Kyrie Irving
Franchise Player vs. Wannabe Franchise Player
Mavericks 96, Raptors 86

That’s what Jay Triano told Chris Bosh after he benched him in the third quarter because he was playing like a prima donna. Listen child, if we wanted our PF to take jumpers we’d get Dell Curry and Tracy Murray out of retirement, have them play the 4 and give them the green light to launch as many springers as they want, that would be better than watching you make a fool of yourself and make a mockery of the term “franchise player”. You want to be the MVP? How about not playing shit scared for a change and coming through when you’re matched up with a player we’re told you’re better than. Or is that all just bullshit and you’re really the worst good player in the ’04 draft and we were just unlucky not to select 5th and get a real player like Wade up in here. I’m tired of watching him choke whenever he’s matched up with a club not named the Bobcats, it’s the same crap over and over again and it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to end. But oh wait, he’s tired, he played in the Olympics and D’d up some Euro dude named Slava so he must be exhausted. That’s probably why he’s just settling for J’s, not because he can’t drive or finish. Not because he doesn’t have a real offensive move in his arsenal, none of that. It’s because Evil Sam played him 40+ minutes a game for the first 15 games and that’s totally got him burned out by Game 25. Hell, why even bother playing the rest of the season? Put his sorry carcass on the injured list and sign Primoz to a contract, at least we’ll get some real entertainment down at the ACC.

After the game he has the balls to say this:

If I want to get booed, I’ll go on the road. It’s really tense right now. When you’re down three points at home and you’re getting booed, that’s kind of disheartening. Whether the crowd knows it or not, they play a big part in the game.”

Is this joker for real? We’re booing because we’ve seen this movie like half a dozen times already. We get an early lead, give 90% of it back by the half, give 115% of it back by the end of the third and then watch you pussy out in the fourth. That’s why the fans are booing you turd. It’s called being disgusted with your team. Your response to the NJ humiliation is jump shooting your way to 2-13 against Devean George? Your team shoots 26% in the second and third quarters and you wonder why the fans are booing? BTW, for those of you keeping track, Devean George should be added to the long list of NBA players that have shutdown Chris Bosh in a meaningful game. The list includes everyone from scrubs to greats, here are a few notables: Josh Boone, David West, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, Nene, Josh Smith, Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett….the list goes on and on. It’s sad, this is supposed to be our franchise player, the guy we’re building the club around and the one who’s supposed to take this team to the next level. Such horseshit. Too disgusted to talk about this pretender anymore.

I’m running the risk of people thinking that I’m copy and pasting these recaps but that’s just not true, we’re just consistently bad. Let’s talk about this game for a bit. We started off well in the first quarter and were shooting something like 75% 3/4 of the way through it and ended it up 11. Most of the shots we took were jumpers but when they’re going in nobody talks about why you’re not going inside or why your star player is acting like there’s a landmine in the paint. The thing about percentages is that they even out and I’m thinking to myself, the Raptors will cool off and the Mavericks will continue to shoot 46% for the game and this does not bode well. So the second quarter started and sure enough we started cooling off and the Mavericks picked up their defense and got back in the game with some three point shooting which came off of the mismatches they initiated. By the end of the half, what was a 13 point lead got whittled down to 5. This is all happening with Bosh playing like Zan Tabak and Dirk missing jumpers he usually hits while taking a piss. So I think to myself, self, there’s no way Dirk continues to miss those in the second half. See, both supporting casts did a great job of keeping their teams close in the first half as both “star” players struggled, but the supporting cast can’t win you the game over 48 minutes, that’s where your big players come in. As expected, Nowtzki heated up and Bosh remained cold, ice cold. Jason Terry and Josh Howard came through as Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani didn’t. What’s new?

Dallas is a tough team to cover because they’ve got great perimeter play in Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki. All they did in this game was run a high screen near the three-point line, waited for the Raptors to pull towards one of the two Mavs and passed to the open one for the jumper. When you’ve got great shooters that’s all you need to do. The other source of their offense was nothing but a simple straight-up pass to Nowtizki at the elbow who faced up Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani and drained a jumper in their eye. After he made his first five you’d think we’d switch it up a little and maybe make him put it on the floor, turn him into a passer and force him towards O’Neal who was doing a great job of playing positional paint defense. Triano never adjusted to Dirk which is surprising because he did make a quick adjustment in the first quarter when Josh Howard was burning Jamario Moon, he yanked Moon for Graham and the defense tightened up. We also had no answer for Brandon Bass who got his scores against Bosh face-up style and against our wings in the post, very good player.

There was another unexplainable move by Triano which is still perplexing me, Good Joey showed up in the first quarter and went 4-5 for 8 points, Triano took him out at 10:08 of the second quarter and didn’t bring him back till 10:22 of the third quarter. Whatever happened to feeding the hot hand? Joey was running the break, hitting the jumper and playing defense, don’t quite understand why he got yanked. Let’s leave their severe flaws aside for a second and acknowledge that Moon, Graham and Parker did a decent job in this game of supplying 29 points, Jason Kapono not so much. It’s becoming apparent that he’s going to be hit and miss as the starting SG, it’s not entirely his fault, he’s being asked to get his offense by running around 6 screens, pump faking a guard, dealing with the paint help and then launching a semi-contested jumper. I’m all for Kapono getting 18 shots a game but I’d like to see them come in a little more systematic fashion, not through pure chucking. Tonight he got his ass handed to him on the defensive end by Howard, Terry and the versatile Brandon Bass who can play 3 different positions. It’s just too easy for them to get their shot off against Kapono who can’t apply any sort of ball pressure and is shaken off without the help of a screen. It was dangerous what they were doing to him.

