Hedo Turkoglu said Wright's words should resonate with the younger Raptors.
"He tried to (stand up) in a good way for the guys to prepare them for the challenges that will come up," Turkoglu said. "Antoine is a good guy who is always trying to do his best for this team.
"All we have to do are the things that are right for this team and try to take this team where it should be in the long season that's coming. There will be a lot of different comments from a lot of different people. (Wright) meant to say to the guys 'be ready' and we have a lot of young players and he wanted them to be ready for (today's) game. We have to move on."
Toronto coach Jay Triano said the Celtics stretch the rules on screens and are just paying for their chicanery.
"We wouldn't flop if they set (legal) screens," Triano said. "We told our guys watching (pre-game) tape, they move on every screen. And they (officials) don't call it if you don't hit it. You can move all you want, but if I don't make contact, it's not illegal. So we told them, if they move on the screen, hit it and fall and then they have to call it."
If there is a mark to this team this season – aside from continuously woeful defence – it's inconsistency, often within games. They were fine in the first half of an eventual 116-103 loss in Boston on Friday, but capitulated when the Celtics turned up the intensity in the second half.
It has been the same in a handful of games for the 7-10 Raptors, who face a monumental task Sunday in facing the Phoenix Suns, the team with the best overall record in the NBA at 13-3.
Until they find that consistency, it's going to be a season of one step forward and another back.
Of all centers playing at least 25 minutes per game, Bargnani is the second lowest in total rebounding ratio. Mehmet Okur is blasting him. In steals, blocks, and charges? Bargnani is last.
I love the big guy. I do. Bargnani’s size and touch is incredible. But you cannot put him next to Bosh. It just doesn’t work. No one criticizes Carlos Boozer as much as I do, but the guy gets glass, so that Mehmet Okur can hang out on the perimeter as much as he wants. You have to have skill guys. You can talk about toughness all you want, but if you don’t have guys who are skilled at basketball, you’ll fail just the same. You have to achieve a balance.
That said, Bargnani and Bosh simply isn’t a capable frontcourt tandem. You’ve got both guys that need to be focused on offense. You need one premier block offensive guy and one clean-up banger. Neither of those guys is it.
The last time the Phoenix Suns played the Toronto Raptors, it was but for the grace of an off-target Hedo Turkoglu jumper that the Suns walked away with a victory. I would not be surprised if the Suns were similarly tested against their Canadian foes this time around. Toronto has one of the most potent offenses in the NBA and is coming off a particularly humiliating loss to the Boston Celtics. I expect they'll come out feeling like they have something to prove to their fans. Unless the Suns bring a suddenly improved defense to the table, this will largely be contest of finely tuned offensive machines.
“Toronto is a team that gave us fits here,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said after Wednesday’s home win over the Grizzlies. “They’re a lot like us in that they have big guys who can shoot the ball.”
By “guys,” Gentry means forward Chris Bosh, who is averaging 25.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, as well as center Andrea Bargnani, who is averaging 16.8 points per game and shooting 42 percent from deep. Sound familiar?
"I did make a big jump last year because it was the first time I played," Bargnani explained. "I never played before. Playing more minutes is why my numbers went up."
This season Bargnani is averaging career-highs in both points (16.8) and rebounds (6.4) and has started all 17 of Toronto's games heading into play on Sunday. While the aforementioned numbers are solid, they aren't exactly All-Star numbers that justify Bargnani's billing as the top pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, either.
"I love to be a player that can do a little bit of everything and that's what I'm trying to do," said Bargnani. "I've still got to get better on the low-post game. I think it's improved a lot from (previous) years. I'm still working on it."
In typical Raptors fashion, it was Jay Triano, our lovable Canadian head coach, who had – and pardon the pun – the balls to say anything about it.
The silence from Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack spoke volumes. Here are three guys who are signed to multi-year deals with the Raptors, and who know Bosh is headed for free agency. And not one of them could find it in his pretty little heart to step up for their best player; for the guy who night in and night out gives Toronto a chance to win. It was just the message Bosh was looking for from his teammates as he contemplates his future: "Stick around, drop 20/10 a game, and we most definitely don't have your back."
And if Andrea Bargnani was on the floor, he probably wouldn't have done a damn thing, either.
