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reading tweets about Jack’s hair


sung in the key of Matty D

Linas used to work on the blocks
finding shots he’d like
but on the rim he would get stuck…enough, enough
Sonny dreams of getting to play
When he cries in the night
DeMar whispers “Clarence it’s ok - they’ll still pay”

He says we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
It doesn’t make a difference if you play or not
You’ve got a contract coming and they’ll pay you a lot
For love - they call you Money hot shot

woah-oh they’re halfway there
woah-oh reading tweets about Jack’s hair
selling Ford Fiestas while fans sit and cuss and swear
woah-oh reading tweets about Jack’s hair

Bryan has a way of talking his talk
He says he doesn’t like to lose
but does he really give a fuck - it’s tough, so tough
You know he works the phones all day
Trying to find a deal that brings a star who’ll play
for love - T.O. love

He says we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
It’s never made a difference if they win or not
as long as enough tickets are bought
for love - these guys might make a shot

woah-oh they’re halfway there
woah-Leandro has no hair down there
But he didn’t use wax, he prefers to use nair
woah-mayo on that hammy tear

We’ve got to hold on to this bucket of snot
They live for scoring might, but they can’t stop a lot

woah-oh they’re halfway there
woah-oh Rod and Leo barely care
Jack wants a whiplash whopper, he’s hungry as a bear
woah-oh Rod and Leo barely care

woah-oh they’re halfway there
woah-oh they’ll need more than a prayer
they’ll need a ping pong ball to drop just so if they dare
market a jersey fans can wear

claw marks: sick man award


Crawford and Barbosa seemed to be taking each other on last night. The other players were just witnesses. Crawford proved to be the sickest, with a swish from 30 feet.

DSWC

I guess this should please those on the tank bandwagon - you want to compete against a good team (which we did), but then lose the game just in the end.

Good back and forth game though.

J-Roc

Big shot by Bibby, who I noticed kept passing off late in the game. He was passing to Josh Smith for 3pt bricks in the 4th Q!!

Raps zone worked well, but they blew too many wasted possessions this game.

I have to wonder if J Wright might have helped. Glad Sonny got an extra day rest.

Next game we need to get DeMar touches ALL game. Bargs, too. The Barbosa thing is fun, but not practical.

Crepe

Huge shots in this game wow !
Jamal Crawford killed us with this shot from wayyy downtown with 1sec left on the shot clock. That was the turning point of the game.

jeffb

We lost this game on the boards and at the line. They went to the line 31 times to our 12. How do we shoot 53% and lose??

SomeDPlease

Derozan went cold turkey after his hot start. He started forcing his shots down the stretch, TO the ball 5 times, and gave the Hawks that crucial three point opportunity late in the game. Not to mention the other three point opportunity he gave a few minutes before.

Jxidio

When you really love the game and are a hometown fan, it’s only natural to be upset. With the struggles this team has gone through this season, you gotta appreciate all the entertainment and effort they give you.

Let’s not forget that this is a 5th seed team that’s on another level with regards to talent compared to this Raptors squad, and they played really hard, just a heartbreaking loss.

oneironaught

Can’t believe some are blaming the refs. Bargnani and Barbosa collectively got away with about five or six walks tonight, while the refs whistled the Hawks for travels that aren’t normally travels - in the NBA that is. We also got the benefit of a few phantom calls, accounting for all the And 1’s.

I’m fairly pleased with a competitive game versus a quality club. As a proponent of the tank however, it was too close for comfort.

Also, Bibby is a gangster. His body language after hitting the game winner was that of a mental patient listening to the Pet Shop Boys.

HugoBoss

I`ve always heard everyone complain that almost everyone on this team is bad on D (jose, bargs, DD) individually…is Triano or some assistant coach supposed to be able to change this and make them all bowens n perkins??

I remember in a broadcast…NBA coaches really only have like 5-6 diff “plays” n just slight variations of the same thing - its whether u have the personnel who cann do it. a head coach is there to be a guide..to motivate. etc. in my mind, most of these guys seem to be playing pretty hard, so Triano in my mind is doing his job ok.

btw I was completely fine with his play call at the end on the Jose drive in a one point game, high percentage shot, good free throw shooter if fouled (not like DD), generally not wild 1 on 1 drives and good handle on ball (not like Barbosa or DD) which would result in more likelihood of strip as Atl is locking down…and considering Bargs would most likely get most of the Def attention…I thought Jose drive was a fine play.

