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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 13.02.11
Raptors tipoff: Clippers up next
Raptors' Evans not sold on Griffin
Since Andrea Bargnani’s too slow and Amir Johnson is banged up and might not play, the task of trying to contain rookie of the year in waiting Griffin will fall to Davis.
Good luck. Sure, Davis is coming off a career-best 13 rebound game, but Griffin is averaging 12.6 boards a night. Davis, who says he is surprised at the impact Griffin has been able to have in his first season in the NBA, will have his hands full against the far more powerful Griffin.
Davis’ plan: “Take him out of his comfort zone and try to get him into things he doesn’t want to do.”.
Few teams play as exciting a style as the Clippers, who consistently go above the rim. Griffin, athletic marvel DeAndre Jordan and Al-Farouq Aminu can all soar higher than almost everybody else in the league.
Baron Davis is finally starting to look like his old self, averaging 19.2 points, 10.7 assists and 3.5 steals over his past four games, all on the road.
Eric Gordon, averaging nearly 25 points per game, is an outstanding complement for Griffin, though he is currently injured.
Did you know
Griffin has averaged 28.1 points, 13.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists over his past 10 home games, though the Clippers are just 4-18 on the road ... Centre Chris Kaman is still out. In his absence, Jordan has emerged as one of the season’s major surprises and has played himself into what surely will be a massive raise on the free agent market this summer ... The Clippers have dropped 5-of-6 games after going 9-1 at home in January and likely will come in angry, having lost to Cleveland this week to end the Cavaliers’ NBA-record 26-game losing streak.
Trail Blazers drop Raptors
The Blake Griffin highlight show has been the best thing to hit the NBA in years, but not all of the Raptors are buying into the hype. Yet.
“Blake Griffin is just another human being, another basketball player,” said injured Raptors big man Reggie Evans.
“I really don’t look forward to seeing anybody play. I looked forward to seeing MJ play back in the day, but not him.”
While admitting that Griffin is a “great player, great talent,” Evans seemed to imply that his nightly exposure on the highlight reel might be causing people to get a bit carried away.
“(Griffin) just cherry picks (to get) dunks, runs in transition (to) get dunks. It’s all about trying to stop those things (when defending him), whereas LaMarcus Aldridge (who lit up the Raptors for 37 points on Friday night) can do a lot more things,” Evans said.
Evans explained that he would have picked the Portland big man, not Griffin, as an all-star at this point due to his far more varied arsenal.
Griffin became the first rookie since Yao Ming in 2003 and just the second in 13 years to make the game.
“No disrespect, they picked him and he deserved it, (but) I’d have picked Aldridge because he’s a true forward. Blake still has a lot to show besides just dunks.”
Raptors coach Jay Triano and his young charges DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis were a tad more complementary towards the sure-fire rookie-of the year.
“You gotta keep your eye on him every play every possession, because you never know what he’s going to do,” said DeRozan.
“He’s got a huge drive to go get it and with his athletic ability he jumps over top of people and he’s relentless in his pursuit of the ball, so that makes him pretty tough,” added Triano.
“It’s rare to see guys 6-foot-10 do what he does, the last guy in that category was LeBron and he’s a three (small forward). I don’t think we’ve ever seen a four (power forward) with his type of athleticism and quickness.”
Raptors' Johnson misses first game of season
LaMarcus Aldrige the Raptors saw coming.
Rudy Fernandez? Not so much.
But it was Fernandez in the first half, the bulk of it in the second quarter, and a heavy dose of Aldridge in the fourth quarter that turned this one in Portland’s favour.
The wee Spaniard enjoyed a perfect 8-for-8 first half, six of them coming from three-point range as his 23 first-half points threatened to put the Raptors in the type of early hole they have recently been unable to recover from.
But then the Raptors had an unexpected weapon of their own come to the forefront early in the fourth quarter to erase the damage Fernandez had done.
Jerryd Bayless, who had a total of 17 points in the past three games he played — he missed two with a sprained right knee — found his rhythm with his ex-team visiting and hit four three-pointers in a span of about five minutes.
The happiness was short-lived however, as Aldridge took the game over scoring 12 points in the final frame to earn Portland a 102-96 win.
Fernandez never scored again in the game after halftime.
What if Aldridge were a Raptor?
“Amir is not able to play.”
For the first time since Amir Johnson became a Raptor over a year and a half ago, head coach Jay Triano said those words.
