"Him and Jarrett Jack are probably my two closest friends on the team," DeRozan said.
"Sonny is probably my best friend on the team. We've got that vibe going on with each other and love being out there on the floor together."
But while DeRozan starts, Weems, of late, has been one of the first subs coming off the bench, so normally soon after he enters the game, DeRozan is subbing out. Yesterday, with the Hornets going with a small lineup, the two were on the court together for the final five minutes of the third quarter and made the most of it.
"It's an up-tempo game with me and DeMar and Jack running up and down the court," Weems said.
In the locker room after the Raptors victory over the New Orleans Hornets, Johnson asked a few of us if we had ever seen the video of he, Rasheed Wallace and a few of his former Pistons teammates singing Jingle Bells. My girl Natalie @ Need4Sheed.com had the video on her site last season, so of course, I've seen it, but I'm breaking it out again, in case some of you Raps fans have yet to see it.
Because the Raptors are playing against the Pistons on the 23rd, I asked Johnson where he will be spending his holiday. He said he would be staying in Detroit with some of his friends and family and that he was curious to see how the crowd in Detroit would greet him whe
Raptors coach Jay Triano said Sunday his team isn't ready to drop the morning tradition.
"We've thought about it. We just don't think we're as experienced a team as the ones that are doing it," Triano told the Star's Dave Feschuk. "We still think we have a lot of teaching so that our players know what they're doing in certain situations."
A growing interest in sleep science – and a recognition that players need more time to recharge – is fuelling the trend. Simply speaking, NBA players often fail to get enough sleep.
The typical night game ends at about 10 p.m. By the time players shower, dress and speak with the media, it is close to 11 p.m. They are usually famished, so everyone eats a late dinner. Even the most conservative players – those who do not frequent nightclubs – will not get to sleep until at least 2 a.m. If the team is travelling, players may not reach their hotel until 3 a.m.
And let's acknowledge, as much as bad teams grousing about their schedule can get old quickly, that the schedule is about to get decidedly more hospitable. (The Raptors just played a league-high 30 games in their season's first 53 days. To put that compression into perspective, consider that the Raptors will play their next 30 games over a span of 74 days, which amounts to either more rest and a better chance to win, or one less excuse.)
This team isn't going to win 50 games, as Colangelo hypothesized they might in one of his pre-season daydream sessions. And finishing in the bottom four of the East's playoff teams is, of course, no recipe for ecstasy. The chances of Toronto winning a post-season series as a first-round underdog are positively slim.
Really, they are not apt nicknames. Injured Toronto Raptors forward Reggie Evans has taken to calling his young teammates DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems Batman and Robin.
The implication is that they are a dynamic duo; they work well together. The problem, though: neither Batman nor Robin can fly. If only Superman had a sidekick, there might be some flight-capable superhero analogy to make.
"The one thing Marcus can do is defend," Triano said. "When he is in the game we try to let Turk (Hedo Turkoglu)run a lot of the offence from the point-forward position. Marcus can guard point guards and even tonight Chris Paul tried to post him up a couple of times in the third and Marcus was very strong and did a good job holding his ground.
"He has been taking advantage of the chances he has to play right now," Triano said. Banks has been around long enough that he knows his role, but has to be commended for staying ready even when playing time has been hard to come by.
The Hornets’ starting five combined to go just 27-for-71 from the field. Overall, New Orleans was 37-for-95 (38.9 percent) and 3-for-21 (14.3 percent) on three-pointers. Aside from the shooting difficulties, the Hornets watched lesser-known, athletic Raptors role players such as DeMar DeRozan (10 points), Amir Johnson (12 rebounds in 22 minutes) and Sonny Weems (7 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists in 30 minutes) turn in very productive games.
New Orleans missed an opportunity to win its third straight game, which would’ve given the Hornets a chance to move over .500 on Wednesday vs. a struggling and injury-riddled Golden State team in NOLA.
"This was a winnable game for us, you know what I mean, " said New Orleans guard Chris Paul, who had 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting. "We just didn't come out with any type of intensity, same story, different night. We didn't defend, all the same some stuff that keeps on happening."
The Hornets still had a chance after Paul made two free throws with 1:05 remaining to cut Toronto's lead to 94-92. But the Raptors got a reverse layup from Chris Bosh, who scooped up a rebound after Andrea Bargnani missed a 3-point attempt with 49.9 seconds remaining.
Marco Belinelli got the monkey off his back when he nailed an 18-foot jumper on his first attempt of the afternoon. His theory was he was thinking too much about the first miss and letting it affect his game. Unfortunately, he missed his next two, throwing his own theory in the dumper and finished the day 1-for-3.
The Hornets' assistant and former head coach of Demar DeRozan at USC joins Paul to assess his former player's progression in his rookie season and discuss the matchup with the Raptors.
THE FAN presents highlights (selection #1, courtesy Paul Jones) and the recap (selection #2, courtesy Eric Smith) of a 98-92 Raptors' win over the Hornets.
Marcus Banks began the year as an afterthought, but is making his presence known with Jose Calderon down.
Banks was part of the Raptors second unit that came in and brought some life to a game that was desperately in need of it yesterday, a game the Raps went on to win 98-92 over the New Orleans Hornets due in large part to the contributions of that second unit.
First, Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Bosh were supposed to be the most dominant front court in the East, but this caused problems with chemistry and didn't help the development of Andrea Bargnani. Then he went and traded for Shawn Marion, a fast paced, high flyer who meshed in perfectly with the Raptors system. Problem was that he was washed up and past his prime.
