Raptors 101, Bobcats 114 – Box

Maybe once the dust has settled we’ll look at this season in the same light as the 1997-98 campaign when the team finished 16-66, got a high pick, and found themselves Vince Carter to change the fortunes of the franchise, however briefly. Until then though, it’s more of the same with just the names of the opponents changing. These Raptor recaps are practically writing themselves: DeRozan with an improving jumper, Ed Davis looking strong, the scattered Andrea Bargnani performance, and of course the overarching terrible defense.

These sequences usually end up in a loss and last night in Charlotte was no different. The All-Star break merely served as a momentary interruption in the Raptors’ charge towards the bottom of the Eastern conference cellar, with Cleveland firmly standing in their way. If you’re the typical Raptors fan, you thought better than seeing this game and were surprised to see Sonny Weems’ 9-13 line; I’m here to tell you it means nothing and that none of his points were significant in the least. Thought I’d get that out of the way early.

The Charlotte frontline may not be formidable or fearsome, but it is defensively well-rounded with Boris Diaw adding a bit of pizzazz. The Raptors coaching staff and frontline of Amir Johnson and Andrea Bargnani have a general understanding: Bargnani will guard the weaker offensive player leaving Johnson to cover the tougher matchup. Last night the matchups fell in a way which suited that philosophy and lead to the expected cross-switch of Diaw guarding Bargnani and Brown checking Johnson. Putting a quicker, mobile defender on Bargnani did the trick for the Bobcats as Triano never quite adjusted to Charlotte’s play. There were two instances where the Raptors worked a switch with Wallace guarding Bargnani and the latter stuck a jumper or two over him, that was it though. Bargnani kept at it with the jumpshot game, ended up with 18 points and 8 rebounds, and barely broke a sweat. His offensive game was benign to the Bobcats who the Raptors never put under any sort of defensive pressure at any point in the game.

The PF/C combination for both teams played themselves even with Charlotte having a one rebound advantage. Remember, the frontcourt is not Charlotte’s strength, it’s supposed to be the Raptors’, at least offensively, so when those matchups come out even, you’re in trouble because you’re bound to lose the wing matchups. And the Raptors did just that. The size and agility of Jackson and Wallace were no match for Weems and DeRozan, two players that hope to one day be at the physical level of the Charlotte tandem. Charlotte’s active defense, pressuring of the ball up-top, and the Raptors’ carelessness with the rock had the Bobcats netting 15 points of 12 turnovers in the first half.

So let’s recap, Johnson (bad game, poor performance) and Bargnani play Kwame and Diaw even, Wallace and Jackson have their way with Weems and DeRozan when it counted (Weems’ late flurry can be safely ignored), which leaves us with one matchup to dig deeper into: D.J Augustin vs Jose Calderon. Poor Jose, his wife must’ve made him shovel show all weekend long because he had no energy whatsoever. Augustin was lighting him up from all angles, driving to the rim, faking him from the elbow, killing him in transition, making his momentum work against him, you get the picture. Twenty-three points and eight assists for Augustin, many of them coming in that second quarter which swung the balance fully in favor of Charlotte.

Augustin’s game looked very fluid right from the beginning, his early scoring boosted his confidence and from there he just let the game come to him and made it look easy. Jerryd Bayless tried guarding him as well and didn’t do much with the opportunity, he had four turnovers in his first stint and was very erratic. The second-half (particularly the fourth when the game was over) was a bit better, he put his head down to and went 11-12 from the stripe. He had 10 assists, not a bad number except that 7 of them came in the fourth quarter which the Raptors started down 20.

I once slept through a risk management course which spoke about dealing with dependencies, they said the best way to do so is to eliminate them. Easier said than done and it applies to basketball as well. In a perfect world, everybody keeps their man in front of them, a jump-shot is taken and one of our bigs collects the rebound while being in sound rebounding position. In the real world, the guards are dependent on the help defense when they are vulnerable at the point of attack, but at the same time the help defense is dependent on the guards to not put them in a position where they are being called into action every single time. The two sets of players are dependent on each other and right now nobody is helping each other and its’ a free-for-all for any opposing player. The wing is the first line of defense so the blame is often assigned there, when in reality both parties are equally guilty and should be sanctioned. Oh well, carry on.

