Whether it was an attempt at gamesmanship or an honest appraisal of an opponent that just prevailed, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson was very effusive in his assessment of Toronto’s defence on Sunday.
“Is it a compliment? Yes," began Raptors head coach Jay Triano following Monday’s practice when apprised of the Zen Master’s choice of words to describe Toronto’s second-half defence.
“Is he baiting us for the next game? Who knows. Knowing him, it was Zen 102.
“I appreciate hearing stuff like that and it’s a great reward for our players. I thought we bared down.”
How did Evans play? He was slow to the ball, his jump shot looked wonky and he appeared out of shape, according to various accounts. And, for a guy who hasn't played since damaging ligaments in his left foot in an Oct. 14 pre-season game, none of that was unexpected. But he managed to grab a steal, according to the post-scrimmage boxscore Evans kept in his head, and he played hard, which is his calling card.
"I love playing against Reggie. He only knows how to play one way and that's all out," Bosh said. "I think it's good to have him back practising. Once he gets in shape, I think he can really help us."
Evans has said he hopes to make his regular-season debut for the club on Feb. 17, the first game after the all-star break.
"When that time comes, it'll be a big day," he said.
"I thought the key play in the game was when Chris didn't give Kobe (that) easy shot," Jay Triano, the Raptors coach, was saying on Monday.
"He put him on his butt. Kobe kind of looked at Chris, and Chris just looked away like, `This is what I'm supposed to do.' And that's something we haven't had consistently over the last couple of years, and it's something we're starting to develop."
Don't think it's a coincidence that the Raptors, in the wake of Bosh's mean business, were being heralded as "rabid" and "tenacious" by Phil Jackson, the legendary L.A. coach. The Lakers, who shot 55 per cent for the third quarter, were held to 40 per cent shooting in the fourth. And the Raptors, for as many times as they've been dismissed as softies this season and others, deserved plenty of credit for the sudden toughening.
It is not clear whether Marco Belinelli's shooting inspires his Toronto Raptors teammates to laugh with him or at him. Either way, the amusement in their evaluations is mixed with appreciation.
"They're Belinelli style, there's no other way to describe it," said all-star forward Chris Bosh. "I don't think anybody else shoots shots like that except Belinelli.
"At first I thought maybe he just might be a little fancy or something. But that's really how he plays."
Raptors point guard Jarrett Jack said Belinelli's teammates sometimes look on in awe at the shots he puts up — often off-balance, occasionally ill-advised — right until they drop through the bottom of the net.
"He takes some crazy ones, but they go in," said Jack. "That's just a testament to him being a terrific, terrific shooter and having a great confidence in himself.
"Marco's a gunslinger."
Am I blaming Bosh because the players around him don't necessarily fit, because maybe he is a victim of things he can't control? That's not how I view it. All I am doing is rewarding Durant for making the most of his situation. Right now, based on what they have meant to their teams, there is no way I can rate Bosh ahead of Durant.
For the Heat, which likely would have to part with forward Michael Beasley in such a deal, a move for Stoudemire essentially would be a move away from the hope of a potential signing of the Toronto Raptors' Chris Bosh or Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James next summer.
Our basketball team won it’s last 2. yesterdays game was fantastic, a nail biter down to last shot against the league best LA Lakers. The ACC was buzzing like a Mapl Leas playoff game. The Toronto Sun had the Raptors on page 6 of the sports page! Page freaking 6!
That’s after the leafs and the NFL. Now, you know I love the NFL. I want a team here. The same paper that editorializes on the failure of the games that have been here now puts a league that in their own words can’t make it here ahead of the NBA Toronto raptors???? When they are finally making noise!!!!!!
That’s messed up. Again, I love the leafs, I’m a huge NFL fan, but our one hope for any type of success may be on the brink and page 6??????
Why is Chris Bosh not taking the big shot? Why is it that the ball always goes to Hedo Turkoglu when a big shot to win the game is needed? Last game against the Lakers, the big Turk got the ball, dribbled aimlessly and then awkwardly drove and got bailed out by a foul call. Yes he came out as the hero, but why did he have the ball in the first place?
At that point in the game he was one of six for a grand total of six points. Of the players on the floor Bosh had 18 points, Andrea Bargnani had 22, Jarrett Jack had 18, heck, even Marco Belinelli was four of five from the floor with 15 points. Why was it Turkoglu and not Bosh? If you want Bosh to be the marquee player, to lead the team and be the star that he is, you need to trust his ability to win the game. With over 10 seconds left on the clock the Raptors had the time to spread the floor and get him the ball in isolation.
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Next up for the Raps is a big one against the Heat, who are one game up on the homers for 5th in the conference, or as I’m calling it… the best of the rest. Subsequent games after big wins have been letdowns as of late, but a good performance in South Beach could be a real step forward as the Raps try to keep this mo going. Unless it’s another letdown game and if so, the feeling of one step forward two back will linger a little longer in this part of the basketball universe. Tip is at 7pm on the deuce (TSN2).