There’s something I always do when I watch the game - when a shot goes up, BEFORE it goes in or out, I decide whether it was a good shot or not. Too many ppl determine a “good” shot selection based on the result like whether it goes in or not. Bad shot goes in, I question the playcall still. Good shot rims out, o well bad luck. In this case, Harford made a good play, the playcall was fine for me. Just too bad but no complaints

Claudius: Raptors - Hawks Preview

Welcome to our first pre-game blog in awhile. I am going to break down the match-up, what to look for, key to victories and subsequently a prediction.

Atlanta is coming in really, really hot. Winners of their past 4 (4-0 in the month of January) and looked impressive with a blowout win in Utah and at home against the Pacers. With Joe Johnson back in the starting line-up Jamal Crawford has been able to go back to a more comfortable sixth man role for the Hawks where all he is being asked to do is score. Defensively, since Joe Johnson came back from injury in mid-December they have been holding opponents to 90 points per game and during the four game winning streak Johnson has averaged close to 28 points per game.

Along with Johnson, Al Horford has really stepped up his offensive game this year, with a better all around post up game and a developing mid-range game. For a guy who used to simply live down-low on put backs and garbage points, he is starting to embrace his role as on offensive player more and more. Since Marvin Williams got injured, Jason Collins has been getting the starts at Centre, moving Horford to Power Forward and Collins has played adequately enough, even producing speculation that Marv when healthy won?t return to the starting 5. Subsequently, Josh Smith has moved to play more Small Forward where he has become less of a defensive threat and more of an offensive threat by being able to shoot the 3 on a more consistent basis. Josh Smith during this winning streak has averaged 20 points per game and the last time he played against the Raptors he recorded a triple double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

While mentioning the Hawks big three, you can not forget that while Bibby has been shopped around the past few weeks, he has been solid if unspectacular. His last game against the Pacers, Bibby hit 3 crucial 3 pointers to maintain leads and having ball handlers like Johnson, Crawford and Smith to a degree allow Bibby to focus on being spot up jump shooter and when defences collapse he is often the beneficiary. Considering that he seems to be a Raptor killer, he simply poses another threat in the Hawks line up and is the perfect 4th or 5th option on that team.

Toronto is coming into this game off a home win against a Sacramento team that was missing its best player. Andrea Bargnani continues to play well offensively and had 30 points against the Kings and DeMar DeRozan had 28. The story for Toronto will be can they hold Atlanta on the defensive end. Considering Toronto is allowing 105 points per game and during Atlanta’s winning streak they have been averaging 108 and coming off 3 days rest, Toronto cannot simply rely upon their offence but need their defence to produce the offence.

Some bright news for Toronto is that Sonny Weems practiced with the team yesterday and could be ready for Wednesday night. Some even better news is that this game could be postponed due to weather and allow Toronto to get even healthier with Jerryd Bayless and Reggie Evans both dealing with injuries.

My Keys to the Game:

1. Do not fall behind early in the first and third quarters. You can not let Atlanta get out to fast starts. Toronto has been somewhat prone to letting teams start off well in the first quarter. They are simply not good enough to come back from such large deficits. Keep the score close in the first and third quarters and try to overtake them with the bench. If we are down 31-20 at the end of the first and with Atlanta playing defence the way they have it is going to be a long night.

2. Attack Josh Smith. His presence to alter shots has allowed him to enter into the minds of the defender. But Smith is not the smartest player in the world. Get him to leave his feet, lean into him for the contact and get the easy foul. Sounds easy? Of course it is not. But you need to try. With Marv out, they do not have an adequate guy to really play the 3. Plus, the fewer minutes he is allowed to play, the less he is able to get comfortable offensively.

3. Ball movement. Do not settle for jumpers. Hell, do not settle for anything. Toronto plays its best when they are moving the ball around. Do not dribble with your head down and charge to the basket. Do not shoot any pull-up threes. Do not shoot 3s to keep the damn streak alive. I know it is against the entire run and gun philosophy but use the clock to your advantage. Make the opposition work on defence and with a team as athletic as Atlanta the last thing we really need to get into is a track meet. We looked fantastic against Dallas when we moved the ball and really slowed the game down. Atlanta struggles in the half court even with an improved Horford in the post.

So, there are my three keys. Again, do not let them get out quickly, attack Josh Smith and do not settle offensively.

