The Raptors did play hard against Chicago in a game where the two teams exchanged the lead 15 times. The win lifted the Raptors to 4-4 and put the side in a good frame of mind (despite the injuries) heading into the four-game Western Conference swing. After tonight's game in L.A., the Raptors are in Phoenix on Sunday, Denver on Tuesday and Utah on Wednesday, before returning home to play host to Miami next Friday. The Raptors always have had trouble winning in the West.
"There's very little practice and you really can't control where you practice. That makes it tough," Triano said. "I think the biggest thing is rest. I don't think these guys are too enamoured about being in any of the cities that we're going to in the next week."
The move might save them about $600,000, which isn’t a lot of cake on a team with a payroll of about $67 million but it does get them further below the tax level and that can’t hurt if they want to do something later on in the year.
And, because they sent money out in a couple of summer time moves, money that doesn’t count against the tax but money that comes out of Bryan’s overall budget, more than half a million in savings won’t be sneezed at by the higher-ups who have the key to the Maple Leaf Sports money-printing machine.
Also, if creates some roster flexibility because Toronto’s now at 14 players and if Bryan ever wanted to do a one-for-two deal or simply add a body if, say, injuries pop up, he can.
But, I warn you of this: I have it on serious authority that there are no moves planned at the moment. They didn’t do this so they could go and get a specific guy right away (and that means all you ‘go get Allen Iverson’ zanies can stand down), they did it for future possibilities.
Rookie DeMar DeRozan, coming off his best game as a Raptor (nine points, nine rebounds), heads home to L.A. for the first time as a professional.
How many ticket requests?
"I can't count them all," he said. "That's why before I even left, I established myself. I talked to my mom and dad. They handle everything. I just try to focus on basketball and leave it up to them."
He played his final games with the University of Southern California in the Staples Center in the Pac-10 Conference tournament. He was voted MVP of the tournament, so in a familiar gym, in front of his family, he expects no problems.
"It makes it easier in a way, especially coming out and having a momentum game like we had (Wednesday) night," he said.
But the sprained foot that keeps Evans on the sidelines in the role of motivator is progressing slowly and he estimates he'll be out two more weeks. He will miss this trip, staying back to take more treatment. He'll catch the games on TV and with his 3- and 5-year-old daughters with him, he'll try to keep quiet while he watches those late-night games. It could be a tough assignment.
You see him every night, fist-bumping and chest-thumping his teammates, cajoling and celebrating and trying to keep their game-time temperatures simmering. But he looks like a terrific teammate and what's not to like about his enthusiasm?
"I really haven't been in this position before, not in a long time," Evans said Thursday. "It long ago got to the point I didn't want to be moping and stuff. But I'm a team player. It's just not in me to get down. You've got to let your teammates know you are there for them in any way, form or fashion."
Toronto Raptors rookie DeMar DeRozan seems excited to go back to his home of Los Angeles.
"Oh, man. Can't wait to get home. Can't wait to get home," DeRozan said after his best outing of the year, a nine-point, nine-rebound game against Chicago on Wednesday. "Go right home and get some food from mom, a home-cooked meal. It feels like it's been forever since I've been home."
It is nice that a 20-year-old professional athlete would be excited to see his parents. Most kids his age would not show as much enthusiasm after a large dose of independence.
However, on this Raptors team, DeRozan and Amir Johnson, another local boy, might be alone in his enthusiasm for the coast. Anybody who has spent much time with this franchise –and admittedly, that number is low among the players –has learned to loathe the left coast.
First, though, is tonight against Toronto. The Clippers are hopeful that Kaman will be back against the Raptors.
Kaman, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday's loss to the Thunder, struggled in the second half, and went two for seven from the field in the fourth quarter and had an especially costly turnover, an errant pass, in crunch time.
"We knew he was sick last night," Marcus Camby said. "Knowing him, he would never use that as an excuse. Those shots he normally makes. . . . He can't play great every night, which he has been doing."
Update: This is the first game against an Eastern Conference opponent, and it also happens to be the homecoming for rookie and Southern California native, swingman DeMar DeRozan, who was playing for USC at this time last year. DeRozan is averaging 5.3 points a game for the Raptors, and his season highs of nine points and nine rebounds came in Wednesday's win against the Bulls.
Again, in the playoffs, Bosh was outmatched by his star counterpart, Dwight Howard, who roughed up and punished the Raptors’ power forward for the short five game series.
The most telling statistic in the Bosh-Howard matchup is how invisible Bosh was when his team faced elimination.
In game five, Howard poured in 21 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, while Bosh scored a meager 16 points and nine rebounds with the season on the line.
