Magic 92, Raptors 88 – Box

There’s a special kind of pain experienced by Raptor fans. After more than a decade and a half the team has little more to show for their toil than a handful of playoff appearances and a pair of franchise players whose departures left the organization at a standstill. While it’s easy to wax poetic about how frustrating being a Raptor fan can be, one only has to look at other NBA teams to understand that things could be much worse.

The Orlando Magic have been perennial contenders in the Eastern Conference since they took Dwight Howard with the first pick in the 2004 draft, but in their current position Raptor fans can empathise. There are nine days until Otis Smith has to make a decision that will almost undoubtedly set the organization back a few years. Some hold out hope that Smith will be able to bring back a haul comparable to the one Masai Ujiri was able to get for Carmelo Anthony, a tall task with Otis Smith’s track record. I can’t help but draw the comparison between Otis Smith and Danny Ferry, and how they constructed teams around young franchise players and failed to surround them with the talent necessary to capture a title, or even convince the players to stay.

Switching to the game, the Raptors had a tall task taking on the Magic on the second night of a back to back. Amir was given the night off, and with Bargnani continuing his sideline modelling career the Raptors were forced to go at Dwight Howard undermanned. While I expected Toronto to come out a little sluggish after a hard fought win last night, they surprized with focus and aggression right from the tip. Aaron Gray was tasked with holding his own against Dwight Howard, and he answered the call commendably. He used his wide frame and high motor to bother Howard on both ends of the floor, but was hampered with foul trouble due to some questionable officiating (a theme for the game).

Ed Davis was given his eighth start of the season with Amir’s absence, and he looked to carry over his strong performance from last night’s game, with mixed results. Jose was unable to regain his pre-All-Star break form, which might affect his trade value, but more on that later. James Johnson put in another so-so performance that has me baffled as to how he projects going forward. Matt Devlin called DeRozan’s night “magnificent”, and while I wouldn’t be that complimentary, he was incredibly effective attacking the basket.

While the game was competitive throughout, Dwight Howard’s physical prowess set the tone. Even with Gray’s encouraging play coupled with Magloires dependable stoicism, Howard’s 36 and 13 was too much for the Raptors to overcome. I think Devlin unintentionally summarized what the Raptors were up against when Magloire entered the game and he commented “The Big Cat checks in to handle Superman”. The Raptors were outmatched, undermanned, but still somehow managed to put in a scrappy effort and almost won the game, pleasing tank nation while still giving the home fans a reason to show up.

Now to the Jose Calderon situation, which many RR readers have commented on, and I thought I’d throw in my two cents. When you look at successful franchises, no matter the sport, they tend manage personnel decisions without emotion. While this takes much of the perceived romanticism out of the player-organization relationship, it allows for teams to look after their own interests. While the needs and considerations of the player should be taken into account, they should be secondary. So when people accuse the Raptors front-office of being cold-hearted in their treatment Jose, I side with the front-office and applaud their efforts, despite the bad taste it leaves.

Ed’s Note: This is David Helm’s last casting call.

  • Brian B

    I like David Helm’s game reports better than many of the regular writers – he presents as mature, focused on the actual game; players and issues. commendable vocabulary allows nifty descriptiveness.

    As to the game, the Raps always seemed a step behind. Orlando seemed disinterested too, so the fans got teased by the potential win, and DD rose to the occasion, but just not enough horses.

  • Ppellico

    i guess my question of the game management last night is this…
    IF Gray was the man in the middle and doing so outstandingly for 3 qrters…had in fact a double/dounble…why did he never return to the floor?
    If Gray was tired and had 4 fouls…OK.
    You sit him at the end of the 3rd and then NEVER bring him back.
    Really?
    Why?
    ‘Cause he has no future with the team like say, a Mags does?
    You would rather not win or have any chance?
    Then you must think Gray was just fooling earler in the game and really wasn’t that good.
    Maybe he is small and everybody missed him on the bench?

    Really…I am baffled by the move to sit Gray  forwever  after he had some rest and breathing time. This was a terrible coaching plan by Casey that last qtr.

