Evans could have been one of those guys who goes home and rehabilitated his mid-foot sprain, but instead he was an everyday presence with his teammates.
"I don't want to be away from my team. I want to be with them," he said. "I'm part of that team. I'm not like everybody else who might sit in the back room. I want to be a part of this team. I'm a competitor. And being a competitor, if I can't play I have to do something to help my team out so if I got to be the cheerleader of the squad then I'm going to do that."
Head coach Jay Triano marvels at the fact that Evans could be out as long as he has with an injury that immobilized him for much of his almost four months and not add a single pound to his bulky 245-pound frame.
Evans though sends the credit for that to the trio of assistant trainers Rory Mullin and Ray Chow and assistant strength coach Jonny Lee.
If you've watched him in his only regular-season turn as a Raptor – as a sometimes-manic bench presence – it's been difficult to say. Evans' courtside wardrobe has mostly consisted of two blazers that run a couple of sizes baggier than Bryan Colangelo's tailor might advise. They're Polo brand, one blue, the other beige, both 100 per cent linen. And yes, he has heard the teasing from teammates and Twitterers alike. Linen in winter?
“Hey, I ain't here to make a fashion statement. Those are my jackets, so I roll with 'em. They save me money. I don't get fined (for violating the NBA's jacket-required dress code),'' Evans said. “I don't like suits. … I don't have one suit, period. I'm not a suit type of guy.''
This was supposed to be when the Raptors would give up hope. Instead, Toronto is a clear No. 5 seed in the East.
So those visions of acquiring Chris Bosh, then using his Bird Rights to more easily maneuver through this summer's personnel process? Ain't gonna happen.
28. TORONTO RAPTORS 11 (9)
3 All-Stars in 15 years of the club’s existence
5 (4) VINCE CARTER (2000-2004; DNP 2002)
(4) CHRIS BOSH (2006-2010; DNP 2009)
1 Antonio Davis (2001)
Raps assistant coach joins the Game Plan to talk about Toronto's win last night over Sacramento and how the team has developed over the season.
When the Raptors tip it off against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, they’ll have a chance to tie a franchise record for most wins prior to the annual NBA All-Star break.
The record of 29 wins before the break was first accomplished during the 2001-02 season and then matched again in 2006-2007.
The 2001-2002 team tallied 29 wins in 50 games for a franchise-best .580 winning percentage. Meanwhile, the 2006-2007 version of the Raptors had 29 wins at the break in spite of the fact that they started the season with a 3-9 (.250) record.
Hoop Heads North & Hip Hoop Junkies discuss the Toronto Raptors' favourable schedule in the month of February, and DeMar DeRozan's exclusion from the NBA Rookie Team in the upcoming NBA T-Mobile Rookie Challenge.
“I’d never in a million years think this injury would have me sitting out this long,” the 29-year-old said yesterday after practice. “Usually, when I get an injury, I just walk it off and come back and be ready to play.”
But the truculent Evans is finally close to returning, having tested the ankle for more than a week, getting his 6-foot-8, 245-pound frame ready for some serious pounding. The seven-year veteran may get his first opportunity to play for his new team against his old team, the 76ers, who are in Toronto tomorrow.
The highest differential at any position is Cleveland's hell-damn-bonkers +11.9 at small forward, which is not surprising; runner-up is OKC, also at small forward, with +10.6. Then we have Miami at shooting guard (+9.5); Toronto at center (+7.6); Orlando at center (+7.5); Lakers at shooting guard (+7.4). Toronto actually gives up an extravagant 19.4 to opposing centers, but Bosh & friends' 26.9 is the highest PER of any team at any position. I know! It's insane. Um, note also that the Raptors, like the Suns, are losing the battle at every other position. O Canada.
Trading Jose would be detrimental to the team because he brings life to the second unit, and gives the second unit direction offensively (notice no “defensively”). Not many teams can compete with the Raptors point guard wise for a full 48 minutes. If Jose were to be traded, BC better make sure Marcus Banks is not going to be your back up. If that isn’t scary enough, an injury to Jarret Jack would put Marcus Banks the starter. Barring a return of a decent point guard in return for a trade involving Calderon, Raptors fans can all but forget a blockbuster trade this season.
Brian Colangelo is a smart GM and he isn’t one to sit back. I see him still being proactive and bringing someone very valuable to the team before the deadline. It’s just a matter of whether or not he can make some magic.
With DeRozan’s former USC teammate Taj Gibson considering backing out of the weekend’s festivities, due to his bout of plantar fasciitis , DeMar DeRozan is the most likely candidate to take his spot.
In the games from 61-70, the Raptors face a tough four-game western road trip and have Sacramento the night after playing the Lakers. They’ll need to win one of those games on the back-to-back and beat Utah at the ACC if they want to go 7-3 in this stretch of games.
The games from 61-70 are double tough and predicted at 5-5 for a reason. For the Raptors to win 7 of these games, they’ll need to win at least one of the Miami, Charlotte back-to-back road games and take two of the games from: Denver or Boston at the ACC; or, Atlanta or Cleveland on the road. A 7-3 record in this stretch of games without a major improvement to the Raptors roster by the trade deadline seems unlikely.
