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Daily Raptor Dish - 24.03.10
One simple word for Raps: Ball
Jack took lineup change personally
Sometimes you do get a little lackadaisical when you’re stuck in the corner and you’re not involved in the offence or you’re not going to the offensive glass,’’ Antoine Wright said following Tuesday’s workout. There are points in the game when you want to get guys involved in the flow. You don’t want a situation where a guy isn’t involved on offence because it helps their defence.”
In a nutshell, that has been one of the problems plaguing the Raptors since the all-star break. They thought they had overcome that mental hurdle of allowing their offence to dictate how they defend, but in reality that is who they are.
It isn’t good and it can get downright ugly, but when they swing the ball more than once and truly are sharing the basketball, they are in a better position to win.
Despite their woes and deficiencies in defending the perimeter, the Raptors have shooters and can be dangerous when not trying to do too much on their own. No longer does an opponent focus in on one side of the court when the Raptors are moving the basketball.
When the ball moves freely and prudently, defenders are, naturally, forced to move.
When defenders move off their spot in rotations, shooters get more open looks.
When shooters aren’t stationary, they’re able to get back on defence to limit easy buckets. It’s all rudimentary, but even at the highest level of the game, basketball’s basic principles get lost.
One can talk all one wants about Toronto’s lack of mental toughness, but the most basic concepts of moving and sharing the basketball have too often been an afterthought.
“Team morale is better when there are more touches,” head coach Jay Triano said. “When you go swing, swing (the basketball), you force defenders to close out (on shooters) twice.”
No one should feel that the Raptors have suddenly turned the corner because they haven’t. They played down to the level of their opposition in New jersey and Minneapolis, which is not a good sign.
At the same time, there were signs of improvement.
The Raptors weren’t as prone to drop their heads when a shot wouldn’t drop and were contesting shots by getting a hand in the face of shooters. Andrea Bargnani became more of a presence as a rebounder, which is always a good sign. Hedo Turkoglu was a facilitator.
Defining moment ahead for Raps
The moment arrived in the hours that preceded Friday’s tip in New Jersey.
Jarrett Jack can’t recall the exact time, but he knew it was time to put aside the lingering frustration that is as inevitable as it is unavoidable when you go from starter to reserve.
“I took the change a little personal," Jack admitted following Tuesday’s practice. “I shouldn’t have allowed myself to do that.”
The emotions got the better of Jack, whose reputation in the NBA is as good as they come.
Whether he was in Portland or Indiana, Jack always played hard, was always one of the first to arrive at practice and one of the last to leave.
He plays tough and is mentally strong.
When Jose Calderon was hurt early in the season, Jack took over the reins at starting point guard and the Raptors started their run of success.
When they came back from an 0-4 road trip, head coach Jay Triano re-inserted Calderon and the Raptors ended a five-game losing streak with a win over Atlanta.
“I allowed what was going on with me to take away from what we as a team are trying to accomplish,’’ Jack said. “I can’t do that. To put yourself ahead of what all this team has gone through from the beginning of training camp was a little selfish.”
Raptors must learn to share
The next four games may not decide the Raptors’ playoff fate, but the stretch is shaping up as a potentially defining moment in a season full of imponderability and inconsistency. Two home games against Western Conference powers followed by back-to-back road games against teams jockeying for playoff seeds in the bottom half of the East, which happens to include the Raptors. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of what awaits.
Carlos Boozer is expected to bolt this summer in free agency, but it hasn’t stopped him from elevating his game. He’s a beast on the block who posted a 22-point, 18-rebound game in a
104-91 win over Toronto back in November. Utah enters Wednesday’s tip at the ACC winners of eight of its last 11 games. Its three losses were all on the road. The Jazz comes to town on a high after beating Boston, erasing a 12-point deficit and simply dominating in the second half. “We came out like a bullet out of a gun,” Boozer said.
Carmelo Anthony is one of the few visitors who gets cheered. Melo can’t be stopped, especially when he’s motivated. He toyed with the Raptors when T.O. visited Denver early in the season, going off for 32 points in 30 minutes. Hedo Turkoglu missed the game (hip flexor). One of the best ways to neutralize Melo is to make him work on defence. Nuggets will be in the midst of a five-game road trip when they play T.O. on Friday. Denver is on a five-game win streak vs. Raptors, averaging 133.0 points at home and 111.5 at the ACC.
Dwyane Wade has averaged 23 attempts from the field in three games against the Raptors this year. Sunday’s meeting in South Beach is the fourth and final of the season between the two teams with the Raptors holding a 2-1 series edge. T.O. posted both its wins at the ACC. Miami spanked the Raptors by 20 at home. Wade visits his native Chicago on Thursday where he’ll get grilled on the potential of playing for the Bulls next season. Chicago cleared cap space and is expected to take aim on Flash. Miami’s final eight games are against teams with losing records.
