“Broken face is a tough one to gauge,” point guard Jarrett Jack said. “The only thing we are concerned about is him getting healthy. We’re people at the end of the day. As bad as you may want someone in uniform, their health has to be the No. 1 thing.
“I think it would be greedy of any of us to be thinking ‘Is he going to play tomorrow?,’ rather than being concerned about him as a person. Just make sure he is fine and get back to regular normal stuff.”
Jack was the third Raptor — head coach Jay Triano and Jose Calderon were the first two — to utter that ‘One day at a time’ mantra.
“Just take it day by day,” Jack said. “You never know. He might show up tomorrow and say he’s ready to go with a mask and be ready to play.”
Jack was asked how a team, particularly a team playing with a post-season berth on the line, moves forward after losing its best player at the worst possible time.
“Just try to get a win,” Jack said. “That’s it. Bottom line. This is part of the NBA. Injuries happen just like if you get traded. People get waived. Injuries are a part of it just as much. You can’t use it as an excuse. Every team in the league goes through it. Obviously you don’t want it to happen to your best player at a time when you’re trying to make a playoff push, but the cards have been dealt. You have to play them.”
What little chance the Raptors did have Wednesday night came from Sonny Weems, who came out with the kind of determination one would expect from a team that was missing its franchise piece.
The loss, by itself, is hardly a surprise. The Celtics are at full strength. The Raps are minus their best player. The
115-104 final was by no means an embarrassment.
Weems stepping up his game was a surprise. Sadly, Bargnani and Turkoglu failing to do so was not.
Turkoglu, in the seven minutes he had to show anything before he headed to the hospital with a bruised nose — at least the Raptors are hoping it was no more than that — had three steals to show for his night but little else.
It’s tough to pile on a guy who spent the night in hospital, but the truth of the matter is Turkoglu’s performance in the early going Wednesday was on par with what he has done for most of the year.
Would it have been any better had he stayed in the game? Who can really say?
Bargnani had no excuse. He has been a very solid player at times this season, but of late, and particularly when Bosh sat out those seven games with a sprained ankle, he was all but invisible.
Bargnani, through the first half, had eight points on 4-of-11 shooting. He wound up with 17, but the Raptors needed more from him.
Their best player lost for the rest of the regular season, their grip on the playoffs becoming more precarious every day, a roster hit by more bumps and bruises and banged up bodies than almost any team can withstand.
No, these are not the best of times for the Raptors by any means and when the boos rained down from the Air Canada Centre stands early in Wednesday’s 115-104 loss to the Boston Celtics, they cut Jose Calderon like a knife.
“I feel really hurt today when I was out there and we missed a couple of shots and several fans booed us,” said Calderon. “I took it a little bit personal (because) I give a lot to this team and it was a tough situation. We’re trying to win, we’re trying to go to the playoffs and it was a tough one for me.
“When we say we have to stay together, we’ve got to stay together for real. Everyone wants to be in those playoffs. If we miss one shot and we don’t have the people with us, it’s tough to play like that. It was a tough one.”
Last night the Raptors gave a decent accounting of themselves, although they fell short against a Celtics team that came into the game having lost four of their past five games, and more or less locked into the No. 4 seed. The brave talk before the game was about how in the absence of their best players everyone would have to pitch in, and most did.
“I thought they played their asses off,” Triano said afterward, his team matching the Celtics in most categories except free-throw attempts, where Boston had a 33-12 edge. “Did they play really well and make shots? No. But they really battled.”
The fight came from somewhat surprising places, as second-year guard Sonny Weems helped the Raptors to a 54-52 lead at the half by scoring 17 of his career-high 21 points in the first 24 minutes, while rookie swing man DeMar DeRozan scored all 14 of his points in the second half, 12 in the fourth quarter, including a spectacular baseline dunk that pulled Toronto within six points with five minutes to play. The Celtics had four starters with between 18 and 21 points.
The Raptors’ Hedo Turkoglu was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital for a CT scan after being hit in the face by the Celtics’ Tony Allen’s head during a fight for a loose ball midway through the first quarter. There were no results available after the game, though Turkoglu returned to the ACC. Those remaining healthy will have to raise their games if they want their season to last long enough for Bosh to return.
And the basketball gods were not the only ones conspiring against the Raptors, at least in the team’s view. The Celtics went to the free-throw line 33 times to Toronto’s 12.
"How much money do you have?" coach Jay Triano said when asked to comment on the disparity, referring to a potential fine he might incur should he criticize the officials.
"I thought we shot our 12 extremely well, making all 12 of them, so much so that I wish we shot more."
And then were the fans, who booed loudly after Jose Calderon shot an air-ball in the second quarter. Calderon gave a mock applause after that.
"I feel really hurt when I was out there and we missed a couple shots and some of the fans booed us," Calderon said. "I took it a little personally."
Injured faces. Injured ankles. Injured egos. Everything is hurting.
