landry fields forever
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 24.01.11
Rattled Raps return home
Feschuk: DeRozan and his slam-dunk sidekicks
Five games, five losses and nine days later, the Raptors return to Toronto in possibly worse physical health than when they left.
We won't begin to talk about their mental health.
And they weren't exactly bursting at the seams with any kind of health when they left.
Added to the injury list since the team left Toronto have been Linas Kleiza, Joey Dorsey and now possibly Jose Calderon.
Coming home 0-5 and dragging a seven-game losing streak with them isn't exactly brightening the Raptors picture.
Kleiza (knees), Dorsey (patellar tendon) and Calderon (on-going foot problems) join Reggie Evans, Sonny Weems and Leandro Barbosa on the list of injured.
Calderon has been playing hurt and appeared to go over on his ankle late in Saturday's game. The team was off Sunday and takes on Memphis Monday when more will be known about Calderon's situation.
Barbosa, who strained a hamstring in the Detroit game that preceded the trip, is probably another week away, according to head coach Jay Triano. Evans is itching to get back and is making progress but isn't at the stage yet of practising with the team. Even when he reaches that point, he'll still need a week or so to get back into basketball shape.
Who knows how long Weems' back problems will keep him out. There have been a few occasions already where Weems has been ready to return only to have a relapse.
There is a chance that by Monday the team will be finalize the deal for Alexis Ajinca, the 7-foot-3 centre from Dallas who looked healthy enough when he was pulled off the practice court Friday night in Chicago on the premise that he might be dealt.
Ajinca wasn't getting much run in Dallas, but at least he's healthy.
CLEARING THE LANE
Perhaps it’s a good thing, then, that DeRozan’s second run at the slam-dunk crown, on Feb. 19, will be a three-man partnership. In a new wrinkle to the contest, each of the four competitors has been assigned a “dunk coach.” DeRozan’s man is Darryl Dawkins, the backboard-breaking NBA legend.
That match, it says here, couldn’t be more perfect. While DeRozan’s world-class gift for flight saw him record the contest’s only perfect score of 50 a year ago, one can argue he finished second to Nate Robinson because of his shy aversion to showmanship.
Dawkins, never accused of subtlety, made his name as an attention-seeking carnival barker from the school of Muhammad Ali, a 6-foot-11 hulk who named the most damaging of his dunks in rambling rhyme.
“I want DeMar to do what he’s comfortable doing, but only with a little more flair, a little more twist, a little more swagger,” the big coach said.
Dawkins, speaking over the line from his home near Allentown, Pa., then inexplicably broke into a stream of CB-radio-style banter, apparently rehearsing an imaginary conversation with DeRozan.
“It’s Darryl Dawkins to DeMar DeRozan, Double-D to Double-D, breaker-breaker one-nine. Roger that, Double-D. Ready for takeoff, Double-D. We have lift-off . . . Now we’re going to see if we can get a function at the junction, and get the rim rocking and get the door knocking.”
Did Dawkins care to offer a translation?
“I’ve got to coach DeMar like I’m coaching to win the NBA title,” he said.
Dawkins has never coached in the NBA, so this should be interesting. Once steadfastly insistent that he hailed from the Planet Lovetron, Dawkins is now a confirmed earthling, a father of four, who coaches at Lehigh Carbon Community College.
“I’ve got a 33-year-old wife. I just had my 54th birthday. It’s still cooking right now. You can’t cook with cold grease. It’s got to be hot,” he said, laughing.
Dawkins acknowledged that DeRozan is an underdog in the competition, which will also include JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards (coached by Chris Webber); Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder (coached by teammate Kevin Durant); and, the popular favourite, Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers (coached by Kenny Smith).
BOSH HOPES TORONTO RECEPTION ISN'T AS BAD AS LEBRON'S IN OHIO
Peja Stojakovic clears waivers at 2 p.m. EST Monday and is expected to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, after being bought out by the Toronto Raptors. But while Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said in e-mail that he “cannot discuss the specifics and do not have a timeline for possible completion” of a rumoured deal that would have Mavs centre Alexis Ajinca joining the Raps to make room for Stojakovic, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tells reporters that it, too, will go through on Monday despite complaints from other GMs that it was a side-arranged deal. “I mean, it’s the NBA, but I do expect it go through,” he said. … Chris Bosh’s sprained ankle kept him out of a rout of his former team, the Raptors, on Saturday but he has three more days to heal before the Miami Heat’s game Thursday against the New York Knicks. Bosh’s haters will doubtless blow a gasket knowing that head coach Erik Spoelstra wants him back because Bosh is, in the coach’s words, “probably our most important player.” Eh? “He’s our crutch. There’s so many different things we can do where the ball ends up in his hands, and it will facilitate another action. That’s why, offensively, he’s had the biggest impact.” … The Memphis Grizzlies (née: Vancouver Grizzlies) play the Raptors Monday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The Raps, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats and Los Angeles Clippers are the only teams with losing records against the Grizzlies franchise, which entered the NBA in 1995-96 alongside the Raps.
Toronto vs. Memphis
Back on December 2, Miami Heat superstar LeBron James made his much-anticipated return to Cleveland, the city he had left in the off-season to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach.
