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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 18.12.10
Calderon makes triumphant return
Bargnani leads Raptors over Nets
Welcome back Jose Calderon.
The longest-serving Raptor got back into the lineup after a four-game absence and looked like he had never left, posting 15 points and 14 assists in one of his most dominant efforts of the season.
Calderon had eight assists and one turnover in the second half as the Raptors battled back from a 48-42 half-time deficit and a 71-62 New jersey lead after three.
When asked what having Calderon back to lead the offence meant to the team, guard DeMar DeRozan said simply: “It showed tonight. He got everybody going.”
Calderon hit a crucial three to give the Raptors the lead in the fourth quarter during a stretch where Toronto answered a 7-0 Nets run with and 8-0 streak of their own.
Calderon said he felt sore but had to play because he was sick of missing games.
“It’s tough, it’s the worst thing for an athlete to be out with an injury,” Calderon said.
“You want to help, I hate to be in a suit. Sometimes the people don’t see it, but we want to be out there for 48 minutes
Ex-Raps coach Mitchell more refined
Andrea Bargnani is by no means playing at 100%, but you would hardly know it by his performance Friday night.
Playing in front of former head coach Sam Mitchell, a man Bargnani went out of his way to acknowledge before the game with a rare hug from the big Italian, the Raptor centre came back from a one-game absence to put up a team-high 32 points in a 98-92 win over the visiting Nets.
Bargnani, who is dealing with both some tendonitis in his left knee and a tender right ankle as result of over-compensating for the sore knee, said it was just a matter of getting it loose.
Based on the fact that 24 of his 32 points came in the second quarter, you could surmise it took about two quarters for that to happen.
“It doesn’t feel good yet,” Bargnani admitted. “I have to do work on it. It needs therapy but when it gets warm it definitely gets better.”
Back-to-back off days, including sitting out Wednesday’s game against Chicago helped, but it appears the day-to-day status will be attached to Bargnani’s name for at least a little while longer.
He spent the pre-game in the Raptors practice gym upstairs in the Air Canada Centre trying to get loose and was not pencilled into the lineup until about 25 minutes before the game.
Bargnani, Calderon prove their worth in Raptors’ 98-92 victory
“When you step away from it for a while you kind of get a different perspective,” he said. “You have to have a balance in your life and I think at the time when I was (head coach in Toronto) I didn’t have any balance. I think if I ever get an opportunity again, I’ll have more of a balance in who I am as a person in my life. You just get so caught up in the moment and the games because it is so many games in such a short period of time, you kind of forget who you are.”
Mitchell knows exactly who he is now and is much more measured when he speaks, something he learned he had to be after one too many incidents of speaking before thinking.
“I thought it was kind of amusing at the time,” Mitchell said of the many occasions he would speak first and think about the impact those words might have later. “But then when Mr. Tanenbaum would call and he and Richard Peddie would call me into the office, and they’d kind of get on me about it, I didn’t think it was so funny then.”
As if to prove his point, Mitchell spoke for nearly 10 minutes with a mix of Toronto and New jersey media before last night’s game and only once did the old Sam, the Sam who liked to “poke the bear” creep into the conversation.
Asked about his brief stint working in the media as opposed to answering to them, Mitchell began by saying
“It was fun. It was different ... You have to actually know what you’re talking about when you’re throwing out numbers. It gave me a better appreciation for how little you guys actually work.”
Once the laughter died down, Mitchell added, “I had to get one in.”
Now that’s the Sam we remember.
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
Suddenly, shots were more open and plentiful, and the offence ran through a prolific scorer, making it easier for everyone on the court.
If there were ever any doubts about what Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani mean to the Raptors, surely they have been erased now.
The Raptors got back Calderon’s stable leadership and Bargnani’s ability to score in any manner of ways on Friday night, leading them to a 98-92 win over the New jersey Nets at the Air Canada Centre, and ending a two-game losing streak.
The explanation behind the win is simple: Toronto’s best players played well, and that made everything easy for everyone.
Calderon, who had missed four games with a sore left foot, had 15 points and 14 assists while Bargnani, whose wonky knees had kept him out of a loss to Chicago on Wednesday, had 32 points and nine rebounds in a dominant performance.
The fact Bargnani exploded in the second half – he had 24 of his points and five of his rebounds after the break – had to be the most pleasing aspect of his performance.
“I think we just did a better job of getting him the ball in the right spots,” said Raptors coach Jay Triano. “I think the first half, we tried to get Amir (Johnson) going a little bit, gave him a couple of plays to start; we tried to get DeMar (DeRozan) going a bit.
“It was like five, six minutes in before Andrea touched the ball anywhere in our offence, other than a lob. We knew we were going to go to him, we just wanted to ease him back into it a little bit. But in the second half, we needed to get our best payer the basketball.”
Raptors give Sam Mitchell rude welcome
One night Detroit’s in town and I find myself wandering Yorkville near the Pistons hotel hoping to run into a writer friend and perhaps have a cocktail and trade a story or two.
Well, Chris isn’t to be found so I’m giving up the ghost when I happen upon Sam and Chauncey Billups out for a walk. Turned into a really nice sojourn around the area listening to a couple of old friends catch up and talk about families, life, and the game. They didn’t mind that a grunt was honing in on their session and made a guy feel welcome.
