The Raptors morning shootaround was limited to spot shooting and a walk-through when players complained about the court at the AT&T Center being slick and too unpredictable. "Whatever we could walk through both offensively and defensively we did," head coach Jay Triano said summing up the workout. "We couldn't risk anybody moving."
The hope was that things would be better come game time. They were not.
The pre-game warm-up was a mass of bodies on the court with players trying to get their shots in around a slew of arena staff workers who were walking the court with towels and mops.
Jose Calderon said it felt like there were oily spots everywhere.
Marco Belinelli was having a little fun with the situation as he showed off with a few break dance spins on his back.
Triano wasn't enjoying it at all. A postponement of the game would undoubtedly be a huge opportunity missed for the Raptors.
Charles Oakley got his moment of recognition for his role in the 15-year history of the Raptors and now one-time voice of the Raptors Chuck Swirsky will have his. Swirsky, now a team broadcaster for the Chicago Bulls on ESPN 1000, returns to Toronto with the Bulls tomorrow night. Like Oakley, Swirsky will be the focus of a short video montage during tomorrow night's game.
And don't try to tell Bosh, it's about technique or positioning. He was having none of that.
"It's all about wanting the ball and wanting to finish the possession," he said. "Their guys were hungry for the ball and they got second-chance points."
Head coach Jay Triano was just as blunt in his assessment of the Raptors' rebounding effort.
"It takes a real nose to go to the ball," Triano said. "There are guys that are born to go get the basketball and we have one that can't play right now in Reggie (Evans, out with a mid-foot strain).
"It's disappointing," Triano continued. "Everyone has to go get it. We don't have guys who are leaking out. We are supposed to stick with our man and go get the basketball but obviously we didn't do a very good job of that."
Yes, offensively they were fine but that’s the easy part of the game. It’s doing the, pardon the expression, grunt work that separates bad teams from even mediocre ones and the Raptors failed miserably in San Antonio.
Sixteen offensive rebounds surrendered? It was like volleyball at times on the glass and all it would have taken was a modicum of effort.
And it’s even more than just putting a body on someone.
"It's just focus," said a dejected Chris Bosh. "We forced a lot of jumpers and they missed a lot. It's all about wanting the ball and wanting to finish the possession; their guys were hungry for the ball and they got second-chance points.
"I saw some times, (San Antonio guard Keith) Bogans was getting down there and trying for a rebound and they retained possession. No offence to him, but that can't happen. That's just lack of focus."
The Raptors actually shot a far better percentage from the floor than the Spurs did (59.2-48.3) and made 11 of the 17 three-pointers they took. But as good as the offence was – and 124 points should win every NBA game – the defensive rebounding was worse.
On missing an opportunity with Duncan and Parker out – “We weren’t hungry for it. I don’t know if we underestimated them, but we didn’t come out and play hard like we needed to play. I think the opportunity was there for us. We missed a lot of early shots but we didn’t finish the job by getting the rebounds. That kind of kept them in the game. No matter what, they’re a good team and they have a lot of players who can play. Like I’ve said before, when guys have a chance to step up, usually they’re going to play well because they want to play. We just got caught standing around today.”
The last time Ginobili felt so good with a ball in his hands?
“It was against Toronto, too,” Ginobili said. “I remember it pretty vividly.”
Ginobili had 32 points in a loss at the Raptors last February. The next day, he would begin treatment for a sore right ankle and would never be the same again.
Until Monday night, with the Spurs staring down a losing streak, and needing him most.
He even outdid Chris Bosh, who scored 32 points in 32 minutes along with 10 rebounds.
But Toronto's defense had trouble keeping up with the slashing Ginobili and Hill.
"I thought their smalls went past our smalls," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "Our bigs had a hard time keeping their smalls in front of them. We're just having a hard time stopping the penetration right now."
The Raptors gave up 129 points to Dallas in their last game coming into to San Antonio.
Only New York, Memphis and Golden State give up more points than Toronto (108 per game). The Raptors also are 25th in opponent field-goal percentage and 28th in opponent 3-point percentage.
"Toronto's a great offensive team," Ginobili said. "They're not so good defensively yet. We knew we were going to have to score. But I didn't think I would be out there making six threes."
Without Duncan and Parker the Raptors decided to make Matt Bonner and George Hill look like Hall of Famers. Seriously these guys looked like Kobe and Wade out there slahing and scoring at will. I love the Red Rocket but he isn’t an NBA starter and the Raps made him look like Dr. J. It was a night the Raps should have been able to shut down the Spurs, yet the defense was abysmal, and at times the game resembled the Washington Generals playing against the Globetrotters.