    He seems to do this on every night.
    Its as if Gray has been banished from the 4th qtr.

    • Raps4Ever

       How was it terrible when they went toe-to-toe throughout the quarter and again had chances to win the game, right down to the end? Howard didn’t kill them in the 4th (he only scored 7 of his 36 pts). It was players not playing the 5 that screwed up down the stretch, with a little help from the refs.

    • Raptorboy

       What you are saying is true but I thought that Magliore did an awesome job guarding Howard. He went toe-to-toe with Howard and made life difficult for him. Howard hit some very tough shots down the stretch with Mags on him. Maybe Casey kept Gray on the bench because of the way Mags was playing. I found it enjoyable watching Mags competing so hard against Howard. There was no backing down from Mags!!

  • Garbo

    Really? Surprised with a Z? Can everyone who submits articles for this site please start pretending to give a shit? This is a great community, with some interesting writers and people, but it is insulting when one simply throws something up online for everyone else to consume that is incomplete. 

    • Nilanka15

      lol, I don’t really understand the purpose of the complaint.  The Toronto Sun has some sort of spelling/grammatical mistake in every piece, and they’re a professional publication.

      Sure ‘surprised’ was spelled wrong, but the thought was still conveyed and understood.

    • homeworks

      ‘insulting’, really? ‘Incomplete’? Seriously? Man, you’ve gotta have a real hard time these days around the world with your flexible attitude…
      I’ll leave you with this consideration, appropriate to the context:

      ‘A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’

  • CJT

    I suppose I am that glass is half full guy, but how can you not be excited by games like this and the recent string of close wins and loses?  I agree that there has been some poor coaching decisions as well as a talent deficiency compared to most teams in the league and yet this team battles.  They very realistically could be perfect since the break and with a few better decisions down the stretch they would be.  With the addition of AB as a late game scoring threat as well as the future additions of Val and a decent pick or free agent signing I don’t feel that we are that far for really competing.

    • Cdhall

      I agree. Isn’t it nice to see the raps playing hard defence most nights? That keeps them in most games. next year with Val, a draft pick, one or two free agents and most of the current roster, they will have lots of time to work on the offence.   

  • Nilanka15

    Before anyone starts blaming the refs for the loss, those 2 calls on Calderon, although terrible, actually helped the Raptors.  They essentially stopped the clock, and gave us the ball, since Howard bricked every free throw.

    • mountio

      I was thinking the same thing as they happened. Down the stetch, regardless of the situation .. fouling Howard was our best strategy. We just need a make a few shots on the other end and it all looks brilliant.

    • jwss

      True, but what if they were charged as Offensive Fouls?  The clock still would have stopped and the Raptors would inbound – and Howard would have five fouls and have to play much more tentatively for the remainder of the contest.

      • mountio

        Fair enough .. although as a general rule .. I like to see refs not awarding “floppers” (which Jose clearly is). Its a bit of the boy who cried wolf with Jose .. he flops so much, its hard to know when its real …

        • jwss

          The league is full of floppers and Jose is a good one – but against Howard I don’t think it’s possible to flop.  Get in his space and you’re going to get flattened.

      • Nilanka15

        Good point. 

        But I was just pointing out that the calls didn’t directly lead to a negative outcome for Toronto.

        • jwss

          Very true.  Slightly related… I was reading a Magic fans’ game thread and some of those posting were surprised at all the calls going the Magic’s way.  During the ones against Calderon and the one on Demar, one guy said, “The poor Raptors can’t even get calls on their home court!  It’s like we’re the home team!”

    • IkeKrizzule

      On the 2nd set of FT’s Dwight did miss them both but Orlando got the offensive rebound and burned off about 20 seconds of time.  They missed a shot, but those 20 seconds were crucial and wouldn’t have been burned if the proper call was made.

