landry fields forever
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 24.11.09
Revitalized and improving Jack all jacked up to play Pacers
Johnson lifting Raps' reserves
Had the Indiana Pacers visited even a week ago, they would not have found the happy-go-lucky Jarrett Jack that greeted them yesterday.
Jack, as is his habit, was still in the gym long after practice ended hoisting shots when the Pacers, tonight's opponents and his team of last season, walked into the gym to get their own work in.
Jack had a kind word for everyone as they entered and only after he had completed his own work did he go person to person for individual greetings. Head coach Jim O'Brien, his assistants, trainers, equipment managers and every player got a hug, handshake or fist bump. No one was left out.
Had this reunion occurred a week earlier, Jack still likely would have greeted them as warmly, but the smile on his face that seems plastered there permanently these days might not have been.
A week ago, Jack was struggling to not only live up to the new contract he signed but the obligation he felt he owed his new teammates.
At that time, the ball wasn't dropping and Jack was pressing, which only hampered the other parts of his game.
A 17-point game Friday night, including a pair of clutch threes in the dying minutes of a win over Miami, started to turn the tide for Jack and with his confidence restored Jack was back on his game Sunday handing out a career-high 11 assists.
"It wasn't so much about letting myself down as letting everyone else down," Jack said of his early struggles. "I think that was some of the added pressure in the beginning. Also I wanted to perform, so I could prove to everyone that it shouldn't have taken this long. I should have got this contract a long time ago. So it was a little pressure from both ways that kind of hurt my play a little bit but I'm putting it all behind me."
Showtime for Raptors' Calderon
"I'm the answer to a trivia question," said Johnson, who in 2005 was the last player drafted by an NBA team directly out of high school. Selected by the Pistons, instead of the bright lights of the NBA he spent most of the first two winters in Sioux Falls and Fayatteville, in the development league.
"I never had any second thoughts. Sure, I could've gone to Louisville, I got recruited by Rick Pitino. But I looked at the other guys getting drafted and figured I had the talent to play in the NBA too. Even when they sent me to Fayetteville it didn't really matter because I just wanted to play ... I just love the game."
There were buses instead of planes, old gyms instead of Boston Gardens and games played in front of hundreds rather than thousands. Perhaps it wasn't the role he'd envisioned as a starry-eyed all-America with Westchester High in L.A. but, as he noted: "I was only 18 and I had to learn the NBA style. It was a grown man's world and a huge jump."
He had to relearn the game. In the NBA, he's not the go-to guy. The Raptors don't even have a set play for him.
"There's more to the game than scoring so you set screens, box out, you get rebounds.
"There's more than one way to contribute. I've been in this league for five years and I've learned from guys like (Rasheed) Wallace and (Antonio) McDyess.
"Look where I am now. I'm getting good minutes. I got to play with a great team in Detroit, and I'm taking classes (via computer) from the University of Michigan so its not even like I'm missing school."
He has filled a void with the Raptors left when Reggie Evans was injured
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
It's all instinct," said DeRozan, the rookie shooting guard who's been on the finishing end of a couple of lob passes from Calderon over the past handful of games. "You just read the plays, read the defender and everything.
"It really gets us going, especially when we're at home, it gets the crowd going and everything and gets our momentum going which is what we really need.
"I read my guy, read Jose, know the play and what we're doing and watch the whole defence shift and go." It is not something that comes overnight, though. It takes a subtle recognition of the players and the circumstances and an acute knowledge of teammates.
It's simple to say that Calderon should have been throwing the pass more often but when the recipient would have been Anthony Parker or Jason Kapono or even Jamario Moon (who was always reluctant to leave the corner of the court), it's also dead wrong to lay it at the hands of the point guard.
But now, with exponentially more athleticism on the wings, it's something fans may see more of as the season progresses.
"Jamario sometimes, but these two guys they can go get the ball up there and it's easier," said Calderon. "I talk to them and say, `Look, look here when I go that way, your defender is going to be looking at the ball so just go there, go back door.'" The pass is generally set up when Calderon comes off a high screen set by one of the team's big men. As the point guard turns the corner, if a defender leaves either DeRozan or Weems on the baseline, it's a signal to take off.
Mea culpa. . . sort of
That Amir Johnson, what a cut-up.
As he’s leaving the practice gym, we notice he’s walking a bit gingerly on the left knee he banged up Sunday.
So we point out that he’s walking like a broken-down, 50-something sportswriter.
Glances over his shoulder walking out and says:
“I’ve got the Alvin limp.”
Jack trying to earn his keep
Okay, the jury is in: I was wrong when I presumed Carter hurt his arm drawing a charge on Bargnani. He apparently hurt himself on a missed dunk attempt before that and I stand corrected and apologize. And thanks to those who took the time to show me the light, always appreciated.
The point stands (as I wrote in the comments section below): Carter only does himself a disservice by his well-worn tendency to focus on and draw attention to every little nick and scratch. The irony is he's actually been a pretty durable player outside the knee issues he had in Toronto. And he does take his share of licks as a primary scorer. But you're either hurt or you're not and the fact that Carter spends so much time wondering if he's hurt erodes his credibility.
Belinelli, Wright to return for Raptors; Evans still a mystery
It got to the point that Raptors head coach Jay Triano sat down with Jack, who has been relieving Jose Calderon at point guard and playing alongside him as a shooting guard in some situations, and implored him to put his rough start out of his mind.
“It doesn’t matter what level you play at, certain guys dwell on the fact they’re not making shots or not making plays,” Triano said. “So one thing we said to him was do all the little things: Play good defence, do the hustle things. Your shot will eventually come.”
It came that Friday night, as if on cue. Jack delivered a season-high 17 points and three assists without a turnover and knocked down a crucial pair of threes late in the Raptors' win over the Miami Heat. On Sunday against Orlando it was a season-high 11 assists; he hasn’t had a turnover in three games.
The timing couldn’t be better. Tonight Jack plays his old teammates with the Pacers. Indiana was in town early and practising at the Raptors court at the Air Canada Centre yesterday afternoon. They had the court at 1:30 p.m. when they walked into the gym there was Jack putting the finishing touches on an extra 30 minutes of work.
Complete lack of effort
The Toronto Raptors are approaching full strength.
Reserve swingmen Marco Belinelli (flu) and Antoine Wright (ankle) both participated in practice on Monday, making them likely to go Tuesday when the Raptors host the Indiana Pacers.
Still, perfect health is not on the horizon. Forward Reggie Evans, who has not played all year because of a mid-foot sprain, will be traveling with the team for games in Charlotte and Boston on Wednesday and Friday. But that is not necessarily happy news.
"I believe he's going to go on this trip and see one of the [foot] specialists," head coach Jay Triano said.
Ten days ago, Evans sounded hopeful that he would be back on the floor this week. Now there is no timetable for his return.
At least the Pacers didn't wait until the fourth quarter to tire down against the Bobcats.
They looked like they were full of southern food the way they moved up and down the court in their blowout loss to the Bobcats, who were on a seven-game skid.
"I think they controlled everything," coach Jim O'Brien said. "They played with more force than we did all four quarters. We didn't seem to have an answer.
"It's a credit to them, they played extremely hard. They shut us down on offense and just kicked our tails when we were on the defensive end."
Losing to teams like Charlotte and New York is why not many people are sold that the Pacers can be a playoff team
Sunday was also an example of why the Pacers need Mike Dunleavy (more on his situation in minute) back in the lineup.
Their offense was brutal against the Bobcats. It's hard to beat any team when you spend the majority of the time jacking up contested jumpers.
Sunshine Girl - 24.11.09