There have been plenty of times already this season Triano thought he might be saying them only to have Johnson beat back, or more precisely, refuse to give in to whatever pain he was feeling.
There was the time in Dallas with the Raptors already missing two starters and half the bench injured or hurting, including Johnson who was dealing with back issues. Triano was waiting outside the locker room as Johnson walked back from his pre-game warm-up.
“How’s it feel, Amir,” Triano asked. “Little bit of pain coach, I’m going to put a little more tape on it,” Johnson said.
Triano turned to a few members of the media standing nearby, raised his eyebrows and said “Tape?”
It worked that night for Johnson, but no amount of tape was going to allow him to play Friday on a sprained right ankle that required a walking boot only 24 hours earlier.
“You know he is hurt,” Triano said.” He tried (Friday) morning but he was very restricted. He got rest this afternoon and got more treatment but he’s just not able to go.”
Johnson played all 82 games his first year in Toronto and along with DeMar DeRozan was the only Raptor to play every game this season until Friday night.
Toronto about to get a peek at The Blake Show
Raptors fans have been patient, but is it too much to ask for a starting centre who can rebound?
In 47 games this season, Bargnani is averaging 21.3 points per contest on .445% shooting.
Through 52 games for Portland, Aldridge is averaging a comparable 21.6 points and .489% from the field.
The big difference between the two is the 3.6 rebound advantage Aldridge has.
To add insult to injury, consider this. While the idea behind bringing in guys like TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack was to surround Bosh with friends in an attempt to keep him in a Raps uniform was a great idea, it clearly didn’t pan out.
The oft-injured Ford wasn’t as good a distributor as Jose Calderon and he had to go; and Jack, well we all know being Bosh’s former college roommate wasn’t enough to keep him in Toronto.
But Aldridge could have been different. They came up together in Texas, and Bosh even reportedly lobbied Toronto brass to draft Aldridge.
The end result?
Instead of the CN Towers, Raps fans ended up with a giant-sized what-if.
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
“He’s definitely impressive,” said Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who’ll be competing against Griffin in the dunk contest. “It seems like he always seems to top himself in a game.”
There are still holes in Griffin’s game, which is to be expected from a first-year player. He’s just a 61 per cent free throw shooter, his jump shot range could be extended and, for all the wondrous things he’s done, the Clippers are just 20-33 (albeit after a 5-21 start) and lost Friday night to the woeful Cavaliers.
But that may make the buzz about Griffin even more impressive, since it’s not just in his hometown that his impact has been substantial — he has become a “must-see” visitor in 28 other arenas.
The Clippers are averaging almost 17,500 fans on the road and only six teams — Miami, Chicago, the Lakers, New York, Oklahoma City and Phoenix — are better road draws than the perpetually-bad Clippers.
The Raptors, who are on pace to have the lowest-average home attendance in franchise history, anticipate a near sellout for Sunday’s game, which would be just the third of the season.
The only other two sellouts in 26 home dates this year have been games against the Lakers and Celtics, putting the Clippers in exclusive company.
At home, the Clippers average more than 17,000 fans a game and are on pace to draw their highest audiences in five seasons.
And it’s almost all attributable to Griffin.
“He’s got everybody back home loving the Clippers,” said Los Angeles native DeRozan. “They call it the Clip Show back home and everyone’s talking about them now. It’s definitely entertaining to watch them play.”
And that may be Griffin’s crowning achievement — making the Clippers at least a little bit more relevant.
Blazers thwart Raptors comeback
Q: Hey Doug. I posted this in the comments this week and you didn't have time to answer then so I thought I'd try again here, as this is likely a better place to ask this kind of question. And since they will have just left town, it rates as somewhat timely:
Brandon Roy is poised to return to action for Portland, and the fact the Trail Blazers have posted a winning record in his absence, prompted me to look up their current active roster to see if it was readily apparent why their record is significantly better than the Raptors. They have experienced a similar injury profile this season (worse over the last couple of years) to the heart of what was supposed to be a promising young team. When I look at the Blazers rotation made up of LaMarcus Aldridge, Wes Matthews, Nic Batum, Joel Przybilla, Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez and Patrick Mills it really makes me wonder how they've managed. I think if you concede that LaMarcus Aldridge is better than Bargnani (which is debatable, but for the sake of this comparison I'm willing to do) I'm still hard-pressed to see that rotation as appreciably better than the Raps.
