam, but I don’t think I can see any way that the Raptors management CANNOT offer him a new contract. He has handled losing his star player in the middle of the season. He has handled losing his starting PG. He has handled losing his star rookie. Now he is managing to pull the team together with arguably their best defender out. He has the team rebounding down the stretch (still a little early to call on this one, but I’ll give some dap anyway). He has the team ahead of where anybody thought they would be. I honestly think that Colangelo has to offer a contract. I was a Sam fan (Lang and I had some classic discussions about him), then with more mistakes, fell out of favour with him and still am not his biggest supporter, but let’s give credit where it is due.

One last point. Please tell me you saw that kid sitting behind the Raptors bench with his mum, after the Raptors pulled ahead in OT. Kid had his hands on his head and tears were ready to flow. Priceless. Nothing better than seeing dreams crushed first hand.

Wow.

Now that was an exciting game. So many ups and downs. Tons of good plays and bad plays. Heroes and goats. Everything.

This is the second time ever that I have called something. I called Joe Carter’s home run the pitch before it happened. While I have absolutely no back up for tonight’s call, what I said to myself (and my MGD) was, “If MoPete can get a circus shot, we’ve got overtime.” Okay, I didn’t know it was going to be THAT GOOD of a circus shot, but I swear, that’s what I said. True, I say that in almost every game, but let’s not get that all tied up with what actually happened.

When you make that many circus shots, there has to be something to it. Seriously. You can’t just keep hitting those kinds of shots without having some sort of deal with God or something. And I’m not going to lie to you, for some reason, when I saw everyone celebrating (what took so long for the replay review?), I was jumping up and down too (almost woke up the kid), but when I saw Mo and Sam hugging after the game, I got teary. Man, the Raptors are getting me all emotional.

Anyway, on to the game. Another team effort tonight (until Bosh took over in OT, but more on that later). Six guys had AT LEAST 5 rebounds. Six guys! This is the Raptors we are talking about. I mean, even though over the last five games, they have led the league in rebounding (as Norma Wick pointed out), over the season, they have been dreadful. They managed to outrebound another team again. I don’t think it is any big insight that with better rebounding, they have been able to beat good teams while having some important pieces missing. Rebounding sets up your offence and is the most important part of your D. It all starts there. It’s the most difficult thing to do in the game.

Another great night from Juan Dixon. Now, does anybody who was complaining about him upsetting the flow of the Raps want to step up? If it weren’t for Juan tonight, no way does this game even stay close. Every time the Raptors needed a big shot, Juan nailed it. The one big miss he had, he was pissed, but managed to get it out of his mind, stay composed and calm down the stretch. That’s the sign of a professional. You have to be able to block things out and think about the next play.

Respect to TJ and Jose tonight. Jose’s shot was miserable, but his passing was crisp, hitting Bosh for ally-oops, finding guys for open looks, getting away with walks (hey, I put that as a sign that you’re good enough that you get one of those every once in a while from the ref…if you’re some punk, that’s an instant whistle). TJ also had a good night attacking. The Wizards couldn’t defend the penetration, which is why he kept going to it.

Coach was saying after the game how he thought TJ did a good job managing the game, but I also think it needs to be pointed out that he played a solid game against Arenas on D. Anyone can point to Gilbert’s 34 points, but 13 points of that were from the line. TJ held Gilbert to 9-29 from the floor and when he forced him inside, the Raptors provided good help in the middle. 5 turnovers tonight for TJ, but a couple of those were on misread plays (guys cutting one way, when TJ thought they were going another), so I won’t get on him too much tonight. Even Nash has a problem with that.

The Wizards should have salted this game away. Quickly, three things I always point out here that a team has to do to win. 1. Rebound. 2. Hold on to your luggage. 3. HIT YOUR FREE THROWS. The Wiz were 73% from the line and sorry, that just doesn’t cut it when you’re trying to win big games. You nail a few more of those and the game is out of reach at the end. It is such a basic part of the game, but it is taken for granted. It is a skill that every player has been doing since they started playing. It’s not like it is a technique that a coach works with them on, trying to improve their game (like a drop step or something like that). It’s a free throw. Same distance your whole life. Rim is the same height. Same size. You miss those, you are giving away wins.