“As silly as this may sound, with Chris going down,” Raptors point guard Jarrett Jack told reporters in Cleveland, “it creates an opportunity for somebody to step up.”
That somebody could be the same somebody the Raptors might have to lean upon should Bosh leave this summer: Andrea Bargnani.
Hedo Turkoglu has been a disappointment since signing a $53 million contract last summer and Jose Calderon’s production and minutes have decreased this season. Bosh’s departure would give the Raptors some salary-cap room to sign another free agent – or bring back a package of players in a sign-and-trade deal – but the team’s best chance to sustain any type of success may have to come from within. At 24, Bargnani is still young enough to reach some of the potential the Raptors saw when they made him the No. 1 overall pick of the 2006 draft.
“Because of where we play, we don’t get the attention of other teams and everything,” Bosh recently said of Bargnani. “Nobody sees him. Nobody knows him.”
Standing 7 feet with a feathery 3-point touch, Bargnani drew comparisons to Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki. When the Raptors drafted him out of Italy, their hope was that Bargnani would form a nice complement to Bosh at the power forward and center positions.
In selecting Bargnani, the Raptors passed on Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and now three-time All-Star guard Brandon Roy. While Bargnani made the 2007 rookie team, he hasn’t averaged more than 17 points or made an All-Star team. Bargnani’s playing time increased over the past two seasons after the Raptors replaced Sam Mitchell with Jay Triano as coach and he has tried to expand his game.
Of greater concern is the health of Hedo Turkoglu, who took an accidental shot to the face from Tony Allen in the 1st quarter, causing a nasal contusion. Turkoglu did not return, and was taken to the hospital for a CT scan. Keep watching the news for updates. Despite losing their second star player in as many days (Chris Bosh suffered a similar injury Tuesday in Cleveland), the Raptors came out swinging, perhaps having their morale turned towards doing their teammates proud. Whatever the reason, the Raptors outscored the Celtics by seven in the 2nd quarter to take a two point lead into the half.
The Raptors can’t take all the credit, though. The Celtics turned the ball over nine times to Toronto’s two; Toronto scored 20 points off those nine turnovers. In the first two quarters, the Raptors out-shot the Celtics 21/47 to 19/36, and 3/10 to 1/8 from three point range. Thankfully, the trend was reversed enough in the 3rd, with the Celtics getting two six-point leads, including one to end the quarter, despite Toronto’s persistence in coming back on multiple occasions.
Without Bosh, the Raptors had no post presence, so coach Jay Triano decided to unleash the team’s athletes on the Celtics’ struggling defense and it nearly worked. Antoine Wright scored 17 points off the bench, as did Jarrett Jack. DeRozan, who started, scored 17 points as well.
His driving dunk cut the Celtics’ lead to 99-93 with 5:03 left. Rajon Rondo followed with 5 straight points, Kevin Garnett added two runners, and Finley capped his stellar offensive effort with a 3-pointer for a 111-99 lead. It’s the fourth straight game the Celtics allowed 100 points, but Rivers understood the Raptors would turn the game into a track meet.
So, he responded with 34-year-old Allen (18 points) and 37-year-old Finley on the perimeter.
“In those situations you just try to take good shots and I wasn’t taking any bad shots,’’ Finley said. “I didn’t want to break the rhythm of the offense to individually go for mine. That’s not the type of player I am, especially not at this point.’’
And the Raptors defense…oh my. If anyone tells you the Raptors defense isn’t so bad, tell them to watch this sequence at the 1:47 mark of the 4th quarter, with the Raps down 108-99:
Rondo walks the ball up the left wing, guarded by Jarrett Jack. Sonny Weems, who has been guarding Rondo for most of the game, runs up from the foul line and takes Rondo. Jack has no clue what is happening, why Weems is there and what he is supposed to do. Weems waves at Jack to move away. He doesn’t point at a specific Celtic player Jack should guard. He just waves his arm at Jack like I imagine Lloyd Blankfein might wave off one of his servants.
Jack turns toward the rim and shrugs—he actually shrugs—and ambles aimlessly around the foul line. The C’s swing the ball to Ray Allen on the right (opposite) wing, and DeMar DeRozan, whose name you could misspell at least 12 different ways, suddenly realizes that with Jack in the middle of nowhere he (DeRozan) is the only person near Ray and Mike Finley (in the right corner). He closes out on Ray, Ray makes the extra pass and Finley drains the three. Ballgame.
The Raptors couldn’t have played the possession worse unless Andrea Bargnani paused to shave his Perpetual Euro-Beard in the middle of the court.
But I doubt if the Bulls will have to win out to finish ahead of the sliding Raptors. If the Bulls can beat the Raptors Sunday in Toronto and win three of the other four games, they’ll have 41 wins and I’m confident that will be enough to finish one game ahead of Toronto (which has the tiebreaker over the Bulls).