Now he signs Hedo Turkoglu, a player who hits a few big shots to make his money but doesn't do enough to deserve that kind of paycheck. The only reason Turkoglu seemed a decent defender last year was because he was playing with the defensive player of the year Dwight Howard. As for offense, Turkoglu just doesn't seem to be able to get it done. He is turning over the ball, making bad passes, and taking bad shots. It's just not working out Hedo.
For the first 25 games this season, Weems was only getting minutes in about half of the games. And, the only time Weems saw double-digit minutes was during blow-out losses.
Perhaps fortunately for Weems, double-digit losses were happening a lot more than expected this season.
The first real sign that Weems may have caught his coach’s attention was in the 146 point debacle in Atlanta. Weems played 29 minutes in that game and while his stat line might not have been outstanding, no one could say Weems wasn’t trying.
The Raptors’ plan was to limit him to one side of the floor. Among the best to execute the plan was Banks, the nearly forgotten point guard who has been more than serviceable in a backup role behind Jarrett Jack while Jose Calderon (hip) has been hurt.
In one sequence during the third quarter, Paul was so frustrated by the rough treatment he was suffering at the hands of the burly Banks that he lashed out at the referees. At the start of the fourth quarter, Banks made a sloppy turnover in front of the Raptors’ bench, but redeemed himself by stealing the ball cleanly from Paul and scoring a jumper over him.
So far so good, just when the fans seemed to ceremoniously give up all hope. What happened to believing? Is that only something a fan can do when their team is entirely dominate most nights? I always thought that was the definition of a fairweather fan. Not that it matters, since today the stereotypical fan is too busy wailing and bemoaning every degree of imperfection found in the coach or the player they think needs to be the epitome of greatness to be worth biting into the Tootsie Pop themselves. They don’t have the belief required to take that bite, and they feel above the effort required to lick, let alone count the licks. So they just suck away, and if the team tries too hard to placate them, the team will go on sucking as well.
Let’s hear it for Banks. He contained Paul, okay an injured Paul, for most of the game. Sure Jack did his part as well but Banks was a complete surprise. I’m not saying he’s worth his 5 million contract but he’s certainly is talented and useful player.
The lesson in what the Cowboys did was as good as their offense played for 3 quarters it was in the end the defense that secured the victory. The Raptors have struggled all year on defense and unlike in football, the guys on offense are the same on defense. But the lesson is clear as good as you can be on offense you need to have a defensive effort at the end of the day to win. Chris Paul is just as talented on a basketball floor as Drew Brees is on a football field. Paul is truly talented and is coming off one of his best games of this season. It will not be easy but the Raptors need to "Cowboy Up" and get a win.
Full marks to the energetic Raptors for their 98-92 victory over the New Orleans Hornets Sunday. Their defence was solid, the offence was clicking, Andrea Bargnani played with more intensity and effort than usual at the defensive end and Chris Bosh excelled again … but all-world Hornets point guard Chris Paul has been slightly hobbled all season with assorted bumps and bruises and this game changed when Paul injured his already sore ankle in the second quarter.
“It’s crazy but as bad as we played we put ourselves in a position where we could have still won the game,” said Paul, who had seven assists ending a seven-game streak of double-doubles.
The point guard who played so well against Denver with 30 points and 19 assists, took a bad step early in the second quarter Sunday.
“I just stepped wrong and re-tweaked it a little bit,” said Paul, who missed extensive time with an ankle injury in November.
But he said the ankle did not hamper him.
“I just didn’t make the shots,” Paul said. “They did a good job of moving with the ball. I give a lot of credit to Bargnani, Chris Bosh and those guys. They were aggressive on the ball screens and never gave us a chance to get going.”
The Hornets shot just 39% from the field, with all-galaxy point guard Chris Paul held to 10 points and seven rebounds on 3-for-13 shooting.
A lot of the credit for that belongs to Marcus Banks, playing only because Calderon is hurt. A former running back, Banks has the body to defend point guards really well. With Paul – whose jersey hung in Banks's locker post game – Banks was physical. Paul was even complaining to the officials at a few points, evidence of a job well done.
"Marcus can guard point guards," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "Even tonight, Chris Paul tried to post him up a couple times and he turned, and Marcus is very strong. He did a good job of holding his ground."
I'm a little confused by Jeff Bower's use of Chris Paul at times. Yes, I know he's a top 3 talent in the league, but the man is fighting an ankle injury, comes up gimpy in the second quarter, and they still played him 40 minutes. It was also obvious it was bothering Paul too. No explosions into the paint, several mid range jumpers rather than drives, and his defense was atrocious in the second half as any determined drive to the basket would lose him. It was an ugly game for him – 10 points on 13 shots, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, a steal and five turnovers. Basically, he played like Jason Kidd.
The Raptors stretched the lead to nine on a short Bosh jumper with 7:31 remaining, but New Orleans countered with a 6-0 run capped by an Okafor layup. New Orleans closed to within two on a pair of Paul free throws with 1:05 left before Bosh shut the door on the Hornets, grabbing a rebound of a Bargnani missed three and hitting a reverse layup.
Paul was called for travelling on New Orleans' next possession, and the Raptors made a pair of free throws down the stretch to ice it.
Toronto shot 47.1 per cent for the game while limiting New Orleans to 38.9 per cent from the field, and finished with a 52-50 rebounding advantage.
Jack was solid in the early going, scoring five points during a 10-0 run that put the Raptors up 14-6. A Brown three-pointer trimmed the deficit to three, but Bosh helped Toronto hang onto the lead with a long jumper from the right elbow. His 10 first-quarter points propelled the Raptors to a 26-22 advantage after one.