Nets 92, Raptors 99 – Box

First things first. Raptors are third in the inverted standings, two losses “ahead” of Sacramento and five losses “behind” Cleveland and Minnesota who are fighting for “first”. The recent Raptors “run” that “propelled” them from 5th to 3rd could be crucial, because as this table illustrates, it’s a full 5% increase of chances to land the top pick. It’s unfortunate that the Raptors can’t “catch” Cleveland or Minnesota, because finishing 2nd would mean almost another 5% increase in chance. Tired of quotation marks? I encourage you to read this “recap” of last night’s “game”.

Raps in a blowout. Don’t let the final score fool you, it wasn’t even close. The Nets made a fourth quarter rally to make the final score more respectable, not that anybody cared. This picture does well to illustrate this point:

Deron Williams, Kris Humphries, Anthony Morrow, Andrea Bargnani, Leandro Barbosa, Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson were all missing, making this already unwatchable game a sure health hazard. You take what you can get in terms of Raptors ball now because there’s going to be nothing till October, I can’t say I’ll be missing it either. I was fully prepared to suffer this season and suffer I did, we all did, now it’s time to shut this baby down, wait for the NBA lockout to play itself out and hopefully there’s going to be ball next season, and even more hopefully, Bryan Colangelo can have his first decent summer since 2006.

DeMar DeRozan had most of his 18 points in the first quarter where he looked like – and I’ve never had the opportunity to say this about any Raptors player this season – the best player on the court. All flavors of the jumper were working – pull-up, the catch-and-shoot, he even the hit the ones where he prematurely picks up his dribble only to hit a shot against an arched-in defense. No Amir Johnson in there meant Reggie Evans and Ed Davis started against Brook Lopez who made his height and weight advantage count. He had 35/11 as a follow up to his great game in London, funny moment for me was Matt Devlin ripping Lopez for “only” averaging 5.9 rebounds, and using that stat to draw off criticism from Andrea Bargnani who averages 5.2. Honestly guys, do we have to stoop to these kind of levels to defend our players?

We’ll give the second quarter to the 11 points coming from James Johnson. The Nets were running their offense with a backcourt of Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar, making this one of those rare occasions where the Raptors backcourt of Bayless and DeRozan is clearly superior. Sasha Vujacic is one of my least favorite players in the league, he plays with a sense of entitlement that I never quite understood, it probably stems from his Laker days and some of it is carrying it over to the Nets. I don’t want to get into it too much, but let’s say that Sasha Vujacic is the type of guy that cuts off old ladies on the highway and then slows down to flip them off and then cuts them off again.

The Raptors were up 19 at the half and this had already been a blowout for some time, yet Solomon Alabi, who the franchise is very high on, couldn’t get a minute. Why? I can’t explain it. Is there a clause in his contract which says that if he plays a single minute he’ll automatically become the coach, GM and owner of the franchise? I would look into that because it certainly appears that way. When he was drafted there was a whole thing about how the Raptors and Masai Ujuri had tracked and what a potentially great defender he’d become. Right now he’s behind Alexis Ajinca in the rotation which has to be as confusing to Alabi as it is to Ajinca. However, I can see why Triano likes Ajinca, he’s wide, he’s big and if properly installed can be used as a wall between the den area and the kitchen.

Ed Davis had 18/8 on 9-14 shooting and only attempted two shots outside the paint. A-Dub brought around the point that Davis shouldn’t focus on bulking up because it doesn’t come natural to his athletic and leaper-type game, and doing so could damage his body. I agree, and it definitely is more about strength than muscle, and nobody’s asking the guy to have Creatine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, just that he gain enough strength that he doesn’t get pushed out of the block too easily. Getting muscled out is a problem for any big and we’ve seen it happen to Davis in the last few weeks. Needless to say, the Raptors’ strength and conditioning team has its work cut out for them. Davis also needs to improve as a pick-setter, the Raptors are by enlarge a high pick ‘n roll team and if Davis is to be a focus of the offense, that’s where it starts for him.