Truth be told, I am not too optimistic about this game. Atlanta is surging and well, we are just there. We are not a good road team so I am not expecting too much. It could be entertaining though between teams that could put up points. Anyways, my prediction:

Atlanta –114
Toronto — 101

Are We There Yet?


Yep. This season has been one long ride in the backseat of the car while your parents chainsmoke. And the destination is not going to be Disneyland. The station wagon is going to lose power and some mechanic in Salt Lake City is going to take a good chunk of the family vacation money without doing any real work on the faulty intake valve, leaving you stranded and feeling pretty lucky if you can just make it a few more miles down the road to Provo to look for some Osmonds for a few days.

But that’s all for later. We’re still in Idaho, getting a speeding ticket in Pocatello. Expectations are still higher than they should be. We’re yet to ponder the magnificent stretches of nothingness that lay ahead. Canyons. Deserts. A big Dam. More Deserts. Tumbleweeds. All of Los Angeles.

In basketball terms, LA will mark a halfway point of sorts for many, as the All-Star festivities get underway there. We aren’t going to see the kid from Compton dunking in the skills competition. And we won’t see Linas on the All-Star roster. But we should see DeMar and Ed Davis in the Rookie-Sophomore game, and in a sense I would hope that is seen as the final destination for this season’s version of the Toronto Raptors. I would hope that this team shuts things down to a certain extent for the remaining portion of the schedule to follow. What little has been made of this team still being within striking distance of a playoff spot, has been too much. They need to start letting a few teams pass them in the standings and stay well ahead of the Raptor pace. As bad as the bottom feeders all appear to be, only Cleveland has a home record that is not respectable. Everyone else has enough to pull out some wins while the Raptors face a two month onslaught of far more complete squads at a time when it is going to get harder to milk simplified offensive sets and make up for weak links in the defense with more scoring. Toronto should really just be in each game to gain experience for their young players.

So how about that? Can we see a lot more of Davis and Bayless and Dorsey? Can we see much, much more of Julian Wright? I don’t want to be the carsick kid crying “are we there yet? are we there yet? are we there yet?”, but it might come to that if I keep seeing more of the same mix of players using the same tired formula that hasn’t worked for the last three years. Let’s see some losing while giving defense the greatest emphasis. Let’s see the running attack come off of some reliable stops. At least for parts of games. Let the usual starters rush their offense and fail to get back in transition. But lets at least get a taste of what might come next year, with a good high pick in tow, and the right mindset established, thanks to what might start now.

It’s not just about tanking for that pick or picks yet to come. We have some good picks right now that need to find their way a little. The kid from LA is starting to break out, and that’s good. But if he is really going to have the necessary impact for success in the future, he is going to need to become an important part of the team’s defense, and in that area he is breaking down more than he is breaking out. Which is fine. He’s young and the offense is going to come before the defense does. But it’s not to early to get at it on the other end, instead of just becoming comfortable scoring alongside Bargnani. In fact, if DeMar put in the work defensively, I could see Bargnani’s defense, which hasn’t been as abysmal as usual, perhaps becoming a net positive overall. These are the things we can dream of while we count the losses and the increase in the number of ping pong balls.

The most recent draft pick can only help in that area. He needs to get bigger, but he also needs more time on the court. It would be wonderful, if we could see this guy be able to lead guys like DeMar and Bargnani in pushing for improvement on the defensive end. This guy has what it takes to do so. He can be one of the main contributors to proper communication out there, because he has the ability to see the play develop and stay a little ahead of it, rather than scrambling to recover. One early possession that sticks with me, took place in Washington: John Wall had the ball on the perimeter, and Davis came out quickly and effortlessly to trap hard and stop the ball, forcing a bad shot from the elbow, which Davis contested, and then as the shot was in flight, fluidly backpedalled to his original cover in order to box him out under the basket. It was a beautiful thing - a guy that could do so much more than just try to guard his own man, and without batting an eyelid. He showed the ability to play defense in the same sort of way a young Vince could finish around the rim. It’s just a form of expression that comes naturally. It’s the kind of thing a team needs to build defensive schemes that stand a chance.

