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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 26.01.11
Ajinca a puzzling new piece for Raptors
Raptors record streak comes to an end
In an ideal world, the Raptors would have wanted to keep Aussie big man David Andersen, who was part of that deal with New Orleans that moved Jarrett Jack and turned Calderon into the incumbent at the point.
Andersen, much like Andrea Bargnani, another seven-footer, plays away from the basket.
When they make shots, defences get extended, which then allows for better spacing.
It’s a philosophical approach that has been embraced by the team under GM Bryan Colangelo’s watch, a non-traditional way of using a big, but a tact that nonetheless has its merits.
When it comes to Ajinca, Triano confided the team has had its eyes on Ajinca from his days in Charlotte, where he broke into the league as the 20th player taken in the 2008 draft.
The kid is only 22, appears eager to make an impression and what sticks out is Ajinca’s length.
“Just because of his length, he changes the game inside,’’ Triano said. “It’s a chance for us to have half a year to look at him and see if he fits into our plays.
“He’s 22 years old and he has a long body.”
With six players unable to practise due to various ailments coupled with Ajinca’s paper work issue, Triano could not even contemplate having a practice.
Ajinca was able to put up a few shots after arriving at midnight on Monday.
“I’m a seven-footer who can shoot twos and threes,’’ Ajinca said of his game. “Defensively, I can rebound and block shots. It’s part of my game.’’
What remains to be seen is whether he’ll be part of the Raptors as the team moves forward.
Raptors stretched too thin
The final buzzer sounds following yet another Raptors loss when a fan at the ACC completely lost his mind.
It happened on Monday, a night when the Raptors lost to Memphis 100-98, on an evening when Toronto’s NBA record of draining a three-point shot ended at 986 straight games.
As records go, it’s as obscure as its pointless, a feat that threatens to be eclipsed by Dallas, a team that has made a three-ball in 981 consecutive tips.
Head coach Jay Triano was never aware of it, and nor should he have been, until he walked off the floor in the heartbreaking aftermath of Monday.
“A fan yelled at me that I should be fired because we didn’t make a three,’’ recounted Triano following Tuesday’s gathering. “The organization should be very proud of the streak.
“It’s a record, but that record has not helped us climb one spot in our race to try to get better as a team. It’s one less thing to put in our media notes.”
And one further piece of evidence why some fans are completely misguided.
New Raptor looks to stay a while
But in the face of injuries, the Raptors have to face facts.
As hard as they try and as competitive as they’ve been at times lately, their execution down the stretch, at both ends, needs to be near flawless, which is pretty hard to do when dealing with a flawed roster.
No wonder the Raptors went 0-for-13 from beyond the three-point arc against Memphis when the likes of Jose Calderon, Linas Kleiza and Leandro Barbosa are unable to play.
Sonny Weems buried a three-ball that won a game in Orlando, but his wonky back limited him to eight minutes against Memphis.
As well as Jerryd Bayless starting for a flu-ridden Calderon, coming within two boards of a triple-double, the kid has a long way to go in being a true floor general.
These are learning times for this young group, a time that promises to bring more growing pains.
The Raptors do not mourn dead records
“When you’re young, you’re kind of impatient so sometimes you feel it’s a tough time for you because, okay, you’re 22 years old, but (you) would like to play and sometimes you don’t have the opportunity,” said the native of France. “Right now, I kind of have the opportunity here so it’s my time to show up and show what I can do.”
But he’s not likely to get much of a chance to do anything right off the bat.
The Raptors already employ Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis as their three primary big men. They have rookie Solomon Alabi on the active list and Joey Dorsey and Reggie Evans are not too far from returning from injury.
Where that leaves Ajinca remains to be seen.
“We’re going to try to get him a practice in so he can run the plays,” said coach Jay Triano. “We kind of showed him what we’re going to try to do, but I’m not sure right now where he’d fit in, probably in emergency situations.”
Ajinca is a rather intriguing prospect who didn’t find a way to get on the floor consistently during stops in Charlotte and Dallas. He is 7-feet-2 and lithe at about 250 pounds. He isn’t going to overpower anyone by any stretch, but he does have the size and length to be a defensive pest.
And he’s someone the Raptors have had an eye on for a while, if only to see what he might turn into.
“He’s a guy who’s intrigued us for a while just because of his length,” said Triano. “He was in Charlotte, there were rumours he was going to be traded or could have been traded at one point and we tried to pay a little bit more attention to him.
“He changes the game inside just because of his length. It’s a chance for us to have half a year to look at him and see if he fits into our plans. He’s 22 years old and he’s got a long body.”
Toronto vs. Philadelphia
On Monday, the Raptors’ streak of 986 consecutive games with at least one made three-pointer ended in a 100-98 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Raptors missed each of their 13 attempts from long range.
The streak started Feb. 26, 1999, and lasted nearly 12 years. Yet, it is poised to be broken next week by the Dallas Mavericks, whose streak currently sits at a healthy 981 games.
And, well, you get the sense that the Raptors do not really care. Take it away, coach Jay Triano.
“I found out after we were walking off the floor,” Triano said of finding out about the record’s demise. “Somebody yelled at me that I should be fired because we didn’t make a three. Somebody yelled at me, that’s when I went, ‘Did we not make a three? OK, well.’ ”
At this point, Raptors media relations guru Jim LaBumbard identified himself as the mystery man who yelled at Triano, to laughs from reporters.
“I mean, honestly, you know what, I think the organization should be very proud of the streak that it had. But for us to go into a game thinking that we should try to make a three and for us to have a depleted lineup with guys like [Leandro] Barbosa and [Linas] Kleiza and [Jose] Calderon not in uniform, I mean those are guys that are going to sometimes step up and make them for us. You know what, it’s a record and that record did not help us climb one spot in our race to try to get better as a team. It’s one less thing we can put in our media notes. All right? So that’s about the extent of that streak being broken.”
Toronto, though, enters this matchup having dropped eight straight, its longest losing streak since a 10-game slide March 26-April 12, 2006. The Raptors suffered their latest defeat in heartbreaking fashion as Memphis' Rudy Gay hit a go-ahead shot in the final second Monday night.
Toronto had eight players see action for the second straight time during that 100-98 defeat, its season high-tying third in a row at home and ninth in 11 contests there. The Raptors haven't dropped four straight at home since Dec. 14-31, 2008.
Linas Kleiza and Joey Dorsey are dealing with sore right knees, and Jose Calderon is trying to overcome an illness. Leandro Barbosa (right hamstring) and Reggie Evans (broken right foot) are also out. Evans had a career-high 22 rebounds and 12 points Nov. 24 against Philadelphia.
In his first start back from a sore left ankle Monday, Jerryd Bayless set career highs with 11 assists and eight rebounds while scoring 15 points.
"I feel better," Bayless said. "I kind of tweaked a little bit (in the loss) but I'll be fine. I just have to continue getting better. We all have to dig deep because we're losing right now. We have to find a way to win."
Andrea Bargnani, who has scored at least 28 points in the past two games, has averaged 27.0 in the two meetings this season against the 76ers. DeMar DeRozan has a combined nine points in those matchups but is averaging 24.4 over the past five games.
Brand had a season-high 27 points in a 94-86 home loss to the Raptors on Nov. 17 but missed the road game while serving a suspension for a flagrant foul.
The 76ers have one win in their last seven meetings with Toronto, 114-101 at the Air Canada Centre on March 7.