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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 29.01.11
Raptors fall to Bucks in overtime
Raptors tipoff: Toronto at Minnesota
It’s 10 and counting for the Raptors, who have lost track counting the ways in which they’ve lost games.
About the only thing they haven’t lost is their minds, but their mental state will most certainly be put to the test as they take their misery on the road for a three-game stretch, beginning Saturday night in Minnesota.
The Timberwolves are just as bad as the Raptors, perhaps even worse, but there’s no sure thing when not even the health of a starting unit is assured.
When they had a chance to win in regulation against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, the Raptors created a decent look at the basket late, but couldn’t find net.
And then overtime arrived, a five-minute stretch that began with three straight touches by Andrew Bogut and three successive baskets.
Yet again, the Raptors found a way to lose, this time
Porous Raptors drop 10th in a row
Kevin Love vs. Amir Johnson
Numbers can easily get inflated on a losing team, but Love’s remarkable season has been accomplished within the team concept. I’ll be a shame if Love, who played his college hoops at UCLA, isn’t selected as a reserve for next month’s all-star game in Los Angeles. Just in case Western coaches, who will vote for the game’s backups, have lost sight of Love’s impact amid all the losing Minnesota’s crack public relations department launched a campaign to woo support. In a nutshell, a 30-second DVD featuring Love was sent to coaches mocking a popular fragrance commercial. “It’s all in good fun,” Love said. “You never try to take yourself too seriously. If you can have fun with yourself it’s a good part of your life.”
Much like the Raptors, Timberwolves can’t defend, yielding an NBA-high 109.1 points per night. But unlike the Raptors, Minnesota’s key pieces are healthy. Michael Beasley, if he gets it going, can easily torch Toronto. The one-time Heat and Love each topped the 30-point mark in a 118-117 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. There isn’t much of a bench to speak of in Minny, but rookie Wesley Johnson will be effective if Raptors don’t play transition defence.
DID YOU KNOW
Heading into Friday night’s tip in Utah, the T’Wolves had lost 10 of their last 11 games and six in succession ... Jonny Flynn, one of many former first-round point guards taken by the T’Wolves who worked out for the Raptors, averages 16.7 minutes ... Minnesota averages 103.3 points, eighth best in the association.
Behind-the-scenes work at Raptors game takes breath away
“Physically, we couldn’t keep them in front of us, again,” said Raptors coach Jay Triano. “You look at a guy like Maggette getting to the free-throw line 10 times and scoring 29 points, it’s all on drives. It’s him being able to get head and shoulders past guys and either finishing or getting to the line.
“Strength is a little bit of an issue there but you have to be able to move your feet and keep guys in front of you and we didn’t do a very good job of it.”
Still, for all their many mistakes and defensive inefficiency, the Raptors still had a chance to win in regulation and were a mental mistake away from maybe extending the game in overtime.
But Andrea Bargnani missed a catch-and-shoot jumper at the fourth-quarter buzzer.
“I think Andrea, as a 7-footer, if you can get him the basketball, he’s got the ability to shoot over top of people,” said Triano. “He’s arguably our best shooter. With that much time, I don’t think you’ve got time to put it on the floor that much so he got the ball and I think he had a pretty clean look. I wasn’t disappointed with that shot at all.”
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
An hour and a half before tipoff, Raptors game coordinator Steve Benetti is buying himself some insurance.
He’s in the Real Sports Bar waiting for a trio of contest winners. They’ve won dinner and courtside seats. Before they or their celebrity guest, former Raptor Jerome Williams, get here, Benetti wants to make one thing clear.
“This gift certificate does not include alcohol,” Benetti says, handing it over to the waitress. “If they’re ordering drinks for themselves, um, maybe you could monitor that.”
“I’ll walk real slow,” the waitress says.
Five minutes later, the winners arrive. They look like extras from jersey Shore. The waitress looks at Benetti, who looks at the waitress. She walks over real slow. A long five minutes later, she returns with a couple of pops and a Caesar.
Benetti hustles off to douse his next fire.
He is one of several behind-the-scenes staffers who manage everything that happens at a basketball game that does not involve actual basketball. They fill every time-out space with clamour and incident. They do it all while the music blares around them. It’s like directing a stage play in a steel mill.
“Go! Go! Go!” the game operations manager, Anton Wright, yells into everyone’s head mic.
Another coordinator, Annie Cho, has her hand at the back of the woman who will sing the national anthems. Nobody’s ever done anything worse than flub a word.
“If anything really bad went wrong, I think I would die on the court,” Cho says.
