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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 10.12.10
Bargnani's game growing
Mona Lisa has Raps exec smiling
No longer a timid flinger of deep shots, seemingly allergic to the paint, the confident Roman has grabbed seven or more rebounds in six of his past seven games and averaged about 22 points a night over that stretch, despite misfiring on 85% of his shots from three.
“We found him different areas where he could be effective,” said Raptors head coach Jay Triano. “If there is a five (centre) playing him, then we spread the floor. If there’s a (swingman) we try to get him touches down low.
“His game is consistently evolving. His post play has been a lot better than it has been any other year and we’re not afraid to get it to him (there).”
The results have changed and so has Bargnani’s demeanour. Fist pumps and excitement have replaced the non-plussed aloofness observers grew to associate with the now five-year veteran.
Off the court, he has also been far more animated in his interactions with the media ... except perhaps, when quizzed Thursday about his success against the Knicks.
“Of course everybody wants to touch the ball. Next question,” he said when asked about his season-high 24 field-goal attempts.
“It was not that I was making crazy shots or something unbelievable,” he continued. “I was making easy shots inside the paint.
“They had (small forward) Wilson Chandler on me. That was part of the game-plan. The goal was to get the ball inside.”
On Wednesday, Bargnani was also the facilitator of the offence. He looked more effective moving the ball to teammates than the departed Bosh — never the greatest passer — ever did.
“That’s something new, I still have to get used to it,” Bargnani said of facing more double-teams. “I think I’ve been getting much better at that with experience. It is something that is going to come.”
Raptors rookie Alabi returns from D League exile
Mona Lisa is the name of the painting, but the actual woman in the painting, the model, is Lisa del Giocondo, who was born Lisa Gherardini.
As for the blood ties, Maurizio Gherardini isn’t 100% certain that the families are directly linked, but he sincerely believes they are, as Lisa Gherardini hails from his father’s hometown, Florence. And Gherardini, he said, is a very rare name.
“You can look on Google. There are not many Gherardinis,” the Raptors VP said, prior to a recent game at the Air Canada Centre. “And while I can’t guarantee you how close the ties are, I think we’re connected.”
Maurizio did not grow up with stories of the Mona Lisa and how there may be a family connection.
“To be honest, I’ve always admired the painting, but never paid too much attention to the last name,” he said.
The personable Raptors VP wasn’t even aware that they shared a common surname until one day when the CEO of a local company strolled into the Banca Commerciale Italiana in Forli, Italy, where Maurizio was the head of the Letter of Credit Department, and presented him with a gift.
“I said, ‘That’s very nice of you’. But I wasn’t getting what he was trying to do,’ ” said Maurizio. “And he said, ‘My hobby is history. I read a lot of historical books. And I found this book by a French historian who tells the Mona Lisa story’.
“But I still wasn’t getting it. ‘Why this book?’ ” I said. ‘Why didn’t you bring me another book? And he said, ‘I thought you would appreciate this particular book because it is your story and your family’s story.’ And that’s how I found out about Mona Lisa’s last name.”
Since then, Maurizio has embraced everything about the Mona Lisa and Lisa Gherardini, the woman with the shy, enigmatic smile. He has travelled to The Louvre in Paris 4-5 times to view the painting and takes enormous pride in Da Vinci’s great work.
“Somehow, without having any credit, I do take pride,” he said. “She’s a Gherardini.
Bargs: the best No.1 pick money can buy
The Raptors realized, through scouting reports and box scores, that Alabi – a second-round draft pick last June – wasn’t getting what they needed him to get, and bringing him back made the most sense.
“The idea to go down there was to play in games, which he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do up here, and get minutes and see where he is,” said Toronto coach Jay Triano.
“The team that he was with is a smaller team, so much of the game down there is small and his minutes weren’t too high. So we just figured at this point, it was better to (have) him come back and work with our team and be available for us, to help us practice and be thrown into a game if he has to be.”
It’s unlikely that Alabi will get any playing in time in games with the Raptors, who have settled on a frontcourt rotation of Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson and Davis right now.
But he will get to be around the team, go against proven NBAers in practice whenever possible.
“Part of it is . . . work with our coaches and have him be up here with us and with the team, not to lose the connection with the team that he has here.”
Alabi happy at Raptors return
“You look at the numbers he’s putting up, he’s becoming a guy you have to game plan for,” said Mitchell when I called him. “The way he’s scoring the basketball, the way he’s shooting it, you got to game plan for him. He’s putting up some unbelievable numbers.”
Or at least some pretty good ones as Bargnani is averaging 22 points and 5.9 rebounds on 47.2 per cent shooting through 22 games.
But the most important number that can be attached to Bargnani right now is his contract, which runs for four more seasons at $42-million.
Much of the criticism directed at Bargnani through five uneven seasons has started with the notion that he was the No.1 pick in the 2006 draft.
Top picks should be LeBron or Shaq or even Derrick Rose: players who can change your franchise.
But 2006 is proving to be an atrocious draft class. All you need to know about it really, was that Adam Morrison was taken No.3, and he’s out of the NBA, and Sheldon Williams was taken fifth, and probably should be.
But still Bryan Colangelo was picking first overall, should he have at least got the best player? Up until now it was pretty clear he hadn’t
Benched or not, Alabi will just be happy to be in a Raptors uniform – although he almost missed the call to return. He had turned off his cell phone because roaming charges were getting expensive. After getting nothing but voicemail, Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo tried his agent, who passed on the welcome news.
The Raptors (8-14) will look to end a three-game slide after falling 113-110 in New York on Wednesday night despite 41 points from Andrea Bargnani.
Bargnani, whose previous career high was 34, went 16 of 24 from the field. He was 2 for 3 from 3-point range after going 1 for 18 in his previous six games, averaging 16.2 points.
Toronto lost Wednesday on a late 3-pointer, but that result against a hot Knicks team provided some optimism after the Raptors had dropped their previous two games by an average of 20.5 points.
"The most important thing right now is that we did a great job and we fought through until the end of the game," guard Leandro Barbosa said. "We're getting better. The effort that we put in tonight was great and I think that's the way that we're supposed to play every night and try to get a victory."
Linas Kleiza, who spent his first four years in the league with Denver, will face his former team for the first time. Kleiza is averaging 9.6 points.
Toronto has been outscored by 17.6 points during its six-game losing streak against Denver.
Peja Stojakovic missed his sixth straight game as he continues to deal with a swollen left knee. His status for Friday is unknown.