"The way I'm looking at it is it is the first day before a five-game break," Triano said, referring to the approaching all-star break. "Get him a chance to play, get him a feel for it. Hopefully that motivates him during the break and lights a fire for him. I think it would be great to do it in front of our crowd. I think they respect the fact that he's gone through the long rehabilitation. And they want to see him play. If we can give him five, six [minutes] and give him the feel of going up and down in front of people instead of just up and down on the court."
Evans, though, is not a guy who desperately needs motivation.
"[Sunday] night, that was the first time with impatience. Watching when [Chris Bosh] did some move, an and-one," Evans said. "He did something and I forgot what it was. I went, ‘God.' Something went through my body, and man, that felt so good. I just wanted to go in the back and put my uniform on."
In a revealing interview with Chris Bosh that airs this Thursday in our special Raptors at the half, I asked Chris about the Sports Illustrated article a few years ago which depicted him as a real techno-geek. Chris pointed out that sometimes writers need to look for angles and something different from the obvious that he's an excellent basketball player. Thus, the geek label. But in Bosh's words, "I like technology. That's it." Along those lines, when I asked him what he thought of Avatar, he nodded in appreciation and said, "that was real cool." Although when I asked him if he's taken to communicating in the na'vi language, he laughed and pointed out, "now that's a geek." So he won't be painting himself blue anytime soon.
Marcus Banks, and his toxic contract, will become an expiring one and will become a piece that is put in play either during the off-season.
Bryan Colangelo has intimated that MLSE may be willing to enter the luxury tax zone to remain competitive.
If and when we retain Bosh, we will have our entire core locked up long-term.
1st round picks have guaranteed contracts, and a prospect does not really help a team looking to playoffs and conference contention.
The frustration of having to sit out for so long: “Teammate-wise, that hasn’t really been the frustrating part. It’s the injury itself. ‘Oh, you’re going to be back this day. You’re going to come back this day. It’s going to be better this day. This day and that day and just keep on being patient.’ That’s the frustrating part. I never in a million years thought that this injury would have me sitting out for as long. Usually I get injured and I just walked it off and come back and get ready to play.”
Bosh was unstoppable. He was 13/16 from the field inside of 10 feet. He kept getting Spencer Hawes and whoever was unlucky enough to have to guard him on a jab step towards the middle before driving baseline. It was set up by when he went middle, he was able to get good positioning and attempt a shot before any double team could form. He was two steps ahead of whatever defensive scheme the Kings threw at him and it resulted in 36 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the impending free agent prize. Unfortunately, he’ll never sign in Sacramento so it’s just a nice pipe dream to have.
The Raptors lost to a lowly Indiana team and let the Nets stay in it until the fourth quarter. If they want to be an elite team, they can’t keep losing to teams at the bottom of their conference.
Overall, going 2-1 isn’t bad, and hopefully they can win their only game coming up on Wednesday against the 76ers. DeMar Derozan is going to be fun to watch in the dunk in, and I’m looking forward to all-star weekend.
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KID RAPTOR so exciting to see DeMar DeRozan in action!
Play Creator – It may not show up on the stat sheets as predominantly as points or rebounds, but in addition to being a lights out shooter, Hedo has always been quite the playmaker. He has done so consistently once again this year with the Raptors, even on the nights when fans seem to perceive him as useless solely because his shot isn’t falling.
With their seventh straight home win, the Toronto Raptors jumped to five games above .500. And in the Raps' 115 to 104 win over the Kings, Franchise noted a few key factors behind Toronto's sudden surge in the standings.
I’m wondering if the Raptors aren’t going to get a call from the league office sometime about the rather over-the-top pre-game histrionics that are becoming a tradition around these parts.
As the hug-a-thon was going on – with guys at the scorer’s table, in front of the bench and wandering out to midcourt – referee Greg Willard was standing not 10 feet in front of me, entirely unimpressed.
“Come, let’s go,” he said a couple of times.
And then when Sonny Weems climbed up on the table to get the crowd going – a new touch – Willard stood there, rolled his eyes and I imagine he’s thinking, ‘yeah, I need to let the folks back at the office know about this.’
Now, I’m all for the enthusiasm this group of Raptors has, it’s nice to see and is better than the ‘ho hum, let’s get started’ attitude we’ve seen in the past. These guys do like each other, they cheer for each other regardless of their roles and that has to be a good thing.
"I caught him early before the game," Wright said of Kings rookie sensation. "He looked a little tired. A little sleepy. It's hard to play in these 12 p.m. games."
As for Wright himself?
"Nah, I'm going to celebrate Sunday. I've got experience with 12 p.m. games. I know what to expect."
Not only did Wright do a job on Evans in the latter stages of the game, he contributed in a big way offensively with 10 of his own 18 points coming in the fourth quarter.
He and the rest of the Raptors, meanwhile, held Evans, who is averaging 20.5 points a game to two points and five assists in the entire second half and 11 points altogether.
The Raptors returned three injured players to the lineup in Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan but lost another. Marco Belinelli was on the inactive list with a sprained ankle. Chances are coach Jay Triano could have a full complement of players for the first time this season on Wednesday against the Sixers when Reggie Evans could be in uniform for the first time this season.