Speaking of giving away wins, I’m all for your star to get the rock at the end of the game, to put it in his hands to win or lose, but the situation in Washington is out of control. Arenas is starting to force A LOT of shots and is making some bad decisions. What exactly was he thinking driving for 2 with the game on the line and his team needing 3, also knowing that Bosh was lurking in the middle. When you have guys like Butler and Jamison around, sometimes being the key guy is using that as a decoy. You should want the ball, but you don’t always have to get it. I like that he always thinks he can score the big basket, all the great ones think that, but you have to realize that using your star power to benefit your teammates is important too. He’s still working on that. He needs to get over the whole “0″ thing. Yeah, we get it. People/coaches didn’t think you’d amount to anything and now you’re a star. Great. Thanks for trying to reaffirm how you are “somebody” now, it helped the Raps win.

Okay, on a final note, let’s give it up for Gatorade Graham. Not only because he scored 16 and had 12 rebounds in just over 40 minutes, but because he was using that frame to knock guys around in there. Going for loose balls, fighting for position, all the while, managing his foul situation. He wasn’t out of control. He was just outworking guys. That is what he has to do night in and night out. That’s the kind of player he can be…and that’s a scary thought for Raptor opponents.

Now that was fun.

Preview - Raptors vs. Wizards - 7:00, Verizon Center

So, what to expect from tonight? Do we see a Raptor recline, where the team comes off the high from the win against the Heat or do we see a Raptor team that has added confidence, realizing that when they pull together as a team, they can play good D? Which one are we going to see?

Well, it’s no secret that the Raptors are hurting right now and are relying on guys like Gatorade Graham to supply D in a rotation off the bench, so look for the Wiz to come out firing early and often, led by Agent 0 himself. But let’s also remember, Arenas has trouble playing against quick guards, so TJ may surprise him a bit on D and if Jose’s ankle continues to get better, it could be a tough night for Arenas. It’s not so much that Arenas has problems playing against guards who play good D (most guys do), but it seems that the faster the guy is on D, the more able the defender is to see screens coming or cut off lanes, the tougher Agent 0 finds it to get going. That being said, watch for Arenas to hoist a bunch of threes, looking to avoid getting into a footrace with TJ. If the Raptors can keep him outside and shooting and actually pick up a few rebounds, then remove the gas, fold the legs, put away the Hibachi.

While there are definite guys the Raptors have to watch out for tonight (Arenas, Jamison, Butler), they have to make sure they don’t sleep on DeShawn Stevenson. The guy has been playing well of late and dropped 28 on the Sixers the other night. The Wizards have a lot of weapons, so with the Raps a little short on D, they will have to have another team game where everybody plays a role. But let’s also not fall into the trap of believing that Garbo was the only guy on the team who played D. Given, he is the Raptors best defender, but he is still only one player. Even when he was in the lineup, the Raptors had many nights of complete defensive breakdowns. As terrible as Garbo’s injury was and as much as it will hurt the Raptors, it will also serve its good, as the team will be forced to focus each night on playing team D and not letting teams like the Wiz get hot. Because if they get hot early, look out.

Once again, as it is every night, the boards will be an important factor. The Wiz have two beasts on the boards, Jamison and Butler. BUTLER? Yeah, Butler. The guy can actually rebound. He is one of those guys who understands about positioning, because he isn’t a big guy (6’7”, 228), but he pulls down almost 8 boards a game. Not too shabby. He’s coming off a knee injury (his game against Philly the other night was his first back), but he looked fully healed in that one. Let’s see some bodies knocking around in there, get him off his game.

X-Factors for tonight (sorry Leo, we are taking this over now): Wizards - Antonio Daniels, Raptors - Rasho

The Humpty Dance

After Hump’s performance over the past few games, it is almost a requirement to bring up the fact that this is the guy who replaced Hoffa. Just a note: I was watching a Utah game the other night and saw Hoffa take a shot at the buzzer that almost shattered the backboard.

Anyway, back to Hump. 10 boards, 10! 6 points, a block and he got his share of fouls in there too. 27 minutes. I don’t think it is going to get any better than that for Hump and quite honestly, it doesn’t have to. If that is what you are getting from Hump with any sort of frequency, that has to be counted as a huge plus.