If a team is unable to stop guards on the perimeter and is late rotating inside, the fouls are soon to follow. Charlotte shot 42 free-throws in this contest, and it was pretty much one of the following three scenarios:

  1. Point guard gets into the lane, no rotation, dumps to a big who is fouled.
  2. Raptors lose track of random big man right in the middle of the paint, Charlotte wing can’t believe how wide open he is, passes him the ball and he gets fouled.
  3. Gerald Wallace (14-15 FT) swears on his mother that he’s going to get fouled and goes right at Sonny Weems whose defense is so bad that one can only assume he’s listening to an iPod with some very cleverly disguised headsets.

Time for the optimism.

DeMar DeRozan (7-15 FG, 14 points, 0-0 FT) hit some shots that you would previously not have given him a chance to make. A fluent drive followed by a fade, a pull-up which faked the defense out, a catch-and-shoot motion so quick that you would’ve put money on it to be a brick, that sort of thing. His drive-game didn’t fool Jackson or Wallace, neither of whom felt enough pressure to foul DeRozan who blanked out at the line. Ed Davis was active too, with ex-coach Roy Williams in the stands he was active around the rim and had a couple dunks but was met with the wall of Brown, Diaw and Mohammed, none of whom like to concede rebounds.

Raptors were down by 6 at the end of 1, down 17 at halftime, and down by 20 at the start of the fourth. Maybe I should’ve put that last sentence at the start of the post and saved you the time.

  • dribbles

    Amazing that in a game like this where you have both a size disadvantage at the wing position and Wallace is doing whatever he wants, Julian Wright still can’t get off the bench for more than a couple of minutes. I’m not under any illusions/delusions about what James Johnson can bring to this team, but I hope he becomes the starting 3 pretty quickly. Weems ain’t a 3 and neither is DD.

    • Arsenalist

      Wright isn’t going to play, I stopped complaining about it and you should get used to it. BC’s trying to figure out what money (if any) to offer Weems and that’s why he’s logging 38 minutes.

      Besides, why the hell are you trying to screw with our lottery chances?

      • Milesboyer

        I can save BC some time with the Weems experiment…….he’s not worth re-signing unless he’s willing to take the league minimum.

        “Sonny Weems whose defense is so bad that one can only assume he’s listening to an iPod with some very cleverly disguised headsets.” – Great line that pretty much sums up his presence on the court.

  • voy

    the raps should implement a sticker system. every time any rap player gives anything resembling a hard foul, to prevent a layup, Triano is to call a timeout and award that player with a sticker he can wear on the back of his jersey.

    • Arsenalist

      ROTD.

    • tom

      Or he could just give 1 or 2 stickers to Ed Davis to start each game, and don’t bother wasting timeouts.

    • Balls of Steel

      Oh that’s great. That means before every home game, Gherardini hops on to BC’s shoulder as they attempt to put stickers behind Andrea’s back in the tunnel while Mark Eversley distracts him by asking how to pronounce the Italian word for “bathroom”. Pathetic.

  • KJ-B

    Back to trade talk… The Nets just got Deron Williams for Favor + Picks… COLANGELO ARE YOU LISTENING??? Pull the Trigger 0–=3

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Maurice/551625103 Junior Maurice

    our division just got a whole lot better nets acquire Deron Williams

  • Sizzlack

    Man all these western conference players need to get out the east, this is becoming ridiculous.
    2010-2011 will be remembered as the year many superstars changed teams. Shame.

  • Bendit

    That was some shitty defense. Feschuk of the Star has a piece today on Oakley’s take about the Raps D problems. In the Oak’s (he is a coach with the Bobcats) no bs opining style…its on the coach.period.

  • joey

    “Knicks get Carmelo and Billups, Nets get Deron, Raps get James Johnson. Atlantic Division is back! ”

    http://twitter.com/timpchisholm

    • KJ-B

      Another Atlantic Division team making moves–this time the Nets for Deron Williams… Jose must be begging on all fours for a trade ASAP!