So first, between the Blazer group or the Raptors current 8 man rotation which do you think is better?
And second, to what would you attribute the relative success of these Trail Blazers, given their injury woes and having to play in the Western Conference.
Richard E, Toronto
A: I’d suggest that, today, it is appreciably better because Miller and Przybilla have loads of experience and Fernandez has been in more big games than anyone other than Calderon on the Raptors and I truly believe that experience is a huge factor in the success of a group.
I think Fernandez would be the starter here and I know Przybilla would have a huge role in a Raptors frontcourt.
Now, I’m sure Nate McMillan has his team playing defence at a higher level than the Raptors, which would also have something to do with it, but that’s also a matter of the skill level of the team.
Rating star rookie Blake Griffin
A little pent-up anger can do wonders sometimes.
With less than 10 minutes left in a game that appeared destined to be the Raptors’ 16th loss in 17 games, Toronto’s reserve point guard Jerryd Bayless got fired up at a team that once traded him away.
He sank two three-pointers in a row, turned to the Portland Trail Blazers’ bench and made a face, then shouted a few choice words. Then he sank another. And another.
By then the sleepy crowd in the Air Canada Centre had come alive, and Toronto held the lead for the first time since letting a 17-10 advantage slip away in the first quarter. Even Bayless, who’s averaged eight points a game this season, had to smile.
Unfortunately, his sudden spurt took his team only so far. Portland pulled away and handed Toronto a 102-96 loss, the Raptors’ 16th in 17 games.
Toronto vs. Los Angeles
He has become the most thrilling player in the National Basketball Association.
How watchable is Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers’ rookie forward? Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard recently wrote a piece on Griffin’s legendary dunks from the perspective of the unfortunate souls who he has dunked on, and it made total sense.
So, he has made the Clippers relevant again, but not necessarily good. Sure, they went 9-5 in January, a month that included wins over the Heat and Lakers. But 10 of those 14 games were played at the Staples Center. Now the Clippers have started on an 11-game road trip, and they are 1-3 so far. For the year, they are 4-18 away from home.
But there is no dismissing Griffin, who would likely cruise to the rookie of the year trophy even if his season ended today. Last week, he was named the first rookie all-star since Yao Ming in 2003 and Tim Duncan, before him, in 1998. As Griffin makes his lone appearance in Toronto on Sunday, here is a look at how he compares to past big man rookies of the year.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, 2010-11
Points: 22.6 Rebounds: 12.6 FG%: 51.4
Team: 20-32, 13th in Western Conference
Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats, 2004-05
Points: 15.1 Rebounds: 10.9 FG%: 44.7
Team: 18-64, 14th in Eastern Conference
Okafor has helped jumpstart the New Orleans Hornets this year. However, he will always be overshadowed by the player picked before him, Dwight Howard.
Amar’e Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns, 2002-03
Points: 13.5 Rebounds: 8.8 FG%: 47.2
Team: 44-38, eighth in Western Conference, lost in first round
Stoudemire has made six all-star teams and become one of the most explosive offensive power forwards in the league. He is the biggest reason the Knicks matter again.
The Clippers have the second-worst road record in the Western Conference (4-19), but they're facing a team that has dropped 16 of 17 and 13 of 16 at home.
Toronto has won four straight over Los Angeles but will face rookie phenom Blake Griffin for the first time. The All-Star forward, averaging 22.8 points and 12.6 rebounds, posted his 38th double-double in 40 games with 32 points and 13 boards Friday.
Randy Foye has averaged 16.7 points starting the last 10 games in place of Gordon and has scored at least 23 in each of the past two. The former first-round pick has averaged 22.5 points in four career starts against Toronto (14-40).
Davis is averaging 20.6 points and 10.0 assists on the road trip, but he's shot 28.3 percent in his past three games versus Toronto.
The Raptors, allowing a league-worst 48.5 percent shooting and 104.7 points per game, have let each of their first two opponents on a four-game homestand shoot better than 54.0 percent.
They rallied to tie Portland with 4:18 remaining Friday night as Jerryd Bayless scored all 18 of his points in the fourth quarter, but they couldn't stop Trail Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge (37 points) in a 102-96 defeat.
"In the last five minutes, they scored but we didn't. Otherwise, we played a pretty good game," center Andrea Bargnani said. "We just have to play better."
Bargnani, who scored 29 points, is averaging 27.8 over the past four games. He averaged 20.0 points during last season's sweep of the Clippers.