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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 26.03.10
Raps back on firing line
Gut-check time for Raps
There’s a chance Calderon will be replaced by Jarrett Jack against Denver.
Head coach Jay Triano went back with Calderon last week against Atlanta.
Triano wasn’t tipping his hands following Thursday’s practice, but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Jack starts the game.
The first line of defence is so important and it begins at the point position.
There’s merit in starting Jack because he’s a better defender than Calderon and matches up better against Billups.
Regardless of who starts, Calderon and Jack have to step up.
There’s also a chance the Raptors may have a different starter at small forward.
Hedo Turkoglu was told to go home when he reported for duty on Thursday. At halftime of Wednesday’s loss, Turkoglu developed a stomach pain that prevented him from returning.
Sonny Weems may get the starting nod against his former team if Turkoglu is unable to go.
Weems brings energy and if he can somehow avoid getting caught up in playing his old team and exercise good shot selection, he looms as a piece that will help.
Feschuk: Listless Raptors puzzle GM Colangelo
Whether it was scripted to give the impression that there’s still some fight in a team that has been completely listless of late, something unusual unfolded on Thursday, a day after the Raptors were routed by the Utah Jazz.
There was Jarrett Jack, whose recent demotion was not well-received, holding court and cajoling his beleaguered teammates to somehow dig deep and play with a passion that has gone completely AWOL.
“We have to put it all on the line, regardless of what happens, win, lose or draw,’’ Jack began. “Whatever amount of games we have left, we have to put it all out there and not let all this hard work we’ve done all year go to waste.”
They were fighting words at a time when there’s been very little fight in the Raptors, whose idea of resistance has been the commendable exercise of resisting the urge to point fingers.
Chris Bosh has said his piece, general manager Bryan Colangelo has deflected attention by being accountable for a roster he assembled, and head coach Jay Triano has made some minor tweaks to his rotation.
Just about everything has been done and said and repeated and yet the message continues to get lost.
Short of benching Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani, which isn’t going to happen, there’s nothing more that can done because it’s obvious what is needed.
“Our mind-set has to be tougher,’’ Triano said.
What isn’t so obvious is how a fragile team can reclaim its identity.
Regardless of how long this season lasts, perhaps this year’s Raptors will be remembered as a shooting team that simply did not know how to mentally regroup when shots weren’t dropping.
When the Raptors were among the NBA’s best during a stretch that saw them go 22-10, they were coming back from double-digit deficits, sharing the basketball, playing with energy and defending.
They’ve lost it all.
Jack hasn’t lost hope because he sees an opportunity of playing in the post-season for the first time in his five-year career, but time is running out.
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
Still, at a moment when Colangelo is citing individual agendas for his team's descent into on-court indifference, Bosh's is the most transparent. With free agency in his sights and who knows how many voices in his ear he hasn't been the same player since the all-star break. Not that he hasn't had his good games, but at his worst of late, Wednesday night comes to mind, he has been a picture of disinterest, not to mention dead legs. (The ace in the knee brace, who just turned 26, at times looks closer to 36.)
Bosh is certainly not the only Raptor whose priorities don't appear to lie in the win-loss record. As forward Antoine Wright was inferring after Wednesday's loss, selfish concerns are waylaying the club. "It's not about, `Coach took me out.' It's not about, `I'm not getting my shot' at this point in the season," said Wright and, even if it shouldn't be, it apparently is.
There will be time to debate Colangelo's assertion that this season's wild swings in performance have had nothing to do with talent or coaching. But clearly what drives players, what drags them down, is never as simple as what we see on the floor. On Thursday, a guarded Colangelo chalked up his team's struggles to, among many things, "the wrong mental approach" and "too many outside influences." He wouldn't go further. He's not much for public call-outs. He positions himself as a friend to all, from the agents to his all-star. The problem for the GM is this: He'll take the brunt of the blame if the outside influences steer Toronto clear out of the playoffs.
"It's a hard thing to explain. (Wednesday) night, it felt like there was no effort. It felt like there was no sense of urgency. It felt like there was no emotion," Colangelo said. "It's almost like there's a shutoff valve. And it's hard to explain, but it's almost like the entire team had that valve in the off position.
"But we've proven we can turn it on as easily as we've turned it off. It's just got to happen fast."
Raptors face tall order
What do you think they’ll do tonight? Show up? Compete? Play hard?
It’s like Forrest’s box of chocolates, isn’t it? You never know.
Guess that’s kind of fun, although you’d like more of the fight they showed in the Atlanta game not too long ago to surface and you’d like fewer of those utter capitulations like they put up against Oklahoma City and Utah.
The trouble is, no one can really come up with the one answer to the one question that’s on everyone’s list:
There are theories, of course, and the one that I keep wondering about is if this group really gets along. And by that I mean do they trust each other on the court to make the right play or do the right thing or be there to get a teammates’ back.
The off-the-court chemistry is so over-rated, it’s not funny. A couple of wins and everyone’s happy, a couple of losses and everyone’s surly and it’s been that way for eons.
Here’s how one insider put it to me Thursday:
“It doesn’t matter if they like each other. Do you like everyone you work with? Do you think Ron Artest and Pau Gasol go out for dinner? How about Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut, you think they hang out? Just play.”
And that’s the one thing they haven’t done nearly enough. Just play.
The confounding thing to all concerned over there is that they’ve shown the ability to play a fair amount. Times are horrid right now, no question; but there have been moments of good that make the moments of horrid even more confusing.
Raptors Game Day
There is a defibrillator that hangs from the wall near the media entrance at the Air Canada Centre with the words “Rescue Me” printed in big red letters beneath the apparatus.
That pretty wells sums up the predicament of the Toronto Raptors, whose once lofty playoff aspirations remain on life support following a desultory outing against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.
And the players are well aware of their situation – the reason why point guard Jarrett Jack was moved to address his teammates in stern tones at the end of yesterday’s short practice.
“There’s a lot of emotion right now as far as where our team is,” Raptors swingman Antoine Wright later said when asked what was discussed as the players circled around Jack. “Guys are not happy.”
Jack said the motivation behind his sermon from the mid-court was simple and straightforward.
“There’s  games left [in the regular season], let’s just lay it all on the line regardless of what happens, win lose or draw,” Jack said. “[Twelve] games, whatever you got.
“Let’s just put it all out there and not let all this hard work that we’ve put into the season go to waste.”
Defeatism gets the best of Raptors
DENVER AT TORONTO
7 p.m., Air Canada Centre
TV: TSN2 Radio: Fan 590
Who's hot? The Nuggets have lost three straight.
Who's not? Chauncey Billups is 17-for-60 (28%) from the field over his last five games.
Who's hot? Chris Bosh is averaging 24.8 points on 51% shooting over the last four games.
Who's not? Jose Calderon has shot just 38% from the field.
However, the X's and O's seem secondary to the questions that will ultimately define this team: Can they play any defence? How much pride do they have? Do they care more than their opponents? It all sounds overly simplistic, but it is what the players believe in.
"There's not much to talk about right now," Chris Bosh said. "We've been talking all year. The time for talk is over. Now it's time to do it. I always feel like I'm repeating myself all the time, and I am. There's not much we can do but play hard right now."
"I think that's the one thing about our team right now," Triano said. "When we get down we don't have that fight. It's almost like we get down and we hang our heads. Sometimes when you get down and things aren't going right, that's when you have to have that fight.
Sunshine Girl – 26.03.10
RF Girl of the Day – Tami Donaldson
Deanna loves cooking and baking, as well as eating the fruits of her labour. Needless to say, she also loves working out.