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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 15.11.09
Raptors offensive run helps kick start their defence
Nash is money in the bank
How fitting the Raptors find themselves in Phoenix after rising from the ashes late Friday night.
Had the opponent not been the Clippers, Toronto's fate may have been different.
As it was, the Raptors came back from a 22-point deficit to clip the Clippers 104-89, tying the mark for the largest comeback in club history.
During one timeout, assistant coach Alex English looked at his beleaguered team and said it would somehow prevail.
During another, head coach Jay Triano reinforced English's words, which bordered on fantasy given how poorly the Raptors were performing.
"There was just a huge amount of confidence,'' Triano said with a straight face. "Alex told them we were going to win. I said it. I just had this feeling about it.
"More than anything, the guys showed there's no quit. They showed a lot of character."
Raptors turn crises into comebacks
It's not lost on Jay Triano when he thinks about the number of individuals Steve Nash has helped line their pocket books.
Just about every fantasy geek knows how many points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals a player posts.
Websites like to pat themselves on the back for coming up with some mundane stat that means absolutely nothing.
But in the NBA, money is just as important as winning.
The two, naturally, go hand in hand.
No one has ever properly documented the countless millions coaches and players have earned by having Nash on their team.
Money, of course, was at the root of Mark Cuban's decision not to extend Nash in Dallas.
Steve Nash: Sunshine superman
It's obvious the Raptors coaching staff is far more prescient than many.
It may give them all ulcers by the end of the season but they seem to find brightness in the gloom the club seems to always put itself in.
The latest example came in Los Angeles on Friday night, when the Raptors managed to play themselves into a 22-point first-half deficit against the Clippers.
Time to panic?
No. Time to win.
"There was a huge amount of confidence on the bench," coach Jay Triano reported of the darkest moments in the game. "Alex (English, one of the team's assistant coaches) said, `We're down 22 but we're going to come back and win.'
"And I told the players in one of the timeouts we were going to come back and win the game so let's start playing sooner rather than later. There was just a feeling about it – we knew we could come back."
And come back they did, rallying for a 104-89 victory that was punctuated by a 16-0 Toronto run in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter
Stoudemire looks past dismal night
"Don't ever tell him he can't do something," said Jay Triano, the Raptors head coach innately familiar with Nash's will from the years they spent together with the Canadian national team. "Don't tell him he can't play at 35 the same way he did at 25. When he was the MVP, everybody was like, `Ah, he didn't deserve it, didn't deserve it' and then he backs it up with two games of 40 points. Don't tell him that he's 35 and his career's winding down.
"He's defied the odds since he was a kid playing high school basketball."
That Nash is playing at an extraordinarily high level for his Phoenix Suns these days is indisputable. He leads the NBA in assists, averaging 11.8 per game, he's scoring as well as he ever has (averaging 17.1 points per game) and his inimitable style in back on display.
With an offence unshackled by new coach Alvin Gentry and no longer bogged down by the presence of Shaquille O'Neal, Nash is once again a magician on the court, completing passes where none seem to exist and running and gunning as he did in the olden days, when he was deemed the most valuable player in the league and the Suns were a delight to watch.
Suns vs. Raptors
Sunday against the Toronto Raptors, the Suns big men similar to theirs. Like Stoudemire, Chris Bosh is an inside-outside player. Like the Suns' Channing Frye, the Raptors' Andrea Bargnani is a 3-point threat at center. Toronto's Hedo Turkoglu is a wing who shoots and creates like Phoenix's Grant Hill. The Raptors' Jose Calderon is a probing, pass-first point guard in the mold of Steve Nash.
Stoudemire might guard Bosh, whose NBA-leading 10.7 free throws per game is helping him to a career-best 28.0 points-per-game scoring average.
"Chris is a guy they go to 30 times a game," Stoudemire said. "With us, we have a different style of play. You're not going to see too many one-on-one plays, as far as me going offensively at him."
The Phoenix Suns' strong play has been surprising to some. Another win over the Toronto Raptors, however, would hardly be unexpected.
The Suns, coming off their worst game during what has been an otherwise terrific start, look to beat the Raptors for the 11th straight time Sunday night.
Expectations weren't very high after Phoenix (8-2) missed the playoffs last season. The Suns, though, have been one of the league's biggest early surprises, with their only losses coming against last summer's NBA finalists.
Phoenix fell 121-102 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. It lost 122-100 to Orlando on Nov. 4.
"Well two weeks ago we weren't supposed to make the playoffs," point guard Steve Nash said of the Suns' critics. "You know, our team needs to look at this as a project. We are just trying to get better every day, and I think we are improving."
Phoenix had its worst shooting game of the season versus the Lakers, making 36.5 percent of its attempts after hitting at least 45.5 percent in each of its first nine contests.
Still, Phoenix scored 100 points in its first 10 games for the first time since a 12-game run to start the 1990-91 season. The Suns seem likely to extend that run Sunday.
Phoenix has won 10 in a row over Toronto (5-4), averaging 118.2 points and shooting 52.2 percent, since a 101-94 home loss Feb. 10, 2004. The Raptors have also struggled defensively this season, giving up 106.4 points per game.
Toronto has had a particularly tough time trying to stop Amare Stoudemire in recent years. The Suns' big man averaged 28.0 points and shot 65.3 percent in his last three games against the Raptors.
Stoudemire, though, is coming off his worst game of the season, going 2 for 15 from the field and finishing with eight points. Stoudemire and his teammates may have run out of gas in their seventh game in 10 days.
"We are going to try to get our proper rest and get ready for these big games moving forward," Stoudemire said.
Sunshine Girl - 15.11.09