A great deal of the managing involves the Raptors Dance Pak — a dozen relentlessly cheerful young women who queue up in the tunnel mouths where Benetti and Cho help quarterback the show.
The game coordination team also has to pay mind to the Raptor, the mini-Raptor, the court wipedowns, the in-game interviews, locating the contest winners who’ve been plucked by a cameraperson, delivering the game ball and writing the video skits
Raptors' Colangelo faces the music
Sometimes, guys just don’t get it.
Very first possession of the game and Toronto wants to go to Bargnani in the post. Smart move, see if they can get a quick foul, get him started off quickly.
Well, he posts up, takes the entry pass from Jose and when a second defender starts inching over he kicks it back out to Calderon.
Now, the smart play is for Bargnani to then get deeper position, repost himself and Jose knows this. And he waits. And is ready to re-enter the ball.
And what’s Andrea do? Instead of re-establishing himself in the post, he moves further away from the basket and, yes, he made the shot but that’s not the point.
So to all who wonder why they don’t dump the ball into him more often, that’s a pretty good indicator of why. Sometimes, he just doesn’t want it.
Bucks crush woeful Raptors in OT
There are rumours that Colangelo, well-ensconced in Toronto and determined to reboot a club that has floundered under his watch, is seeking a five-year deal and no less than what he’s paid now; terms that some in the ownership group might find steep given the pay-for-performance ethos that permeates the executive suite of the majority owner, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.
For his part, Colangelo says he’s made no contract demands and his focus is on taking advantage of the Raptors’ ever-improving draft position by scouting amateur talent more than he has for years.
He’s committed to the relationship
“I haven’t talked to anyone about my contract,” he said Friday. “Anyone who says I have is talking BS. I’m not looking for the door right now; I love being here. My focus is on moving forward.”
He may get his chance, if not his price. Those reading the tea leaves inside the MLSE board room describe a scene where practicality has replaced passion.
“They know he’s not the Messiah they thought he was five years ago,” said one source. “But they’re also realizing no one is. If there was a Messiah, they’d hire him.”
And so it’s come to this: MLSE and Colangelo will likely realize that, for now, they’re stuck with each other.
They’re looking over what got them here in the first place and realizing that they could have done worse: Colangelo remains a hard-working, resourceful and risk-taking executive – “he keeps swinging for the fences, he’s just missed” – and MLSE and the Raptors and Toronto retain their better-than-most status among NBA owners.
In Colangelo’s favour, also, is that though he’s prone to some inexplicable accessorizing with the corporate Amex – $50-million for a classic Hedo Turkoglu or $30-million for the latest Jason Kapono – he’s kept his receipts and done well to get out from under his mistakes.
But if it’s not him who resurrects the franchise’s fortunes, then who? Who will be better and how long to find out that he’s not? And then what?
And with that realization the deal will be done; the terms as yet to be determined. There will be no fancy dinners or expensive wines this time, however.
Raptors fall to Milwaukee in overtime
Toronto trailed 97-87 on a 3-pointer by Ilyasova with 6:31 remaining, but tied it at 104 with 18 seconds left in regulation.
The Bucks gave the ball to Delfino, who let the clock wind down before driving and losing the ball out of bounds, giving it back to Toronto with 2.8 seconds left. Bargnani's jump shot at the buzzer didn't fall, sending the game to overtime.
Bogut scored the first six points of overtime, but baskets by Johnson and DeMar DeRozan made it 110-108 with 1:35 remaining. Keyon Dooling missed a pair of free throws, allowing DeRozan to tie it with a reverse layup. Maggette answered with his tiebreaking 3, giving the Bucks a 113-110 lead with 43 seconds to play.
Sonny Weems missed a 3 at the other end and Delfino was fouled after picking up the rebound, but made just one of two. After another Toronto miss, Maggette sealed it with a pair of free throws.
Bogut started hot, making six consecutive shots before his first miss. He scored 12 points in the first as the Bucks led 32-22 after one.
Toronto's reserves turned things around with a superb second, scoring 25 of the team's 35 points in the quarter. Milwaukee took an 81-78 lead into the fourth.
Toronto has not led going into the final quarter since Jan. 12 against Atlanta, a run of nine games. The Raptors led 77-75 that night but lost 104-101 on a late 3 by Mike Bibby, the first defeat of their current losing streak.
Bogut finishes strong for Bucks
Well, at least DeMar DeRozan was adequately prepared for the losing.
A lot of NBA players are used to running through the competition given their prodigious talents. Not DeRozan.