A bunch of us – assistant coaches, writers, media relations people, as I recall -- are out for dinner on the Riverwalk in San Antonio one night and we finally get Sam to join us. He’s not a big out-to-dinner-with-a-crowd kind of guy and when it’s over, it’s time to walk around and I figure maybe he and I go and grab a nightcap or something. Nope. He’s kind of directing the direction and we end up at some ice cream parlour for a cone and it’s a pretty cool night.
We’re in Oklahoma City and after a morning shootaround, it’s time to walk up and see the memorial to the bombing and Sam’s on the walk with me, Stumpy and Eric and Jonesy, as I recall.
It’s a moving experience and we’re all kind of silent when we’re walking around a place where such evil was perpetuated on innocent victims.
Sam’s as choked up as any of us and as we’re walking out, he says something to the effect of: “Thanks for asking me to come; we need to be reminded that evil can grow anywhere in the world.”
Good guy, that Sam.
It’ll be nice to see him.
Bargnani leads Raptors to win
“I’m kind-of off bad words,” said Mitchell, now an assistant coach with the New jersey Nets, who narrowly lost to the Toronto Raptors 98-92 in a close-fought matchup between two struggling squads, inflating Toronto’s win-loss record to 10-17.
Friday was Mitchell’s first time in the ACC since general manager Bryan Colangelo sacked him 17 games into the 2008-09 season. That ended a four-plus year term in Toronto where he steered the Raptors to two playoff runs and an Atlantic Division championship in 2006-07, earning NBA Coach of the Year honors.
But for those closest to him during that time, Mitchell is perhaps best remembered as a golf nut and family man with an outsized personality, uncensored mouth, and uncanny knack for getting under people’s skin.
“I had good moments with Sam, and bad moments, too,” said a smiling Jose Calderon, Toronto’s Spanish point guard who played his rookie season under Mitchell. “I think it was my English. He didn’t understand me.”
“I don’t know if Sam knew his name was Jose,” added Jay Triano, Mitchell’s assistant coach at the time. “He was just, ‘Young rook.’ And then Andrea came in and it was, ‘Big rook.’”
Mitchell smiled when he heard that. “It was tough for Jose. Because he was with me those first two years when I was really kind-of crazy.”
It felt good to be back, Mitchell said. While lunch with Colangelo wasn’t on the agenda, he hugged his former rookies and took obvious delight in reconnecting with a stream of former acquaintances, from security guards to coaches to reporters, who approached to say hello. Being in Toronto was also a reminder of how much he feels he’s changed.
“I was a young coach and I was very emotional at the time. And a lot of times I didn’t think things trough clearly before it came out of my mouth,” he said.
“I thought it was kind-of amusing at the time, and then when [MLSE chairman and part-owner Larry Tanenbaum] and [outgoing CEO of MLSE] Richard Petty would call me in their office, and kinda get on me about it, I didn’t think it was so funny then.”
Nets let another winnable game slip away in 98-92 loss to Raptors
Bargnani, who was ineffective on Tuesday in Charlotte and sat out on Wednesday with a knee injury, was slow to come to life again. He was hesitant to get involved, missing four of his first five shots. Part of that was Triano and his staff easing Bargnani back into action.
However, as the game went on, Bargnani became stronger. He found the rhythm of his pull-up jumper and his game in the post, hitting five field goals in the first half of the third quarter. The last one of those was a driving dunk over both Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors, adept rim-protectors both. He had 13 points in the third quarter and 11 more in the fourth.
“To see how Andrea has developed [is great],” Mitchell, who shared a hug with Bargnani after the game, said. “We all knew he was going to be good, it was just how long it was going to take for him to get there.”
It must have pained Mitchell on Friday. Bargnani toyed with former Raptor Kris Humphries in the second half, giving Kim Kardashian’s significant other shot fake after shot fake before he finally bit.
The Nets let another game they could have had slip through their fingers last night at the Air Canada Centre, once again playing just well enough to lose and falling to the Toronto Raptors, 98-92.
“It was definitely winnable,’’ Brook Lopez said. “We got the win (Thursday) night and we wanted to come in and get them back-to-back. But we fell short.’’
They fell short mostly because Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon returned to the lineup for Toronto after missing one and four games, respectively, with injuries.
Bargnani had 32 points, 24 of them in the second half, and Calderon had 15 points and 14 assists as the Raptors won their 10th game of the year (10-17).The Nets fell to 7-20.
Lopez led New jersey with 20 points and seven rebounds, co-captain, Devin Harris had 15 points and six assists and Travis Outlaw had 14 points off the bench. Sasha Vujacic made his Nets debut, played 27:16 and scored six.
Bargnani, the 7-foot center who had missed the previous game for the Raptors with a knee injury, was a game-time decision and clearly he and the Raptors made the right decision.
After the Nets took a 48-42 lead into halftime, Bargnani had 13 points in the third quarter to power the Toronto comeback.
“Bargnani’s a tough cover for anybody, and he had a big night,’’ Johnson said. “We gave him a lot of different looks. He beat some of our coverages, and just when we’re down two points there, in the closing seconds, we double-team him and then we give up a 3-pointer to (Leandro) Barbosa.’’
That was with the Raptors leading, 94-92, and less than 20 seconds left. Calderon gave it to Bargnani in the high post and Bargnani passed out to Barbosa, who buried a 3-pointer to make it 97-92 with 14 seconds left.
“We wanted to make somebody else beat us besides Bargnani, and he made the shot,’’ Harris said of Barbosa. “You’ve got to give them credit — they made the shots, and they wanted it more than us.’’