      • 511

        This is true. Gotta say … not sure I’m getting this whole ‘let’s not get on the refs too much’ vibe. There were bad calls against the Raps — not for the first time, as we all know — and a couple of them were outrageous and screamingly bad calls … and to my mind, the day that Raptors fans are persuading each other how much it doesn’t matter that the referees went out of their way to try to help the other team (can we call it what it is? cheating? because isn’t it?) well … something’s messed up and we’re just not thinking straight. There’s enough of that crap from the league itself and from those who sit courtside to give us the straight goods on what’s really going on down there. (Mm-hm.) And just because he or they tells everyone ‘it doesn’t matter’ and to (in effect) ‘move along and forget all about it’, well … that might be diabolically messed up, as far as I’m concerned. Thing is, I wouldn’t wonder if the refs really have stink on them except for the fact that it’s often enough that they DON’T stink. Sort of the exception proving the rule. 

      • Nilanka15

        That’s true, but I’m more inclined to blame our defensive rebounding on that play, than the refs.

        Regardless of the situation, we can’t be giving up offensive rebounds off missed free throws.  It’s not the first time we’ve been burned like that.

  • Nilanka15

    I’ve been impressed with DeMar’s game recently.  I’ve been critical of him this season, but his decision making over the past 3-5 games has been noticeably better.  His ball handling is still attrocious, but he seems to be getting more familiar with his own limitations, and finding ways to perform efficiently despite these limitations.  I appreciate that.

    I’m still not 100% convinced he’s our SG of the future, but at least he’s making a case for it now. 

    • Brian B

       Jason Richardson is also never going to be confused with Tony Allen. nor would Hedo or JJ. DD needs to stop disappearing against tough D, and then just feasting on offensively oriented opponents the next night. he needs to develop consistency, focus, and diversity of skills. Can he do that? Not many can at this stage of their development.

      • sauce jr.

        “Not many can at this stage of their development. ”

        The guy is 22. 

        • Brian B

           More significantly, he is a third year pro who lacks good basic skills like dribbling and passing and sound instincts about defensive positioning, effort and shot selection. He did not improve the past off season (except his jump shot). While it is possible he will learn, most perimeter players do not once they are established pros, regardless of their age. This is not particular to DD. There are lots of wise commentaries out there pointing out how AAU starts at age 10 rewarding kids that score, not those who have skills. So DD was rushed along based on his athletic prowess, but likely never had real skills coaching at the appropriate age.

          • CJT

            Very true.  Coaches don’t spend any time on fundamentals any more.  It isn’t glamourous and isn’t reward like wins are.

          • Theswirsky

            even his jumpshooting has gotten worse

            2010/11

            16 – 23 ft 40%
            10 – 15 ft 47%
            3 – 9 ft 47%

            2011/12

            16 – 23 ft 30%
            10 – 15 ft 37%
            3 – 9 ft 42%

            only his 3 pt shooting has improved… and almost all that is wrapped up in 2 games (4 of 6 vs Milwaukee and 5 of 8 vs Cleveland)

  • Valit

     I was Ok with the way the guys played last night; No Andreea, No Amir..It looks like Kleiza is injured  ( or very tired) and Jose has some flu bug. Having said that, what is really bothersome is the low basketball IQ that some of the players exhibit during the games; maybe it’s a sign of immaturity or maybe it’s something that will never come but as I said in the past, some of the decisions they made are really, really dumb. One more thing- I like some of Casey’s experiments but one still baffles me; When you have both Jose and Bayless on the floor, why Jared is running the show and Jose is the spot on shooter? In my opinion, it should be viceversa. Last night in 2 minutes the deficit went for 4 to 9…later on they changed around but a little bit too late.

    • mountio

      Its an interesting point .. but I would offer up that Bayless is the only player that can beat his man of the dribble .. thus causing help defense to come over and creating open shots for teamates. Jose, for all his great decision making, is more of a pick n roll guy and doesnt really draw help defense other than the man switching on teh pic n roll itself. Of course, the flaw in this theory is that Bayless 90% of the time just pulls up for a long jumper .. so in practice it doesnt work as well as it might in theory…

      • CJT

        Barbosa can also create his own shot off of the dribble and tends to take it to the rack more than Bayless.  Both could be effective if they had some court vision after the initial steps.

