Today in Raptorland - 4/26/08
Old 04-26-2008, 11:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Post Today in Raptorland - 4/26/08

Ford finding fortunes fickle

"It's easy to ride the horse when it's going well," Ford said yesterday after scoring 21 points in the 108-94 victory the night before. "That's the easy thing ... to stand by them when they're going well, to give them all the credit in the world. But the hard thing to do is when a guy is not going well, how many people continue to believe in that dude and that he will play well? A lot of people counted me out."

That was after he netted just 11 points in Games 1 and 2.

Asked yesterday what got him out of his shooting funk, Ford appeared to hear: "Who got you out of your shooting funk?" and didn't like the question.

"Why can't it just be me sometimes?" Ford said, his voice rising. "Why does it have to be someone else? I am who I am. I ain't changing for nobody. It's just me, all right? Two games I didn't play well, somebody said I wouldn't start. Right? I just went out there and made shots. I made the adjustment. That's really all it is."
Magic guard vows he will make amends

"I've been saying it all series long that they've got great point guards and we've got great point guards,'' Nelson said. "It's going to be a challenge, but we're up for it."
Howard aims for super start

That is why a quick start this afternoon is foremost on the minds of the Magic, who failed to match Toronto's intensity, focus and jump shooting.

"On the offensive and defensive side, we did not play the way we're capable,'' Howard added. "We did the things they wanted us to do.

"We can't let them dictate how we play. Effort-wise, focus-wise, we have to be better."
Kapono has game dialed in again

Kapono again has his greatest individual skill on display and no number of Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy's sideline tantrums as Kapono drains another three has been able to change that in three games.

Kapono says his scoring ability returned with a substantial nightly workload.

"It's really hard as a player to play well in a short amount of time," Kapono said. "If you miss one shot or two shots, you might get benched. It's a confidence game and if you play and play a lot you feel better knowing you can afford to miss a couple of shots."
Shocker in Philly

The 76ers added one more surprise victory in a season stuffed with them. The win wasn't the shocker -- it was the way Philadelphia completely thrashed the playoff-tested Detroit Pistons in Game 3 that was the stunner.

Andre Miller was spot on with his mid-range jumper and scored 21 points, and the rest of the Sixers ran all over the court in a dominating 95-75 victory last night to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.
Trash-talking Nuggets vow change

"I would prefer us staying more professional and stay away from the trash talking," Nuggets coach George Karl said.

The series shifts to Denver today and the Nuggets know they can't keep provoking Bryant and the fed-up officials if they're to have any hope of turning around this series.

"In the playoffs, you get a little more emotional," Lakers forward Lamar Odom. "You can't help it, every game is so important. When we're at their place, we'll try to avoid that."
Celtics' Pierce good to go

Pierce had no problems during practice and was expected to play without restrictions tonight in Game 3 of Boston's first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. Pierce, who was body-slammed to the floor in Game 2 on Wednesday, said his back was stiff the next day but fine yesterday.

Raptors' defence is key

"I would just say everybody's looking at the scoring, but the key for us was how they played defence, how they picked up (Orlando's guards) and we did a good job of keeping their guards out of the lane," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said yesterday.

"It's just trying to make a team start its offence out further. Like they did to us in Game 1, they had us out by the `playoff' sign (on the court, to start the offence) and you can't make a pass, you can't make penetrating passes out there. You've got to get to your scoring area before you're even comfortable shooting the basketball."
Kapono has dazzled and mystified us

Clearly Bryan Colangelo, the general manager who inked Kapono to a four-year, $24 million free-agent deal this past summer, figured the gunner was, to use his word, "underutilized" until now. And when you consider Kapono has hit as many three-pointers in this series (11) as he hit in the pre-playoff run-up of, oh, January, February, March and April, it certainly makes one wonder if the coach stretched the limits of the clipboard.

Kapono, who led the league in three-point accuracy for the second straight season by making 48.3 per cent, has repeatedly blamed meagre regular-season playing time for his woes. (He was, at 18.9 minutes per game, Toronto's ninth man). Sam Mitchell, who will agree with anything a 61.1 per cent post-season three-point shooter says, nodded his head yesterday.

"Okay," he said. "It's my fault."
Superman knows when to flick switch

"I was messing with him, because I know him. He's from my area. I watched him play AAU ball. He played AAU ball with my cousin, Dan. He asked me where my cousin was. I said he was completing his final semester at Cornell and wants to be an actor, not a basketball player," Mitchell said. "I told him, jokingly, `Hey, you'd better stop hitting my guys.' He said, `Coach, Dwight is a nice guy. Dwight don't hit anybody. But Superman will knock the s--- out of you.' I had to laugh. He's a good kid.