As AP mentioned in the post-game, the fans got the most excited when Hump got about 3 rebounds in a row (of course, he was so excited, he followed it with an airball of gargantuan quality). Toronto fans like guys who work hard. We know that JYD wasn’t the best baller. We know that the Red Rocket wasn’t the slickest player. But we knew that on any given night, those guys were going to get dirty and not have a problem with it. These are the guys who if they were playing baseball, would be dirty before the first pitch. Just because Toronto is still (and always will be) a hockey city, I liken rebounds to a big hit. It’s vital to controlling the game and once you start doing it, it’s contagious and it gets the crowd into the game.

Joey (notice I didn’t call him Gatorade) Graham had a nice night, did what he had to do and picked up a few boards. Played pretty good D, moving around the court, keeping his feet moving. You almost have to wonder if he is one of those guys who needs a situation in order for him to perform.

What can’t be lost in tonight’s game is the balanced scoring. 5 guys in double digits and the ball was moving around the court with nice crisp passes. Guys were taking what the D was giving them and they were giving a lot. When you can get out to a quick lead like that, it’s tough to recover, especially when you are missing your best player. One of the reasons for the balanced scoring tonight was that the Heat just couldn’t get down the court to deal with the Raptors on the break. You know Shaq’s not getting back, but guys like Haslem were walking back up the court and Jones was doing that “Yeah coach, I’m running” half jog thing to try to get back on D. That doesn’t cut it. Not when you have to get back against a fast team like Toronto. 13 fast break points for Toronto to Miami’s 4.

So when you talk about balanced scoring, you have to look back at your PG. TJ looked like the complete opposite of the man we saw for 3 quarters against the Celtics. 2 turnovers, 9 assists, 14 points…but the most important stat? 8-8 from the line. He was 3-9 from the field, so not very good there, but when you have a PG who can penetrate and break down D for a dish, that’s one thing. When you have a guy who can get to the rack, put you in foul trouble and then sink his free throws? That’s a whole other kind of dangerous. That’s the kind of stuff that gets Shaq on the bench. It changes the landscape. Said it a million times. Hit your free throws.

It was nice to see AP looking a bit more comfortable, he looked like he wasn’t having problems getting his feet set tonight, but MoPete…different story. Don’t read too much into Mo’s line tonight. Sure, he had 11 points in just over 13 minutes, but he was still 3-10 from the field. When he got his feet set and let that sweet stroke go, he looked good, but it still looks like he is rushing his shot.

I still don’t think Jose is completely healthy. He is putting up good numbers in the minutes he is getting, but something about the way he is getting up and down the court and making his cuts just doesn’t look the same. Maybe he’s not as warm, who knows, but something just doesn’t look right.

Bosh with 18 rebounds and he was actually attacking tonight. Not a huge points night, but when you have the team putting together a performance like that, you don’t have to light it up yourself.

Hopefully the Raptors can carry the momentum into the game against the Wiz. Should be fun.

More on last night…and more PJ angst!

I’m still thinking about last night’s game. Here’s another question: Why couldn’t Sam find some minutes for Luke Jackson last night? Obviously, the Raptors didn’t look into it until it was too late, they couldn’t run any plays, they were cold shooting, they were playing the worst team in the league, what better opportunity to take a look at a guy than last night? You only have 10 days to evaluate him and decide if you want to offer another 10 day contract, so why not put him in? Sure, he hasn’t been here long and doesn’t really know many plays, but a) last night the Raptors didn’t really seem to be running any plays and b) Sam has said himself that he only uses about 45% actual plays in games, that the rest is just the guys playing ball. Dixon was out last night with a neck strain, MoPete was cold…I don’t know, just seemed like if there was a time to take a look-see, it was last night. At best, he could have been a sparkplug or maybe just shown the other guys that playing time is for guys who are hungry. At worst, he would have fit in with the rest of the guys last night. But not even a single minute? Come on.