  • cesco

    We know now how close the games are without Andrea . If  they win (more or less) as many games as they lose after his return ( this Saturday in Detroit ? ) for the rest of the season then the chances for next year playoffs are pretty well answered ( winning 50 % of your games is a guarantee of playoffs in the East )  . I will add that if JV , picks and trades/FA do not disappoint entirely , next year playoffs are in the bag in the situation described above .

    • sleepz

      No, playoffs aren’t in the bag. Everything changes year to year in the league. You don’t know what JV will do and you have no idea who the Raptors will draft or if they will trade for players that can help them.

      You can’t anticipate who BC will overpay during the offseason and based on his history we can assume trades/FA ‘will’ dissapoint to some extent.

      You can’t assume AB will have a solid year. He’s played 13 games this year. Most fans from other teams would be calling his year a dissapointment (injuries are not a players fault imo however you can’t make any reasonable assumptions going forward based on 13 games!).

      How can we have any expectations of players that are either not on the team or are rookies? Too many intangibles to assume playoffs under those circumstances.

      • cesco

         I was trying to point out that the CURRENT team , playing the rest of the year at a .500 clip ( obviously Andrea will have to play nearly all of those games ) has all the indications of a playoff team . Andrea will have played close to 40 of those 66 games and the team will have won half of them , what other proof do you need ? . Obviously lengthy injuries to a few key players will have a major impact on next year fortunes . It is all speculation but it has validity , because it is based on what the team  would have achieved this year . If it doesn’t play at .500 for the rest of the year then you would have to hope for the new additions to help achieve that goal .

        • sleepz

          What indications are referring to them as a playoff team?

          You don’t know what the team would have achieved this year without injuries, as it’s all assumption.

          I sincerely hope BC doesn’t go into the offseason thinking that the core he has now, even with new additions is one step from the playoffs and possible future successes.

        • RalphAbernathy

          yeah bro, no one takes you seriously because you are heavily biased towards andrea bargnani, and have very little insight to the rest of the team.

          • Steve

            nigger says what?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SJT6LQ6HZQWMPJMT22LTN24UUY Antonino Ferraro

       Are we sure AB will remain a Rapt?

      • sleepz

        +1

        That’s what I mean. I doubt he is moved but there are way too many moving pieces to assume anything going forward.

        • cesco

          If you guys are waiting for Andrea to be traded , you will have to wait a long , long time . Anyway , after March 15th the team will be basically set for next year and we will have to see how the rest of the season pan out .

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SJT6LQ6HZQWMPJMT22LTN24UUY Antonino Ferraro

            I want to see AB a Rapt. My concern is why we don’t have any news about him? It’s look like to ask question to Pravda.

  • FLUXLAND

    *golf clap* for the last paragraph.

    (I never understood the emotional overvaluing of Jose and his fools gold statistics.)

    Well done.

  • Akash_singh

    the person who needs to shut the fuck up is devlin. His argument that players should just let the owners know what their intentions are, is ludicrous. This is a business you dumb twat, you don’t go laying all your cards on the table like that………bosh is the perfect example, hate the guy all you want but he played his heart out the length of his contract, kept his intentions private (otherwise he would’ve gotten traded to the clippers lol) and then headed over to miami, he has every right to do that.  

    Remember that players are people too, not just horses to be sold and traded.        

    • jwss

      Bosh kept his “true” intentions private while publicly stating (both to his employer and his fans) that his intention was to work with the Raptors on a mutually beneficial solution.  He would either sign an extension or work with them on a sign-and-trade that returned assets to Toronto.  From everything I read, Miami was never on that list.

      • Akash_singh

        with all due respect, its none of your business what his true intentions are. let’s say you’re buying something off the internet and you’re discussing prices with the seller, if the seller knows everything about your situation, he will try to take advantage as he rightfully should, and that isn’t in your best interests. And the same thing applies to basketball players and the owners.

