"(The meeting) set the bar for how we were going to hold each other accountable. I think that's what's helped us," said Wright. "That's basically just being able to constructively criticize each player in the locker room. And for them to be able to respond to it, and not take it in a negative way. You have guys going up to other guys telling 'em, `Pick it up,' or `We don't need that shot right now.' Whereas in the past, it would have been taken as if it's a direct blow to that guy."
Said Jack: "(The meeting) was important. We acknowledged a lot of things. We put the onus on everybody to be accountable and said we can't be a team that makes excuses."
Added Andrea Bargnani, posting on his personal website: "Since that day, even if we lose, we give an impression of trying!"
The meeting included a plea from Colangelo to keep disagreements in-house. Still, Wright, who said he "took a little heat" from higher-ups for his frank assessments of the situation, doesn't regret offering them up.
Asked if he wanted to be dealt, the pending free agent was more emphatic. “No, no, no, no,” he said.
Told of Bosh's comments, team president Bryan Colangelo said he wasn't surprised, adding his position regarding his team's most valuable player hasn't varied. “I have no intention to move him and have absolutely every intention to keep him long term,” he said.
Colangelo added he expects Raptors owner Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd. is prepared to become a tax team if it's required to maintain a competitive position in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
“They want to win and they're committed,” Colangelo said. “I'll leave it at that.”
The thing is, while Turkoglu might be more effective with the ball in his hands more — although his per-36-minute statistics suggest, aside from shooting, he has been as productive as he was last year — it has been his lack of energy that has made him something of a scapegoat at times this year. And in that regard, even if Turkoglu had made just five of his 16 field-goal attempts instead of eight of them in New York, Thursday evening would have been considered a success.
The plays that will be remembered from the game against the Knicks were not ones where Turkoglu had the ball in his hands and created for himself or others. Instead, it was his running the floor to finish a fast break with a dunk, or tipping in a missed shot from Chris Bosh that stood out. Too often this year, he has not been in a situation to make those plays.
Turkoglu, who joined Toronto last summer after helping Orlando reach the 2009 NBA Finals, had 26 points and 11 rebounds – both season highs.
Then again, maybe it’s best not to measure him by his numbers in the box score.
He certainly doesn’t.
“I just look at the way I bring effort and energy,” Turkoglu said after the win over New York.
“I had 11 rebounds too, so I have to just look at both ends of the court, what I did and help the team, not just statistically. I’ve never been a statistic guy.”
But there are other guys on this roster who are playing below their capabilities—most notably Jose Calderon and Hedo Turkoglu—and for the Raptors to sneak up into that upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams the second half of the season, everybody has to play to the absolute best of their abilities.
Part of the issue has been road woes. Seven of the team's last nine losses have been away from Toronto, and those losses haven't always come at the expense of superior teams. On the bright side, this is a group that's winning more games than their losing (they're slightly above .500 at the moment), which in the East is enough to more than guarantee a playoff spot. Where they end up, however, could make all the difference in getting out of the first round.
Set to return after the All Star break, when we separate the pretenders from the contenders, Evans is the most crucial piece for the second half of the season. With the likes of Bosh, Bargnani and Turkoglu as weapons on offense, an offense that has scored 100+ points on the last 12 games, the defense event is clearly the area that will define the Raptors’ season. They are 17-0 when hold opponents under 100 points. The return of Evans is expected to bring toughness & rebounding to a team that has been lacking just that.
After all the moves on the offseason, Toronto is finally starting to reach expectations. They are currently 5th on the East and with a winning record. If Evans brings to this team all the things he’s expected to, Toronto becomes a very dangerous team when playoff time comes.
The last time the Toronto Raptors had a major point guard controversy, it was Jose Calderon taking the starting job away from TJ Ford after Ford was injured for about 30 games in the middle part of the 2007-08 season.
With Calderon as the starting point guard, the Raptors had built up a 29-23 record. But it all fell apart when Ford couldn’t accept a role coming off the bench and the Raptors went on a 6-12 run and finished the season at 41-41.