Once upon a time on a Sunday afternoon, a little-known NBA franchise called the Toronto Raptors took on the Phoenix Suns on NBC — the first time in the team’s history it had been a part of a nationally televised game. That day — February 27, 2000 — also marked the day that team finally got on the NBA’s map. Some hotshot sophomore named Vince Carter went off for a franchise-record 51 points (a mark that still stands) and the Raptors went on to win 103-102 — the first of seven straight wins and 10 of 11.
The game plan this time should be the same. The Raptors controlling the pace, switching on all screens, and limiting the Suns three-point opportunities.
The game will also provide some more insight into whether Bargnani still has a future with the Raptors.
If Bargnani isn’t played after the mid-point of the third quarter for the third game in a row and the Raptors continue to lose, the message has to be that Bargnani will soon be moving on.
Either that or Jay Triano has cracked under the pressure of coaching an NBA team.
Their defensive struggles go beyond allowing a ton of points. The Raptors have only 89 steals (28th in the Association). Their opponents have had only turned the ball over 206 times (27th), have attempted 1403 shots (4th), made .477 per cent of them (7th) and grabbed 698 rebounds (6th)*. In other words – the Raptors are having a hard time getting stops and getting the ball back.
What exactly is causing this staggering difference in numbers? Is it the absence of Reggie Evans, who can’t score but can defend as well as anybody? Is it the result of their coaching (it’s worth noting that assistant coach Alex English was the leading scorer of the 1982 Nuggets, one of the highest scoring and scored-against NBA teams ever)? Or is it something else?
One stat that really stands out to me in the number of assists on the Raptors. For a team that’s scoring so much, wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that they’d lead the league in assists – or at least be close?
Can you coach a team into developing focus? Is it up to veteran leadership to take a stance? It's difficult to decipher what really went on in the locker room at half in the last two games. It's still early and there are plenty of games ahead. Unfortunately, the "9 new players" excuse is starting to run its course. Simple execution is brought on during tough times on the road by effort and commitment to the plan. If shots aren't going in, you have the crowd against you and your opponent seems to be making all the right moves. You still dig in. You make the stops. You impose your will. It's desire.
We're not talking about an immediate retaliatory fight but there does have to be a certain degree of overt belligerence and bellicosity at that moment. It wasn't seen in this instance but at some point Toronto needs to draw its line in the sand so opponents won't continually kick the sand in their face.
Bosh is not a direct, in-your-face type personality as he is more of a lead-by-example type of player. It then becomes imperative that his teammates protect him, and that he protects himself, in some way, shape or form. True, it's a new group of players that don't have any history in Toronto, but the perception continues to be that this team needs to be tougher and hit back in these types of situations. Bosh for one is tired of all the chatter about it.
“I think if I were Chris, I’d confront my teammates,” Triano said as they readied for another dominant club, the 13-3 Phoenix Suns, this afternoon at the ACC.
“It’s like any time one of your guys goes down. You don’t have to go out and start a fight, just help your teammate and we didn’t do that. He laid there on the floor without anybody going over and see how he was doing or anything. That was the thing (angering the coach) looking at it today.
Wright added that if the Raptors didn’t make a stand soon, word would get around the NBA that they can be pushed around every time .
“I’m not surprised (Wright spoke out),” Triano said. “He has said some of the things (before). They read the paper. Is it warranted in some cases? Yes. Should he go through the media? No. But he speaks from the heart and I appreciate it. He just has to be careful how he delivers the message.”
"Of course, everybody may be really frustrated because we're not this team," Turkoglu said, suggesting Toronto should be better than its record shows. "We know that, so we can't be really upset about it.
"We have 65 games left; all we have to do is get ourselves in the best way."
A start would be to find some level of toughness and at least a passable interior presence. Teams routinely run over the Raptors inside, meeting with little or no resistance. And when things go bad in game, the Raptors have showed little ability to turn it around.
"I don't know what the right word is," coach Jay Triano said. "I don't want to say `fair weather' but when things are going well, we're aggressive and we're active. And when things aren't going well, we tend to just kind of step back a little bit and let things happen to us.
Akil and Sherm take a look ahead to Sunday's rematch with the Suns.
After yet another game where the Toronto Raptors failed to show any sort of pride when it counted, the HQ laments that should this style of play continue, it's going to be a very long season for Raptors' fans…
Rasho looked terrific. He’s old and big and slow right? So why can’t we see more of our other unathletic guys at least show what a little bit of energy can do? It makes such a difference.
