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Daily Raptor Dish - 23.02.11
Bobcats blow out Raptors
Raptors trade first-round pick for Bulls' Johnson
That’s the best way to sum up the latest stinker in this lost Raptors season.
In a two-thirds empty arena in the Queen City, the Raptors slept through the first game since the all-star break, losing 114-101 to the 25-32 Charlotte Bobcats.
Coming off a rare break and a practice Monday that was, by all accounts, a very spirited one, the Raptors surprisingly had little energy and even less smarts and got blown out for one of the few times on the season.
Now one of the youngest teams in the league following the acquisition of 24-year-old forward James Johnson — and maybe he can teach them how to fight more and hand out a few hard fouls since he is a black belt in kickboxing — the Raptors should have more sandpaper and enthusiasm than they currently are showing.
Just three Raptors were born before 1985, but there was little youthful vigour on display while the lack of experience showed as Toronto handed out almost twice as many fouls and turned the ball over 15 times to Charlotte’s nine.
Point guard Jerryd Bayless said coming off of the all-star break and just a single, brief practice, the team was “out of sync.”
“The one thing I’ve said all year (is) we’ve just got to communicate and we’re not doing it right now,” Bayless said, pointing specifically to the squad’s erratic help defence.
“It will change. A lot of young teams have gone through this but we’ve got to get better and we’re going to get better.”
Oak gets assist in Charlotte as Bobcats down Raptors 114-101
DeRozan and rookie Ed Davis have played against the Wake Forest product and said he is a solid player.
“I always liked his game, he’ll fit in well,” DeRozan said of Johnson, who turned 24 on Sunday.
“You never know it could work out great for him and be a great pickup for us. You hope so.”
Johnson has only averaged 3.8 points ad 1.9 rebounds in 11.3 minutes but has solid per-minute numbers, though his high foul rate is a concern.
In eight recent games in the D-League, Johnson averaged 19.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.5 blocks in 32.1 minutes, showing off his varied skill-set.
Johnson will be in uniform for the Raptors against his former club on Wednesday, if all terms of the trade are completed before tipoff.
Raptors’ DeRozan done with ‘prop dunk contest’
Of the Bobcats’ defence since the coaching change, Oakley said: “It’s better — and we’re still bad.”
Of Brown: “I told Kwame, ‘You’re too big to be walking around here, not doing nothing. We don’t need a spare tire. We ain’t got a blowout yet. Work.’”
Of his former employer: “Does management (in Toronto) want to win? They’ve got some good athletes. What’s the problem? Who’s the coach? If they’re not playing D, I blame the coach.”
Indeed, again and again on Tuesday, in a wide-ranging interview, Oakley bemoaned the lack of understanding of the fundamentals by many of today’s players. But, again and again, he said he didn’t blame the players. He blamed the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), which oversees the teams on which many of the U.S.’s best high school players are showcased but, in Oakley’s opinion, scarcely coached.
“AAU is full of bulls—t. That’s why the league’s so bad,” he said.
And he blamed NBA executives for drafting athletes who lack a grounding in the game, and for failing to develop their basketball IQs. He likened many NBA assistant coaches to “babysitters.”
Eduardo Najera, Charlotte’s veteran forward, backed up Oakley’s assertion.
“A lot of coaches, they kind of baby you, and sometimes (players) take advantage of that,” Najera said. “That’s the thing that’s unique about (Oakley) ... He’s going to tell you the truth, straight up.”
Standing on the floor of Time Warner Cable Arena before Tuesday’s game, the sweat streamed off Oakley’s brow as he spoke his truth.
“I’m not slacking off. I’m here to do a job. I’m not here to babysit,” he said. “If the players are going to tell management I was too hard on ‘em this summer, and they fire me, I’m go on with my life. That’s how I do it.”
Raptors acquire small forward James Johnson from Bulls
DeRozan, who made his second straight appearance in the all-star weekend dunkfest on Saturday night, was the only one of the four competitors not to use any props during his dunks. L.A. Clippers forward Blake Griffin won the contest with a final-round production that saw him dunk over a car while an on-court choir sang the song “I Believe I Can Fly.” JaVale McGee, the Washington Wizards 7-footer who was the other finalist, at one point dunked on two baskets simultaneously. Serge Ibaka of Portland, meanwhile, dunked while chewing on a stuffed toy bear.