  • KJ-B

    http://twitter.com/#!/WojYahooNBA/status/40456310902358017 “Folks are watching what MLSE is NOT doing”… Ouch, so that’s 4 teams in the Atlantic Division not named Toronto that have a great shot at the playoffs for the foreseeable future…

    What will BryCo do–TRIANO has lost 18 of 20 and still acts smug in post game scrums and annoys refs to no end BUT we’re moving in the right direction + waiting till summer when they can overpay a Euro Leaguer with “all that cap space”… THE NERVE!!!

    • KJ-B

      These guys on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd” have nothing better to do than discuss the Raptors being contracted next year after the new CBA… After all the trades, and our current roster–if there are such voices amongst ownership, the current situation only lends itself to that credibility–low attendance, poor record…Hopefully MLSE will get 1 team in the playoffs to increase its leverage and protection of our place and role in the NBA…

      • Boomer

        You failed to mention that Colin Cowherd is possibly the worst commentator on professional sports today. He’s a racist prick who is on the record as saying he says things for reaction.

        • KJ-B

          It doesn’t change the fact that he’s got a huge audience, in media/ad/image world perception is reality… I just sense, if our inactivity continues BryCo’s brass will be allowing those with conflicting interests to write the narrative on A Canadian story that deserves a better ending than is being sold–A LOT OF PEOPLE want to put the nail in the ‘Toronto’ Raptors…

          Hey, don’t tell me that Seattle doesn’t want our ‘problems’, that the fans in Sacramento don’t like having to face the idea of losing an NBA team… A lot of folks south of the 49th would be rejoicing if we were to go in the tank…. I just hope that MLSE is looking long term and recognizes this obvious bias and has a VERY active next 24 hours on the trade front because the image of major league free agents coming here in the summer is not an Americana type of thing that they drool about–it’s usually AFTER they get here they ‘recognize’, so use some diminishing assets in #7/Calderon/TPE to make those moves…

          THIS IS OUR JULY 1…

          • Boomer

            A big part of the reason for our inactivity is MLSE.. so your point restarts my worries about them as well. They’d be just as responsible as Colangelo, because the only thing they ever talk about is how successful the team is at making money. Not at winning or growing, but at making money. I agree with you in your hope that they are looking long term but i unfortunately doubt they are, because as they see it, this team is VERY successful, because of the money they generate.

            • KJ-B

              I know what you sayin’, it’s why I’m a fan of Jim Balsille–I sooo want to cheer another team in Southern ON that would be about winning and not whining…Who really knows, @ least 1 Brian GM has championship mettle, and Reimer isn’t a bad goalie at all–if the Leafs make the playoffs they’ll sell it to the masses as it were Lord Stanley’s mug!

  • voy

    I must be missing something D.Williams for D.Harris, Favors and 2 first round picks?!?!?!

    Fine, if your team is ready to contend and justs needs an elite pg to run a very good team…but to get rid of two young guys + 2 first rounders for D.Will when your team sucks balls is beyond my understanding.

    • KJ-B

      You can only play 5 guys on a court at one time per team… (not sure if it’s me, but Derek Favors is not looking like a #2 Draft pick)

      “College glory fades fast in the pros.”
      ~Pat Riley

      • Bendit

        And neither is that other #2, Turner. :)

        Favors went #3.

        • KJ-B

          Turner also is playing behind Iguodala, Williams, Holiday, Meeks…so, how much pt is there really for a rook on a playoff bound squad with a veteran like Doug Collins running the show??? There wasn’t nobody restricting Favors–Avery Johnson said that it would be another 2 years before he felt that guy was ready to play 36 minutes a game…Special Ed’s already there without training camp!

    • Nilanka15

      Could’ve been a retaliatory move in losing out on Melo. It appears, Prokhorov wants to win now. The only thing Harris proved is that he doesn’t make those around him better.