"You've got to have that, a switch you hit at 7 o'clock or whatever time the game is,'' Mitchell added. "That's the thing I tell our players: We want you to be a nice guy off the court, but when you walk on that court, that switch has got to come on and you've got to become whatever you need to become to get the job done."
Parker puts stranglehold on series

Tony Parker had a career-high 41 points along with 12 assists and San Antonio routed the Suns 115-99 last night to take a 3-0 series lead.

The defending NBA champion Spurs never trailed in winning their ninth consecutive playoff game and 13th of 14, dating to last season. They can complete the sweep tomorrow in Phoenix. No NBA team has come back from 0-3 to win a series.

Numbers don't lie for Raptors

The numbers don't lie: Orlando was 9-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first quarter of Game 1, setting an NBA playoff record in the process, but are just 21-for-76 since (27.6 per cent).

And while the Magic still lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, the Raptors have won seven of the past 11 quarters.
"When you get a rhythm as a shooter, you hit a couple, you start feeling good and it doesn't matter who's running at you," Parker said. "If you can stop guys from getting that rhythm and getting that confidence, it makes a difference. Then when something does break down and they get an open shot, maybe you get a couple of misses."
Spurs get brooms ready

It's the first three-game losing streak for the Suns this season.

Phoenix acquired Shaquille O'Neal to better match up with the Spurs, but the Suns are one loss away from being swept in a seven-game series for the first time since the Los Angeles Lakers did it in the 1988-89 Western Conference finals.
Mavericks contain Paul, Hornets

"I think we got a lot of shots we wanted," Paul said. "We just missed them."

With 13 of Paul's first 16 shots falling out instead of in, and fellow all-star David West clanging 11 of his first 14, the Hornets couldn't get into a groove until it was too late. Nowitzki and Terry came up big on both ends of the court, pulling Dallas right back into this first-round series with a 97-87 victory in Game 3 on Friday night.

Nowitzki had 32 points, 19 rebounds and six assists to get the Mavericks within 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday night in Dallas, where the Hornets haven't won since January 1998.
Sixers surprise Pistons

Philadelphia had no reason for nerves from start to finish. The Sixers proved their Game 1 victory was no fluke, doing everything Detroit normally did on the way to five straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals: Hit clutch shots, never lost composure and kept the pressure on all game to never let the Pistons go on a serious run.

"They're not supposed to be where they're at," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "They're up 2-1 against a team nobody thought they could beat. I could understand why they're happy."

Raptors know the power of home-court advantage

It started with a pointed, if humourous, jab at the media, which is no surprise. Whenever Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is trying to make a point, a poke at the lowly scribes is a familiar tack.

"Some of you guys need to actually come on the road and experience that, instead of watching it from the TV monitor at home," Mitchell said yesterday of the atmosphere of an NBA road playoff game.

"And then you'll get a feel for the difference. As good as our crowd was [in Game 3], their crowd was equally as tough. Then maybe when you write those stories about how tough it is to play at an opposing arena in the playoffs, then you will have more of a feel for what happened, and just how hard it is to win."
Kapono making shots count

"[But] that's been the great thing about my career --I've seen that," adds Kapono, who played sparingly during stops in Cleveland, Charlotte, and Miami before seeing more consistent time last season. "I've played once every 10th game. I've sat 15 games and then had to start. I've never been accustomed to starting and touching the ball and shooting 15 times a game. I feel like my experience has definitely helped me out in that situation, where you can sit on the bench for 43 minutes and then come in and make shots."
"I'm still a scrub, always will be," Kapono says. "I never forget where I came from. I used to be in a suit, barely hanging on. [Shooting's] my skill, that's what I have to do. Otherwise, I wouldn't have a job; I'd be back in California surfing."

Instead, he's playing, and for the Raptors to win this series, Kapono might have to keep playing like this.

Van Gundy worried after Game 3 beating

The Raptors were at least competitive in the two games in Orlando; the Magic weren't competitive at all Thursday night in Toronto. If the Magic don't win today, or at least come up with a respectable performance, the Raptors suddenly seize the series momentum.

Don't you love the playoffs?

One day, you feel great about your team's chances; the next day you're convinced your team might get swept the rest of the way.

"Every day in the playoffs is a new day," Van Gundy philosophized Friday. "You just don't know how it's going to unfold." . . .
Sunshine Girl - 4/26/08

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Old 04-26-2008, 12:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 04-26-2008, 12:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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