This kid Ed went on to show me he could be pretty imposing in the lane with that length, changing a good number of shots when not blocking them outright. He was able to handle some bigger bigs like Brendan Hayward, while finding his hands full with high-octane players like Verajao. And he’s surely made some mistakes. But here is what I like - when he gets beat, he fouls, and he makes it count for something. It’s not hard to extrapolate where he could end up as a player with a little more bulk and some solid experience. And the experience can be had now, can’t it? Let’s see how much his instincts can rub off on other players, and how much chemistry can be developed on the defensive end before this team finds itself in training camp next fall still looking for the right way to play this game. I would rather see this team lose now while being able to see the way to win consistently, than to keep pretending that they will find a way to shoot themselves out of any hole. The offense will take care of itself on too many nights, because there just aren’t enough guys like Ed Davis in this whole league. But scoring is not going to give this team any distinct advantages.

Trying to gain enough of an advantage to secure a bad seeding in the playoffs doesn’t seem like the best way to approach the future. It would tend to spell out a tendency to keep on with the same, and leave us all hoping the station wagon can make it to Provo again. What I wouldn’t give to just turn the whole thing around right there in Pocatello, Idaho, rent some mountain bikes, stomp on Mom and Dad’s carton of cigarettes, and hit the trails in Montana all the way back home, not once crying “are we there yet?”.

claw marks: kissing off Cousins


The D-League came to Toronto yesterday, or so it seemed at times. The season is almost half over at least.

J-Roc

I know if you want to tank, these are games to lose. But it’s nice to win with big games from our top two players Bargs and DeRozan.

I do wish Jay would start Wright and give him more PT.

RaptorsandBuckeyeFaN

DeRozan last 10 games:
21PPG 3.5RPG 2.2APG 52% shooting

Someguy again

bayless needs to chill, barbosa needs to make his wide open lay-ups, and Bargnani needs to get in his man’s face and box him out. and demar needs to fuck up more, he’s becoming too awesome

Claudius

It was nice to win the game but there’s some things this team needs to work on:

Firstly, offensively, I really don’t know what they’re doing.

Secondly, there’s too many one dimensional players on this team. Kleiza is only comfortable going right for instance. Play a team that knows how to defend and force him left and you could really limit his effectiveness. I don’t think he’s aware of his other teammates as well.

Next, Barbosa helps us with his speed but he hurts us when he’s got the ball in his hands and trying to make a decision. I’ll say he’s the worst decision maker I’ve seen by a player who’s played the guard positions.

There’s no reason this game should’ve been as close as it was. You’re playing a team that’s on the first game of a road trip, should be jet lagged with the early start and is without their best player and you don’t really have any answer for them offensively.

Insider

i was lucky enough to be at the game today and sat about 5 rows up from floor level…
heres what i saw:
Bargs started off the game literally banging down low, fighting for position, pounding his man… i was shocked at how much he was pounding down low, it was great!
and then by the end of the quarter, he just all of a sudden stops doing it, and it no longer happens for the rest of the game.
its as if the coaching staff has been telling him for the last few days to bang and fight and really use his body, and he does, but only for the first q, and then he forgets and reverts back to laying off the pressure.
it was weird.
Bargs’ skill level is through the roof. cousins and co had a very difficult time staying with him. his inside jumper in the paint is solid, and soft.

DD is getting more and more comfortable and confident… you can see it in his face, he is feeling it.
he moves great without the ball and really runs the floor nicely. this kid is going to be something, he is now realizing how to be successful, and he’s making it happen.

Bayless, is deadly quick… his first step is lightning… but he really needs to calm down and let the game come to him.

Jose is a leader, pure and simple. he talks so much and gets everyone involved. i felt so confident with him running the point, its a calmness that he has that Bayless doesnt have. i think the entire raps team feels it too (today it seemed that way).

Kleiza is a big boy, and he is slow as molasses… but he uses his body effectively on his defenders.

Thriller92

Why did Dorsey start over Amir? It amazes me how Amir hasnt started every game this year. Hes good, hes our best pf, he should be starting and getting starters minutes. Am I missing something?

a seismic shift, or alt-shift-delete?


That was fine game last night. Not because of the win. Nor due to the nature of the win. I mean that was all good. But I can remember Jermaine Jackson leading a couple other ten-day contracts in some battles. And there was Lamond Murray lighting up the Spurs at around this time of the year. What sets last night’s game apart from so many others, is that the approach was so different than so many others over the last few years.