      • Bendit

        Have a feeling its more than that. I think Prokhorov has a bit of a mano a mano thing going with Dolan of the Knicks.

      • KJ-B

        Well, we’ll see how much ‘better’ the Jazz are… Have you actually looked at the Jazz roster and seen their record for the last 2/3 seasons???

        • Nilanka15

          That probably had 99% to do with Sloan and/or Williams.

          • KJ-B

            AGREED (when I first replied I real ‘Williams’ instead of ‘Harris’–ALL this trade talk, lOl)… So do you think the neXt CBA could happen without a “Franchise Player” clause–I mean the players must give something back with all the money they make as pros..?

  • FAQ

    Ratpor tribal honking fans only watch the ball going into the basket, and that satisfies them … they don’t watch the defense nor the playmaking …. just watch the ball flying through the air and if it goes into the basket they yell and eat …. and that’s about it …!!!!

    • Statement

      “yell and eat …. and that’s about it”

      That’s funny.

      The image of some random dude cheering a Bargnani 3 while his face is stuffed with Pizza Pizza….that’s a funny image.

      • FAQ

        Morontonians are gluttons for punishment … but maybe the worms have turned, after all they did just elect a red-necked conservative football coach Mayor Rob Ford.

        The Leafs and the Ratpors …. sob …

  • Statement

    What do people on this site think? Will the Raptors get contracted?

    They seem to be a middle of the pack team in terms of attendance and franchise value (if memory serves) so – in the short term – it doesn’t look likely, but in the long-term? With how the league is shaking out?

    • Paps

      Not too worried. Without Toronto they can’t expand to Europe.

    • Nilanka15

      As sad as it is, the Raps are in the middle of the pack in terms of profitability (unfortunately, I don’t remember where I read that). I would think teams like Charlotte, Milwaukee, Cleveland, New Orleans, and Minnesota would be first in line for the chopping block.

    • Nilanka15

      I guess I should’ve read your complete post before responding :s

      Please ignore the 1st half of my reply…

    • 511

      I’d guess that we’re the least likely to lose our team. They like to have us around because we buy tickets even when we stink; the refs can stiff us repeatedly and nobody really cares … and those who might-keep-mouths-tight; the league gets to consider itself ‘international’ … as well as visiting players liking to have an across-the-border playground once or twice a year; and … while they like our city and feel sorry for our plight, it’s more fun to make fun of our team than it is New Jersey’s.

      • Ianreynolds1

        As well, Toronto is one of the biggest markets on the continent, one of (or THE) largest international markets, and we have a number of sports channels covering our small amount of teams. This team will never go anywhere.

  • FAQ

    BCs Wish List: Galinari … Rubio … Diaw … Azubuike … Gortat … others????

    • Statement

      Enes, Kanter….um….Mikhail Gorbachov, Putin, Burlesconi, Super Mario, Christano Ronaldo, The Ricola guy.

  • http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress khandor

    Boris Diaw [PF] single-handedly destroyed the Raptors defense in last night’s game. For the most part, Boris Diaw was the defensive check of Andrea Bargnani [C].

    It doesn’t matter how many points Bargnani generates by himself at the offensive end of the floor because his inability to provide solid ‘Team Defense’ for the Raptors, at the Center position, makes the rest of his teammates almost useless, when it comes to producing Wins vs. Losses.

    The last 3 seasons have been a thorough waste of time, in Raptorville … primarily, because of the lack of development of Andrea Bargnani at the defensive end of the floor.

    So, too, will the next 3 seasons be a waste of time, in Raptorville … if Toronto is intent on keeping Mr. Bargnani as a focal point for their franchise.

    • Statement

      Keep the comments coming, dude.

  • Balls of Steel

    If one performed as poorly as BC did in his 5 years here, would one even last a week working at MacDonald’s? As far as I’m concerned, there’s enough mess in this organization for the next GM to come in and mop-up. JP did it with the Jays and Anthopoulos is now doing the mop-up.

    • KJ-B

      The worst part of the Bosh debacle is finding out how far from elite Andrea Bargnani really was and how much worse of a defensive club it was still possible to become…