“A lot of people wanted to see props and that stuff, I guess,” DeRozan said. “But I think if you’re creative enough to come up with a dunk to get people on their feet, do that. It seems like people are just going to start selling it now, to see what people can jump over. I could see someone bringing a giraffe to jump over, or something like that. . . . Maybe somebody will use a trampoline.”
DeRozan said that, if he’d made the final round on Saturday night, he would have enlisted the help of some human props. He’d planned a dunk in which teammate Amir Johnson, along with NBA pals Brandon Jennings and Dorrell Wright, would have stood between DeRozan and the basket.
“I would have done something creative, jumped over them, and had somebody out of the huddle throw the ball up to me,” DeRozan said. “It would have been cool. I didn’t get to it, though. I just think dunk contests, since day one, since they started, have always been traditional, who can go out there and do something in front of the people, dunk-wise.
“I’m done. I did two years. And that’s good enough for me. I wish I would have won it but, hey, I’ve got a different goal now — to be an all-star. I think that would be cool.”
Raptors drop 11th straight on the road
“James Johnson is a strong, athletic and versatile small forward that we have had our eye on dating back to the 2009 NBA draft,” Colangelo said in a release.
Before the Raptors’ game in Charlotte on Tuesday night, DeMar DeRozan was asked who Toronto might have picked in 2009 if DeRozan hadn’t been available at No. 9.
“I think they would have taken James (Johnson),” DeRozan told the Star’s Dave Feschuk.
“He can play two, three, four, whatever you need him to play. He’s a versatile player. I think he’ll fit in well. You never know. It could work out great for him and be a great pick up for us. We hope so . . . ”
The pick Toronto surrenders is hardly a big one. The Heat will likely be one of the top three or four teams at the end of the regular season, meaning the pick will likely not be better than 27th or 28th. It also carries with it three guaranteed years of contract obligation while Johnson makes about $1.7 million this season and will get $1.83 million in 2011-12. There is no obligation to him past that, although there is a team option worth $2.8 million.
If the league approves the trade in time — and there’s no indication it won’t — Johnson should be in uniform for the Raptors when they face the Bulls at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.
The Toronto-Chicago transaction was the only one to break Tuesday as teams took stock following Monday’s blockbuster that saw Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups land with the New York Knicks.
However, it’s not likely to remain that way. The Charlotte Bobcats and Cleveland Cavaliers are widely expected to make some kind of deal while reports suggest the Denver Nuggets are not done dealing and could move some of the pieces acquired in the Anthony trade before Thursday’s deadline.
Raptors acquire James Johnson from Bulls
The Bobcats turned a tight game into a rout with a 15-4 second-quarter run that included four Toronto turnovers. Charlotte led 61-44 at halftime and expanded the lead to 22 points in a second half devoid of suspense.
Augustin, healthy again after being slowed by a sprained left wrist before the break, dominated Jose Calderon while hitting eight-of-15 shots.
Wallace hit 14-of-15 free throws and grabbed six rebounds, while Gerald Henderson continued his strong play off the bench with 15 points and six rebounds for the Bobcats as owner Michael Jordan sat courtside.
In Charlotte's first game since Jordan removed the interim tag from coach Paul Silas and gave him a one-year extension, the Bobcats committed only nine turnovers and assisted on 25-of-38 field goals to improve to 16-13 since Silas replaced Larry Brown.
Toronto, which slipped to 5-24 on the road, hasn't won outside of Canada since Jan. 5 at Cleveland. The Raptors shot 50 per cent from the field but struggled to keep Charlotte from getting to the rim for easy baskets.
The Raptors matched a record for consecutive road defeats they set in the 2004-05 season.
