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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 22.11.09
Flu bugs Raps
DeMar up for the task
Three weeks ago, the Orlando Magic rolled into Toronto down three starters and still left town a winner.
When they meet up again today, it may be the Raptors crying the manpower blues.
Already down a man with Reggie Evans still out with a midfoot sprain, the Raptors were down three more bodies for practice yesterday.
Antoine Wright, who missed the past two games with a sore left ankle didn't even make it to the gym when he woke up with flu-like symptoms and was told to stay home.
Ditto for Andrea Bargnani, who was complaining of a cough and made the same call early yesterday that Wright did.
Head coach Jay Triano won't know until just before game time whether either can go today, but he's pretty sure he won't have the services of Marco Belinelli who strained his groin
The rise and fall of Vinsanity
A weekend that begins with an assignment to contain Dwyane Wade and finishes with a request to do the same on Vince Carter could call for danger pay.
DeMar DeRozan isn't looking to pad his rookie pay cheque, however. In fact, he relishes the opportunity to go up against the best in the NBA and, it just so happens this weekend, that he's getting a double dose of that upper echelon.
On Friday against Wade, DeRozan capably held his own, keeping the Miami Heat star in check for much of the game before Jarrett Jack took over down the stretch. He got big marks from the coaching staff who rewarded him with extra minutes.
Now, DeRozan gets VC he is champing at the bit for that battle, too. DeRozan was disappointed earlier this year during Orlando's first visit to the ACC on Nov., 1 when Carter wasn't able to answer the bell because of a sprained left ankle.
"I was hyped," DeRozan said. "This place is going to be rocking with Vince back in here and going up against a good team. I was real hyped, so today I'll get the same opportunity."
DeRozan ensured his first encounter with VC would have more than just that regular-season game feel when he tweeted on draft night: "Toronto here I come. Air Canadas back."
Air Canada of course was the monicker Carter went by when he wore a Raptors uniform. And while DeRozan has some Vince-like qualities to his game, he remains a work in progress.
DeRozan and Carter have met previously. That happened two years back at the Jordan Brand Classic where DeRozan, a high school senior, was playing and Carter had a courtside seat. Carter had heard of the youngster's dunking abilities and wanted him to put on a show. DeRozan complied.
"He was just a cool player," DeRozan said. "He was talking to all the players. Every time we ran up and down the court, he was cracking jokes."
Feschuk: Air-to-Air combat for Raptors rookie
With taskmasters Butch Carter and Oakley no longer around, and with a fresh $94-million US extension in the bank, Vince's game and demeanour changed for the worst. The man who had missed just seven games in his three-year career, became increasingly reluctant to take to the air and more reliant on his outside jumper. He began to react to the slightest bump as if he had been shot, and went on to miss 68 games the next three seasons as a franchise that had given its fans so much hope sunk back into mediocrity or worse. "Half-Man, Half-Amazing" had become "Half-Man, Half-A-Season."
Carter also grew increasingly disenchanted with an organization that had begun distancing itself from its superstar. When the team selected the overmatched Rob Babcock to replace Glen Grunwald as general manager over Carter's choice, Julius Erving, took away his mother's parking spot at the ACC and hired Sam Mitchell as head coach, Carter began to pout and play an uninspired brand of basketball.
Hearing more and more boos from the home fans and playing in a bizarre system under Mitchell that saw him touch the ball about half as much as he was used to, Carter slumped, sulked and took on a surly tone with the media -- one which included his infamous statement that he didn't want to dunk anymore.
Carter made it clear he wanted out of the city he once owned. Averaging 15.9 points through 20 games while playing noticeably below the rim, his trade value was at an all-time low and Babcock foolishly dealt him to New jersey for the equivalent of a bag of pucks in arguably the worst trade in NBA history.
Rumours came out a few days later that Carter had even tipped off an opponent to a late-game play. Though never proven, ex-Seattle Sonic and current Raptor Reggie Evans claimed at the time: "I'm not saying it did happen or didn't happen."