Jarrett Jack has been the major story in both of these victories playing a key role down the stretch of the Raptors last two games to help guide Toronto to the victory.
His strong play as of late has Raptors fans lighting up message boards discussing Jose Calderon trade rumours, and even tinkering with the ESPN trade machine to beget other possible scenarios.
Turkoglu worked hard against Bryant when he guarded him in the fourth quarter. If he picks up his level of play in the second half of the season, Toronto may not be a one-and-done team in the postseason. It's incongruent to say that a guy that is supposed to be one of the team's best players is an "X" factor but right now that's the case. If Turkoglu finds his game, Toronto can become a different team.
The Orlando Magic miss Hedo Turkoglu. Vince Carter has been a good fit but Hedo could play all five positions and play them at a high level
He has led the Toronto Raptors to a winning record after a tough start to the season.
DeRozan is still trying to figure what he is doing a lot of times. He was driving in the lane but didn’t know what he’s going to do when he saw help coming. This is the part of game DeRozan could improve, passing the ball. When he drives, he is looking to score 99 times out of 100.
But DeRozan’s future maybe at SF like Howard, and it might fit him better. He has a lot of weakness in his game as a SG (Jump shot range, handles, passing) but those weaknesses wouldn’t be as severe if he plays SF. He has the length and athletic ability to play SF, and he would play closer to the basket (in theory), and his issues wouldn’t be as glaring.
Face facts. Most nights, the Raptors draw flies on TV. On the past weekend, the Raptors TV ratings were worse than Olympic Bobsleigh Trails. Outside of a hardcore following in the GTA, most people in Canada could care less about the Raptors.
Right now, Toronto has solid attendance. Yet, not too long ago under Rob Babcock, there were games in with attendance in the 12,000 range. Without a good product on the floor, Raptors attendance might drop again into that range which is the time a new owner might say, "I'm losing money and I'd rather move the Raptors to a new arena in Las Vegas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh or even a second team in suburban Chicago.”
Granted, the Raptors have been very profitable under Bryan Colangelo. That said, season ticket sales are down nearly 25% from last year and Raptor-generated profits will be down too.
Here's one more way of using the mainstream stats to tell a different story about Turkoglu: Those seasonal averages of 12.5 / 4.5 / 4.5… here's the list of players in the NBA averaging at least those amounts in all three categories:
Waiting to return to the court, Evans has been active on his Twitter account, saying he feeds off of the support given from his Toronto fans who have yet to see him play in a regular season game.
“This city here is all love.” Evans said. “They treat me with the red carpet. Philly is good too. I have nothing negative about Philly. Philly fans were on point. They were real good. They are more intense, they don’t bite their tongue, but these fans here, they are wonderful.”
And until he makes his return, how has he been dealing with the urge to get out and play?
“Just taking it one day at a time.” Evans said. “When that time comes, it’ll be a big day to go out there, go through the anthem, layup drills and all that. Just hearing my name be called so I can play. That will be a wonderful day for me.”
Toronto Raptors Bench Boss joins The Gameplan to discuss the Raps victory over the LA Lakers, the progression and work ethic of Andrea Bargnani and the upcoming game on Wednesday against the Miami Heat.
The Raptors head coach speaks with the media following Monday's practice.
Chris Bosh speaks with the media following the Raptors' practice on Monday.
Marco Belinelli speaks with the media following the Raptors' practice on Monday.
Reggie Evans speaks with the media after taking part in the Raptors' practice on Monday.
“He’s not going to come back and be a saviour,” said Triano. “I think we’re excited about having him back but I think a lot of people are maybe putting some undue expectations on him. To have him on the floor means we have to take somebody off the floor and Amir Johnson has been pretty darn good in his role as an energizer.”
Triano said Evans movement looked good in practice, but he looked a little slow with his shot a bit off.
Still, there was mistaking the player’s excitement about getting one step closer to pulling on a game uniform he has not worn since the pre-season.
“It just feels good to be part of it from a physical standpoint,” he said. “I had some fun. Got me a steal today, so that was cool.”
For the Raptors, it was a collective effort all around. Jarrett Jack got into the lane and attacked the basket often, chipping in with 18 points on 8 of 14 from the floor. Raptor reserve Marco Belinelli lit up the Lake-show on 4-5 shooting, a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc and knocking down four out of five from the charity stripe. Chris Bosh had a quiet but solid night (18 and 13) leading the league with his 32nd double-double of the season and Andrea Bargnani caught fire in the fourth quarter scoring 12 of his 22 points in the final frame.
The truth be told win or lose, I would be proud of the Raptors today. They fought hard in this game against a quality opponent and gave the Lakers a battle. This team is take steps in the right direction. The A.C.C is also becoming a difficult place to play basketball again. When the Raptors won their lone Division Title it was on the strength of a great home record. The Raptors have won something like 10 of their last 11 games on home court at the A.C.C. That is pretty impressive however you cut it.