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Old 01-16-2012, 08:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Daily Raptor Dish - 16-01-2012

Casey sees light at end of tunnel

It is stating the obvious, but the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls are at completely different stages.

While the league-leading Bulls are attempting to shift from third to fourth gear and prove that they are legitimate title contenders, the 4-9 Raptors (losers of six of seven) are still trying to get out of neutral — or worse. Reverse.

All that matters for Chicago right now is getting victories and getting ready for what is to come in the post-season.

Referring to the ugliness that has been this shortened season so far, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said he could care less.

“We are not concerned with the aesthetics, we just want the wins,” said the NBA’s coach of the year following Saturday’s less than perfect victory over the Raptors.

For Dwane Casey though, this season is all about instilling his principles and system and making sure when the talent is upgraded, the remaining players know exactly what they are doing and what is expected of them.

Raptors coach Casey takes aim at turnovers

f there was one easy way to correct one of the biggest failings with this Raptors team, coach Dwane Casey would take it.

But as he sits there and watches a variety of mistakes occur — not one that’s a consistent problem — all he can do is grow increasingly frustrated and watch games slip away.

Errant passes. Silly plays. Illegal screens. Offensive fouls. Travelling. Shot-clock violations.

The Raptors are among the worst teams in the NBA when it comes to committing turnovers and the biggest problem with solving the issue is that there are so many areas to clean up.

“Some of it is unfamiliarity, some of it is trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole . . . getting to know each other,” Casey said. “Offensively, we’ve changed things some, sometimes we play too fast for conditions. It’s a multitude of things.”

Ugly Raptors burnt by turnovers

DeMar DeRozan became the face of the Toronto Raptors the second Chris Bosh left town and he was not very good during this stretch of three games in as many nights.

Yet for all the talk about how Dwane Casey will find out some things about his new team in this compressed NBA season, there is a wisdom in not viewing the past five games as a referendum on DeRozan. Because when it comes to offence, the NBA has shown a distinctly and predictably ugly face. Not yet 1998-99 ugly – when the NBA came out of a lockout with a jerry-rigged season that turned into the lowest-scoring season since the shot clock was introduced in 1954 – but ugly nonetheless.

Hawks' other Johnson making a name for himself

It didn’t matter to the 27-year-old rookie when he was in training camps with the Hawks trying to make their roster. It doesn’t matter now when he’s making an impact at the NBA level.

“My thing is, I don’t really watch basketball so I don’t know who anybody is,” Johnson said after sinking two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to give the Hawks a 93-91 victory over the Timberwolves Saturday. “So when I match up against them, they are a regular player. I know the major players like LeBron [James], Kobe [Bryant], [Dwyane] Wade but all the extra ones I don’t know. Even if I did know them, I’m not going to be afraid. We are playing basketball.”

Johnson (6-foot-8, 230 pounds) has combined for 22 points and 18 rebounds in wins over the Bobcats and Timberwolves after the Hawks lost starting center Al Horford for three to four months. Johnson has played a total of 64 minutes the past three games, including the contest in which Horford was injured in the first quarter. He combined to play 55 minutes in the six other games he appeared this season.

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