Lethargy reigns for Raptors in loss to Bobcats
James, 24, whom the Raptors eyeballed in the 2009 draft before the Bulls picked him 16th overall, has averaged 3.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 11.3 minutes this season for the Bulls. He fared better statistically in the NBA’s development league, where the Bulls shipped him for a recent eight-game stint.
He’ll have his first chance to face his old teammates on Wednesday, when Toronto plays host to Chicago at the Air Canada Centre.
“It [stinks],” Bulls centre Joakim Noah told ESPNChicago Tuesday. “I consider J.J. a little brother. But he wasn’t playing a lot, and I wish him nothing but the best. And I hope that he gets an opportunity to get out there on the court and show what kind of player he is.”
Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said he’s keeping his options open for more deals in the coming days, but nothing revolutionary is in the works.
“We’ll have to see how the conversations go now that a significant domino has dropped,” he said in an e-mail. “I still do not anticipate anything major happening.”
With the lottery pick used up in the deal Tuesday, Colangelo still has two cards left to tempt other NBA general managers: a first-round draft pick stemming from their dismal season (the team was 15-41 heading into their game in Charlotte against the Bobcats on Tuesday), and a $9.1-million (all currency U.S.) trade exception.
Colangelo said there was “little chance” he’d offer up his other first-round pick in the coming days.
His trade exemption, however, is a different matter. “We will continue to explore use of the exception if the right kind of opportunities present themselves,” he said.
Raptors Game Day
If Tuesday evening was any indication, the Toronto Raptors' two-month, 26-game sprint to end the season could be more of a slog.
Not that the Raptors' first 56 games were a playful jaunt by any stretch, but the Raptors looked somewhat unmotivated in their first game after six days off for the all-star break. The result was a listless 114-101 loss to the Bobcats in Charlotte to start the unofficial second half of the season, even if that half actually represents less than a third of the actual schedule.
With the loss, the Raptors fell to 4-21 in 2011, and this game was just as bleak as any of the other losses. So much for some time away from the game igniting the team. Instead, lethargy reigned. After a spirited pre-break defeat to Miami, this was disappointing.
Aside from problems holding on to the ball, the Raptors, for the most part, were adequate offensively. On the same day that the Raptors acquired competition at his position in the form of James Johnson, Sonny Weems scored 19 points. Andrea Bargnani added 18 points, as the Raptors shot 50% from the field.
Of course, defence is the Raptors' biggest issue, and no time away from the game can seem to change that. The Bobcats shot 47% from the field.
In addition, when the Raptors made the game semi-interesting in the fourth quarter, Gerald Wallace got to the free-throw line at will. Wallace finished with 20 points, and the Bobcats shot 42 free throws compared to the Raptors' 26 attempts
Toronto vs. Chicago
Who's hot? In the last game before the all-star break, Derrick Rose had one of the year's great performances, with a 42-point, eight-assist, one-turnover night in a win over San Antonio.
Who's not? Joakim Noah (right thumb surgery) last played Dec. 15, in Toronto. He returns Wednesday, in Toronto.
Who's hot? DeMar DeRozan has played superbly in February, averaging 19.6 points (on 54% shooting) and 5.0 rebounds per game.
Who's not? A broken foot has kept Reggie Evans, the Raptors' rebounding maestro, out even longer than Noah, since Nov. 26. He could return this week, perhaps Wednesday.
They'll hook up for the third time this season Wednesday on the court, but Tuesday the Bulls and the Raptors made a minor deal off it. Chicago sent little-used James Johnson - the 16th pick in the 2009 draft - to Toronto for a 2011 first-round pick it's owed from Miami.
"I always liked his game when he was at Wake Forest," said Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who was in the same draft class with Johnson. "You never know. It could work out great for him and be a great pickup for us. We hope so."
Hours after acquiring Johnson, his new teammates continued to struggle. Toronto committed a season-high 31 fouls at Charlotte on Tuesday in a 114-101 loss, its 11th straight on the road.
"I know it will turn around," said guard Jerryd Bayless, who had 11 points and 10 assists. "We're young, we're learning."
The Raptors are 5-31 when they score 101 points or fewer. Just four of the Bulls' last 36 opponents have scored that many points.