Davis doesn’t necessarily need to bulk up because to become a great scorer because equating good post-up games with weight is fallacious. There’s Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, but there’s also Kevin McHale and Kevin Garnett, with the approach to the game being entirely different. Malone and Barkley relied on muscle and bulk, McHale had the treachery (the “slippery eel”), Garnett has developed the high unblockable release-point, the list continues with Elvin Hayes and his devastating turnaround jumper and countless others. Davis’ defensive projection is fairly easy to make, he will continue to improve given his physical tools and mental commitment, offensively it’s an unknown. The short jumper is coming along nicely of late, and he’s shooting 37.9% from the 10-15 feet range. To put it in some perspective, Garnett shoots 45% and Bosh shoots 43% from that range. It could be that gradual improvement there will make him a solid offensive weapon, but the likelihood that that alone will make him great isn’t high. The approach to a power forward’s offense has always been two-pronged. Barkley and Malone developed jumpers with experience to supplement a strong post-up game, Garnett went the other way around, Chris Bosh after seven years is still trying to get his inside game going and you can argue that it’s what’s lacking from his arsenal. Can Davis become the post-up threat that Chris Bosh never was? Stay tuned to find out and by stay tuned I mean wait five years.

I realize even bringing Davis’ name up in sentences where Hall of Famer’s are mentioned is a little ridiculous, but c’mon, we were playing the Nets.

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  • knickz

    yesterdays game put me to sleep!

  • Deuce 74

    Who are the funny looking guys in the pic with Rod Black?

    • arsenalist

      Apparently TSN now does radio and those two are their morning/afternoon guys. Can’t say it’s a bad thing, the Fan needs some competition in this city. Team 1050 AM tried to provide some competition a few years back but made the fatal mistake of hiring Paul Romanuk, a man who makes dry toast look exciting.

      • knickz

        well he’s back on the fan and now i know why he got fired, the guy makes soo many mistakes and stutters a lot

      • knickz

        with tsn doing radio we are going to hear more hockey talk smh

  • Milesboyer

    I thought it was a fun game to watch except for the 4th quarter where they lost their aggressive freewheeling approach. I don’t know if anyone remembers a Clippers team that had Lamar Odom, Darius Miles, Q-Rich and Andre Miller….I think it lasted a year…..but when I see this team without Calderon, Bargnani, Barbosa and of course Kleiza, it reminds me of them a bit. Young, athletic as hell, fun to watch, fun for them and for the most part, effort given on both ends of the floor. I don’t think there’s the same level of talent as that Clippers team, but without going into a lengthy explanation – I like what I see. Yeah, they beat the Nets without alot of their best players, but this team also beat the Magic last Sunday.

    With every passing game, I’m getting more convinced that Bargnani is not a good fit for this team. His one-dimensional game isn’t even as nice to watch as DeRozan’s (currently) one-dimensional game. If we’re looking for 20pts, I’ll take Demar over Andrea any night. Whether Colangelo wants to admit it or not, this team has morphed into an anti-Euro team – its strengths are no longer compatible the initial vision.

    • Ol’ Dirty Raptor

      That Clips team won 27 comparing to a team like that means what, exactly? Clips only made the playoffs (only once) after they dumped a bunch of those guys, and added Elton Brand.

      • Milesboyer

        Two out of the four mentioned (Miller and Odom) have had great careers, one (Q-Rich) a decent career and the fourth blew out his knee but could have had a decent career (other than the fact that he was a head case). The point is – they all developed in subsequent years, some of them becoming quite good.

    • knickz

      hopefully bayless can start racking up some dimes, im in the finals of my fantasy league and i need him to come up big the next 2 games

  • Ol’ Dirty Raptor

    The Nets started Stephen Graham who is actually somehow the less talented Graham brother. You can’t tell anything about the Raps based on this game.

    • arsenalist

      Or the last 15.

    • knickz

      i mean to think that some guys wanted farmar on this team over calderon…farmar is horrible!

      • Copywryter

        Agreed. Did you see Farmar’s 8 foot pass to Lopez in the fourth? It was 2 feet away from him, and he’s a very, very large man.

      • Ol’ Dirty Raptor

        Farmar looked like D-Wade against us on a couple of plays. If he had any skill, he could have dropped 30, with all the open shots he missed.

        • knickz

          that has to be the biggest joke of the season

  • Mediumcore

    Anyone know what Amir’s shooting percentage is from the 10 – 15 foot range? Because it seems to me like Ed is already shooting the ball at the same level and consistency as Amir, but his release is much quicker.

    • Nilanka15

      I’ve noticed the difference in shot release times as well. Davis catches the ball in proper shooting position, with his knees bent. All he has to do is rise up and release the shot.