So far, this time, it has been different.
After Hedo Turkoglu's brief post-game comments with Jack Armstrong on the TV side of the Raptors broadcast, the Big Early has some fun with Turk as he guests on the $25,000 Pyramid game show.
RaptorTalk has just obtained a top secret transcript of the soon to be released follow-up conversation between The Coach, Jack Armstrong and the Turkish Jordan, Hedo Turkoglu. This exclusive interview occurred shortly after they arrived back in Toronto.
Now I never said, nor believed Bosh was unable to be a leader, simply that I wasn’t observing him as one at the time. A fact I forgot, as we often do, is that Chris is only 25 years old, 26 in March. We often want these kids to act like 35 year old vets and lead teams in a certain way, but just because they may not fulfill a particular vision we have for them, it doesn’t mean these guys aren’t using a method less obvious. Chris can have the ear of his team whenever he wants it. He can demand the ball, he can push his teammates and he can lead; now it’s on his teammates to follow those examples and raise their game as he has. So to you CB4, you’ve done a heck of a job maturing through the season and you won’t hear me complain about leadership again, I mean, unless you stop leading… then I’ll have some questions.
The $ 55 million dollar man elevated his game on a night where Andrea Bargnani struggled to find any offensive rhythm contributing little with only two points in total. Turkoglu was aggressive from the get go, attacking the rim and looking for his shots early finishing with a season high 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Chris Bosh who had been selected to his fifth consecutive All-Star appearance duked it out with David lee, who unlike Bosh, had been snubbed from any All-Star selection. CB4 put up 27 points and collected 15 rebounds while Daily-Double Lee drove his way to a game-high 29 and 18.
The video of that exchange had gone viral by early Friday. Less than 12 hours after the conversation took place, there was a Fan page on Facebook set up. By Friday evening it already had 630 fans.
Even the U.S. based sports show Pardon the Interruption caught wind of this one and put it on the show Friday night.
They had no idea what to make of it.
That’s all well and good from an entertainment standpoint, but if it’s about doing what’s best for the team, Turkoglu threw up an air ball with his post-game remarks.
To some it was funny. To others it was rude. To those who have followed Turkoglu’s first year as a Raptor it was a petulent attempt to have things his way.
To have one of your core contributers seemingly whining about touches when the team is playing its best basketball of the season has to be considered selfish at some level.
Anyone happen to see today’s Toronto Sun? Cover story was the Raptors beating the NY Knicks. First page stories were all Raptors, first there was the Raptors beating the Knicks and then Chris Bosh making the all star team and the increase of trade rumors involving Chris Bosh. Page 2 was a Blue Jays story after the Jays held a gathering for season ticket holders. It wasn’t until page 3 or 4 that the Leafs showed up.
Finally they get it right! I know, the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t play last night and if they did….. well the Leafs didn’t play Sunday night either when the Raptors ended up on page 6 on Monday.
Well, after struggling early on, I think Wright has accepted just the role I stated above. He’s beginning to understand his limitations — I’m sure he wants to score, but on this team, he’s needed for those other intangibles. Last night, again he let the game come to him, finishing three for three from downtown.
Wright has been the subject of trade rumours and many speculate the Raptors might have to give him up for help at the two-guard spot, but I’m beginning to think you can’t make a move like that anymore — he’s become too integral to this team’s success on defense right now, which is a huge part of the Raptors’ turnaround.
Hedo finished the night with 26 points and 11 rebounds, bested only by Bosh who put up 27/15 — just another night at the office for Toronto’s now five-time all-star.
4. What's Wrong With Toronto? – Actually, there really isn't anything wrong with Toronto. Slightly less populated than Chicago, Canada's largest city is diverse, clean and very modern. But the Raptors don't just pull in fans from Southern Ontario.
"It's the only team in Canada," Bosh told HOOPSWORLD. "So it's not only people in Toronto that follow the sport, but people in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Nova Scotia and these other places, they follow the game too. People love sports."
