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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 19.03.10 (The people have spoken)
Raps Notebook: Bargnani in focus
DeMar's drive is back
Things are clear again for Andrea Bargnani and that’s a huge deal for the Raptors.
The Raps centre had lost his focus over the past few weeks with his role changing in the absence of Chris Bosh and then again when Bosh returned.
On Wednesday night, however, Bargnani was back to being the guy who not only produced points on one end, but was productive on the defensive end of the floor, as well.
“We need him to focus,” head coach Jay Triano said. “When we were rolling, he was doing more things and it becomes a confidence building thing for him. If he’s not making shots (he has to) do something else so we can keep him on the floor. Defend, be there on the help side, rebound and box out.
“When we were rolling, he was doing that and scoring. I think sometimes when he doesn’t get the basketball, he gets a little frustrated and it has been tough with sliding Chris back into the lineup for him to get touches. He worries about his scoring, but he can help this team a lot more than just scoring the basketball.”
In Wednesday’s win over Atlanta Hawks, Bargnani was a monster on the boards with 11 rebounds and the Raptors leading scorer.
Raptors' Antoine Wright keeps giving kids an earful
DeMar DeRozan is proof that even a winless road trip can reap some benefits.
DeRozan, mired in a funk going into the Raptors trip, was one of the few who returned on better ground than he left.
And once home, DeRozan took things to another level going off for 19 points in Wednesday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks.
The easy explanation is that DeRozan is back to driving to the basket like he was when he was most effective earlier in the season. When he drives, he opens up the offence for everyone, gets to the free-throw line and scores. It’s a win-win-win scenario and with his athleticism, defences have a hard time dealing with him.
And while that isn’t the whole explanation for DeRozan’s resurgence, it’s a chunk of it.
The other part is DeRozan is now earning minutes based on his defence. That’s a very big thing for the Raptors given he is almost invariably the Raptor who sets the defensive tone for a night because almost without fail, he’s matched up against the opposing team’s most dangerous scorer.
Feschuk: Roundball a true Rautins passion
Antoine Wright has become something of the social conscience of the Raptors, the guy more than willing to demand excellence and improvement of his coaches and teammates and of himself.
He has openly questioned coach Jay Triano and privately challenged young teammates like Sonny Weems and DeMar DeRozan, he will speak his mind and give an honest and open assessment of how things are going.
Ask him, for instance, to discuss the development of the rookie DeRozan, and he's quick to point out not the youngster's sudden decision to be more aggressive offensively. Instead, he notes DeRozan's shortcomings on the defensive end of the floor.
"I never knew a dude who could jump that high to have the (low) amount of blocks that he has," Wright said in his typical blunt manner after practice Thursday.
"It's a shame because you're cheating our team by not using that athletic ability on both ends of the court."
Father and son forge a bond on the court
Leo, before his current life as a Raptors broadcaster and coach of Canada's national team, was a Toronto high school star, a Syracuse stalwart and a first-round NBA draft pick. But Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse coach of 34 seasons, said that when he recruited Andy as a high-schooler, he wasn't sure the slightly built son of his former star forward would turn into the starter he has become.
"My only conversation with Leo (before Andy arrived at Syracuse) was that I'm not sure that Andy can be a great player for us. I think he can. I think it's going to be a close call," Boeheim said. "There were only two Division 1 schools that really liked him. ... He's really just done an unbelievable job of improving himself, making himself a better player."
Said assistant coach Jerry McNamara: "When he got to Syracuse, he was a great shooter. When he's leaving Syracuse, he's a great shooter, a good passer and he can handle the ball."
It's no secret how he rounded out his game: he worked. Then again, he's been a fool for a gym since he could barely dribble. Leo remembers Andy tagging along to workouts, practices, games, clinics, a boy dead set on roundball.
"There were times when I went to four basketball camps in eight days, driving late at night, and he'd go, `It's you and me, Dad. We're doing this.' He just ate it all up," said Leo, who turns 50 on Saturday.
Said Andy: "We'd hop in the Porsche and we'd throw on The Boss, you know, Springsteen. . ... I enjoyed the camaraderie and just being able to be around the game so much."