Since then, the Raptors have not returned to the playoffs.
Bosh hardly compares to the other top picks from the 2003 draft class, who have all had success in the playoffs.
Matchup problems. This is not the front line that Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby want to see. Chris Bosh is a tough cover for anyone, who happens to torch the Clippers most anytime he sees them. Meanwhile, Bargnani is a 7 foot scoring machine, whose taking 5 threes a game this season, and making almost half of them (46%). So who gets to hang with Bargnani at the arc, and who gets to try to cope with Bosh? On the other end, one would hope that the new and improved Kaman could hurt either of them one-on-one – if he's healthy, and if Wednesday's performance was an aberration from a new norm. If he's not healthy? Well, get ready for a lot of Craig Smith and DeAndre Jordan.
If Quincy Douby returns to the D-League since the Toronto Raptors released him Thursday, Erie has his rights since he played for the team last season.
The BayHawks would then have 48 hours to decide whether to retain or release the combo guard. They wouldn't need 48 seconds to make that decision.
"We would definitely want him," Erie coach John Treloar said Thursday night. "We'll cross that bridge if we get there."
Treloar said he hasn't been in contact with Douby's agent. The Raptors are one of Erie's two NBA affiliates with the Cleveland Cavaliers being the other.
"We're going to keep an eye on the situation," Treloar said.
Hip Hoop Junkies: Are you a big hoops fan? What do you think about this season's Toronto Raptors?
Skratch Bastid: I love playing basketball and have played for most of my life. Over the past 7 years, I abandoned cable TV so that I could make more music. It worked. I've become the dreaded 'playoff fan'. That being said, I think the Raptors have a good shot at making the playoffs this year. Turkoglu is a great addition to the line-up in the way of clutch and experience, Bargnani is going to continue to develop his NBA game and if Bosh stays strong I think they could be a surprising team down the stretch. I'm sure that's the lamest description you've read on this blog! Someone get me a cable package.
The Toronto Raptors open a four-game road trip Friday night at the Staples Center
against the Clippers. The Raptors have a three-game win streak over the Clippers at the Staples
Center. Last season Toronto held the Clippers to under 80 points on both occasions (76 and 75)
and have held them to under 80 in three of the past four contests.
Talking about leadership, not sure how much it comes across on television but Reggie Evans coaches this team through every play. He has words of advice for every player when they check out of the game. He is what you want a bench player to be. He observes the game and as a player you are best equipped to point out what your teammates can do to improve. This is the first time in a while the Raptors have had a player who just speaks up be it to Bosh or to Amir. Some deem it him being a “cheerleader” but to me he has been one of the best things that happened to this team this offseason and we have yet to see him play a minute in a game that matters.
Of course, none of that means anything to the Raptors, except that they don’t have to face Blake Griffin, because, of course, he’s injured because he was drafted by the Clippers. More good news for the Raptors is the fact that the Clippers are not a good rebounding or scoring team. As I’ve previously stated, the Raptors tend to play well against teams that struggle to score and rebound the ball. Even better for the Raptors is that the Clippers second leading scorer, Eric Gordon, is injured and won’t play. It’s as if the stars have aligned for another Raptors win, right?
Well, pretty much. The third thing in the Raptors favour is that the Clippers are not a strong three point shooting team, and their top three point shooter is Gordon, who, of course, won’t be playing.
Prior to the impressive win against the Chicago Bulls, the Raptors’ GM was interviewed on the FAN 590. Eric Smith suggested that patience was in order and that Bryan needed “at least 25 games before he knew what he had with his roster”.
Not surprisingly, the impatient hoops executive quickly dismissed the idea and said “we’ll know what we've got by the end of the month”.
By the end of November, the new look Raptors will have played only 18 games – but Colangelo is convinced that he will know if he has a team that is poised to be a player in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
If he doesn't like what he sees by then, one can assume that changes will be made.
The voice of the L.A. Clippers Brian Sieman joins Hoops with Zack Cooper to break down tomorrow nights game versus the Raptors.
When rumors were just flying about a Bosh trade last season (with most of them circling around Golden State or some other western team) I wrote to a bunch of people about how much sense it would be to trade him to Chicago for Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. It made so much sense, it seemed almost crazy that it didn’t happen. In Deng we get a proven 20-10, 6’9” small forward, team captain at 24, and just a flat out great player (just last night against us, he was the best Bull on the floor with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks). Then we get the dude who is turning into a 6’11”rebounding machine. Few agreed with me, saying there’s no way we give up Bosh without getting another franchise guy back, and that Noah just wasn’t going to make it as a big-time player (remember, this was before he gave the Celtics fits in the finals).
