Why all the angst over whether Bosh stays with the Raptors or leaves? As great a player as he is, as good a person as he has seemed to be, as solid a basketball citizen as he has been in Toronto, it hasn’t translated to any real success of any kind for the Raptors.
They have had one great regular season in seven through Bosh’s growing from young man to adult. One great regular season that still wound up with a first-round elimination. This has been Bosh’s best NBA season, yet the Raptors flounder from game to game, month to month lacking an identity, bouncing from disinterest to interest, from no passion to passionate. They are more a collection of players than they are any kind of team.
This is not necessarily Bosh’s doing. It is far easier to point fingers at the general manager, the coach, and the rest of his teammates. But on the court, he’s still the focal point. The player you build around. And through seven seasons, the Raptors have yet to build anything meaningful around Bosh. They don’t contend with him, and soon they may have to adapt to not contending without him.
“It’s like if you look at the schedule right now and see Toronto, I’m sure people are checking something in the win box,” said Bosh, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. “I can understand if we lose the game going down fighting but we’re not fighting at all.
“Time is ticking and it’s counting down, and if we keep playing the way we are right now, we’re going to be on the outside looking in. Guys need to step it up, period.”
The Raptors have lost four straight and eight of nine while seeing their lead over Chicago trimmed to 11/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Three weeks ago, the Raptors closed an 11-2 stretch that put them in contention for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Now they’re struggling just to get into the post-season.
Asked what Toronto needs to do to turn things around, Bosh — the franchise leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots — was succinct in his reply.
“Just do it. Act like you care,” he said. “I’m going down playing offence on (the Warriors) side of the court and their bench is louder than we are. That doesn’t make any sense. They’re not playing for anything.
“We’re trying to make the playoffs, maybe get a fifth seed, but that’s like slipping every day. This isn’t playoff basketball.”
Seething might be the best word to describe Chris Bosh, his anger barely under control as he stood at his locker.
His words were clipped, his stare intense, his message clear.
The Raptors are playing horribly and something has to be fixed soon or the season will be lost.
The Golden State Warriors had just hammered them 124-112 and Bosh was as mad as he’d been all season. The Raptors were done in Saturday night by a wretched third quarter that saw them surrender 41 points
"We just don’t like to secure a lead and we don’t like to win basketball games, that’s the only thing I can think of," said facetiously.
"We come out here, we talk about it, we have a billion meetings but we can talk all we want. Unless we do it, it really doesn’t matter. We talk about the third quarter, we talked about the third quarter (Friday), we talked about it at shootaround (Saturday) and we go out and do the same thing. I don’t know."
Toronto scored 35 points in the first quarter but stumbled through most of the second, going more than 6 minutes without a basket while allowing Golden State to erase a 10-point deficit and take a 45-42 lead.
Calderon helped the Raptors snap out of their offensive funk briefly with three 3s over the final 4 minutes of the half and Jack added his own 3 with 43.8 seconds left to help give Toronto a 60-56 halftime lead.
But the Warriors took control for good in the third quarter, going on a 25-6 run keyed by an onslaught from the perimeter.
Golden State, which was 7 of 12 on 3-pointers in the first half, went 7 for 10 from beyond the arc in the third and built a 15-point lead Toronto never challenged.
Bosh needs 31 points to become the first player in Raptors history to reach 10,000 in a career. … Toronto is winless in four games since Bosh returned to the lineup after a seven-game absence due to a sprained left ankle. … Golden State’s franchise record for 3-pointers in a single game is 18, reached three times. Most recently the Warriors did it against Memphis on Jan. 3, 2007, though they had 46 attempts. … The Warriors have beaten the Raptors six straight times at home.
Hedo Turkoglu will make his lone appearance in Portland this season. He reportedly gave a verbal commitment to join the Blazers in July but later backed out to sign with Toronto.
Turkoglu, though, hasn’t matched the level of production from his five previous seasons in Orlando – averaging 12.0 points on 40.8 percent shooting.
