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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 14.12.10
Calderon still injured
Carolina 'homecoming' for Raptors rookie
Jose Calderon is going to give it another day.
While the Raptors and head coach Jay Triano had been hopeful that Calderon would be able to play Tuesday night in Charlotte, the team charter left on Monday without him.
Calderon had a good workout on Sunday, but was limited to some conditioning on Monday when his left foot didn’t bounce back from the Sunday workout the way he had wanted.
Calderon said he’ll wait until Wednesday when Derrick Rose and the Bulls visit the Air Canada Centre to give his sore left foot its first real test.
Calderon’s ability to run the offence and protect the basketball was sorely missed Friday night in a loss to Denver and again in the first half against Detroit when the Raps turned the ball over 14 times alone in the first half.
“It was good on Sunday, but a little bit worse today,” Calderon explained.
What Calderon can’t explain is how he injured the foot in the first place.
“I have no idea at all,” Calderon said.
“It was good after the game (vs. New York on Wednesday) and then I woke up in the morning and I see it’s a little sore. But I don’t know what I did.”
Calderon is just glad it’s nothing long term.
“It’s nothing major. It’s day to day so hopefully in a couple of days the swelling has gone down and I can get back out there.”
Raptors' Wright playing for time
It’s not quite going home, but returning to North Carolina is something sweet nonetheless for Ed Davis.
The rookie power forward is expecting 13 or 14 family and friends for Wednesday’s game in Charlotte and potentially one more, although Davis won’t be responsible for getting him a ticket.
University of North Carolina head coach Roy Williams told Davis a couple of weeks ago that he was probably going to be at the game.
“I think they’re honouring (Michael) Jordan (another UNC alum and the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats) at halftime so he said he had to be there,” Davis said.
For Davis though, the personal cheering section won’t change anything.
“No pressure at all,” Davis said. “You always want to play good, especially in front of friends and family, but that’s not pressure. You just want to go out there and get the win. That’s it.”
Smith: Raptors’ Calderon misses Charlotte trip
Saturday’s huge comeback win in Detroit with Wright playing a key defensive role in the rally may be the start of a change in that tide.
Quite often it’s not what you’re doing for your team or how you’re currently playing as much as where you were picked and what the team has invested in you that determines how much or how little you actually see the court.
Garbage time — that part of the game where the outcome has been determined and both sides are just playing out the clock — aside, getting actual meaningful minutes for a guy like Wright can be very tough.
Wright is the Raptors’ return on the Marco Belinelli trade with New Orleans this year. Belinelli came to the Raptors in exchange for Devean George who was part of the Shawn Marion trade that also brought Hedo Turkoglu and Antoine Wright to Toronto.
So the actual investment the Raptors have in Julian Wright isn’t huge.
Not surprisingly, Wright has played in 13 of the 24 Raptors games and watched 11 others.
“I was going to say it’s unfortunate, but this is how it’s been for me my whole career so far,” Wright said. “I’ve been playing behind guys that I have no control over so it’s nothing for me to be jealous of players. It’s business management and I know it’s a business. The only thing I can do is be professional and be ready because you never know. It’s a long season and that’s what I keep telling myself ... it’s a long season.”
This isn’t Wright’s first rodeo when it comes to waiting his turn either.
“I’ve been here before,” he said. “In Kansas as a freshman I didn’t start playing until the end of the season. In New Orleans in my rookie year I didn’t start playing until the end of the season and then helped in the playoff run.”
Wright sees a good possibility here, but so far has had to be patient.
“I would say the style of play is definitely suitable (to me),” he said. “But so far I’ve actually played fewer games here than I did in New Orleans.”
Triano is putting it on the players to earn their minutes. For a guy like Wright, that’s as even a playing field as he’ll ever see.
Bayless, Wright make most of chance
Bayless will make his third start against the Bobcats on Tuesday with Leandro Barbosa once again backing him up. While coach Jay Triano likes having Bayless and Barbosa on the floor at the same time, the coach isn’t going to have that luxury against Charlotte.
“I don’t think we can do it for long,” said Triano. “There’s obviously going to be times when they have to replace each other and give each other a rest. I won’t be able to have them play consistently like that.”
The Charlotte roster won’t allow Triano to use much of his two-guard look, either. Stephen Jackson is among the biggest, most physical shooting guards around and would present a difficult matchup for Barbosa if he were out there with Bayless.
That would mean DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems, covering small forward Gerald Henderson, are going to get the big defensive assignments.
“Those guys (DeRozan and Weems) have to be very aware and very good defensively in a game like this,” said the coach. “Both of those players find different ways to score. Gerald gets to the free throw line. He runs the floor. Stephen’s going to shoot threes. He plays the mid-range game.