      Amir, on the other hand, catches the ball while standing straight up, then brings the ball down, bends his knees, then rises and releases.

      We’re talking about a split-second difference, but it can be the difference between an open shot and a contested shot.

      • Mediumcore

        Well, thats natural talent for ya, some things just come a lot easier. Hopefully we can pick up some more of that natural talent in this years draft.

  • Nilanka15

    So true about Vujacic. He definitely has that Hollywood swagger which is completely out of place in New Jersey. I wonder if Maria Sharapova wishes she could use a mulligan.

    • That’s like asking,

      “I wonder if Bryan Colangelo wishes he could use a mulligan, regarding the No. 1 [overall] Selection from the 2006 NBA Draft Lottery,”

      and thinking that the correct answer would be,

      “Yes, for sure,”

      when, in fact, the most likely answer actually is,

      “No, sirree, not even after a largely disappointing first 5 years of married life.”

      If nothing else, give Bryan Colangelo deserved credit for being a highly responsible and committed spouse … to Andrea Bargnani … and for sticking it through with HIS first choice, in life, no matter what.

      Surely that is a tell-tale sign of tremendous trust, loyalty, and mutual respect … and, no one ever be criticized for conducting their affairs on THAT basis.

      • Nilanka15

        Bargnani’s play this season has been borderline abusive. If I were Colangelo, instead of a Mulligan, I’d be asking for a divorce, complete with restraining order.

      • cesco

        Khandor as more hate toward Andrea than Gaddafi has toward his own people who want democracy .

        • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!

          Bad, fully uniformed anology.

          What is currently going on in Libya is a CIA covert coup de ta via reality tv- wake up and recognize game- it’s not about democracy it’s about control of Libya’s oil which Gaddafi nationalized ie kicking out global Corporate control of Libya’s oil.

          Do the full Corporate (ABC, CBS, NBS, MSNBC, CNN, FoxNews) sponsored war math ala Operation Iraqi Liberation ie O.I.L.

          PNAC (Project For A New American Century)- look it up.

          • cesco

            The CIA has nothing to do with the revolutions that are taking place in North Africa and the Middle East to-day . It all started out with a street vendor in Tunisia immolating himself in protest for the abject conditions the majority of people in his country are living in and the next country was Egypt . Tunisia and Egypt have VERY LITTLE to NO OIL . Libya happened to have a madman (like Hitler and Stalin) who will not accept to step down and would have killed his own people by the hundred of thousands if the UN had not intervened .

          • SR

            “Coup de ta”!!!!!!! Hahahahaha. That’s golden man, but I’m afraid you shot your credibility right there and your gonna have to get off your high horse. Only one ride per child, son.

          • Reason

            I agree, US is only over there for corporate interests, they could care less about peacekeeping. The situation in Rwanda years back was far worse, and the U.S did nothing to intervene, the UN did. Why? Rwanada provides no economic gain. Don’t believe what you see from these left-wing media broadcasts on the Gaddafi “doesn’t want the world to know what’s happening” mantra. That’s bs. As is that that lady who claimed to have been tortured, that’s a CIA set-up and are using her as a media darling. The US tried this same kind of thing in Iran, and it worked once a couple decades ago when they helped to overthrow the Shah. It’s all strategic where profit > foreign democracy.

            • Nilanka15

              Not to get too far off topic here, but look at the mess the US left in Iraq. Baghdad was a better/safer place to live while Saddam was in power.

          • voy

            kicking out global oil companies…except for the ones working blocks in libya, right? Suncor and Nexen are two in canada that have properties in libya. Several other major international players have blocks/fields as well.

  • hound

    Guys, as much as you are pissed off about Bargs, the only other possible choice in 2006 was Aldridge. And it could be argued that Bargs had a much bigger upside than LaMarcus. This of course has not happened, but to blame BC for this pick is ridiculous. Would you rather have Adam Morrison? He did get great value in Demar and ED over the last two years. The mistake he made that really cost us was kissing Bosh’s ass for too long. Instead of signing Turkoglu (to prove to chrissy that we want to win), he should of traded Bosh at the deadline of 2009, or at least the summer of 2009. If he has the balls to get rid of the entire coaching staff, I would re-sign him.

