Triano has given his players the day off today.
By his calculation, Triano’s team has been going at it at a hard and fast clip for the past three days, including the Raptors’ back-to-back set against Boston and Houston.
"We’ve got two pre-season games left to get ready for the regular season and we’ll have just enough practice days to work on things,” Triano said.
It’s pretty obvious watching the Raptors that the team will score.
Once the rotation is firmed up and tightened, the Raptors will be able to field some very versatile and creative pieces.
Raptors head coach Jay Triano will be available to sign autographs of his recently released book on the fundamentals of basketball, How to Play like the Pros, tomorrow at Indigo (Eaton Centre location) between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Good friend and former Olympian Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns wrote the book’s foreword.
Not because Jack doesn’t want to or can’t be the player his coach wants him to be, but because the idea of looking out for No. 1 runs contrary to his style.
But for the Raptors to be successful, it’s who Jack has to become.
"It’s tough," the point guard admitted after Toronto dropped a sloppy 124-112 decision to the Houston Rockets at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night. "It’s not something I do as a first nature. That’s what pre-season’s for.
"I’m trying to work on that new role, trying to be as aggressive as possible and at the same time get my teammates involved as well."
However, last night’s performance was not exactly compelling. Having sat out the first two weeks of training camp to recover from a heavy off-season with the Turkish national team, Turkoglu was obviously rusty, though he finished with nine points and five assists in 22 minutes of court time.
On his first touch, he worked a pick-and-roll with Andrea Bargnani but threw the ball behind the cutting centre for a turnover. Next time, he corralled a long defensive rebound and jump-started the break – something Raptors head coach Jay Triano wants him to do in order to increase the club’s tempo – but a pull-up jumper in transition wasn’t close.
He took a couple of his patented quicker-than-he-looks drives to the basket but failed to finish either of them.
"I could have stayed in Toronto where they have a couple of athletes now, a few more rebounders on the team," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This team has Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, who do a lot of different things. But they don’t have the type of athleticism … that I do.
"I would have loved to be back here, but I like my situation in Houston."
"We might have to go back to the drawing board a little bit," said Bosh, after his team allowed Houston to drill 13 largely open three-pointers, and shoot a healthy 56%. "We’ve made progress, but tonight we took a step back."
The problem, of course, is that there isn’t an awful lot of time to do anything but plow ahead. But between Bosh and Turkoglu, the rookie at shooting guard, the foot injury to Reggie Evans Wednesday, and a first-year head coach, there are a lot of puzzle pieces that need to click together. And they’re not close yet.
"You could tell the first group was kind of lethargic," said Triano. "[The Rockets] had a lot more energy than we did tonight."
"We bring a lot of energy, but it seems like it’s only at one end of the floor," said backup Jarrett Jack, talking about the second unit.
Shane Battier scored 26 points and Trevor Ariza added 18 as the Houston Rockets made 13 3-pointers in a 124-112 preseason victory over the Toronto Raptors
Easing into the season after a long summer playing for Turkey, Turkoglu, acquired in a trade with the Orlando Magic, made his Raptors debut in Toronto’s 106-90 loss to Boston a night earlier. He left Thursday’s game in the third quarter, heading to the locker-room to stretch.
"The fatigue thing after missing a couple of weeks is going to be something we’re going to have to work on over the next two weeks," Triano said. "Right now we don’t want to maximize his minutes too soon and have him pick up something due to fatigue."
Bosh is in a similar boat, returning from a hamstring injury suffered before training camp.
"By the end of the pre-season, I’ll be fine," said Bosh, who played 26 minutes. "Today I felt really well, I could have gone back in if need be. I think every day is progress."
DeMar DeRozan has a nasty habit of jumping in the air when he makes a pass. Opposing defenses will catch onto this quickly and as they do his turnovers will quickly start to mount.
I was ready to write this team off, dead in the water, until the signing of the Michael Jordan of Turkey! Hedo Turkoglu is going to be a huge lift for this team, and I believe that lift will be enough to push Miami out of the playoffs so the Raptors can take their spot. Add to that, the emergence, and finally … the emergence of Andrea Bargnani, and the realization of it hits. The Raptors have a lot of weapons here. Including Jose Calderon, a superb point guard who is lights out from the line, and oh, some guy named Chris Bosh. Heard of him? The Raptors are no longer extinct, look for them to return to the playoffs because of their talent in the starting lineup. Or should I say … talons? LOL.
The Raptors should make the playoffs as the 7th or 8th seed.
“We would have loved to have him back,” Colangelo said. “We talked to him all the way to the very end when he made the decision to go to Houston. Part of our complication was all the varied deals that were in play. With all the transactions that happened — nine new players from last year’s end-of-season roster, 12 from the start of training camp last year — I wasn’t sure how many spots I was going to have left to give another guaranteed deal. I always presented it as it was going to be a last-minute decision.
“I was very interested in bringing him back, not only because he was very much a fan favorite, but because he added that element we were looking to have last year. He was a great tonic for our roster and our situation last year. He brought energy. He brought hustle. He brought enthusiasm. He helped us down the stretch, when we won nine of 13 games.”
As Coach Triano continues the difficult process of shortening the bench last nights miserable performance won’t go a long way in helping him out. Against a very shorthanded Rockets team the Raptors played easily their worst preseason game getting punished by the likes of Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Shane Battier in a 124-112 lashing.
In what was reminiscent of many a last season game, decent 3-point shooters like Battier had career nights against the Raptors because no one was guarding them.
In this game, Shane Battier was left unguarded all evening. Even though the fans could see from their seats that Battier thought he was shooting layups from out there. One might have expected that someone on the Raptors would have started guarding him before he’d made 7 uncontested 3-pointers without a miss?
The end result of this inability to find 3-point shooters was a 13 for 23 night for the Rockets from 3. When compared to Toronto’s 2 for 13 from deep, the difference was the spread in the score.
My first impressions, having now watched him play are that the bigger, stronger Chris Bosh looks slower and more robotic than he was last season. He’s kinda like ‘good Joey G.’ with a few extra inches in height. The silky smoothness doesn’t seem to be there. The new Bosh doesn’t seem much like the old Bosh who destroyed the Bulls in the final game last April in Chicago. His mobility is not quite the same.
Now if this is what he’s going to be like for the rest of this season, then CB4 damn well needs to go on a diet and lose 25 lbs. – because the old light, quick, wiry, agile Chris Bosh was more fluid and effective than ‘Arnold’ Boshinator (maybe that will be a new persona for Chris’ new YouTube video).