So thanks to the good play of our wings and the continued solid contributions from Jermaine O’Neal on both ends of the floor, we were up 5 at the half. That’s a good thing, we’re a struggling team playing a hot team and we haven’t been blown out, that’s something to celebrate and build upon right there. A team can go into halftime and come out two ways in the third quarter. Either they can come out thinking that they’re right there in the game and will grind out the second half on a possession by possession basis OR they can come out all insecure and scared thinking about the lead they once had. The Raptors as you know did the latter. Instead of taking on the challenge of hanging with the Mavericks by slowing the game down and playing hard-nosed inside-out basketball, our sorry defense let them go on a 23-10 run while we went strictly jumpers in the third quarter. Our leader Bosh in this quarter? 0-5 with 2 turnovers. Their leader Dirk in this quarter? 4-5 for 8 points. ‘Nuf said.

The fourth quarter starts with us stuck 6 and we start off with Roko – who played very well in his first spell – at the helm. Chris Bosh finally makes a couple shots and we cut the lead down to 2 and that’s when our defense lets us down. Ukic goes under a high screen and Barea drains a three, on our next possession Parker throws a YMCA pass which gets picked off and Barea finds Jason Terry for a trailing three to push the lead back up to 8. Another easy Brandon Bass jumper off a high-pick makes it 10 and the game is over. We don’t have the firepower or will to come back from that.

Jose Calderon is killing us, for once I’d just like to see him accelerate in transition and get to the rim to either finish the play or find a corner-sniper. Just once. He’s very enthusiastic about getting the ball to the top of the key but then loses the motivation to go any further, instead he’ll pull back and do a couple meaningless dribbles before passing it to someone on the perimeter or dumping it precariously into the low-post. Here are his assist distribution numbers, note that 5 of his assists came in that hot first quarter and the only ones that were true finds were the look-off pass to Joey Graham and finding a cutting Moon. The rest are garbage. Juan Barea’s 6 assists are far more impressive because he actually attracted a defender and then found the cheater’s man.

  • O’Neal 1
  • Graham 4
  • Moon 3
  • Bargnani 1
  • Bosh 1

Calderon’s late rotations on Kidd after leaving him without a reason hurt us, Kidd burned him for two threes and another jumper at key moments in the game. Twice in the third quarter when the Raptors were trying to hang on to that first half lead and then in the fourth quarter when he hit a three to make it a 10 point game. I could live with these defensive mistakes if he operated efficiently on offense but he’s missing too many cutters, passing up too many semi-transition opportunities and failing to deliver the ball to feed mismatches. Case in point: Jermaine O’Neal had Jose Barea on him in the post and Jose Calderon failed to make the entry-pass. It was the low-point of the game for him.

Let not my criticisms of Calderon divert the blame for who lost us this game – Chris Bosh. We counted on him to cancel out, if not outplay Dirk Nowitzki and he came up so short that I’d rather have Humphries D up Dirk and see how far he gets. Jermaine O’Neal had a great game, 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 charges. He was the offense for stretches in the game, if he could only finish consistently around the rim we’d rely less and less on Bosh and wouldn’t be disappointed as often. I think O’Neal’s offense is starting to come back to the level it was before he got injured. In a game that followed that oh so familiar recipe of disaster, him and Graham remain the lone bright spots.

We followed our recent trend of getting killed on the boards as we were -10, but it only cost us 7 second-chance points. This loss falls more in the Sam Mitchell category of things: Bad perimeter defense and getting dominated at the G spot. Dallas shot 50% from the field and their PGs outscored ours 37-18, we left a man open too often on their screen ‘n rolls and would’ve been much better off just switching as we we had been doing of late. The differential in talent between the two teams is so great, we’re outmatched at every single position, except perhaps the center where I can safely say that Jermaine O’Neal is better than Erick Dampier. Come to think of it this game went according to plan, a home team gets off to a good start, can’t sustain the play for whatever reason (bad conditioning, lack of motivation, confidence etc.), the better team regains momentum and finishes off strong. As Devean George said about us:

The whole team looked frustrated, some doubt started to come into their mind. They started off smoking, but it’s a 48 minute game.

Yup, we got some mentally weak players on this team. And nobody’s more mentally weak than Andrea Bargnani who’s confidence gets shaken if a telemarketer doesn’t say ‘thank you’ after you tell him to piss off. What did Andrea do tonight? 1-5 for 3 points and some nasty looking bricks on open shots. I’m not holding him to #1 pick standards but can I atleast hold him to un-drafted free agent ones? Colangelo’s hoping that if it acts like a stiff, plays like a stiff, looks like a stiff, it’s probably a future Hall of Famer.

Also, since when did Jack Armstrong become an apologist for every single Raptor out there? I used to love this guy’s honesty and straight-up analysis but he’s become worse than Chuck Swirsky lately. What’s this nonsense about being the “eternal optimist” when Bosh is settling for jumpers, Jose’s putting on the breaks at the three-point line and Andrea’s playing like…well…Andrea. Our media, management and coaches have all seemed to accept mediocrity as the norm. They’ve become apologists for the team when they should be critics that motivate. If the “experts” closest to you tell you that everything’s fine and rosy when they’re not, who are you supposed to get an honest opinion from?

We’re 2-6 under Triano and have a 6 game Western ass-f*ck coming our way. I want to say that we’re capable of beating the Thunder but let me remind the denizens of the Republic that last year the Sonics blew us out 123-115 and the score doesn’t to justice to how big of a massacre it was. Let’s hope we can get a win there, not that it means much considering that this team is heading down the toilet, the only thing left to do is to pour some Draino and flush hard. Colangelo: either blow this baby up and trade this sorry excuse of a franchise player OR cross that luxury-tax line and get some real players here so we can make a legitimate run, not this pretender bullshit.

We also got this game covered via the Roll Call with AltRaps and the live blog which I had to suffer through.

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