The Raptors have four games left and I don’t see getting more than two wins. I think they’ll lose Friday at Atlanta and Sunday to the Bulls. I’m thinking Toronto will find away to win its last two games — Monday at Detroit and Wednesday vs. New York — but that’s far from a certainty with the way things have been going lately. That also assumes Chris Bosh — who just had facial surgery to repair a fracture — will be able to play in those games.
Of course, the Bulls haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire of late, either, but I think they can summon a strong finish now that they are relatively healthy and they’ve had a little time to develop some rhythm.
"The difference here was the second element, which was displaced, and it was thought more appropriate at the early juncture to try to get that back of place," said Marks, who pointed out that a non-displaced fracture, like the one Hedo Turkoglu suffered earlier in the year, would not require surgery and could be protected with a mask as soon as any swelling has subsided. "That’s the easiest time to try to reduce these things, right at the initial stage."
A bone reduction, in lay-man’s terms, is re-setting the bone to its proper position. Immediate surgery was not mandatory, but the team, player and doctors all favoured it. Delayed surgery on such an injury further risks infection or breathing problems.
The immediate plan: Bosh is scheduled to come back to Toronto today, and the team will let him heal for at least three days. But Marks said the next course of action will not be decided for seven to 10 days, meaning the club will not be able to think about fitting the all-star forward with a mask until the last day of the regular season, next Wednesday.
Marks added that it will take "weeks" for the injury to fully heal, but that does not mean he could not play through it with proper protection.
At full strength, the Celtics would have had no trouble putting away this short-handed Raptors team. But these C’s were even better than full strength. The addition of Finley a month ago was the icing on the cake. The extra credit.
"He’s a pro," Rivers said of Finley. "He’s the pro’s pro. Even when he had it going, he still made two extra passes for other guys. It’s tough to get him to take a bad shot. He’s just so solid. He’s such a great guy in the locker room. Like I said when we picked him up, even if he doesn’t make a shot, he’ll still be good for us. But the fact that he makes shots is really good for us."
For half a game, the Raptors hung with the Celtics, keeping things close despite Boston’s clear man advantage. For the other half, the Celtics exposed the Raps for all their shortcomings.
They outhustled them, outworked them, outplayed them. In other words, they proved they were the more playoff-ready team.
So now there’s an intriguing emotional tug of war that fans will endure during the coming week. Do we really want to see this team scuffle in the first round, probably get swept, and close the book on this season wondering how the core of Bargnani, Calderon and Turkoglu will bounce back next year (assuming Bosh doesn’t return)? Of course we can fantasize about the possible rewards that a sign and trade for Bosh could reap — Bosh to New York for David Lee? — There are a bunch of things we could speculate on, but really, treading the quick-sand like they have the last few years is the best we can expect. There is no real re-build on the horizon as things are currently constituted. And I get that. Bryan Colangelo made some bold moves to lift us out of the Rob Babcok era and erased the word Araujo from our collective minds. He engineered a re-build on the fly and brought credibility to the Raptor franchise almost instantaneously.
But most of the moves he’s made haven’t worked out on a macro level. And now we’re left wondering if we shouldn’t have tanked last season, let alone this one. Seeing Steph Curry in town last Sunday was a needling reminder of what could have been. Get a few more ping pong balls in last year’s draft and he could have been playing in a city he likes, hoisting shots in the ACC just like he did as a kid while his dad was playing here. The grass, of course, looks greener on the other side. The NBA is tailor made for “what if” discussions, and they are certainly a part of what makes fan discourse so fun.
Hedo Turkoglu’s injury came in the first quarter after butting heads with Boston’s Tony Allen. Hedo left late in the first quarter and never returned to the game. He was taken to Mount Sinai hospital for a C-T scan to assess the extent of his injury or nasal contusion as officials are calling it. Another hit to the face like this is no good for a guy who is trying to get back in the good books with fans. Plus, repeated blows to the head are no laughing matter either. This is serious business. There’s nothing I can’t handle but when people use terms like "just a little concussion", it really bothers me. No one is saying that Hedo has a concussion yet but it is quite possible considering the way he collided with Allen. And remember, concussion symptoms can show up weeks after the injury. I am just stating my observations based on experience. He just didn’t look right going off court. The Raptors were counting on a few key players to step up tonight with Bosh out and Hedo was one of them.
Is it possible that Bosh’s injury might make other suitors think twice because of the durability factor? Or put another way – because of Bosh’s history of missing games due to injury.
Bosh wears a bulky knee brace because he knows his knee is prone to injury. Anyone who signs Bosh does so with the understanding that his right knee may never be 100%.
And Chris’ risk of another injury has increased again. Fact is that with the facial fracture, Bosh is now more prone to another facial injury.
Anyone who has broken their nose or suffered a facial fracture knows the odds of a reoccurence are remarkably high, particularly if one is involved in a contact sport like basketball where there is no facial protection. Just ask Rip Hamilton. Or look at what happened to Hedo Turkoglu tonight in the Celtics game – just weeks after his facial injury.