“My first two years in high school, [they were] tough,” DeRozan said. ”My first two years, we were horrible.”
“Everywhere I’ve went, we’ve won,” Sonny Weems said in contrast. “Junior college, I won the championship there. High school, I won the championship there. [Losing is] something you have to go through. You’re down before you can go up.”
Well, that is one theory. DeRozan, Weems and their teammates continue to spend considerable time in the down phase. The Raptors lost their 10th-straight game on Friday night, falling 116-110 in overtime to the Milwaukee Bucks. It is the Raptors’ longest losing streak in almost five years.
“It doesn’t matter, man,” Amir Johnson said of his 24 points and 12 rebounds. “For me, we should have just got the win, do you know what I mean? Points don’t matter. We just gave that one away.”
The overtime was a frenetic one. Andrew Bogut scored the first six points of the extra period, but the Raptors responded with the next six. Corey Maggette gave the Bucks the lead once more with a three-pointer that hit the front rim softly and bounced in.
With the way things are going for the Raptors, of course it bounced in. How could it not have?
“For him to make the three at the end, it was a great shot,” Johnson said. “What can I say?”
Alas, the Raptors could not respond, with Weems taking and missing a needless three-pointer with plenty of time left on the shot clock. That wound up dooming the Raptors.
Minnesota vs. Toronto
Carlos Delfino handled the playmaking duties at the end of regulation but committed two turnovers, including one after the Bucks' final play broke down with the score tied at 104-104.
That gave Toronto a chance to win on its final possession in regulation, but 7-foot forward Andrea Bargnani missed a 19-footer with nine-tenths of a second left while being guarded by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
"Look, it's an NBA team," Skiles said of the Raptors' role in the Bucks' breakdowns. "They have a say in that as well. But the guys know it. There are plays out there we've got to make, and we've got to make them better.
"We're going for one shot and we didn't. We just got right into the play (on the final Bucks possession in regulation, which started with 18.2 seconds left). That's my responsibility. I can't explain it."
The Bucks clearly didn't want to waste a performance that included 55.3% shooting from the field (42 of 76) and a sterling effort by Ilyasova.
"You could tell when it was coming out of his hand, he was in one of those grooves tonight," Skiles said of the 6-10 forward.
"More and more, he has to get off that three-point line. When he's inside that line he's a very confident shooter. He just gets in a little trouble when he gets out in the deep water and he has to be careful of that."
Bogut had 16 points in the first half but just two points in the third quarter and none in the fourth.
But he responded in overtime while being guarded one-on-one by Bargnani.
"My energy level wasn't great, but when you make your first three shots it helps," Bogut said. "We went to me early, but then I kind of disappeared for the next couple quarters.
"They weren't really doubling me because they didn't really have to. In the overtime we went in there the first three times and it worked out. I finally made a right-hand hook so I was pretty happy."
Center Amir Johnson paced the Raptors with 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Bargnani added 23 points but was just 9 for 23 from the field.
Point guard Jose Calderon had 13 points and 10 assists, but the Bucks limited high-scoring wing man DeMar DeRozan to 11 points.
The Timberwolves are allowing an NBA-worst 109.0 points per game, but they've surrendered 117.0 during the current skid.
They could, however, be in line for a breakout defensive performance against the Raptors, who have scored just 91.3 points while losing six straight on the road, The Timberwolves are 6-0 at home when giving up fewer than 100 points.
Minnesota, which last defeated the Raptors on Jan. 21, 2004, has been outscored by 10.5 points in 12 meetings since then.
Toronto dropped its 10th straight overall after falling 116-110 in overtime to Milwaukee on Friday.
DeMar DeRozan, who had recorded 25.2 points over his previous six games, finished with 11 while Andrea Bargnani went 9 of 23 from the floor - including 0 of 5 from 3-point range.
Bargnani, averaging a team-best 21.5 points, still scored 23. He had a chance to win the game but missed a jumper as time expired in regulation.
"It's tough, our best guys didn't have very good games tonight," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "DeMar and Andrea struggled a little bit tonight and that's going to happen sometimes."
Amir Johnson picked up some of the slack with a season-high 24 points and 12 rebounds. Johnson, averaging a career-high 9.8 points this season, is scoring 14.8 on 74.4 percent shooting over the last five games.
Toronto, which is last in the Atlantic, hasn't dropped 11 straight since a 12-game skid from Dec. 18, 2002-Jan. 10, 2003. That losing streak ended with a 14-point win over Minnesota.