Triano says DeRozan and Weems can learn a lot from playing against Jackson and Henderson: “It’s a good matchup for those guys.”
New pairing in backcourt revs Raptors
Wright, on the other hand, has mostly been the Raptors’ affable benchwarmer, averaging about 12 minutes this season in a position in which he’s basically the fifth option behind DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Linas Kleiza and Barbosa. But with Barbosa shifting more to the point guard spot because of Calderon’s injury, that’s meant more minutes to spare at the wing, and Wright has taken full advantage of his opportunity. He played well defensively on Friday, but made his major breakthrough Saturday: He contributed four steals and one block during his 17 minutes, and provided the intangible spark the Raptors needed to overcome a 25-point disadvantage after the first half.
Wright considers himself a defensive specialist (and lists singing and bowling among his other talents). While many teams keep one defensive hound on their roster, head coach Jay Triano said dryly: “It’s rare for us to have a guy like that.”
That’s what Wright figured, too, as he watched his teammates from the sidelines – and tried to impress upon his coaches during practice. “We have guys who can score … but who can go out there and get stops two, three times in a row? That’s something I try to hold onto to get minutes,” the 6-foot-8, forth-year forward.
Wright also knows that the Raptors are a young team in transition, and unlike other more established squads, rotations aren’t necessarily carved in stone. “It’s not like we’re the Lakers where the rotations are pretty much set and there’s nine guys that are going to play. I think this team, we have a lot of guys that have had bright spots, and not so bright spots,” he said.
Charlotte vs. Toronto
Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano has found a way to make the most of the Jerryd Bayless and Leandro Barbosa backcourt tandem.
The two guards combined for 53 points in Saturday's 120-116 win over the Detroit Pistons, including 21 in the Raptors' second-half comeback.
"Both those guys are attack guards and we were better because I got them into things that are their strengths," Triano said Monday. "We put them in screen rolls, extended the floor and had the screens come up high. I think that's how those guys are effective, instead of having them try to run sets and make plays for other people. I think these guy are natural scorers when we put them both on the floor."
Bayless and Barbosa are different players than the ball-distributing point guard Jose Calderon, who averaged almost 12 points and eight assists in the nine games since Toronto dealt Jarrett Jack to New Orleans for Bayless.
But with Calderon ailing, Barbosa, usually a shooting guard, becomes the backup point guard by default. And that leaves much less time for a Bayless-Barbosa combination to do its thing.
"I like both on the floor, but there's obviously times when we're going to have to replace each to give the other a rest," Triano said. "I won't be able to have them play consistently like that."
Coming off the largest comeback in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors are hoping better defensive pressure will help them avoid a similar deficit. A matchup with the low-scoring Charlotte Bobcats should alleviate that concern.
Toronto looks to win two straight on the road for the first time this season on Tuesday night when the host Bobcats try to rebound from an effort that sent owner Michael Jordan into a postgame tirade.
Down by 25 points in the third quarter and 16 entering the fourth, the Raptors (9-15) ended a four-game losing streak Saturday with a 120-116 road win over Detroit.
Toronto's largest comeback prior to that was a 104-89 victory at the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 13, 2009, when it overcame a 22-point deficit.
"I've never been in a game where we were shooting 60 percent and we were down 20 points," said coach Jay Triano, whose team trailed by 19 at halftime despite shooting 65 percent. "We knew we weren't having any problems scoring, but we had to take care of the ball and we had to box out. We did that a lot better in the second half."
While 14 first-half turnovers led to 29 of the Pistons' 72 points, Toronto's poor defense has been a lingering concern. The Raptors have given up an average of 118.4 points and allowed opponents to shoot 52.2 percent the last five games.
"We've just got to out there with the mindset to play defense," Jerryd Bayless, who scored a career high-tying 31 on Saturday, said following Monday's practice. "I know we know we can score, and defensively is where we're struggling."
Bayless will likely start a third straight game for point guard Jose Calderon, who is hoping to return from a left foot injury in time for the start of a four-game homestand Wednesday against Chicago.
While the Raptors look to shore up their defense, the Bobcats (8-15) are desperately trying to find ways to boost their sagging offense. Charlotte shot a season-worst 33.8 percent and committed 22 turnovers in Saturday's 93-62 home loss to Boston.
After watching his team lose for the seventh time in 10 games and score the second-fewest points in franchise history, Jordan addressed his listless club in the locker room instead of coach Larry Brown.
"With all due respect to Michael, it's not embarrassing to him. It's embarrassing to us and our families," Gerald Wallace said after missing 13 of 15 shots and scoring nine points.