The release of PJ Tucker is still bothering me. I was reading something Doug Smith said today, that because PJ was undersized (6’5”), that meant he was never going to be able to survive in the NBA. Well, it’s not like the Raptors didn’t know he was 6’5”. It’s not like they drafted him, he showed up and they said, “Whoa, what the hell, this guy ain’t a 7-footer!” Dennis Rodman was only 6’8”, but he rebounded the hell out of the ball. That’s the thing about rebounding, it’s not all about size, it’s also about positioning. Sure, it helps if you have a little extra size, but if you’re built like a tank and play like one and are a little undersized, you can still be effective. Would have made more sense to let Pape Sow go. You can only have something raw around for so long before you have to put it in the trash. Nothing against Pape, but this isn’t a summer basketball camp. The Raptors can’t keep hoping his skills improve.

Alright, I’m going to go stare at Martine.

Oh no…

Tell me that wasn’t your reaction when you saw Garbo’s injury. I’m not sure what Jack and Chuck were looking for, why they had to show it so many times, it was obvious that it was a serious injury, that he broke either his leg or ankle in horrific fashion. You could see his foot pointing one way while his leg pointed in the other. I had flashbacks of Jason Kendall of the Pirates and Moises Alou (I think at that time of the Expos). Thankfully, those guys returned and are still playing, so that’s good news for Garbo. The best thing they can hope for is for the leg to be broken and not the ankle, it will make the healing process that much easier.

But let’s look at why this injury even happened. Garbo hustling back on a play where honestly, he should have just let the dunk go. There is no way you’re going to block that unless you’re Josh Smith or Michael Jordan. If you cut the guy down, it’s going to be a flagrant. That is one where you have to just give up the two points. You can’t stop a running dunk when you’re playing catch up. It doesn’t happen. That being said, the only reason Garbo is chasing that play down is because the Raptors served themselves up to the Celtics. Garbo’s a guy who has some pride and plays hard D, so in games like tonight’s, I would think he would take the loss personally and would try to show the Celtics and more importantly, the Raptors, that they don’t lay down for anybody. It’s too bad he was in that position. Jorge’s loss is going to be felt by the Raptors, as he has been the glue that has held a shaky D together for most of the season. If there is a time when the Raptors are going to need Sam to figure out the rotation and for everybody to man up and play some tough D, it si now.

Don’t think this was a case of the Celtics playing well, finding a night where everything just started to click. This was the Raptors playing down to the level of their opponent. Other than the early game to the Bucks, I can’t remember if I have ever seen the Raptors so lost on offence. No ball movement, forced shots, turnovers, they had it all tonight. Regular readers know that I’ll go to the wall for TJ, but good Lord, WHAT was going on tonight? Only in the last few minutes of the game, when TJ started pressing and having a better idea of what he wanted to do did he look like the guard he can be. Also, we saw Bosh go back to his ways of getting pushed around by inferior players. Forget that he had another double double, because he still missed a lot of opportunities to pick up loose balls and get tough inside. It is just extremely frustrating to watch Bosh get dunked on and outrebounded by guys like Rajon Rondo.

Turnovers. Yikes. 19 turnovers for 25 points. You aren’t going to win games playing like that, even if you are playing against the Celtics. 8 turnovers for TJ. 8. NO, SERIOUSLY, 8!!!! You almost have to try to turn the ball over that many times in one game. Five turnovers for Bosh. I don’t even understand how that should happen when you’re playing the kind of game Bosh is. You’re not dribbling the ball, you’re not trying to make a lot of passes. There really shouldn’t be any reason to turn the ball over 5 times.

I will give Gatorade Graham credit again, he had another solid outing. He is finally starting to realize what his game should be. He is playing some tight D, getting up on guys and forcing them to try to beat him on the dribble. When he does get beaten, he relies on some support coming from the weak side. He is using his frame to box out, pushing guys as far out from the basket as possible and getting his arms out to protect the area. He is banging on the offensive boards and going straight back up when he does get the rebound. No thinking about it, just instinct. Get rebound, go back up. Good for Gatorade Graham. That’s how rebounding and scoring works. How the Raptors managed to get outrebounded by the Celtics is beyond me. Honestly, who do the Celtics have that can rebound? Jefferson. After that? Anybody who should be beating any of the Raptors? No.

Anyway, a classic underperformance by the Raptors. Terrible. Remember how last week I was saying the game against the Knicks was one of those ones that you have to throw away and then come back ready to play? This wasn’t one of those games. This is a game that the Raptors should remember. This is a game that cost them one of their best players. A simple lack of effort, a lack of any sort of energy on the court resulted in a heart and soul guy trying to make a play that he had no business trying to make. Shame on them.