Down there in Dallas, the Raptors played a style that limited possessions, and relied heavily on defense, in order to find the equalizer that could make up for the talent differential. It worked like a charm, and beyond that, it just plain looked like a basketball game. And it flew in the face of the re-invention of the game that seems to be Bryan Colangelo’s favored mode of thought. We have seen decent teams, and bad teams alike, crumble under the weight of running, and rushing offense, and floor balance for transition defense be damned. The running game needs to come out of an integrated whole, and not applied to a mix of players with no clearly defined roles, simply as a means of trying to hide the lack of an integrated whole. There are no freaks of nature on the Raptors that are going to be able to use a quick-paced game for the advantage of the team over the long haul, but there just might be some basketball players. We’ve only been allowed to see them perform that way when the bench has been shortened due to injuries. And those short-handed nights have usually worked out quite well.

Last night offered one of the starkest contrasts to the regular gameplans. The night before, the team had shown a distinct inability to do much of anything offensively. Forget about being patient enough to find a second or third option - they couldn’t find a first option. Rushing their early offense lead to turning the ball over in a hurry, much like in many other games over the last 3 years, but perhaps it had never been quite so clear just how little chance this team was giving itself. There had been some nice comeback wins where tired opponents withered late after exploiting so many giveaways and so many fastbreak opportunities. The Raptors have been able to find their equalizer in those games, with some added pressure as games wore on, and by making use of a bench so deep that it extends right through the starting lineup. Think back to Ali’s rope-a-dope. He was no longer as fast as lightning. He didn’t have the footwork any longer. So he let his opponents tire themselves out by hammering away on his body, until he once again held the advantages that he had enjoyed as a young man, relatively speaking. The Raptors had on occasion been able to reduce the opposing team to something less than or equal to a bunch of second-stringers, and to their credit, put up the fight to get some results.

But this team is not going to be able to withstand a season of kidney punches landed in endless flurries. I don’t know if any team would. PJ Carlesimo came onto the telecast at the half in the game against Memphis, and said that the defense wasn’t so much of a problem when they forced the Grizzlies to play in the halfcourt, so they were going to have to try to do that more often. Somewhere, not too far deep inside him, he had to know that was only going to happen if they gave up on the ridiculous offensive gameplan that gave the opposing team more easy chances going the other way than it did good shots for the Raptors. And surely he couldn’t have been alone with that realization. Surely the players themselves knew as much, even as easily seduced as they might be to the idea of quickening the pace.

And the next night we saw an abandoning of good ship Getashotoffquick. We saw plays run. Some of them worked, without requiring pure, blind aggression from each individual, but instead through finding teammates and teammates ensuring they were in the right spots. When plays did not work, they were able to defend in transition, and then further at the point of attack, and finally they contested shots and altered shots. And off of some of the other team’s broken plays, they were able to run and score on legitimate fast break opportunities. There are ways to play the game in spite of a deficit of overall talent. It’s not going to translate into a great number of wins, but it will assuredly point any team in the right direction. And we saw that in Dallas. Jerryd displayed heart and desire in controlling how this game was played. He should have a couple more d’s added to the end of his name as his reward, and hopefully have his name all over a few more wins like this one. When he went down and Barbosa took over, there were not the usual turnovers from Leandro. His speed fit into this grind-out game better than it would have had they all been racing up and down all night long. He found an advantage, and then made it possible for all five guys to take advantage of it, and that hadn’t happened so often before. It was basketball. You know - that team sport. It was not Colangelo’s “exciting brand of basketball” as he and Triano had envisioned. But it was basketball. And if you love the game, then what is more exciting?

Now the question remains as to whether it was an actual shift in plans, or just something they needed to do while shorthanded? If we see this team go back to poorly defined roles in which each guy plays on an island that no Herve would want to inhabit, with possessions multiplied rather than limited, then there have to be some serious questions about what is being built here. Are they putting together a team for fans that love the game? Or are they trying to do whatever they can just to engage fans that might happen to like the game, by offering regular doses of adrenaline that have little to do with future success?

claw marks: no snipers on this grassy knoll


It’s been a while since there’s been much to comment on about this team. It seems almost conspiratorial. A win in Dallas changed that. The FBI might have to investigate.

DuCa00795

Dallas is going to be embarrassed when they read the papers in the morning hahaha. I almost felt bad for Dallas, then I realized we have one of the worst records in the league.

tettays

Ed Davis and Amir Johnson = New Twin Towers!…sorry Bargs just come off the bench and be a role player like a Rasheed Wallace-type and jack threes like you did in your Rookie year…

Sick, Wicked and Nasty

If only the team played with this heart every game. Fun to watch.