        • Raps4Ever

          From a pure business sense, you’re right, and there’s no way Bosh could have been “totally” up front, because that would have revealed the Miami cullusion, BUT if I’m him, I do what I can for a team that treated me like royalty for 7 years, while training me and giving me the opportunities that I had, while paying me $100M. He could have told BC that he was gone at the end of the year, and BC could have at least got something at the deadline as a rental for a contender who thought they might be able to sign him. It wouldn’t have affected his interests, and could have helped the Raps a little.

          • Akash_singh

            nigga please, how much sympathy would the organization have for him if he had a career ending injury………  

            And desperate Toronto fans treat everyone like royalty, they were calling Aaron friggin gray and MVP last week. 

            • Marc

              This isn’t the NFL. Talented/hard working NBA players get plenty of leeway when it comes to serious injuries. See: Williams, Alvin or Oden, Greg or Roy, Brandon.

              As for Gray for MVP, I can see you aren’t familiar with sarcasm so you should probably just stay off the internets.

        • jwss

          Indeed, Chris Bosh’s personal affairs, goals and desires are none of my business. To tell the truth I could care less.  But he’s the one who brought the fans into the discussion with his deceptive tweets and statements. So in that way, Raptor fans have every right to be upset with him.  (Though they really should let it go.)

          And how exactly could he be taken advantage of by the Raptors?  He was going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season no matter what.  So what Bosh did wasn’t “good business” – it was playing with people for no apparent reason other than to feed his own ego.

          • Akash_singh

            so what? He likes the fuck with naiive people for his entertainment. I, like you couldn’t care less what he tweets. 

        • Jim

          bad example lol. If Player X tells the Owner that he wants to go elsewhere, then thats more pressure on the owner to keep him. If he tells the owner he wants to stay, then they work something else. In the end it doesnt matter what the player tells the owner because in the end it lies in the hands of the player, the player has the most leverage, they sign their name on the dotted line, not the owner. Comparing this to a buyer and seller situation on the internet is a terrible example.

      • sleepz

        He did do that didn’t he?

        But how can he give them the Raps a list for the off-season when he doesn’t know who will be pursuing him as a FA?

        He went to his preferred destination, the Heat, in the off-season and Colangelo (who assisted the Heat tremendously in even having the cap ability to sign him and Lebron with the JO-Marion trade) got a sign and trade acquiring the assets that he promised the fans he would obtain if Bosh left.

        What ever happened to that valuable TPE? lol

    • sleepz

      I laughed when I heard them applaud Melo for not pulling a Bosh. lol

      Melo did the ‘honorable’ thing and although under contract to the Nuggets told them he was leaving at the end of the year and gave them 1 specific destination they could trade him to. Forget about the franchise trying to get the best deal with another team, “you must trade me to the Knicks or I won’t consider re-upping  with any otherteam you trade me to.”

      Thanks for being so professional Melo! Fortunately for the Nuggets the Knicks were dying to get him and Masari orchestrated a very good deal for his team.

    • Theswirsky

      I don’t even know why people bother getting upset with Bosh for leaving.  It was obvious 2 years before he left that he was gone (seriously says they won’t sign an extension and want to test the ‘market’ when no one can offer you more than the team you are already with?)

      Bosh may have lied, Melo may have been honest, Lebron and Wade may have unethically colluded etc etc, but BC screwed things up for the Raps.  Babcock got back a better return for Vince than Colangelo got for Bosh – and Babcocks deal was an embarassment.

      • Hugh

        No one gets upset at Bosh for leaving, no knowledgable fan anyways. He’s not a max contract player and not a franchise player. People just don’t like him because he’s a douche, he literally has a book of stupid quotes from the Raptor and post Raptor era, he once cried about Omer Asik hustling and how it could’ve threatened his career, just one example. The guy just says some stupid shit, and it’s not just fans that make fun of him, many NBA players do too. 

        You don’t know what BC could’ve gotten for Bosh so that point is moot, the best deal offered could’ve been crap for all we know and subsequently fill our team with more flotsam and jetsam. It’s all speculation.

        • Theswirsky

          I know that what he could have got was better than the 30th pick in the draft, and unused TPE and their own pick back.