    • sleepz

      Yup that Chris Bosh was the issue. Everthing was done for him and look how we ruined the franchise! Not only did he ask that the Raps select Aldridge in that draft but he also had the nerve to ask for a quality swingman to play with (I mean which contender or consistent playoff teams has one of those?) and wondered why the team never spent into the luxury tax……uz once again of course what true contenders and playoff teams actually spend beyond the cap? I’m sure Bosh had Turkoglu on his wish list years before, even though all the talk indicated that Colangelo loved his game for quite some time and him and Fruitman made sure he didn’t escape them with the fancy financial footwork to outbid Portland.

      All sarcasm aside, people please stop blaming Chris Bosh for Colangelo’s failings. I know he tried to put the blame on him on Bosh but BC is the GM and if he was cow-towing to a player who is not a cornerstone than it shows how misguided his approach as GM of this franchise was.

    • tonious35

      The Adam Morrison pick was a phenomenal act of GM retardation. I wouldn’t of picked him regardless of his talent level, only due to the fact that my armpit hairs looked way more fashionable than his ugly-ass stache. Don’t stretch the comparison to that limit. I didn’t mind Bargs at the first place at all, but he has not progressed in NBA attitude the way we wanted.

    • BCGheradiniJayGots2Go!!

      CB wanted Aldridge. BC wanted AB.

      Do the math & guess who won that paradigm and got their guy?

      Adam Morrison blew out his knee early on in his career and was never the same player.

      Ed fell into BC’s lap it’s not like he out scouted or traded up to get him.

      DD (whom I like) is a good player but his Compton road dawg- BJennings, is the solid young pg that the Rap’s currently don’t have.

      As well current starting NBA pg’s Collison(Ind), Lawson(Den), Holiday(Phi) were selected after DD in 2009 and are currently leading their respective teams into the playoffs in 2011.

      The mistake was and still is BC kissing Bargnani’s ass for too long. Why would CB want to play next to AB over the next 5-7 years after playing next to him over the past 4?

      AB, w/o CB, has been exposed as an entitled (1 of 2 guaranteed preseason starters along w/ Kleiza as per Jay & BC), coddled, lazy & lacking the leadership skills (vocal & effort) that a team would want in its best player. Is it really a wonder why the Rap’s are playing so poorly as Jose & Bargnani are the Rap’s 2 longest tenured players under BC.

      BC’s handling of the CB situation both beforehand and after the fact was amateurish and is directly responsible for the dire predicament that the Rap’s currently find themselves going through. BC (President & GM) built this 2010-11 sinking ship called Raptor basketball in- point blank!!

      BC & Jay tried to blame everything on CB (missing the playoffs) questioning everything from his leadership abilities to his integrity as a human being in order to cover their asses to MLSE.

      If BC would have gotten a proper return on CB maybe the Rap’s would be playing in the playoffs this season instead of “losing with a purpose”.

      **Keep Alex English, Alvin Williams & JYD as part of the Rap’s organization moving forward.

      • Kel

        Aldridge would’ve done nothing to change this team’s fortunes. We probably would be 10 games better than we are now. He averages around the same ppg as Bargnani in a career year, and his highest rpg total has come this year at only 9. The fact is, Bosh, Bargnani, Aldrdige, none of these guys can change the Raptors fortunes. Ed Davis is a better PF than all of them.

        • sleepz

          I respect your opinion but I believe you are wrong. You said that Aldridge wouldn’t have changed the teams fortunes yet you said they would be 10 games better. Thats a considerable difference. Aldridge has definitely taken his game to the next level and should have been an all-star selection this year in front of Griffin or Love.

          Davis might indeed turn out to be a better 4 than the players you’ve listed but he has a ways to go to get there as 2 of the players you’ve listed are far more accomplished than him at their stage in their careers. I hope he does turn out to be better than all of them though.

          • Bendit

            Re Algridge who is from Texas/went to school there, Bosh was in favour of him…but was that strategic or because he used to train/practise with him and a bud? Of more importance was the fact that A was projected as a power forward which of course was a duplication of CB’s position. How would you square that aspect of team building when there was in fact no consensus re the #1 pick and AB was at the very least an intriguing prospect at centre. He seems to have fit the bill on the offensive side. Was there any reason to believe he’d be this deficient on the defensive side? Who knows. Even more disappointing to me is his seeming lack of a strong personality that I clearly remember Gherardini mention more than once by describing him as “mentally very tough”….which he maybe is but is not manifested to these eyes at least.