The Raptors are currently undefeated when keeping an opponent under 100 points. The problem is that they’ve only done it three times. You can look at it one of two ways. One is that when the Raptors play defense, they win. The other way to look at it is that when they play an opponent that doesn’t score much, they have a better chance of winning because they won’t HAVE to play much defense. The three teams the Raptors have won against are in the bottom ten in scoring in the league. Cleveland, New Orleans and Detroit all average less than 98 ppg. The good news is that Chicago, their next opponent, hasn’t even cracked 100 points yet, this season, and is 3rd last in points per game. The bad news is that the next four opponents (Clippers, Phoenix, Denver and Utah) all average over 100 points per game.
Chris Bosh did not seem to take tonight's loss particularly well. He was visibly frustrated in the locker room afterwards. You can't help but wonder if a night like tonight will stick with him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Raptors are nearly 100% healthy yet tonight they couldn't beat the San Antonio Spurs without Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. There's a long time left in the season and the Raptors hold the potential to improve a lot from within, but CB4 is definitely not content with the way the team is playing right now.
THE FAN presents all of the highlights (1) and Eric Smith's game recap (2) of Monday's 131-124 Spurs win, in which San Antonio emerged victorious despite the absences of stars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan.
- “Part of me wonders if Jay Triano might switch up the starting five on Wednesday (Antoine Wright? Even Sonny Weems?) to bring a little more D to the floor right off the bat. The intensity needs to get amped up.”
- “The defence MUST improve and ‘roles’ have to be defined.”
Turkoglu scored 20 points and Andrea Bargnani added 17 for the Raptors, who gave up more than 125 points for the third time this season. Though off to their best offensive start in team history, the Raptors are also among the five worst defensive teams in the NBA.
"You can't give them any confidence," Bosh said. "We did the opposite, we gave them confidence. We gave them points right off the bat. They scored a lot of points."
By half, the Raptors maintained their 63% shooting percentage to the Spurs 42% but the game was tied at 63.
The Spurs pulled away late in the fourth as Manu Ginobili had the hot hand with his monster line: 36 points, 4 boards, 8 assists, 6 threes and 4 blocks. Four of Manu's threes came in the fourth quarter which built the Spurs lead to 11 with 2:41 to play. Bosh and Turkoglu hit back to back threes late in the fourth to cut the lead to five but couldn't get it any closer in the closing minutes
What more did the Spurs need to do in order to give us an even better chance of taking this game? Ginobili catches Rabies? We knew Parker wasn't going to play, which was a blessing. Then Duncan was announced to be out as well – that's a Godsend. Seriously, its like the heavens went out of their way to give us a dream scenario – win in San Antonio and be 2-1 in this road trip, and the real plus is that team morale would be up after getting blown worse than a porn star in Dallas. But of course, the Raptors, in their classic style, had a meltdown in the fourth quarter.
Jawai played 22 1/2 minutes against Portland on Sunday night and scored 16 points. Both totals more than quadrupled his previous career highs.
"It was a great experience for me," Jawai said.
Jawai, who is 6 feet 10, 280 pounds, showed a nice shooting touch. He also matched up well against Portland center Greg Oden and set a series of workable screens on offense.
His work ethic and quick assimilation with the Wolves' ball-moving system have earned praise.
"He has impressed the entire coaching staff from Day One," said coach Kurt Rambis. "He has a very high basketball IQ. He's very light on his feet. He can move well. He understands the game. It's just a matter of him getting some time on the floor to understand what we expect of him offensively and
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich speaks with the media following his team's win over the Raptors on Monday.
Watch the Raptors vs. the Spurs, all in six minutes.
Chris Bosh speaks with the media following the Raptors' 131-126 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio on Monday.
The Raptors head coach speaks with the media following Tuesday's loss to the Spurs.
In what was a delightful game for fans of offensive basketball, the Spurs got 32 second-chance points and a brilliant night from Manu Ginobili to drop Toronto to 3-4 on the season and end a two-game slide of their own.
Without Duncan (ankle) and Parker (ankle), the Spurs simply had more energy on the glass than the Raptors, repeatedly outhustling them for errant shots that always seemed to end in San Antonio baskets.
That usually ended with Ginobili hitting an open shot as he went off for 36 points to lead all scorers.
Based on statistics, the Raptors should have been in control at the half: Toronto was shooting a bullish 63% from the floor, while the Spurs were stuck at an average 43%. However, the Spurs managed nine more offensive rebounds than Toronto – and not entirely coincidentally, nine more field-goal attempts – as the teams went into the locker rooms tied 63-63.
Much of that glass domination was brought on by Spurs reserve DeJuan Blair, the rookie who slipped to the second round of the 2009 draft as teams were afraid to take a chance on his unreliable knees. The Spurs eventually took him, and he paid dividends against the Raptors. He is the type of bruising forward born to give Andrea Bargnani a headache. Blair had four offensive rebounds on his own in the opening half, or twice the number the Raptors earned.