The Raptors have been deftly restored under general manager Bryan Colangelo?s watch, but beside him in the tunnel stood Maurizio Gherardini, the assistant GM out of the Euroleague whom Prokhorov tried to hire for his Moscow power, CSKA. He is considered Prokhorov?s top choice, sources say, to eventually run the Nets ? despite the mistake it would be to replace Rod Thorn.
"To struggle the way we did on both ends of the floor is going to result in a loss," said Brown. He went on to address the second quarter which has been the downfall for his team, "It's been two games now where in the second quarter we have gotten outscored 30-17. That's a 60-34 point differential. We have to do a better job." Rookie DeRozan summed up his first night of NBA action simply, "Coming out here in front of thousands of people, with my parents out there, and just going out and playing and getting a win, I couldn't ask for more."
I know Cleveland’s offence was atrocious and they looked like five guys who’d never seen each other at times but if you hold any NBA team to 35 per cent shooting, you must have done something right.
They did shrink the court and take away the lane, they never doubled too aggressively in the post that would leave them vulnerable to outside shooting and I swear I heard more communication on defence in that one game than I have in one in quite some time.
Yes, there will be nights when they revert to form and are quite bad defensively but I think there’s a chance they might be pretty good, too.
It has been a remarkable pall hanging over the Big Smoke, what would seem a statistically near-impossible run of lousy teams, lousy organizations, lousy everything.
The local baseball franchise, after a bright opening few weeks, tumbled into one of the more dispiriting seasons in its history. And mired as the Blue Jays are in a division with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, in a game where money most often does buy happiness, it’s awfully tough to see the bright side, even with the ever-positive Paul Beeston in charge minus the asterisk. The World Series going on now seems like life on another planet.
GM Bryan Colangelo said his medical staff led by Dr. Howard Petroff and Dr. Paul Marks have been on this thing since training camp, when the team held a half hour information session for the players and staff.
Since then, the team has installed hand sanitizers every where from the practice court, to the locker room and weight room. It also has mandated that anyone showing any symptoms of the flu stays away from the team until he is cleared.
"We have to make sure if somebody's sick they don't come to practice and find out how sick they are," coach Jay Triano said. "We leave them at home and we'll send somebody over there to evaluate them and we'll do a swab test to find out if it is positive and keep them away from everybody."
Though Bargnani was forced on to the bench for much of the second half because of foul trouble, the fourth-year Raptor electrified the crowd at the Air Canada Centre, scoring 28 points, 21 in the first half, as Toronto opened the regular season with a 101-91 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a supposed NBA contender this year that now is 0-2.
"I was talking about that with a friend the other day. I was saying if Andrea gets going, if he's scoring the basketball a lot, then we're going to be tough to beat," said Raptors forward Chris Bosh, who had a rather big game himself. "He had a great second half of (last) season, but we haven't had that consistency with him scoring so many points. So that's a plus for us."
"I think there's not too many 7-footers who can do the things he can do," added Toronto point guard Jose Calderon, who picked up 11 assists. "Maybe (Dirk) Nowitzki is the only one."
"Shaq couldn't guard him. He was everywhere," said Calderon of Bargnani. "There's not too many guys, seven feet, who can do what he does. … If he plays like that he's going to be one of the best at his position. It's going to make things easier for us."
Big-picture NBA watchers will tell you Toronto's success had as much to do with Cleveland's shocking offensive paralysis as Toronto's defensive competence. Still, the Raptors were five-point Vegas underdogs, and teams coming off 33-win seasons don't get picky about their dubyas.
"We've got so many guys that can make plays," the coach said. "It was a great thing as the game was going down to have Jarrett and Jose and Hedo all on the floor. Those three guys can all make plays and they can all handle the basketball.
"I think that's why we don't turn it over as much and, when you've got three guys who share the ball like they do, you're going to be effective."
The Raptors committed only 13 turnovers in the game, a far cry from the 21 they had in the final pre-season game. A tighter rotation, improved play and a better understanding of where players are going to be are the reasons.
The 21-point lead had vanished completely with two minutes left in the third quarter, and the feeling around the Air Canada Centre had gone from delirious to dread.
The Raptors had blown a big lead, the Cleveland Cavaliers – LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal and more hype and swagger than anything remotely associated with the Raptors – were rolling.
(Ugh. That was too much alliteration, even for me.) This is part of a continuing series of Q&A’s and chats with GMs in my fantasy league. In this one, I ask Raps Fan of Raptors Republic about his websites, the potential Big Bosh Problem and more.
Bargnani's Baseline Dunk
Post Game Interview with DeMar DeRozan
Post Game Interview with Jarrett Jack
Post Game Interview with Jose Calderon
Post Game Interview with Chris Bosh
Post Game Interview with Andrea Bargnani
Post Game Interview with Jay Triano
Game in Six
If you want to impress fans on opening night, this is how you do it. It looked like a playoff game out there with the full house in the ACC. Lebron James did his thing with a triple double (23 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) but the Raps came out strong on opening night and made Bryan Colangelo look like a genius (at least for one night). Andrea Bargnani broke out and led the Raps with 28 pts (11-15 shooting) and Chris Bosh had a strong performance with 21 pts and 16 boards.
This is two nights in a row that this club looked incredibly underwhelming, in particular when Lebron wasn't in the game, and sitting close to the Cavs' bench last night, I had to wonder if this club was even a top 3 seed in the East. There just isn't much besides King James on the roster, especially from an offensive standpoint, and I'm pretty confident the offensive issues the team experienced last year against Orlando in the playoffs will rear their ugly heads over and over. Mike Brown is a great defensive coach, but I felt he got out-schemed by Triano, who did an impecable job of doling out minutes and moving players in and out depending on the situation. To that end, he played 10 players, but gave two, Amir Johnson and Rasho Nesterovic, only short bursts based on game situations.Follow @raptorsrepublic