      • sleepz

        Just to touch on one point briefly. I do like DeRozan but I also liked Jennings (as well as J.Holiday) before that draft and it was a wonder to me why Jenngins was never on the Raps radar considering he was a McDonalds HS All-American, AND played in Italy where I would have hoped we would have had an inside scoop on his abilities consiering our Assitant GM has the connections….or so I thought.

        Nothing wrong with Demar but I was hoping they took Jennings that draft.

        • jimmie

          Brandon Jennings 2010-11: 16 pts, 4.8 ast (2.3 to), 3.6 reb on .389 fg% (61 game sample). Pretty consistent #s for his first 2 years.

          I prefer DD at this stage in their respective careers.

    • dribbles

      I wish the debate about the 2006 draft could end. BC was building around a finesse PF in Bosh. It didn’t make sense to take Bargs or Aldridge. Aldridge is almost the same player as Bosh but until the middle of this season or so he was a much worse rebounder. Who would have played the 5 in that lineup, and don’t tell me it doesn’t matter because it takes a physical toll having to guard the biggest guys in the league. Obviously, Bargs was even more of a finesse player and while you can argue the offensive benefits of Bargs spacing the floor for Bosh, playing two finesse guys like that in your starting frontcourt is not a recipe for winning in the NBA.

      The smart move would have been trading down or out.

      And BC was never able to figure out what he wanted to with Bosh and Bargs. He drafted Bargs to play with Bosh, realized after a while that the team needed a defensive C, and signed JO. But then he figured who cares when JO was done, and committed again to a Bosh-Bargs frontcourt. But when Bosh left, he tried getting Chandler to pair with Bargs. Honestly, I look at the way he has flip flopped on the frontcourt so much and I don’t understand where his defenders are coming from. If you don’t have a vision as a GM, there’s a pretty good chance your puzzle pieces aren’t going to fit together.

      • sleepz

        Who plays the 5 for Portland currently?

        You guessed it.

      • hound

        Trading down, especially out of the top pick does not happen in basketball. This is due to the importance of any single player. Unlike football (45 players) where unless it’s a quarterback, trading down to get multiple picks can be very beneficial. Nobody in basketball is going to trade out of that pick and risk giving away the next Jordan/Kobe/James etc. It is better for job security to pick the consensus #1. Aldridge was always going to be like Bosh, whereas Bargs doesn’t play the same style and the hope was he would compliment Bosh.

        As for BC constantly changing the direction. I say that is okay, look at Danny Ainge in Boston or Donnie Walsh in New York or Pat Riley in Miami. Basketball is change. You hang onto superstars and constantly upgrade around them.

        The only thing worse than kissing Bosh’s ass would have been to sign and keep him as a max player. THAT would have killed our future. Luckily, that didn’t happen.

        • dribbles

          Probably too late on this, but there was no consensus #1 at all in that draft, so I don’t see the risk of trading down in that situation.

          @sleepz: Aldridge bulked up a bit this past offseason but there’s no way he could have played the 5 his first few seasons, and I very much doubt this is his long term position. The Blazers just had too many injuries to their 5s.

  • Rpsfan95

    its all a big mess, the panicky moves of signing Amir and Kleiza to huge deals just proves that BC thought he could pull a “look were still in the playoffs without Bosh” move instead of rebuilding and keeping our options open

  • Qu

    Arse, you should dedicate a whole article to Vujacic, I’d like to hear your views because I sure as hell can’t stand the guy. He walks around with an undeserved cockiness, and he looks like a damn rat (where I hear there are lots of in New Jersey.)

  • golden

    Nice writeup by Arse, considering what he’s got to work with. One little suggestion though: I keep seeing the term “inverted standings”, referring to our tank/draft position, which sounds so clunky. Why can’t we just say we’re “3rd under-all”?

  • Rapture

    who is the kid at the top?

    • Nilanka15

      Looks like Kris Kardashian

      • cesco

        and the next Michael Jordan who will take the Raps into promised land .

  • Natalie

    I just saw what HAS to be the Raptors Quote of the Year on Twit:

    Eric Koreen: Re: Amir. Triano: “The doctors told us he was done.” Holly MacKenzie: “For the rest of the season?” Triano: “And the playoffs.”

  • RapsM

    “Ain’t nobody coming to see the New Jersey Nets anyway,” Weems said.


    • golden

      Ain’t nobody gonna pay Sonny no big money next year. lol.