The Bobcats are a matchup problem for the Raptors because of their athleticism and quickness. No player is as athletic and quicker than Gerald Wallace, an all-star who torched the Raptors for 31 points and 13 rebounds in Charlotte’s 116-81 win on Nov. 25. The Bobcats are poised for the franchise’s first post-season appearance. When they play host to Toronto on Monday, they’ll be in the middle of a five-game homestand. Charlotte is dangerous, but it’s inconsistent and goes through stretches of offensive futility.
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
It really doesn't take much to pacify an NBA player most nights. A touch of the ball every now and then usually does it; a feeling of inclusion at one end will do wonders for the psyche at the other.
One would think most of them could grasp the concept that working hard on defence is important regardless of the involvement level on the offensive end but, as the Raptors have shown untold times this season, that doesn't always happen.
When they are involved offensively, they're more focused on defence. Those two concepts are not mutually exclusive, even if they should be. So, as they prepare for a crucial four-game stretch that could define this season, they fully admit that the fragile psyches need to be soothed or things could get ugly.
The why isn't that important now. It's to be dissected and dealt with in the summer. They are at a critical point in the season: two home games against powerful opponents before two road games against teams in the same dogfight for playoff positions. They simply have to deal with the shortcomings, manage them and play better. And they always play better when there are more of them involved.
That means moving the ball often and crisply, no one-pass, one-shot offensive sets. Get the ball inside and if there's nothing there kick it right back out and get it moving around the perimeter.
Jacked up after coming off the bench
Jarrett admitted that he took a change in the starting lineup personally and that it probably wasn’t the best thing for the team but, really, who can blame him.
These guys, after all, are human, believe it or not. Just imagine how you’d feel if your boss came to you one day and said he was changing your responsibilities? Nothing personal, of course, but you can’t do what you’ve been doing because, well, because we like the other guy better.
It may make sense to an outsider and to sports fans concerned only with the final score feelings often don’t enter into the equation.
But can’t you see how a guy would be irked right off the bat? Understand how it might take a couple of days to get used to a new lot in life?
Raptors' Wright looking to rumble with Jerry Sloan
The sight of Jarrett Jack rolling down the lane and rising for a rare dunk on Monday night was a welcome one for the Toronto Raptors , and not just because it was an easy basket.
Jack is many things but a high flyer, not so much, so when he dunked instead of laid it in, and then turned and gave a mock “I’m bad” stare to the Raptors bench, breaking them up and then breaking into a smile of his own, it meant more than just a flashy two points in a win against the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves.
It meant Jack was back – back to being the high energy, chatty, laughing leader he’d established during the season, particularly during his 43 games as a starter.
But Raptors head coach Jay Triano’s decision to limit Jack’s playing time and then return the starting job to Jose Calderon seemed to throw the usually genial Jack, 26, for a loop.
The easy smile and general affability were replaced by slumped shoulders and a woe-is-me look; a posture that barely lifted even as he delivered the ball to friend and teammate Chris Bosh for a game-winning shot against the Atlanta Hawks last week, a result to which Jack seemed all but indifferent.
Being a professional basketball player comes with its share of charms, but your sense of self can take a beating if you let things get to you, which is what Jack says happened to him when he was moved to the bench while the Raptors were in the midst of a 1-9 stretch that was putting their playoff hunt in jeopardy.
Raptors Game Day
Wright, a free talking fount of opinions, has never met Sloan, though he says he is ready to put up his dukes and settle matters the old fashioned way.
“I don’t know Sloan personally, but from what I have heard he is a pretty tough guy. I think I could take him,” Wright cracked after Raptors practice Tuesday. “I will be looking forward to a fight after the game.”
Before there can be any fisticuffs, Wright and his Raptors brethren have a game to play against the red hot Jazz, with their high octane offence, which is averaging 103 points a game. The players, like Carlos Boozer, do the scoring, but there is a brain behind it all belonging to a Hall of Fame coach — with a tough guy reputation.
“His guys are very, very well coached,” Wright said. “And very well disciplined, and you would think that that would come from their leader.”
UTAH AT TORONTO
7 p.m., Air Canada Centre
TV: TSN 2 Radio: Fan 590
Who's hot? Not only does he have the best name in basketball, but Mehmut Okur also has an appetite for collecting rebounds. He hauled down 15 in the Jazz's 110-97 win over the mighty Celtics on Monday.
Who's not? Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko missed the Boston tilt with a sore calf.
Who's hot? Jarrett Jack was a perfect 5-for-5 from the line in Toronto's ugly win over the Timberwolves. He also had a tidy eight assists and four defensive rebounds.
Who's not? Alas, Jack was not quite so perfect when a Minnesota player was actually guarding him, going just 2-for-6 from the field.
Read more: Raptors Game Day
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Sunshine Girl – 24.03.10
RF Girl of the Day – Yoko Matsugane
SUNshine Girl Jay T is 22 years old and her goal is to finish her kinesiology degree. When not learning everything about human movement, our girl loves to move on two wheels, hitting the streets on her motorcycle. Jay T also likes to sing. Whether that's on stage, at a bar, or in the shower, we're not sure