The Raptors departed for Los Angeles with a worrisome number of “banged up” players — mainly the result of the team’s hard-fought 99-89 victory over the Chicago Bulls at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday. Triano’s club is so battered and bruised, Thursday’s practice featured all of nine players, and even then it was cut short.
“(Hedo Turkoglu) couldn’t go 100%. (Andrea) Bargnani couldn’t go 100%. (Chris) Bosh couldn’t go 100%, (Jose) Calderon couldn’t go, (Antoine) Wright couldn’t go. But the coaching staff was intact,” Triano said with a laugh, when asked about his roster.
Throw in the fact that forward Reggie Evans is still out with a left midfoot sprain, and the Raptors face the 3-6 Clippers with one hand tied behind their backs, though Triano is hopeful nobody actually misses Friday’s game, other than Evans.
Toronto has won three straight in Los Angeles in this matchup since a 103-100 loss on Nov. 23, 2005.
The Raptors will try extend that run as they face a Clippers team that's dropped two straight following a three-game winning streak.
Los Angeles (3-6) shot a season-low 35.9 percent from the field and scored 10 fourth-quarter points in Wednesday's 83-79 loss to visiting Oklahoma City.
"We just missed so many easy baskets, we really shot ourselves in the foot," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "So many easy baskets, opportunities, good looks from the outside we just didn't make."
The problems that this team faces, and it has been well documented, occurs on the defensive side of the ball. None of the players (save and except for Evans and, perhaps Derozen and Wright) are good on the ball defenders and Calderon, in my opinion is one of the poorest perimeter defenders in the league, a guy who has allowed players like George Hill and Mike Conley to look like superstars. His inability to stop any penetration forces the other defenders to step out of their assignments, with the result that Bargnani, Bosh and Turkoglu will run into foul trouble trying to stop any guard that Jose is defending. Frankly, I think the Raptors have been more effective, as a team, when Jack is manning the point, because he is a far better defender than Calderon and can stop more of the penetration of opposing guards that Calderon just waves at as they pass him by.
As for Evans, the forward said he was about two weeks away from playing — maybe.
In the meantime, he has made a presence on the sideline with his teammates. He has been unafraid to bark out instructions at times.
"He's been extremely vocal in games," Triano said. "I'd rather have that than him sitting back in the locker room and not being part of this team. It just shows that he wants to be part of the team. He's aching to get out there and play and contribute.
"I think it's a great lift for our guys on the floor to see a guy who can't play, who can't contribute on the floor, but he still wants to contribute in another way."
They have one of this years breakout stars Andrea Bargnani who has finally found consistency in his game, and a stronger more motivated Chris Bosh. On top of that they picked up Hedo Turkoglu and have a healthy Jose Calderon it seems like everything is good in Raptorland lately.
They have a motivated team that can shoot the lights out of the gym every night. Their wekanesses has always been defense but hey, defence may win championships, but offence wins games, and in the regular season winning games is what matters at the moment.
This Saturday I will be part of a fantastic panel that will be chatting basketball on The Fan 590. Zack Cooper asked me to come into the studio to chat hoops for a hour with him and J.E. Skeets (Ball Don’t Lie and The Basketball Jones) and Holly MacKenzie (NBA.com, Slam and The Score). You can listen on the radio or to the live online stream of the broadcast.
I know it’s a Saturday night, but I hope you will be able to listen.
About bloody time. There was absolutely no point to Douby remaining on the roster.
Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack have all of the point guard minutes locked up on the Raptors team. Then there’s Marcus Banks who will be stuck on the Raptors for another season past this one due to his contract. That’s three point guards combining to earn $17.8 million this season who are filling the starting point guard slot, the primary backup guard (and sixth man) slot, and the third string point guard role.
There was absolutely no need to waste a roster spot on another point guard.
How can DeRozan replicate his aggressive performance from last night: "I thnk just the reward and the confidence that he gets for knowing what he did in the game. Hopefully that builds and it's something he can carry forward to the next game. He's been working hard in practice all of the time, he hasn't taken a possession off. I think the one game was probably San Antonio, if we have to get picky. When we put him back in the game in the first half and the start of the secnd half I didnt think he played particularly well. He's experiencing one of the first lengthy road trips of the season and that's something he'll learn from."
– On his rebounding skills: "He's a good rebounder for a guard and we need our guards to come in and help rebound. Our bigs don't track extremely well. They rebound the balls that come to them and the one thing about DeMar is he can go track. He can find out where it is and go get it."