Despite all the verbal venom thrown his way during that game in Ohio, James rallied his teammates to demolish the Cavaliers and set Miami's season on course. After a rocky 9-8 start to the campaign, the Heat rattled off wins in 21 of their next 22 games, morphing into the high-achieving squad many expected them to become.
Now, as Chris Bosh gets ready for his February 16 return to Toronto following his own rather unpleasant departure from the Raptors after seven years with the team, he hopes the anger that fans in Hogtown have for him won't be quite as harsh as it was in Cleveland for LeBron back in December.
"I hope not. I don't think it could get any worse than that," Bosh says. "It was something else. You had to see it."
James, for one, doesn't think the reception in Toronto will even come close to rivalling the one he faced in Cleveland.
"It will be nowhere near as bad as it was for me going back home," James says. "He's not going back home, he's going to a team he played for. There's no comparison. He'll be fine."
Bosh says heckling and booing are to be expected, and that he hopes he can use some of that negative energy as fuel - a skill he picked up from his new teammates in Miami.
"When I looked at Dwyane and LeBron, as soon as the game (in Cleveland) started playing, I could kind of read their body language from the get-go and I was like, 'Wow, they really like this, they like this environment, they like just the tension and the excitement and everything,'", says Bosh. "So I was like, 'Man, I gotta step up.'"
Forcing 3s not part of Grizzlies' plan
The win gave Memphis its eighth win streak of at least two games this season. The Grizzlies (21-23) also have seven losing streaks of that same length.
"We're trying to make the next step," center Marc Gasol said. "We've been really up and down. When we win a couple of games, we get really confident and when we lose a couple, we get down."
A matchup with Toronto, losers of a season-high seven in a row, might help. The Raptors (13-31) had only nine players available in Saturday night's 120-103 loss in Miami due to injuries to Linas Kleiza, Joey Dorsey and Leandro Barbosa.
However, they showed more competitiveness after falling behind early in that game than in a 112-72 drubbing in Orlando the previous evening. Toronto trimmed a 26-point halftime deficit to seven with 6:27 remaining but couldn't get any closer.
"Guys fought back, but we got in a big hole just because of our roster," coach Jay Triano said. "I give our guys credit because there's a lot of guys that are banged up and hurting. They could have just mailed it in in the second half, but they gave themselves a chance to get back in the game."
The Raptors have dropped four in a row to the Grizzlies and had a three-game home winning streak snapped last season with a 109-102 overtime defeat. Rudy Gay scored eight of his 29 points in the extra period of that game, and Randolph finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
That double-double was the only one in his last six matchups with Toronto, but he's averaged 25.0 points in the past three. He had a team-best 21 points and eight rebounds in a 96-85 home win over the Raptors on Dec. 27.
Along with Randolph, the Grizzlies could have another advantage in Monday's game. Memphis is averaging an NBA-best 49.1 points in the paint, while Toronto is allowing a league-worst 48.1 per game.
The Grizzlies had a season-high 72 points in the paint in a 115-110 win over Houston on Friday night and have topped 50 in three straight contests.
"That's our game," coach Lionel Hollins said. "We lead the league in points in the paint. We led the league last year in points in the paint. That is who we are. We try to find ways to attack the paint."
Toronto, losers in eight of 10 at home, hasn't dropped eight straight overall since a 10-game slide March 26-April 12, 2006.
Grizzlies vs. Raptors
Sure, the Griz rank near the bottom of the NBA in 3-point attempts and makes.
But there is no mandate against shooting 3-pointers, and the Griz are confident they have just enough players capable of making the long-distance shot when needed.
"We still believe when you have an open (3-pointer), you take it," Griz guard O.J. Mayo said. "Going inside is just a better deal for us. That's how we play."
There is no question the Grizzlies' meeting with the Toronto Raptors tonight will be devoid of deft outside shooting. The Raptors are the second-worst 3-point shooting team (.324) in the NBA, while the Griz rank as the league's sixth-worst (.335) from beyond the arc.
Neither team launches many 3-pointers, as the Griz average 12 attempts and four baskets. But the Griz have a much stronger redeeming quality to their offense than the Raptors.
Memphis still averages an NBA-best 49.1 points in the paint, and is coming off a pair of wins in which the team's inside scoring was a decided advantage. It helps, too, that Toronto is allowing a league-worst 48.1 per game in the paint.
So there is no shame in the Grizzlies' lack of game from downtown
Records: Grizzlies 21-23, Raptors 13-31.
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, 6-1, Sam Young, 6-6, Rudy Gay, 6-8, Zach Randolph, 6-9, Marc Gasol, 7-1.
Raptors: Jose Calderon, 6-3, DeMar DeRozan, 6-7, Amir Johnson, 6-9, Julian Wright, 6-8, Andrea Bargnani, 7-0.
The Griz are trying to extend a two-game winning streak as they continue a four-game East Coast trip. Randolph also is working to extend his franchise-record streak of double-doubles to 11 games. Toronto has lost seven straight games and may be working shorthanded due to injuries to Linas Kleiza, former University of Memphis center Joey Dorsey and Leandro Barbosa.