Can’t expect a guy coming off a hamstring strain, an athlete who missed every two-a-day workout and has yet to take part in a full practice with his revamped team, to make an impact right away when he comes back. And so it was last night for Raptors all-star forward Chris Bosh, who clearly needed some time to evaluate his physical status in his first pre-season game.
Seven seconds, easy. Maybe eight.
Then Bosh took a pass down low from Jose Calderon, muscled his way past Kevin Love, and laid home the night’s first basket, an emphatic I’m-back announcement from the Raptors’ veteran leader that helped spark Toronto to its first pre-season victory, 112-97 over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"I wanted to come out super-aggressive to see where I was with my condition," said Bosh, sidelined 10 days by a hamstring injury suffered just before training camp. "I said: ‘Come right at me.’ "
Point guard Jose Calderon appreciates the heavy work schedule after surgery on his left hand kept him sidelined all summer.
"The more I get back to playing five-on-five, the better," Calderon said. "I haven’t done that for six months. It’s good to get used to it again."
Calderon normally fulfills a heavy schedule of international competition for the Spanish national team during the NBA’s off-season, but after an injury-plagued season in Toronto, he decided to sit on the sidelines last month as Spain won the European championship. That wasn’t easy, he said, but it’s paying off now.
The Raptors had originally wanted to see if they could get 12 minutes out of Bosh but he wore out more quickly than he’d expected.
"Yeah earlier than six minutes but it’s a start and Sunday (against Washington) will be a really good measuring stick to see how fast my body’s going to react," he said. "Maybe I’ll be able to go five minutes without getting tired."
But Bosh’s offence isn’t what the team is really worried about; they know the perpetual 20-10 veteran will be able to score. They want to see what he does on the defensive end of the floor.
"He’s going to have to be our anchor at the defensive end," said coach Jay Triano, whose team was led by 21 points from Andrea Bargnani and 11 each from DeMar DeRozan, Marco Belinelli, Sonny Weems and Reggie Evans. "He’s our most agile player, we’ve seen when he played with the United States Olympic team how good a defender he can be. … He’s changed his body and he’s got a little bit more of a physical presence so we don’t think he’ll have a problem doing it.
"If we’re going to be a good team, though, he’s going to have to be a better force for us at the defensive of the floor and be the guy who sets the tone."
“It’s a start,” Bosh said. “Sunday will be a really good measuring stick, just to see how fast my body’s going to react to this whole thing. And hopefully I’ll be able to go five minutes without getting tired.”
Toronto will host Washington on Sunday. Raptors coach Jay Triano said before Friday’s game he planned to limit Bosh to the first half against the Wolves.
Bosh isn’t a top 5 player in the NBA. He’s one of the best 15 players in the NBA. He’s a franchise player. But he’s not a player that your franchise rides or dies on. Yes, there is a difference. See, Bosh is a player you can anchor your team around, give him max-contract money & expect him to help the community. But you need to put solid players around him to go deep in the playoffs. And you aren’t allergic to hearing trade offers. He’s 22 points, 10 rebounds, great in the locker-room. But he isn’t making Doug Collins sleep with his rookie card next to his bed like he probably does with that mint condition LeBron from Topps. He isn’t going to take over an entire series and give you the worst facial expression ever (Hey Kob’). That’s not a diss. He’s just not the droid you’re looking for.
Once again one should never take the scores or the players’ individual stats to seriously during preseason as minutes and rotations are not what we’ll be seeing once things start for real. Also players are using these games to get their conditioning and timing back, so the end result really isn’t that important.
Still the preseason trend is good. Hopefully we’ll continue to see improvements on Sunday when the high scoring Wizards show up to work out their guys against the Raptors.
Raptors star forward Chris Bosh, making his preseason debut after missing the first two games because of an injured hamstring, and Andrea Bargnani, the top pick in the 2006 draft who is starting to play like it, made sure of that.
Rambis left Jefferson alone to defend Bosh at the game’s start. Then when Bosh took a breather while playing just 11 minutes (nine points, seven rebounds), he left Jefferson alone defensively against Raptors reserve Reggie Evans.
Bosh took Jefferson outside, Evans took him inside.
Toronto shot 53.9 percent (41 of 76) from the floor. Five Raptors players scored in double figures, led by 7-foot center Andrea Bargnani, who had a game-high 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
The Raptors didn’t need much from all-star forward Chris Bosh, who played only the first half and finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
6. Hedo is playing in Toronto – Hedo Turkoglu, AKA ”The Turkish Michael Jordan” has left the Orlando Magic, and he has headed to the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have a lot of young talent in Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker, Andrea Bargnani, and Jose Calderon. Now with the addition of Hedo Turkoglu to that squad, the Raptors should separate themselves from the pack of bottom-feeders that exists in the Eastern Conference. Will they take their opportunity, or will they squander it like they have before?
Toronto really puzzles me. In large part because of the presence of Chris Bosh, I have assumed that Toronto would have been a constant playoff participant, if not a burgeoning contender. But their weak 41-41 campaign in 2008 and miserable 33 wins in 2009 show the Raptors as sorta suckers. Granted, GM Bryan Colangelo has a concept that he is working towards, and building anything takes time. With the acquisitions of Turkoglu, Jarret Jack, Marco Belineli, DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson, he may finally have the personnel to play a Euro-Suns style. But unless Colangelo’s plan also includes losing Bosh as a free agent next summer, Toronto needs to get back into the playoff mix this season.