Why Colangelo is GM and I’m in my basement blogging at 2 a.m.

So today is a terrible day for me as a Raptors fan. The Raptors officially released PJ Tucker today. Personally, I don’t understand it. When he was with the big club, he maximized his playing time, provided the Raptors with some tough rebounding and worked hard. When he was sent down to the D-League, he played well and eventually got called back up. He was then inexplicably sent right back down, where he continued to play well. Never complained, just worked hard. Okay, now I know that some people are going to say that when he was with the Raps and he was picking up boards, they were in garbage time minutes, where he was doing it against non first-teamers. So? How many times have we seen other Raptors getting dominated on the boards by 2nd-stringers? The guy did his job when he was put on the court and he is still young. Are you telling me that with all of the lapses Gatorade Graham has shown, the Raptors have been willing to stand by him, but they aren’t willing to keep PJ around? Even Pape’s still here! Pape got minutes the other night! I don’t care if Pape’s raw and has talent, his clock is ticking and he had one hell of an injury. PJ was a quality player.

Now, obviously, Colangelo has his reasons for letting PJ walk and with the success of the Raptors this year, who am I to really question his move? Then again, Colangelo has made his share of mistakes when assessing young talent in the past (for example…sent Luol Deng to the Bulls for the draft rights to Jackson Vroman, a first round pick and cash considerations) and has also made one terrible trade (the Jason Kidd deal…YIKES). One just has to think that when you have a young talent who has shown a willingness to work hard to get where you need him to be, that’s the kind of guy you want in your system. I hope Colangelo proves me wrong.

So Colangelo kept busy on the off day, signing Luke Jackson to a ten day contract. Interesting move. The guy was a first rounder (10th overall no less) in 2004, but is coming off back surgery. With the injury history some of the Raptors have (Pape Sow, TJ Ford), I guess this just doesn’t scare the Raptor brass anymore. Maybe it’s some kind of club they’re starting. The Brotherhood of the Injured backs/necks. Anyway, it was a herniated disc in Luke’s case, but he also had a history of patella tendinitis.

Anyway, Luke was no joke at Oregon, had a stellar 4-year career there and led the team in scoring as a senior, so he obviously has the ability (you don’t get drafted 10th for nothing). Is this Colangelo’s secret slashing F/G? I don’t think so, but it will be interesting to see how the Raptors use him and even more interesting to see how they assess him.

Didn’t see that coming…

Hey, I’ll admit it, I didn’t see that coming and anybody who did is straight up tellin’ stories. The Raptors took the Nuggets to the woodshed and gave them something to think about.

72 points in the first half? A 38 point lead at one point? Even Uncle George Karl said the Raptors “…might have the best talent in the Eastern Conference.” It almost makes you want to pinch yourself to see if you’re dreaming. But then you remember that AP and Andrea are out, Jose is back with a brace on and Bosh went down, so nobody needs to pinch you.

Once again, if only for one play, respect to Hump, because that block on AI was sick. That was the kind of block that forced me out of high school basketball. Those can be terribly embarrassing, the kind where you wonder if they’re worse on the road because the crowd mocks you all the way back to the bus or at home because it happened in front of your girl. Either way, Hump is one up on AI. Also, Hump picked up 6 boards, had 7 points and slapped a few guys in around 17 minutes of play. THAT’S the kind of player the Raptors need him to be. That’s good work off the bench.

The quick start to the game was one key point for the Raptors, heading out to a 36-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. That’s no bright light, I’m not bringing you anything new there, but it can’t be understated that when defence isn’t your strength, getting out to leads on teams is important.

I know I’m starting to sound like TJ’s agent, but another solid game from TJ (any suggestions on a nickname? That “Little Engine” business is terrible…sorry Chuck). 14 and 14, but I’m not going to give that too much emphasis since it was a blowout and numbers are skewed all over the place. The point that I will emphasize is that he only turned the ball over once. ONCE! Could this be a turning point for TJ? Lol…I’m not going to go that far, he’ll probably cough up 4 in the next game, but it’s nice to see.