MikeToronto

Perhaps the most spirited game I’ve seen this club play. Ever.

Player of the first half - Ed Davis. Stats speak for themselves, career-highs in all categories.

Player of the second half and my personal player of the game - Julian Wright. The polar opposite - stats tell nothing. He embodied the spirit, he played defence like he was possessed and he made incredibly smart offensive plays. Talk about affecting the game without scoring!

I am really proud of my team tonight.

BballWatcher

Wright made some good plays, but honestly, Johnson had a much bigger impact and if anyone put their personal stamp on this game, it was Bayless. Jerryd was cold from the field but his passion infected the whole team. Yelling at Kleiza to “use his head” after Kleiza got tossed and then sacrificing his body on somewhat reckless drives to the bucket (with an already injured ankle), Jerryd led by example and by the time he got hurt, he had already gotten his message across to the team.

Now the worry is how long will Bayless be out. It could have been a sprain or a strain on his ankle (I hope to god it’s not a broken bone but it didn’t look like one). That type of injury could have Bayless sitting out anywhere from a week to a month or more, depending on the severity.

JoeyJoJo Shabbadu

This game says one thing. That Dirk Nowitski is on the short list for MVP this year…and that’s all.

RaptorsandBuckeyeFaN

ED DAVIS!!!!!!! What a game by him and it started early. At least there’s something positive for the Raptors this season. Watching Ed Davis progress.

kishan13

This should be a wake up call to Triano to start playing Wright more and if Wright doesnt get atleast 20 min next game, Triano seriously needs to go.

Onekhmer

wow i was really waiting for the Raptors to screw up, and not ge too excited but they fought right to the end GREAT GAME

Rudy-T

That was kind of what I was thinking/hoping the Raps would be this season at best. I mean a lot of hustle, not much talent, but going at it on almost every game. Win one of three or four games, but always fight.

Deck the Hall and Oates


I apologize in advance. Just bear with me if you can. You see, I’ve had my head full of 70’s era disco classics. I have this system to get me through the endless Christmas season. Whenever I hear a carol that threatens to loop through my cranium for weeks, I quickly download the corresponding disco song into my brain, and successfully block out the seasonal ditties. Winter Wonderland is transformed into Boogie Wonderland. O Little Town of Bethlehem is made over into Funky Town. The Little Drummer Boy gets remixed into Turn the Beat Around.God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen quickly becomes YMCA.Joy to the World? Well that has to be Shake Your Booty. Good King Wenceslas? Dancing Queen. O Christmas Tree? Push Push in the Bush. And so on.

And I remained stuck in that era, perhaps a little too happily, while considering the long journey, not of the Magi, but of the Mago, and how his ups and downs have played out with the fans here in Toronto. Going way back, when I found this team promising enough to attend games in person, I found the reactions of many fans around me, way up in the upper reaches of the ACC, to be as over-the-top as anything associated with the age of disco (yes - which I am certainly old enough to remember directly). All it took was to see Andrea left open beyond the arc, and this one particular guy sporting a euroleague Calderon jersey would start squealing and hyperventilating. “Oooooh-oooooh-Andrea-that’s his shot-that’s his shot”. It got to the point where out of worry for my fellow brethren in the stands, I’d have to have a paper bag at the ready. I’m kidding a little, but do not think for a moment that I am overstating the possibility of some of these guys coming close to collapsing from not enough CO2 coursing through their veins. What came to mind then, and repeatedly during every flash of his game advancing over the years, as well as now - with the disco jumping from one neural transmitter to another - is Minnie Ripperton and her notes soaring as many octaves above middle-C as there were sections between me and courtside. And as often as all the Rippertons would begin to quaver, there would be an accompanying verse from Morris Albert. Often enough it happened on the same play. Andrea is open and I’d hear the aaahhh-ahh, only to have him get the ball and launch a clunker which would bring along the woh-woh-woh-woh in the same breath. Then there are the stretches where Minnie stirringly dominates for a few games, only to have Morris return with his gasps of loneliness. This season, Andrea has followed form, with the highs getting that much higher, but so many cliffs coming along for regular drop-offs. The question is whether he can break the pattern for good, and if nothing else, make me think of Leo Sayer’s When I Need You. Make the big shots when needed, while showing a steadiness in all other areas of the game. Have the big games when need be, and otherwise keep the team in games when someone else can make the bigger impact. If that doesn’t happen, then the future remains a little troublesome. The rebuild will take place upon a shaky foundation. And we’ll all be heading into Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam territory.