And that group in the second quarter, with Jack and Beli in the backcourt, and Amir, Bosh and Hedo up front was so nice to watch. It looked like a good idea for a change-up to the starting lineup. I mean it worked right? They competed on both ends. No obvious weaknesses to exploit with ease.
The time for Tough[ness] Talk has long since passed … if you want to re-sign Chris Bosh this summer and construct a championship calibre organization for the Toronto Raptors.
The ball is in YOUR court, once again.
Sitting at 7-10, it probably isn't time yet to push the panic button in Toronto, but the Raptors did fall to 2-8 on the road, a statistic that backs up Bosh's assessment that his team lacks the requisite toughness needed to play well in opposing arenas.
But more than anything, I bet Bosh simply hopes that his teammates will allow him to take an extra long soak in the ice tub today. Ouch.
With less minutes and fewer shots, Bargnani’s stats have been plummeting.
Now for the first time we are beginning to see a change in direction.
And somehow the Raptors have created a perception that these losses were Bargnani’s fault. Now who is zooming who?
Bosh is supposed to be this team’s leader! And there does seem to be “chemistry” issues between Bosh and Bargnani.
Chemistry issues that appear to revolve around Bosh never kicking the ball out of double teams to Bargnani. Chemistry issues that look to be the creation of someone trying to create statistics to justify a $130 million deal this summer.
Bryan Colangelo has stated on numerous occasions that he intends to re-sign his all-star to a max deal this summer or assist Bosh with a sign and trade deal. The NBA CBA forces players to make deals with their current teams when they are free agents or leave tens of millions of dollars on the table.
Pierce stared down at Bosh for a moment, and while he didn't appear to say anything, it prompted a technical foul as Pierce walked away. Celtics coach Doc Rivers was later assessed a technical as well.
"I think Pierce made a great play," said Raptors coach Jay Triano. "I just don't think when a guy gets hurt, that you stand over him and taunt him. So that's why I was upset and that's why the rest of the team was upset. I like the way that we fought back after that. I just don't think that's very sportsmanlike. Great play, but I don't think you need to stand there and taunt afterward."
Asked what happened on the play, Bosh said: "I got kneed in my pelvic region. I couldn't tell what was going on. I was looking at the ground pretty much."
Chris Bosh had 20 points and 13 rebounds for his 11th double-double in 12 games, but Toronto lost for the sixth time in its last eight.
"There's a lot of frustration in this locker room, and we have to say 'enough is enough,'" reserve Antoine Wright said. "If we continue to go forward like this, it's going to continue to happen to us. We can't blame the refs; we can't blame the game plan. It's about making hard cuts and getting the ball where it's supposed to be."
Defensive struggles have been a big reason for the team's recent woes.
Toronto allowed the Celtics to shoot 62.3 percent from the floor and is yielding an average of 112.0 points in its last eight games.
Fixing these defensive problems won't be easy against the high-powered Suns.
I thought Jay Triano was more of a douchebag than Pierce, for reacting and spewing all kinds of four-letter words at whatever Celtic he could find; Pierce definitely kneed Bosh (though, I don’t think it was purposeful; have you ever tried to dunk a basketball while kicking someone at the same time? It’s pretty tough), and he definitely taunted him, but when you put someone on a poster — actually, not just a poster, a must-buy poster — like Pierce did to Bosh, you’re probably going to talk a little smack afterwards. Pierce taunted him so instantaneously he couldn’t have known Bosh was injured and, really, are you telling me you, yourself, wouldn’t talk a little shit after a dunk like that? If I had done the dunk, I probably would have leaned over Bosh’s crippled body, pounded my chest and howled like a wolf right in his face. Raptors Republic sees no fault in what Pierce did, saying “Would I complain if a player on the Raptors team did that to someone? Hell. No.”
"This game is watered down, watered down with all that flopping. They're setting rules on us to the point where you're taunting if you dunk on somebody. Paul dunked it and then he didn't say nothing, but it's a tech."
Pierce was called for a technical after he dunked on Chris Bosh and sent him to the floor. Pierce hovered over Bosh as he remained on the ground, apparently injured.
- Gameday: Raptors vs Suns – Nov. 29/09
- Raptors Roll Call Nov 29 vs Suns