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
DeRozan has positioned himself as Carter's second coming; on the June night he was drafted by the Raptors, he also logged into his Twitter account to announce the return of "Air Canada" to Toronto. The gravity of the matchup isn't lost on those involved.
"I think it's good for (DeRozan). That's what the league is about. If you want to grow up and play well, these are the times that make you who you are," said Chris Bosh, the only man on the Raptors roster who once called Carter a teammate in Toronto.
DeRozan hasn't made anything resembling a Carter-esque impact in his first year, although he has been an occasionally solid contributor as the starting shooting guard. And the Raptors, fresh off a Friday win over the Miami Heat that snapped a three-game losing streak, are still attempting to figure out who they are. They know they're an offensive machine to envy, but various numbers suggest they are also the NBA's worst defensive squad and clearly they'd like to change the uglier part of themselves.
It's backcourt players such as DeRozan and Jose Calderon and reserve point guard Jarrett Jack who need to ensure the Toronto perimeter is less porous than it has often been. Too many opposing guards have gone for big numbers with the Raptors in the building. The last time Orlando was in town, for instance, the Magic nailed 16 three-pointers in a 125-116 walkover. And though Carter was sidelined with an ankle injury, J.J. Redick, the Magic shooting guard better known as a college star, torched Toronto for a career-high 27 points.
Like usual, Magic's Carter will hear plenty of boos in Toronto
Q: Bonjour Doug. If I remember correctly, you had written before the 4-game stretch on the West Coast that the trip would also be interesting in terms of team cohesion and chemistry. What's your assessment of the team in this regard after Friday's win? It was nice to see the whole team going crazy after Turk's three at the end of the first half, so I guess it's quite good.
Kinda similar question: it seems to me that the Raps have the potential to be an excellent team this year. If we take Friday's game, how much do you think they can still improve? The obvious thing to say is that they should be better on the defensive end, but I don't know if it's realistic to expect that from them.
Merci et good luck with your leafs (at least you can get rid of them),
Matthieu B, Biel-Bienne, Switzerland
A: I do sense a growing chemistry between the players, on the court that is, as they become more familiar with each other and, frankly, more trusting in each other. That trust extends to such instances as giving up the ball knowing youíll get it back and perhaps gambling on defence knowing someoneís got your back.
And I donít think this team has the skills to be among the top five or six defensive teams in the league but I do think they can improve and that improvement will come with more familiarity and more consistency of effort. How much? Impossible to tell but I do think some will come.
He'll always get booed whenever he plays at Air Canada Centre.
Today in the building, even playing with a different team, the Orlando Magic, Carter expects the same treatment from Toronto Raptors fans.
"It's a long time (to hold a grudge)," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It's interesting. Vince Carter gets that reception here; in New Jersey, he's the welcoming hero."
It has become a Canadian tradition. Celebrating Thanksgiving in October. Listening to Celine Dion. Curling. Jeering Vince Carter.
"I can't get caught up in that," Carter said. "Everybody is entitled to their opinion. It's unfortunate and there's a misconception in what really happened. I let the chips fall where they may."
Carter jilted Raptors fans by forcing his way out of Toronto and to the New jersey Nets in a trade in 2004. They'll neither forget or forgive. This is where Pamela Anderson and Michael J. Fox and Vin-sanity were born.
Carter doesn't want to go over plowed ground.
"One day, everybody will understand," he said, unwilling to elaborate.
The Reader's Digest version of Carter's exit goes something like this: Toronto's first worldwide superstar became disenchanted with ownership; demanded a trade before the 2004 season; came down with injuries; was criticized for mailing it in; was finally dealt to the Nets for several used basketballs, basically.
Carter said he's so used to being booed in Toronto "that if they didn't, I'd probably play my worst game."
He's had his moments in returns against the Raptors as a Net --- hitting the game-winner in 2006, part of a 42-point day and making another winning shot in 2008. He thrives on the heated, emotional circumstances.
"I enjoy coming back. You get booed, but then (you play well) Ö.and there's some people saying, 'Yeah, we love you. Come back,'" Carter said.
Sunshine Girl - 22.11.09