That’s what this season is going to be about - solidifying that foundation. Or so I would hope.?If I can get through the season of humbug, please don’t make me say bah! to the rest of the Raptor season.?If an old fool can use disco to find the true meaning of Merry during Christmas, then this team needs to be able to figure out how to play basketball for real for a stretch here and there. And it doesn’t just apply to Bargnani. There is not a lot of talent here. We’ve seen any number of guys playing as starters that just can’t handle the role. Reggie Evans was able to play as a starter and make life easier for some other players around him. There are not a lot of bench players that can do that. And so this team relies on a running attack that can pull out a few wins against lesser teams, and tired teams. Hand-in-hand with the increased scoring comes easy baskets in transition going the other way, but we’ve seen a few times where the Raptor’s depth can give them an edge in the talent level going down the stretch, regardless of a dearth of legitimate starters. It reminds me of another phenomenon from the 70’s - the rope-a-dope. And I just can’t see this team building upon that much more. So they are going to have to see who can deliver in a halfcourt offense while not giving up too much in other areas. In other words - is there anybody here that can play an honest game of basketball every night out? Can we see the first option taken away from any halfcourt set, and be able to go to a second option, or a third option with some success? And can we shut down other teams in transition, get them to forego their first option, and stick with the play as they go to a second or third option? This team is a long way away from showing any of that. And as the season stretches out, that is going to mean more ugly losses than surprising wins, or so I would guess. At the same time the passing game is beginning to come around, and we are at least starting to see more cohesion than the one-pass-and chuck-or-drive-into-traffic sequences that have become too familiar. So, among some of the ugliness, I hope to see moments where we can see if Andrea, or Demar, or Ed or Amir, or Linas or whoever, can get to a level where their combined talents fit within a gameplan that can go up against any starting lineups at their best, at least for part of a game. Aggression alone has gotten them through the first part of the schedule still in the hunt for an eighth seed. But now the aggression is starting to work against them as much as anything else, because they just aren’t finding a second or third option, and they lack any kind of organization defensively. I honestly hope they look towards defining some cohesion on the defensive end, before looking at anything else. In any case they need to go beyond finding spots in the schedule where they stand a chance to win on individual play from one or three guys, and instead find moments where they show some ability to strengthen a team concept in any way. And when that happens, someone had better be taking notes, and not just singing them.

claw marks:the big apple bites

js12

If it weren’t for a couple of mistakes, we could have won, or at least tie the game. If we are going to lose, at least we fought hard and lost to a three point shot that bounced 3 times around the rim.

Instead of looking at the 5-second call, not taking the foul, etc. , we should look at avoidable casual plays. Like Weems pulling up on a fast break. Like Kleiza, Barbosa and Sonny taking a 3 with lots of time on the shot clock. We need to play smarter- as shown by the result, every play counts.

AR1815

Easily could have had it - Bargs missing the FT with less than 2 mins, the VERY close 5-second call, Jose not fouling Felton at the end, and the horrible play for the final shot all could have been different. Disappointing that even with a career night by Bargs, we still couldn’t pull it out.

Superjudge

all I can say is this…. about time guys like Linas and Weems learned that the ball goes to Bargnani first….. if he has nothing, then you can have a try…but only then.

Feed the guy the rock and he’ll score it.

Now only if he can learn to defend it.

Rudy-T

The way Bargs was passing tonight, others will get their opportunities too. He was playing smart and has been doing that lately. He isnt forcing it too much and gives the ball back out when he feels he doesnt have the position. And tonight he also had nice passes out of double teams.

The thing is, he is only this good when his jumper is on and he gets some early baskets. If he doesnt get those, he becomes frustrated and his play goes down. We saw that in Indiana. We started out with Weems taking stupid jump shots and Bargs didnt get the ball. He ended up with a bad game and it was bad for the whole team.

This time Jay had clearly told Jose to give it to Bargs on every offensive set and it worked pretty good.

10gizzle

Every play should be a high post with Bargs.

The guy can actually pass, he’s shown this skill many times in the past.

