“If we can go 13-7 in the next quarter and continue that into the final 20 games, we’ll be okay,’’ Triano said.
If the Raptors are to maintain a 13-7 pace during the second half, it projects to a 46 or a 47-win season, a total that should comfortably place the team into the post-season with perhaps as high as a fourth or fifth seed in the pecking order.
Projections aside, it’s the present state of the Raptors that matters most.
Andrea Bargnani is playing at a high level, silencing critics by being aggressive and consistent.
All Bargnani must do now is continue to be a presence in each game, whether it’s knocking down shots, defending the post or pulling down rebounds.
Chris Bosh is playing like an all-star, his place in next month’s all-star showcase all but assured.
Toronto’s bench is getting energy from the likes of Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems.
The team’s second unit can still use a consistent scorer, an area Marco Belinelli has to assume.
"We knew it was going to be tough, we had nine new guys," said coach Jay Triano. "Now we're starting to feel better about each other, we're starting to get it. We're starting to play better defence and our stats over the last few games have been good. We've adjusted, as coaches, our defensive philosophy a little bit and it's turning out better. We're playing more to our strengths, we have guys who are starting to get healthy."
There's reason for the optimism about the second half, optimism born out of an hour-long session of arguing and discussing and coming together that followed the worst night of the first half, a 146-115 drubbing at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks that was rock bottom.
Since then, the Raptors have gotten their act together because they aired all their grievances.
It was Italian heritage night at Madison Square Garden and if this alley-oop from Jose Calderon to DeMar DeRozan could speak, it would say “buongiorno principessa!”.
Q: Ira, should we make a play for Bosh at the trading deadline? It seems like a bunch of teams are. We might lose a shot at him if we wait until this summer. — James.
A: But (and this is a huge "but"), I'm not sure the Heat has anything Toronto is looking for. I don't think the Raptors are willing to move on Michael Beasley. The Heat likely would have to get a third team involved to have a shot, and that's if Bryan Colangelo comes off his stance about Bosh not being moved this season. Toronto is playing well enough there to keep things intact, at least for now.
Hedo Turkoglu was right to grab the camera from the person trying to take his picture in a Toronto bar. It's about the only thing he's done right as a Raptor.
After a solid win over the Knicks on Friday night, the Toronto Raptors welcome the league's best road team this afternoon…the Dallas Mavericks…
They won by 28 against the Raptors in Dallas and have won four of the last five in Toronto. … Shawn Marion played part of last season for the Raptors before the summertime trade that brought him to the Mavericks. … The Mavericks have twice overcome 24-point deficits against the Raptors in recent years. Toronto blew a 23-point lead Wednesday to Indiana. … Since Nov. 16, the Mavs have won 18 of 20 games when scoring 97 or more points. When they are held to 96 or fewer, they are 1-8.
Shawn Marion spent the last two months of last season with the Toronto Raptors and has nothing but good things to say about his stay north of the border.
OK, almost all of it is good.
"Toronto's a great town," Marion said. "I loved it – except for the weather."
Briefly: The Mavericks flew to Toronto early Saturday and practiced at the Air Canada Centre practice court, mostly going over the game plan for Toronto.
DeMar DeRozan turned his head, closed out poorly, and failed to anticipate screens. In other words, he played defense like a rookie. He was also willing to pressure the Knicks’ wings, moves his feet, and drew a charge. In other words, once he figures out the league, he has the talent and the toughness to be a plus defender.
He’s also an athletic slasher who can finish broken plays and create his own shot. His willingness to get to the hoop is recognized by his free throw numbers—11-14 FT for a player who the Raptors called zero plays for.
DeRozan’s a promising guard in a class filled with promising guards.
Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh is putting together his finest season. He’s averaging 23.9 points and 11.1 rebounds, while shooting 52.2 percent from the floor — all career highs.
The Toronto Raptors are getting better as expected. The emergence of Andrea Bargnani as a defensive force, Jarrett Jack proving he can start when called upon, and the emergence of the Raptors “young guns” as a force to be reckoned with (at times).
At the 40 game mark, the Toronto Raptors players have put together their best 10 game stretch of the season thus far.
Before the media is even allowed into the locker rooms, I spot Darko Milicic exit the building. Well fine! I didn’t want to talk to you either!
Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry are eating a piece of lasagna, as the media waits for David Lee. All of a sudden I’m starving. Damn you, Italian Heritage Night.
Coach D’Antoni on tonight’s game: “First, you have to give them credit, they shot the living daylights out of us. We didn’t make them feel us at all. Bargnani had an unbelievable first half.”
David Lee on his technical foul: “It was more funny than anything else, because he (Bargnani) celebrated after his dunk. Andrea’s a good guy. It was no hatred toward him or anything like that.”
For everybody that has been e-mailing and asking, there is a Reggie Evans update. Yesterday, at the morning shoot-around before the New York game, Evans talked about what he was doing and while there is still no live action in practice, he's getting closer. He is doing shooting drills, 15-foot jumpers and the like, and he is working on his post-up moves as he continues to rehab his mid-foot sprain and work on the side in practice when the team has contact drills. Evans says there are some movements when his foot gets in certain positions and creates specific angles that cause him pain, but he is working hard to get healthy.
The Dallas Mavericks haven't been playing consistent basketball while spending most of the past few weeks at home, but there's no doubt where they've been at their best this season.