He’s averaged 6.5 points and shot 32.5 percent over his past six games, but scored 24 in the loss to Portland while hitting 8 of 9 shots. Turkoglu has averaged 24.7 points on 57.9 percent shooting in his last six games against the Blazers.
Roy led Portland with 20 points in the win, and Andre MIller contributed 18 and 10 assists.
Portland, which has won six of seven at home against Toronto, is trying to sweep the Raptors for the second straight season.
Although the Blazers say they have moved past Turkoglu’s last-minute change of heart, there is no denying the process has left scars.
"I thought the way he handled that whole situation … I thought he could have handled it in a different way," McMillan said last month before the Blazers played in Toronto. "Some of the things he said, some of the things he did, he didn’t have to do that or say that."
McMillan said Turkoglu told him he would sign with the Blazers during a July dinner in Orlando, after which McMillan told Turkoglu that he should first visit the city of Portland.
"You know, I don’t really want to get into it," McMillan said. "But I heard those words … and then all of the sudden he is in Toronto. And that’s OK. But it could have been handled differently. In saying you’re coming, and committing … of course, you have the right to change your mind. So hey, he’s made his decision and we’ve moved on."
The Raptors stink: No defense, no rebounding, and no shooters is an interesting way to build a team. The Warriors, a team that has lost the rebounding battle by an average of 20 over the last 5 games, outrebounded the Raptors. That’s pathetic. Fearless prediction: No playoffs. Not so fearless prediction: Bosh is gone.
1. The Raptors have been getting knocked silly since we last saw them, losing 7 of 8. Coincidentally (or not) their only victory came in the only game in which they held their opponent under 100 points, a 102-96 jaunt over the New York Knicks. Other than that the 109 points they allowed to the L*kers last Tuesday marked the fewest points they’ve given up. The upper end ranges into the 124 territory versus Golden State and 126 in an overtime game against the Cavaliers. There have been a couple of close games but for the most part the Raptors have been getting handled.
2. Hedo Turkoglu returns to Portland tonight after his brief dalliance with the Blazers’ brain-trust this summer. He’s had ankle issues and has been performing poorly. I assume it wouldn’t break Blazer fans’ hearts to see him continue that trend.
New York will be left with the option of trying to woo Dwyane Wade away from South Beach or be stuck with becoming the new Toronto Raptors, giving Chris Bosh a max deal to be the top guy in exchange for first-round eliminations at best year after year. Doesn’t that sound appealing?
There’s always Atlanta’s Joe Johnson or Memphis’ Rudy Gay to pair with Bosh, but a team led by either Johnson or Gay and Bosh without much talent around them doesn’t sound like a team that will be an NBA title contender.
Ellis scored 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting, reaching the 30-point plateau for the first time since Feb. 3 against Dallas. The undersized Warriors, who had one healthy player taller than 6-foot-9 and dressed nine or fewer players for the 35th time this season, found their advantage on the perimeter.
Toronto (32-32), which has lost eight of its past nine games including five straight on the road, started a frontline that was a combined foot taller than the Warriors’ threesome. The Warriors (18-47) won for just the fifth time in their past 24 by keeping the game outside the paint.
About the Blazers: Tonight’s projected starting lineup has won six consecutive games and is 7-1 this season, with its only loss coming in overtime at Chicago. … The Blazers, with a 110-94 win over Sacramento Friday night, have won their last nine games against teams with losing records. … Portland is a season-high 12-games over .500. … When the Blazers played the Raptors in February, Miller upstaged one-time free-agent target Turkoglu by finishing with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in a convincing win. … In his last three games, Roy is averaging 29.3 points and is shooting 63 percent from the field (32-for-51). … Portland has won eight of its last 10 games. … Tonight’s game is one of three remaining for the Blazers against teams from the Eastern Conference. The Blazers are 14-7 against the east thus far.
