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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 10.04.11
Raptors tipoff: Bring on the Nets
Raptors running on empty
Nets at Raptors
TSN2/Fan 590; 6 p.m.
Sasha Vujacic vs. DeMar DeRozan
Not exactly Bird vs. Magic, but then again Nets and Raptors are far from being relevant these days and both teams struggle to find a win and a lineup that doesn’t have game time decisions attached to a name. Vujacic has been given a chance to play extended minutes in New Jersey. In L.A. with the Lakers, he was a bench player who would spot up and be asked to knock down shots. DeRozan is more athletic, will get to the line and has an advantage, which he must capitalize. Vujacic is the better shooter, but he’s not known as a scorer given his lack of explosiveness off the dribble. But he has made more starts with the Nets than at any time during his career and Vujacic is averaging 11.1 points, the most during his career.
Without Deron Williams (wrist), the Nets are hard-pressed to beat any team. Jordan Farmar is now being asked to run the show from the point position, but he’s no D-Will. Brook Lopez is New Jersey’s best player and the more times the Nets feed the post, the better their chances of staying competitive. There’s no bench to speak of, which is something the Raptors can easily relate. Like any team playing on the road that’s undermanned, it all comes down to limiting turnovers, making the most out of every possession and defence. Having said that, the Nets have lost eight of nine and 12 of their last 14 games.
Did You Know
Lopez needed 17 field goal attempts to score 27 points in a loss to the Knicks ... Minority owner Jay-Z was caught paying a visit to Kentucky’s locker room following the Wildcats’ Elite Eight win, an offence that earned the Nets a $50,000 fine by the NBA ... Ex-Raptor Kris Humphries (ankle) is done for the season. Depending on his free agent intentions, he may be done as a Net ... Sundiata Gaines, who earlier this season signed two 10-day contracts with the Raptors, is also done after hurting his hip ... Anthony Morrow’s knee tendinitis makes him questionable for tonight’s tip.
Raptors finally earning respect around the league
“Whenever you step on the court, you just want to respect the game,’’ Reggie Evans said. “You want to respect the court and you want to go out there and play hard, no matter the circumstances.
“It’s like playing pickup games knowing if you lose in the park, you might as well go home because you may never get a chance to play again.
“You know that waiting are five or six people with their teams’ picks. When you get on the court, the mentality is that you still want to win.”
A lot must still be learned, but the growth in Toronto’s starting backcourt is encouraging.
With so many injured players and so few options on offence, there is virtually no room for error.
If anything, the Raptors may have found their perfect foe in New Jersey, a team that swept the Raptors in that back-to-back set played in London, England.
On paper, Toronto will field better talent, but how it plays out is yet to be seen.
Toronto vs. New Jersey
It has been a long, and at times seemingly unsuccessful, search for elusive “respect” that the Raptors have been on this season.
From the number of times players like DeMar DeRozan get to the foul line, to the number of times Toronto is called for dubious fouls that could go either way, earning the “respect” of NBA officials has been, for some, a difficult task.
Coach Jay Triano has mentioned numerous times that respect will come, and that they will get a fairer whistle, as they continue to press the issue, to attack the basket, to defend aggressively, and at least one veteran who’s been around a while thinks the process is underway.
“I think they respect us, things just may not go in our favour sometimes,” Reggie Evans said after Friday’s loss in Philadelphia. “We can’t use that as an excuse. . . . One thing is, you’ve got to earn respect in this league and I think we did a pretty good job this year earning respect.
“It’s all good.”
Brook Lopez, the only Nets starter left standing, has shined down the stretch
The teams are a combined 9-24 since returning from Europe, with Toronto having dropped nine of 10 and New jersey losing eight of nine. Injuries have had plenty to do with that.
Deron Williams, who averaged 18.5 points and 14.5 assists in London, has played in only seven of New Jersey's last 17 contests and is done for the season because of a right wrist injury.
Leading rebounder Kris Humphries also won't return because of ankle and heel problems, while 3-point specialist Anthony Morrow has missed the past three contests with a knee injury.
With those absences forcing the Nets to start Mario West and Dan Gadzuric in the frontcourt, they didn't put up much of a fight Friday against New York. Brook Lopez had 27 points, but undermanned New jersey was outrebounded 48-38 in a 116-93 loss.
"We have three starters out. It is what it is. You just have to finish strong and keep playing through the end of the season," guard Jordan Farmar said. "The guys are out there giving it their all and however it goes, it goes."
The Raptors are in a similar situation as Bargnani, Leandro Barbosa, Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson have missed time over the past week. None of them played Friday in a 98-93 loss at Philadelphia, an effort that pleased coach Jay Triano even though he wasn't around to see the end after being ejected in the fourth quarter.
"We said we weren't going to quit and we didn't," he said.
Barbosa and Johnson seem to have the best chance of returning, and New jersey certainly wouldn't be upset to see Bargnani sit out again. He has averaged 30.0 points in three games against the Nets this season.
Second-year guard DeMar DeRozan, who scored 30 in each of the London games, has averaged 26.4 points in April.
Brook Lopez was the lone starter available for the Nets in their past two games, and he did what he could, scoring a career-high 39 points in the loss Wednesday to Detroit, followed by a game-high 27 points in the loss Friday to the Knicks.
But as the season winds down and the rest of his teammates seem to be dropping like flies to one injury or another, Lopez said he hasn’t felt pressure to carry the team when he’s the only go-to guy in the lineup every night.
“I’m going to try to come out and play my same game, regardless,” Lopez said after the 116-93 loss to the Knicks. “I think we’re learning a lot right now, but if there was any time I should have felt pressure, it was when we were down to eight guys last year, right? That was rough.”
It’s been a rough season this year, too, what with all the Melo-Drama, the eventual acquisition of star point guard Deron Williams, the subsequent injuries and all the nightly losing.