          • Bendit

            Are you still peddling that old canard about getting “their own pick back”?
            That pick was not the Raps property just before the Bosh deal having been given up in a previous transaction. The pick included in the Bosh transaction could have been Milwaukee’s or some other team’s which Miami owned. It was an asset. It just happened to be previously owned by us. And it allowed the Raps to draft JV.My reply is not about whether BC got enough for Bosh from Miami or trading Bosh earlier but the notion that the 1st round pick included was somehow of negligible or spurious value because it just happened to be our own. If Bosh went to another team the Heat would used that pick.

            • Theswirsky

              the pick the Raps sent initially was lottery protected.  So it had no impact on drafting JV. 

              • Raps4Ever

                That’s true, but it was still a 1st round asset, to be used sometime by 2015. Because it was lottery protected, the Raps would also have forfeited a 2010 2nd round pick (#35). Both assets weren’t theirs anymore, thus the point that  the return wasn’t spurious, as you seem to have been implying, is valid.

          • Raps4Ever

            There seems to be a few here who like to harp on “the unused TPE”. It’s simply not true, as some of it was used to get Bayless and some was used to get J. Johnson. You may argue about their worth, but can’t argue that none of the TPE was used.

            As for the balance of it, it wasn’t unusual last year that teams didn’t use TPEs. With the unknown CBA coming up, a bunch of teams just held fast and let TPEs expire rather than take on salary. This financial flexibility thing being exercised now, started the day Bosh left.

            • Theswirsky

              haha your right.  Bosh leaving offered financial flexibility… what bargain!

              • Raps4Ever

                No guts to answer the main point, based on facts, that renders your often used claim wrong, eh.

                But hey, if snarky little responses to a minor point, while even ignoring the main point of it, keep your ego intact, keep up the faith, kid!

                • Theswirsky

                  well lets look at this then.  The Raps got:

                  Bayless,
                  James Johnson,
                  a 2nd round pick + “financial flexibility” (which they would have had either way but I’ll give you the benifit of the doubt) for Bosh

                  Really?  That somehow sounds better, good or even adequate?  Its a frickin’ joke. 

                • Raps4Ever

                  Stiil avoiding the point and trying to turn it into something else, you’re the freakin’ joke.thin

          • Hugh

            How do you that? Sometimes nothing is better than something. You’d be okay with it even if it involved getting scrub/mediocre-at-best players in return? What a waste.

            • Hugh

              How do you know**

  • Theswirsky

    Rapsfan,

    more room here.

    Exactly what point am I missing?  BC ended up trading Bosh for a TPE (partially used on Bayless the vast majority unused), a late first round pick (traded for James Johnsons) and their own lottery protected pick back (which amounted to a 2nd round pick).  The “cap flexibility” the Raps would have had if he walked anyways.

    BC didn’t trade Bosh when the entire NBA knew he was leaving, and instead was left taking scraps

    The joke is trying to defend that.

    • Theswirsky

      my mistake that should be for Raps4ever

    • Raps4Ever

      How hard is it to understand that the main point of my response was your misinformation “unused TPE”? That statement is categorically wrong, and that was my point that you’ve been avoiding.

      You can rant all you want about your opinions of how it was used, or how much of it was used, and your opinion of the Bosh S&T but at the end of the day, “unused TPE” is incorrect information that you’ve spouted more than once and that’s what I was talking about.

      As for your armchair GMing, with that 20/20 hindsight, your inside knowledge of what the entire NBA knew, and inside knowledge of dealings between BC and Bosh, have fun if it legitimizes you.
       

      • Theswirsky

        I obviously stated twice about Bayless and James Johnson, so no I didn’t “avoid it”… your reading comprehension is obviously sub par.

        And there is no hindsight here.  I stated in 2009 when Bosh refused to sign the extension that he was leaving.  So did others.  So did the rest of the league.  That is not hindsight my friend, that is foresight.

        • Theswirsky

          scratch that, it was prior to the 2008 season starting when Bosh first refused his extension and myself and others mentioned Bosh was going to leave.

        • Raps4Ever

          pathetic twisting of the conversation, but carry on your merry way kid. u da man

          • Theswirsky

            how is it being “twisted”?