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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 31.03.10
Opportunity knocks for Raps
Contrite Turkoglu accepts diminished role with Raptors
The last thing any team should do, whether it’s playing well or going through turbulence, is get caught up in the schedule.
As sure as players and coaches look at the standings, it’s human nature to peek ahead and see what the immediate future has in store.
For the Raptors, what looms is a good chance to build upon Monday’s win in Charlotte.
Toronto’s win was far from perfect, but it represented an important psychological lift that was absolutely required following back-to-back losses to Denver and Miami when the Raptors were in a position to win and should have won had they paid more attention to details.
Had Chris Bosh kept possession of a missed free throw by Carmelo Anthony and had Bosh not missed his own attempt from the line, the Raptors would have knocked off the Nuggets.
Had the Raptors not blown a 17-point lead and created more looks when Miami made its predictable run with Dwyane Wade handling the ball, Toronto escapes South Florida with a win.
The margin for error with the Raptors is thin, but their fragile state did get a boost, and how they capitalize in the next three games will go a long way in determining their playoff hopes and seeding.
Nothing should be taken for granted, even though Toronto’s next three opponents have nothing on the line.
The Clippers, Wednesday night’s opposition, are very beatable because of the dreaded back-to-back scenario. Having played in Milwaukee, L.A.’s task is that much harder given the change in time zones.
On the road in Philly and back home against Golden State, the Raptors have to avoid turning the ball over, which they did for the most part in Charlotte, and limit transition points against teams such as the Sixers and Warriors that rely so much on getting up and down the floor and getting off quick shots.
The next three games could well be a defining moment for the Raptors because what follows is a three-game run against Cleveland, Boston and Atlanta, who are a combined 7-2 against Toronto
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
He lost his job for a variety of reasons – desultory play, the athleticism of the players behind him, an ill-fated decision to go out on the town after missing a game due to illness – and he's willing to accept what some might see as punishment.
But the overriding impression is that the message delivered emphatically with his benching in Miami on Sunday was unequivocally accepted. And not with anger.
"No, I was upset that I couldn't help but I can't be angry," Turkoglu said before he came off the bench to score 11 points in Toronto's much-needed win in Charlotte on Monday night.
"I respect all the decisions, and from now on I'm going to. You're upset that you see the situation and you can't help. You can't be mad about it. All you can do is be positive. From now on, I'll try to be positive."
To say Turkoglu has been at the centre of a storm almost all season long is a bit of an understatement. The team decided to give him almost all of training camp off to rest after playing for his Turkey homeland in the European championships and he started the season slowly, as did his team.
While he has put up numbers comparable to last season with Orlando, his impact in Toronto hasn't been nearly as great as the fans would expect. Signed to a gigantic contract – five years and about $53 million (U.S.) – the expectations were great from the moment he joined the Raptors but his play did not live up to the hype.
His coaches, bosses and teammates defended him for most of the season – and he did have more than a few good games when Toronto was red-hot in the middle of the season – but the breaking point was reached on the weekend.
Better, but not good enough
The issue of “chemistry” with the local heroes has been a subject bandied about with great regularity over the last month or so when a promising season got a little bit off the rails.
People have wondered if there was some divisive locker room issue that was causing problems, whether this guy liked that guy or that guy like that other fellow or whether they were getting along well enough to be a functioning group.
It’s always been my contention that losses lead to finger-pointing too often and that was the problem, nothing more deeply rooted than that, and that a win or two and everything would be sunshine and puppy dogs again instead of storm clouds and pitbulls.
Well, because I wondered if maybe there was some legitimate dislike between some of the players – and I have to admit there were moments where it looked as if they truly disliked each other – I figured I’d ask.
I went to three players whose opinions I truly respect and who have been honest and forthright with me every time I’ve asked them a question about anything.
I’m not going to tell you who they are because I asked them on the condition of anonymity so they wouldn’t worry about having to sugarcoat any answer. But, trust me, I trust them to tell me the truth.
And all of them said it’s not an issue, that they do get along, they do respect each other (and that’s more important than holding hands and singing songs) and there are no underlying issues.
