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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 18.11.09
Too much Carmelo
One night it's Steve Nash producing game-changing plays and a game-winning shot, the next it's Carmelo Anthony imposing his will.
The NBA is as much a game of individualism than team play, a reality that hit the Raptors on consecutive evenings.
Not surprisingly, the Raptors lost both times.
The latest unfolded last night in the Mile High City, where Anthony was at his best in leading the Nuggets to a 130-112 win.
Anthony and Chris Bosh were Olympic teammates and came into the NBA together, but their games are altogether different.
Melo's ability to handle the ball, play with his face to the basket or post-up make him one of the game's elite.
Bosh was a non-factor for the first time this season last night, in part because Denver played him aggressively, limiting him to just two trips to the line, but also because some of his teammates were looking too much to score.
Bosh is a lot of things, but he's not a ball-handler and you simply can't give him the ball in the open court and ask him to create.
He needs to play off people.
His frustration boiled over with 7:05 left when he got called for a technical foul. After Denver converted from the line, it led 111-93.
Bosh took a seat for good a minute later, making way for the return of Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who was claimed off waivers just prior to tipoff.
Bosh exited after scoring a season-low 13 points. He did record 14 rebounds.
Raptors choke in Denver's thin air
Raptors assistant coach Alvin Williams fondly recalls the time he spent with Chauncey Billups, the epitome of clutch, when the two were teammates during Toronto's regrettable 16-win season in 1997.
"We used to sub in and out for each other,'' Williams said. "Chauncey's my man."
Graham's wait well worth it
They were beaten and battered and beaten some more, bullied at times, acquiescing at others, and it doesn't take the greatest of minds to see why the Raptors were drilled Tuesday night.
The most important numbers, of course, were in the score: Denver 130, Toronto 112.
But a further examination of the boxscore tells the story just as well.
Points in the paint: Denver 68, Toronto 36.
"We had no answer for them," said Raptors coach Jay Triano. "Their bigs dominated us. It was a game of points in the paint and they destroyed us."
Raptors come up short in Denver
Graham, noticeably bigger and now carrying 240 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame (about 15 pounds heavier than when he left Toronto), averages about 11 minutes a game for the Nuggets – he started one this season – and is being used in a variety of ways by Denver coach George Karl.
"I'm playing two-three," said Graham, who spent a good 20 minutes after Tuesday's morning shootaround saying hello to old Toronto friends he hadn't seen since April. "I'm not playing the four any more, even though I can. But on this team, everybody's switching, everybody's moving around, they can use me wherever they want.
"So far, it's good, it's going great. I'm getting acclimated really well with the guys," he said. "It's a good staff, a good team and it's working out for me."
Raptors have no defence against Nuggets
“Carmelo did a good job of creating shots for other guys,” Raptors forward Antoine Wright said. “He’s just matured as a basketball player. He’s not only looking for his shot but he’s looking how to make players better and I think that’s what beat us tonight.”
After withstanding Smith’s seven-game suspension and a six-game trip consisting of three back-to-backs, the Nuggets weathered a determined Raptors team that was without forward Hedo Turkoglu but didn’t trail until midway through the third quarter.
Chris Bosh led Toronto with 13 points and 14 rebounds and DeMar DeRozan scored 17. Nene had 20 points and 10 boards for Denver, which shot 62 percent.
Turkoglu missed the game with a sore left hip and was replaced in the starting lineup by Wright, who’s dealing with a sore left ankle and finished with five points in 17 minutes. All the other starters reached double figures, as did reserves Marco Belinelli and Sonny Weems, who scored a career-high 12 against his former team.
Denver didn’t grab its first lead until Anthony fed Kenyon Martin for a dunk that made it 70-68 early in the third.
Jose Calderon sank a 3-pointer at the other end and it was back and forth until Denver took control with a quick 7-0 spurt that made it 81-74. Nene hit two free throws and Chauncey Billups sank a technical foul shot before Anthony swished a fadeaway followed by a turnaround jumper.
Denver went on a 16-4 run to start the fourth, building a 20-point lead on the way to its 14th straight regular-season home win. That’s its longest streak since 1989, when it won 19 straight home games.
The Raptors put together an 11-point lead in the second quarter, but they settled for a 64-64 halftime tie. Nene scored eight points and ’Melo seven during Denver’s 17-6 run to end the first half, which ended with Anthony’s breakaway basket at the buzzer.
“We got together at halftime and told each other we didn’t want to play like that,” Anthony said. “That’s their game.”
So, they cranked up the defense to take control, then coasted.
Carmelo Anthony's big night lifts Nuggets past Raptors
Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points and reserve J.R. Smith had 29, leading the Denver Nuggets past the Toronto Raptors 130-112 on Tuesday
Schedule turns favorable for the slow-starting Jazz
The Raptors (5-6) stuck around thanks to Denver's light-switch defense, but Nene's manhandling of Chris Bosh helped the Nuggets pull away. Bosh, averaging 27.7 points, finished with just 13. Nene smothered the big man, and as the two banged in the low post, braids flailed, as did Bosh. By the fourth quarter, a flustered Bosh slammed the basketball after a foul and was called for a technical foul.
"Keeping Bosh under control, you don't do that without having a consciousness defensively. He's been incredible," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Tonight, maybe they went away form him some, but it seemed like he never had a personality in the game."
Nuggets guard J.R. Smith, perhaps unsettled by all the attention he has received for his defense, was back to his scoring ways, torching Toronto with 14 points in the second quarter alone and finishing with 29. He hit 11-of-17 shots.
"J.R. does incredible things," Karl said, "but I still think offensively we have to become fundamentally together. We try to hit home runs way too often and not just take the single or double that's right there in front of us. . . . Swinging for the fences is not always the best thing to do, when you sometimes have two strikes on you. There are good home run swings, but too many times we make it a 'me' game instead of a 'we' game."
At halftime, with the game tied 64-64, Denver decided to dedicate more attention to defense. The result was a 33-25 third quarter win, if you will, complemented by "the best passing quarter we've had all year," Karl said. Denver tallied 13 assists in the quarter, including eight by Chauncey Billups (10 total), who didn't make one turnover in the quarter
It's probably too early in the marathonlike NBA season to suggest the Utah Jazz are approaching a succeed-or-succumb portion of their schedule.
Then again ...
Including Wednesday night's game against Toronto, the Jazz play 11 of their next 14 games at usually friendly EnergySolutions Arena.
The upcoming 14 games are spread over the next 27 days, too.
That creates considerable rest-and-recovery time for the Jazz, who have lost nine straight on the second night of back-to-back games, dating back to last season.
Combined with Utah's disappointing 4-6 start, this stretch of games could have a huge impact on the Jazz's fortunes in the coming months.
Do they join other teams near the top of the Western Conference, battling for advantageous playoff position?
Or do they drop a notch or two below the elite teams and spent the rest of the season scrambling just to reach the postseason?
By the time the cozy portion of schedule ends with a home game against Minnesota on Dec. 14, the Jazz ought to have a good idea of where they fit into the big picture.
"It's an important stretch because of how we started the season," Deron Williams said. "We put ourselves in a little hole so we have to try and dig our way out. ...
"Having 11 of 14 [here] helps but, at the same time, we've already lost two at home. ... We have to do a better job of protecting our home court."
Coming into the season, the Jazz were 101-22 at EnergySolutions Arena since 2006-07, including starts of 6-0, 8-1 and 7-0.
Sunshine Girl - 18.11.09