Series history: The Blazers have won three in a row and four of the last five in the series, including 101-87 in Toronto on Feb. 24. Portland holds an 18-9 all-time edge, including a 9-4 advantage at the Rose Garden.
Ellis and Curry dominated on both ends.
On offense, Curry and Ellis combined for 66 points on 25-for-43 shooting. Curry had 10 assists and six rebounds. He scored 16 points in the fourth quarter.
On defense, Ellis made a big contribution. Toronto guard Jose Calderon had 22 points and seven 3-pointers through three quarters. With Ellis defending him in the fourth, Calderon had two points.
Ellis (two steals on the night) and Curry (four steals) spearheaded a scrappy defense that finished with 11 takeaways.
And with forward Anthony Tolliver containing Raptors big man Chris Bosh — who finished with 24 points but was hardly dominant — the Warriors didn’t come close to blowing a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead again.
Curry scored seven straight points during one stretch, including 3-pointer that put the Warriors up 111-98.
Then after an Ellis bank shot, Curry chased down a loose ball and saved it as he fell out of bounds. It went right to forward Corey Maggette, who converted it into a fast-break layup.
Hedo was his usual terrible self, a solid 2 of 6 from the field for 4 points. "Oooh but he had 6 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks" some might say.
To that I say shut it.
This isn’t fantasy basketball, this guy is being paid $53 Million to make sure losses like this don’t happen. If he needs to take 20 shots and score 30 points for it to happen, so be it. At least that way I could stomach his half-hearted rebounding attempts.
And speaking of rebounding, that brings me to Andrea Bargnani. Again, for those who think I’ve been too harsh on him the past few months I’d love to hear a defence of his performance last night, when he was outrebounded 11 to 4 by a player a good 3 to 4 inches shorter than him who wasn’t even drafted. I’m sorry but you just can’t win games like that. The Warriors are one of the worst rebounding clubs in the league and yet they won the battle of the glass last night, despite the fact that their average height is probably 6-6.
– “I am beyond bewildered.”
– “The lack of effort defensively is perplexing.”
At this point, I can’t fathom why we should root for the Raptors to make the playoffs since it will only mean a guaranteed first-round slaughter and no 2010 draft pick (because the Raptors’ first round pick goes to Miami if the Raptors make the playoffs). I suppose you could make the case that Chris Bosh would be more likely to re-sign with the team if they make the playoffs, but is he going to be that much more impressed by being a member of the worst team in the playoffs than he would be by a non-playoff team? This team in its current formation is unfixable — at the very least, it can’t be fixed by this coaching staff.
Good teams go through bad spurts all the time. It is impossible in the long NBA season not to go through stretches where the team doesn’t play to their potential and ability. The Raptors have chosen the wrong time to play their worst ball of the season and someone needs to do something about it. Chris Bosh looked downright angry after the game and the Raptors could use a little bit more of that fire. I have been waiting all season for someone to call the team out and take charge of the locker room. Call all the team meetings you want, fly in Colangelo to talk to the team if you like, but something or someone has to light a fire under the players. Tonight Chris Bosh called his teammates out. It was long overdue but someone had to do it. Someone has to do the dirty work of reminding this team that they are not doing the things that need to be done to win. Let’s see if this can ignite a fire in that dressing room. I expect an angry squad on Sunday night in Portland.
It began when Jay Triano, with Colangelo’s blessing, allowed Hedo Turkoglu to casually work his way into shape. No sense of urgency from the coach set the tone for what has become a laissez-faire season.
In October and November, Triano expressed no worries and repeatedly offered up a laundry list of lame rationalizations as to why the Raptors were under-performing. And he’s kept the excuses coming all season long. After the recent loss to Philly, Jay suggested that the team’s lacklustre performance may have been a result of an early start time, coupled with the need to then immediately catch a flight to LA that resulted in a ‘lack of focus’.
Give me a break! I’ve never heard a coach with more implausible excuses than Triano. For once I wish Jay would strap on a pair and take responsibility when things go wrong.