Raptors' mission: 'act like you care'
When he first came to Syracuse, his name was a burden. There was speculation that he got his scholarship as a favour to a legend. Jim Boeheim is in his 34th season as the Orange’s head coach, and Leo made Syracuse’s all-century team.
But if the name was a burden at times, it was also a source of inspiration and education. The pair watched game film together, and how many kids with hoop dreams get worked out by someone who played more than a decade professionally all over the world?
“There was never any part of me that wanted to really outdo him, even though I did pass him in [career] scoring this year, it’s not a big deal,” Andy says, laughing. “Just thought I’d throw that out there.”
But as with many relationships between father and son, the tables turn over time. For all that his father ever gave him, Leo says Andy has repaid him tenfold.
When Leo and his first wife, Andy’s mother, divorced nearly a decade ago, it was his teenage son who was a source of comfort.
“He’s definitely been there for me,” Leo says. “The divorce was hard on everyone and I was worried about him, but he was worried about me, ‘Dad, are you okay?’ things like that. It’s a strong bond, it’s unique.”
He’s given his dad chills just walking out on the floor at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse’s home court. He’s given him some priceless father-son moments sharing some of that time with his youngest brother, Sam, 10, a ball-boy for the Orange this year (it’s Andy’s job to drive him home after games).
He’s given his dad some valuable minutes at shooting guard on the Canadian national team, and will this summer again at the world championship in Turkey. And he’s given his dad some massive gas bills; Leo figures he’s put nearly 80,000 kilometres a year on his car making the six-hour drive between Syracuse and Toronto to see as many of Andy’s games as he can.
And this month, beginning tonight, Andy might just give his father the thrill of his basketball life.
Jeff Green’s defense will be a key for the Thunder
The best 1.7 seconds of Toronto's season might have been played on Wednesday night by Amir Johnson, the guy Jose Calderon once described to the rest of the Raptors as one of the best teammates he ever had. Johnson entered the game with 15.7 seconds to go as Hedo Turkoglu was about to shoot a second free throw; Johnson nonchalantly took a step into the lane as the free throw was launched.
He then clawed his way past Josh Smith and kept the miss alive, knocking it out of bounds off Atlanta's Marvin Williams.
With 14.0 seconds left Johnson loped back to the bench, his mission accomplished with nothing much more than effort.
"He doesn't view it as 'I'm just in here as a sub, killing two or three seconds,'" Raptors coach Jay Triano said yesterday. "He views it as this is an opportunity to get my hand on a ball. And he did."
It is like Chris Bosh said in his season-defining diatribe last Saturday night: "Act like you care," he thundered, after a second consecutive game in which the Raptors met adversity and essentially surrendered to it. Not for the first time, either.
On Wednesday, though, the Raptors showed something more. They trailed the Hawks for just over 20 consecutive minutes of second-half play; it was adversity, again. But they refused to turtle, and Bosh's game-winning jumper with 2.1 seconds left sealed the comeback.
"We just seemed to have more energy, we had good energy," Triano said. "Our guys were very active."
But with the stakes soaring higher as the season winds to an end, it seems Green’s efforts will be the key to the Thunder’s fate from here out and into the postseason. Oklahoma City has built its season on defense, and the next chance for Green to prove he can put the clamps on a premier frontcourt player comes tonight when the Thunder takes on Toronto at 6 inside Air Canada Centre.
"Our other four guys on the floor have to help him out because you can’t guard a guy one-on-one in this league,” said Durant. "Nobody can. You might be able to do it for a couple of possessions, but you can’t do it every night, especially great players like the guys he’s guarding.”
Durant’s analysis of the situation echoes the sentiments of Thunder coach Scott Brooks, who, rather than criticizing Green, chose to condemn the team’s help.
"I tell Jeff like I tell the other guys, it’s our defense that’s getting scored on,” Brooks said. "One of the strengths of our team defensively is that when we see a problem we make the adjustment.”
Sunshine Girl – 19.03.10
RF Girl of the Day – Belen Rodriguez
Her friends say she's goofy and weird but Jile says she's always trying to be herself ... except when she in front of the camera. There, she says, she usually goes for sexy And it shows.