Also nice to see The Mechanic putting things together with the 3-point show. Garbo was on fire, hitting from everywhere and with 21 in the first half, he sent a message that when guys are needed to step up their game, he’s ready to go. His D is also suffocating. I still can’t believe how a guy with feet that slow can always be in the right place on D or get up on somebody so quickly. I’m not too sure about him playing almost 41 mintues in a blowout though…Sam, don’t kill him, playoffs are coming.

It was good to see MoPete find his stroke again, it helps when your team is working with a lead and you can afford to spot up and not rush your shots. With playoffs just around the corner, it’s true what Sam said, guys like Mo are going to have to be ready.

Even though it showed that the Raptors weren’t attacking that much, it was impressive that they were 11-12 from the line. When you are hitting your free throws, it sticks in the back of the other team’s mind. They know that if they foul you, you are going to get those points. Strange that I am bringing up Reggie Miller a few days in a row, but remember when Reggie was playing (and rumours say that he may be making a return…I kid you not, I think it was in the NY Post) how guys would dread fouling him because he was cash money from the line? But if you didn’t get in his face, he’d kill you with that natural stroke? Same kind of thing. If you are solid at the line, it makes your attack that much more potent.

Finally, good to see Jose back in the lineup. 18 minutes, 4-7, 6 assists…sounds like he’s healthy. I’m telling you, with Jose and TJ, we are seriously spoiled. You take one guy out of the lineup and have another legit starter coming in, it’s a full game assault.

Team win…and a Shaq-like performance

Well, after trashing the Raps on their team play (or lack thereof) against the Knicks, it was nice to see them come back and have a team win against the Magic. Sometimes you have to wonder about how the world works, because when you have a bad team loss and then not only lose your super-rook, but also don’t have one of your super-PGs in the game (when you thought he was going to play)…it kind of forces you into a real team situation. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all spiritual here, but you have to admit, it seemed a completely appropriate time for a challenge.

So yeah, it was a good team effort, the ball moved around, TJ and Bosh took charge, MoPete, Juan and Gatorade Graham worked well, but let’s give it up for Hump. Yeah, you heard me, give it up for Hump. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. Kris Humphries giving Dwight Howard problems? Kris did a good job of using his size and just leaning on Howard enough to keep pushing him away from the basket, but not so much that he was going to ring up a ton of fouls. He also picked up 6 boards and if the dude could shoot some free throws, he would have been double digits last night.

But let’s also remember, the fact that Dwight Howard put on a very Shaq-like performance at the free throw line last night played a role. Nobody seemed to really want to talk about it very much, but if he had hit his free throws, it would have been a lot more interesting of a game. Can’t say it enough times, if you are a guy who is going to be playing close to the basket, you have to be able to hit your free throws. Those are the difference between your team being sub or over .500.

Let’s also give the Raps some serious respect on the rebounding last night. 55? WHA? And the Magic only had 38? WHA? A +17 differential in favour of the Raptors? For a minute there, I thought I was finding my own little piece of heaven in the bottom of a bottle, but no, the Raptors actually kicked some butt on the boards. The great part about Bosh’s 16 boards last night was that on a few of them, he got dirty and knocked some guys around. He also did the same with his blocks, especially when he sent Kenyon Dooling (it was him, right?) into the padding under the basket. I don’t know what Dooling was freaking out about, I think that was just him being embarrassed that he got his ass handed to him in front of everybody. That was a clean block and Bosh actually saved him from getting crushed into that padding. We also can’t take for granted that Bosh poured in 34 points.

Last night was also one of those games where Garbo’s work just doesn’t get completely appreciated. Okay, he did go 1-7 from the field and threw up some bricks…no, let’s call them boulders, but he didn’t let that play a part in the rest of his game. He still picked up 9 boards and played solid D. That’s why so many coaches around the league love his work. He goes out and does all of the dirty stuff that has to be done.

Respect again for TJ, 16 and 12, not a bad night. Turned the ball over 5 times with 2 steals, so that still needs a bit of work, but while the turnover ratio will come, I like that he is staying aggressive on D. His hands are quick and he is making good reads on D, going for the steal in the proper situations. When guys take their eye off him and are looking upcourt, he is timing the bounce, looking to swing his hands up and knock it loose. Once he does that, he’s quick enough to get to it before guys realize the ball is gone.