They agree that losses make it hard to feel all sweetness and light but the issues is more of performance than personality. As one of them said:
“It’s like we’ve got a switch and we leave it in the ‘off’ position too much and when it gets hard, we don’t know how to turn it on. If we do, we can be good. Really good. But we have to do it. It’s not coaches, it’s not management, it’s us. We have to know how good we can be and just do it.”
Raptors Game Day
I stand by my prediction: i.e. the Raps flameout and miss the playoffs, Triano and Bosh gone.
But I’m that teensy bit less sure of myself than I was after they lost to Miami.
Lost amidst the drama is that the Raptors have played hard since their debacle against Utah. They should have beaten Denver at home and then Miami on the road.
They did beat Charlotte, who can ugly up a basketball game with the best of them, and did it on the second night of a back-to-back no less, a Raptors graveyard most of this season.
If you were one of those counterintuitive value investors you could probably make the case that this was the time to jump on the Raptors train. After all, how different would the stories be if they had won three straight fairly “must” wins?
In a way, their recent effort stands as an indictment of what’s gone on before. That was my reaction to their loss to Denver prior to the Turkogflu story wafting out, and it still stands.
Why has it taken until the final 10 or 12 games of the schedule to see a five-man starting unit that includes Weems and Wright and unit gives the Raptors the bounce and defensive edge missing so often this year?
The anti-Hedo keeps Raptors in the hunt
L.A. CLIPPERS AT TORONTO
7 p.m., Air Canada Centre
TV : TSN 2 Radio: Fan 590
What's hot? History, which dictates the Clippers should be long out of the playoff race by this point. Sure enough, with 11 losses in 13 games before last night, the Clippers are playing out the string.
Who's not? Rasual Butler is shooting just 17-for-52 (33%) from the field over the last four games.
Who's hot? In his first three games as a reserve of his career, DeMar DeRozan has hit 11 of his 14 (79%) field-goal attempts.
Who's not? With Jay Triano shortening his bench, Reggie Evans has played fewer than 10 minutes in each of his last three games.
DeAndre Jordan's playing time with Clippers source of debate
It is Wright's attitude as much as anything else that has buoyed the Raptors. He sprained his ankle during a devastating loss on Friday night, but he returned to that game ( just in time to fall to the floor after Carmelo Anthony hit his buzzer-beating game winner) and he was a surprise participant in the next day's practice. "I can't keep him off the floor," Triano marveled.
In franchise history, the Raptors have not been littered with players who have competed through pain.
Most importantly, Wright is a willing defender.
"He's a leader because he's doing what we ask him to do, which is play at the defensive end of the floor," Triano said. "Antoine just finds a way to get in front [of the man he's guarding] and fight and get through screens and ... still do what we ask him to do."
Wright should not be deified. He is a limited offensive player, and while he looks like the second coming of Bruce Bowen by comparison on this team, he makes some mistakes defensively.
But given the identity of the Raptors, it is easy to wonder what took the club so long to put Wright in a situation where he can help set the tone.
"Coach [Dunleavy] was more like film-teaching. Kim is out here [on the court] teaching. Which is totally different. Kim will be like, ‘OK, DJ, there were some clips on the film, I want you to go here.' He'll actually show you."
Then there's the bluntness.
"Pretty upfront," said Jordan, laughing. "Very upfront. He's a straight-shooter, which I like. There's no beating around the bush. There's no like, ‘Well, you know, like maybe this.' It's like, ‘OK, if you don't do this, you're not going to play.'
"He doesn't sugar-coat anything. I like that a lot better than ‘I don't know, maybe.' "
Speaking of honesty … Hughes stated the obvious, that Sunday's effort was "unacceptable." The Clippers have lost nine of their last 10 games and haven't won on the road since Feb. 2.
"We are a team that loves to blame other people," he said. "Right now, when you talk to people one-on-one, the first thing you hear out of their mouth is, ‘Well this is what he didn't do.' I want to hear what you can do."
Sunshine Girl – 31.03.10
RF Girl of the Day – Sammie Pennington
SUNshine Girl Jessica hopes to become a hairdresser and eventually own a salon. Don't mess with Jessica, her hobbies include working out and kickboxing. Our girl's favourite sport is hockey and she likes spending her free time relaxing and reading a book. She likes guys who "know who they are." We guess that's better than the police knowing who they are.