It seems like every time he got the ball around the free throw line he either scored or created a chance for the team.

point me in the direction of albuquerque


Where is this team going? Will we see more games like the win against OKC? Or more like the loss against Indiana? In the end, I think it’s most important to see what pieces on the team work well with each other, and which don’t, regardless of wins or losses. They should not lose sight of that just yet.

The win against the Thunder was notable right off the bat, in that it showed real progress in the ability of this team to use a quicker pace to it’s advantage. Through the first half, it looked like the faster pace might favor OKC, as would be expected to a degree. Were the Raptors just playing into the hands of the opposition? They were using up a lot of energy and not exactly doing anything beyond staying fairly even on the scoreboard. It looked like a further continuation of what plagued them all last season and in a good part of this season: score in bunches with running and early offense, and get scored on in bunches in transition and poor rotations. But there was a change in the overall pattern in this game. Instead of the Raptors losing their legs and just lying down and dying in the second half, they actually saw OKC do just that. But here’s the problem - the Thunder, and particularly Westbrook (their main guy with Durant absent), were simply tired from a roadtrip that had featured a triple overtime stint previous to this one. The Raptors did well in exploiting that factor. But how many games can they win based on a team not being up to playing a complete game? Maybe too many, if you want to see a high draft pick more than anything else. But then again, we’ve already seen the Raptors lose games they had the potential to win, because they simply looked ragged themselves, so it should all equal out to some extent.

That doesn’t mean I would entirely discount the game against OKC. That second half featured some nice passing and some solid defensive play. They showed some hustle across the board, and it didn’t lead to any dead ends, but rather capitalized further on their good team play. I won’t just say that the Raptors need to play teams that are gassed, hurting, or just more dismal than our team in Toronto, in order to display such things as ball movement and defensive prowess. Instead, let me look at the positives. They are the poor girl that David Cassidy comes across in the Partridge Family song that also served as the opening theme to the television show. And they have now been pointed in the direction of their Albuquerque. This game should be exhibit A in terms of demonstrating where they need to be. If this team can develop beyond simply running well, and working hard, then they can break through an otherwise low ceiling. Passing and defending are all about a team truly coming together. It’s nice to have an identity centered on the idea of hard work, but it’s the kind of thing that can be negated all to easily over 48 minutes, whereas whatever talent that this roster possesses can be magnified by the development of an identity based on passing and defense with consistency. Without that basis the running game is just a way to hide the truth about that low ceiling. So it was very nice to see this team go beyond running and working hard when they had the chance against a gassed-out team. At least there is a latent possibility that can come into play a little ways down the road, and hopefully they get frequent enough glimpses of that, so that they don’t feel like they’ve already landed in Albuquerque, as D-Leaguers.

But for an identity based on strong two-way teamwork to become a reality in the future, I suspect we are simply going to have to see some significant changes to this roster. If nothing else, that became evident in the loss to Indiana. That game featured a first half with a meager 5 assists, and 10 turnovers. That would be an embarrassment to most D-League teams. This team just doesn’t have much in the way of a halfcourt offense, and it’s going to take more than just time to fix that. There are too many guys that simply do not pass. And it turns out that they are some of the biggest guns that this team relies on. Reggie Evans might actually be missed for his passing abilities, almost as much as for his rebounding, and that fact says more about the rest of the team than it does about Reggie Evans. Sonny Weems and Demar Derozan had been making the attempt to make things work in the halfcourt sets, but have recently become black holes themselves, and that is to be expected to a degree. Just as a weak link or two on the defensive side can make everyone look pretty bad as defenders, when it comes to sharing the ball, the weaker links tend to make those committed to working well within halfcourt sets develop impulses that work against those ends. The key for this team going forward, is to see if they can minimize those weak links on both ends of the court. If they can’t get as far as that, they will need to identify those that make the problem impossible to improve upon, and build around anyone but them. They need to at least be pointed in the right direction, or else the feeling that working hard isn’t going to be enough quite a lot of the time right now, is going to be compounded by a sense that hard work might never be enough to counteract those that hold the rope, and even pull, but never in synch with all the rest.

There might not be any Keith Partridges on this team. Those that come closest might only be suited as backup singers - your Laurie Partridges. That’s fine for now. But the Danny Partridges that ultimately get in the way more than they help, have got to be switched out for the sake of the band. Eventually. Because believing that Danny is just pointing out that the only way to go from here is up, is only going to be possible for so long, before everyone realizes that they are actually being pointed in the direction of an Albuquerque they just don’t want to know about.

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