Okay, what’s up with Jose’s ankle? I thought this wasn’t supposed to be that serious. He took the shootaround yesterday, but then didn’t play. I would normally say that they were just being very cautious, but that was a game where the Raptors needed everybody they could get. That situation is a little worrying. Hopefully he’s back for the next game.

Definition of a team loss…

Terrible. Lacklustre. Embarrassing. Vomit-inducing. Call it what you want, but today’s (well, actually yesterday’s since it is now past midnight) loss to the Knicks was a team loss by straight definition. Everybody played a part in summarily serving up Raptor ass to the Knicks. Games like today’s are ones where you just throw away the tape, pretend it didn’t happen and go into the next game. Otherwise, you will drive yourself crazy trying to analyze the million things you did wrong in one game.

Let’s start with MoPete. Mo, I love ya dude, but 0-8 with 0-4 from 3 just isn’t going to cut it, especially when it looks like you are just looking to hoist up shots whenever you touch the ball. Mo has gone from a guy who would play solid D and then run the court to get established, set his feet and nail an open look to a guy who is playing good D (as much as his offense sucks right now, his D is still good), but runs the court with his hands down, chucking shots like a guy who’s playing for a contract. It’s sad to see, because he’s not that kind of player, but he has played himself into that situation. Forced shots+bad looks = 0 points in 14 minutes.

AP - clearly still injured. He gets a pass for today’s game.

TJ. Dude, if I have said it once, I have said it a million times. YOU HAVE TO HOLD ON TO YOUR LUGGAGE. 7 turnovers? 7? Dude, seriously, 7? You are the PG, you HAVE to hold on to the ball. It is essential to team success for you to hold on to the ball. I know some of those turnovers came from the fact that nobody was moving on offense and you were trying to create something, but that cannot go unnoticed, especially when you have 3 assists. Hold on to the ball.

Bargnani - See above note. 5 turnovers? WHA? Just because you are a 7-footer who can put the ball on the ground, it doesn’t mean you HAVE to put the ball on the ground. Each dribble is a long way down and a long way up. Sure, you had Curry on you for a while and you can put the ball on the floor against him, but then they sat him down. Use all of your assets. You’re not that good putting it on the floor…yet.

Bosh - God damn if I see one more punk push you out of the way for a rebound, I’m going to lose it. Balkman is a good rookie, but he was beating you inside for rebounds, establishing position on you. Renaldo Balkman! Sure you brought down 7 boards and dropped 21 points, but Balkman had 12 boards, 15 points, a couple of blocks and 3 steals. If the guy could shoot a free-throw, he would have owned the night!

Rasho - A big body is a terrible thing to waste.

Garbo - Five 3’s attempted, one made. Played some D. I guess the looks just weren’t open enough for you to go off again. Somebody has to step up in games like this and sometimes it has to be the defensive guy.

Dixon - Somehow you managed to have a decent game, even though you went 3-11. I’m not sure how, but you didn’t look that bad today.

Gatorade Graham - Looks like ol’ GG felt like playing today. When he feels like being into a game, he can be good…like today.

Sam - “We forgot plays. Guys forgot their plays tonight, this afternoon.” That was a serious clip from his post-game. Guys forgot plays. WHA? Lol…guys forgot plays? We’re almost at the end of the season and from what we can tell, the Raptor playbook is limited, so that really says something when guys forget plays. A few weeks ago, Sam said that he calls less than half of the plays in the game, that the rest is just the guys playing. So essentially, in the 45% of the plays that Sam called tonight, the Raptors forgot some of them. So I guess Sam is just saying that the Raptors are stupid. He also hinted at them being sleepy, saying that the 1:00 games are tough on the team. Lol…okay. Don’t blame a loss on a 1:00 start when you had a day to rest. It’s lame.

TJ - DID I MENTION HOLD ON TO YOUR LUGGAGE?

Anyway, the whole point of this is to show that there are going to be some games where certain players do more to lose a game than others, but there are some games (like today’s) where the whole team is going to stink the joint up. I watched this in my favourite Montreal area pub (Kelly’s for anybody who’s out in the West Island) and it forced me to have a few more pints. As I said, let’s just throw this game out and hope things pick up.

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