The Western Conference's best road team kicks off a five-game Eastern trip Sunday afternoon looking to continue their dominance of the Toronto Raptors, winners of six of their last seven at Air Canada Centre.
Dallas (26-13) has won three of five games since returning from a 2-2 road trip, but their best performance in that stretch came away from home – a 112-103 win at San Antonio on Jan. 8.
The New York Knicks made a game of it in the fourth quarter but unlike their last contest against the Indiana Pacers, the Toronto Raptors managed to hold onto this one resulting in a 112 to 104 win…
This game looked had the makings of a Raptors-Pacers matchup, with a hot start from the Raptors that would eventually fizzle out in the second half. The Raps had built up a 24-point lead at the half but the Knicks made a run to get as close as eight in the fourth quarter with the help of New York's Al Harrington. The Raps showed composure though, and maintained the lead for the rest of the game.
DeMar DeRozan got some extended minutes in the final quarter, as Triano gave DeMar some extra run in this one. DeMar didn't disappoint either, as he got to the FT line 14 times. Jose had 21 points off of the Raps' bench and Bosh had 18 points.
Check out the Raptors vs. Knicks, all in just six minutes!
Jose Calderon matched a season high with 21 points, rookie DeMar DeRozan scored 19 and Chris Bosh had 18 for the Raptors, who bounced back from consecutive losses and got back to .500 at 20-20. Bargnani hurt the Knicks inside and out, making five 3-pointers and shooting 9 of 13 from the field.
Toronto shot 53 percent and opened a 28-point lead that was trimmed to eight early in the fourth quarter before Calderon made consecutive jumpers and Hedo Turkoglu knocked down another to push it back to 14.
And while both Bargnani and the Knicks' Danilo Gallinari got into the spirt of Italian Heritage Night, the same could not be said for Marco Belinelli, who missed the morning shootaround because he was feeling under the weather. Belinelli did make it to the game and warmed up before, but sat out the first half and then did not return to the bench with the rest of the team for the second.
Turns out it's a typical club shot, blurry and murky, showing part of Singh's friend, another friend's arm and, if you really, really knew who Turkoglu is, you just might recognize him as the partially obscured face in the background.
But apparently the chance of being recognized was enough to send Turkoglu into photo-destroying mode. That's when Singh and her friends asked Lobby's security for help that they were told the big guy was a basketball player with the Raptors and – in not so many words – that he could get away with it.
"He just ripped the phone out of my hand – I thought he was trying to steal it," said Singh, still incredulous a day later. "I had no idea who he was. I didn't care who he was. No one has the right to do that."
Said Chris Bosh, the Raptor big man, of the Euro-shooting clinic: "I wanted to let (a three-pointer) go. They made it look fun."
It was Raptors who were all smiles for most of the evening. Toronto, which shot 63 per cent in in a season-high-tying 39-point first quarter, dominated from the get-go. Their lead was double digits before the game was four minutes old. They were up by as many as 28 before intermission, at which point Bargnani had 17 points on 4-for-4 three-balling. And if, at that point, Raptor fans couldn't exactly turn off the TV with complete confidence in an impending victory – Toronto was playing its first game since blowing a 23-point lead in a loss in Indiana, after all – this was a different game than that cough-up at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The Raptors came into the game with rested bodies, but perhaps weary minds. Toronto last played on Monday, and the team enjoyed a day off on Tuesday before going through practice sessions the next two days.
However, they had to work Monday's game out of their minds. Toronto built up a 23-point lead against the Pacers in Indiana, only to blow the cushion and lose, the second-worst collapse in franchise history.
At the very least, though, the type of game served to help the Raptors against the Knicks. Indiana got back into that game with a barrage of three-pointers, and the Knicks play very much the same way: drive into the paint, kick the ball out, shoot with no remorse.
Andrea Bargnani's double-double, 24 points and 12 boards, leads Raptors past Knicks
"If I said something, you can read something into it," Bosh said before scoring 18 points last night in the Raptors' 112-104 victory over the Knicks. "People ask me all the time, every city I go to, in the streets, people have their video phones. That's all I can do without trying offend anybody is laugh."
The Raptors power forward would likely be a fallback for the Knicks if their main target LeBron James doesn't come to New York. Bosh, however, wasn't giving any hints.
"Everybody has to wait and see," Bosh said.
Bosh played for Mike D'Antoni on the U.S. Olympic Team, and that could be a magnet.
"He's a good coach," Bosh said. "He gets along well with his players. Any team you want to go to in the league, you want to play for a good coach."
In this system, Lee is a five and my question is along the lines of- can he be a center on a championship caliber team, defensively? Can the team find a defensive-minded 4 should they successfully deal Jared Jeffries, who’s as savvy defensively.
Bosh is one of the game’s best power forwards, who needs to play with a lanky, long and active big man at the 5 who can post up so he can go back and forth between the block, perimeter and mid range. He’s not a 3-point shooter, but can shoot from out there. Can he do it enough to play the 4 in this system though?
He also was an incredibly talented student. My hope is that he takes a shade less to play in New York with D’Antoni and another max free agent. Like Frank says in the piece, he’s lumped with Wade and Lebron, but he’s not at that level talent-wise, so should he be paid as such? I guess as commodities go the answer is yes.
- Something good came from the Indiana loss
- Gameday: Raptors vs Mavericks – Jan. 17/09