The Raptors rank 13th in the NBA in attendance and that figure promises to improve as the team gets better…
It was doubtful Smoove would be selected ahead of East forwards Chris Bosh of Toronto and Paul Pierce of Boston. They’ve been considered elite for a while now. Pierce plays for a contender and while the Raptors trail the Hawks in the standings Bosh is the main reason the Raptors are on track for the playoffs.
On the other hand, once the game started, the excitement level didn’t quite seem the same as before. I mean the last time I went was during the Knicks’ like 15-year sell-out streak, so maybe back then everyone was just so darn excited that they’d gotten a seat, they’d be roaring from the get-go. This time, it took until the game got really close in the end for the Garden to truly come to life. And man, it was something. The kids behind me who’d been chatting about inane junk all night, suddenly they were standing and cheering the team, looking like they actually cared. Sometime over the last however-many-years the Knicks even hired a group of like 4 people to run around the tiers and get fans to cheer. That was never necessary in the past. But when the game was on the line, the crowd came through. The Knicks on the other hand…
As well as winning the battle of the boards last night, the Raptors also came out ahead in the battle of the benches. Toronto's bench went 15-for-23 for 36 points, while New York's bench went 10-for-34 for 34 points (12 of those points came from free throws). Guys like Al Harrington and Nate Robinson are absolute team-killers and Raptors fans should be grateful that they don't have to root for me-first chuckers like them.
Definitely not buying Hedo Turkoglu's go-to explanation for when he plays well. The Turk seems to think that it's dependent on the team giving him the ball in order for him to produce. I emphatically disagree. They give him the ball all the time, it's just a matter of whether he's had the energy to do anything with it. Last night, he did. Consider:
Muggsy Bogues, who stands only five feet, five inches tall, shared his stories about life on and off the court Thursday at the 32nd Annual Sports Spectacular at St. Anne's Centre.
As Bogues shared during an interview, it wasn't injuries or a decline in his skills that told him to leave pro basketball in 2001.
"My mom passed away," he said. "When she was gone, it didn't seem right to go on playing professionally."
So after a career that saw stints with the Charlotte Hornets, Washington Bullets, New York Knicks and a brief period with the Toronto Raptors, Bogues retired, still under contract with the Knicks.
From there, it was on to coaching the Charlotte Sting in the Womens National Basketball Association.
Bogues kept his ties to pro basketball alive, working as a colour commentator on television broadcasts.
These days, he is working in Charlotte, N.C., selling real estate.
First, Bargnani's most valuable attribute is clearly his offensive play. However, he is also averaging career highs in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, total rebounds (obviously), and blocks. So, he's stepping up his play in all areas.
Secondly, Bargnani's evolution into Toronto's key secondary scorer actually began last season, not just over the past month, or even just over this season. Take a look at his pre/post all-star game splits:
The Raptors were just here, so everyone’s in the same spot they were last time. At least I’m pretty sure they are. Chris Bosh dresses by the shower door, which is the superstar -slash- pending free-agent spot. LeBron, Wade, Amar’e, Dirk—they all dressed there. When the Lakers were here, Kobe dressed in the back. Not sure what that means in the grand scheme of things.
Back-to-backs have been the bane of the Raptors and people covering them alike. With the Raptors at MSG after taking on the Heat, it took just about every single tactic and strategy in their arsenal to pull out a win.
Bargs played like crap. Bargs was receiving praise from everyone before the game. I mean just hours before this game, and then he proceeded to lay a stink bomb. On paper it would seem this way and he certainly didn't play a good game. However, reports indicate that he has been bothered by the same back injury that kept him out of the Bucks game last week, the ankle that is apparently tweaked, and the foot that is also injured somehow. All of these things would effect a person's jump shot and mobility. Bargs still managed to help the team win by blocking Harrington's wrinkled scalp back to the stone ages and playing some fantastic defense on Harrington on the last inbound play which I thought was an offensive foul on Harrington when he blatantly shoved Bargs right in front of the ref.
- Breaking It Down: Switching and recovering
- Morning Coffee – Jan 31