I like this Rockets team: I like Darryl Morey as a GM; I like Kevin McHale as a coach (loved him as a player, my entire low post game was modelled after his; had a killer duck under that still works like a charm to this day); I like their mix of players; I even like that they are giving Thabeet a home before he sinks into NBA draft history obscurity.

Other than playing one of the teams I enjoy watching, I had this game circled on my calendar since the 3 point loss last month. The Rockets basically took it hard to the Raptors in the 1st quarter, opening up a 12 point lead, and barely hung on for the rest of the game; losing the each of the remaining three quarters.

Calderon was outclassed by Lowry, while Scola and Dalembert were formidable up front. Otherwise the Raptors bench outplayed theirs, and the clock was the biggest enemy.

I went back and forth with Michael Pina from Red94 about the Rockets and tonight’s game:

Sam: Morey seems to keep striking out when trying to move the young assets he’s amassed (I really like Lowry, Parsons, Buddinger and Patterson) for a franchise player (Bosh, Gasol for now…). If he’s unable to swing something to bring in someone to dominate the low-post, is this collection of players good enough to make runs in the playoff?

Michael: The way I see it, in a western conference that has no flawless team, the Rockets have as good a shot as any to win a round and then see what happens. Their roster is so varying that they’re capable of finding match-up advantages against almost any opponent. (The 4th quarter small ball they play with Courtney Lee at the 3 can create all sorts of nightmares, on both ends.) Instead of dwelling on their weaknesses, Kevin McHale has the Rockets playing to their strength. As far as next year goes, well, that’s another story.

Sam: Speaking of McHale, he’s utterly failed as a GM looking out for the best interest of his team, but as a coach..dude is solid. How do you rate him, and is he in the running for COY?

Michael: No question about it. The job McHale’s done this year—after starting slow, assuaging the hurt feelings of his highest paid player, Kevin Martin, and making the gutsy call to put Chandler Parsons in his starting lineup—has been tremendous. He certainly deserves Coach of the Year consideration.

Sam: It hasn’t been for lack of trying, but do the Rockets make a splash before the trade deadline, and who are viable targets in Morey’s cross-hairs?

Michael: There’s a chance Morey is dangling Kevin Martin on a vine, but the more likely move that’s made would be if someone were willing to take either Hasheem Thabeet, Terrence Williams, or Jonny Flynn off their hands for some sort of capable interior defender. Pau Gasol is the big name most associated with the team, but unless L.A. Is willing to take a package that doesn’t include Kyle Lowry in return, I don’t see how a deal gets done.

Sam: Could we interest you in an Amir Johnson for Jonny Flynn trade?

Michael: If the salaries matched up and it were possible, in a heartbeat, but since the numbers are slightly off, Flynn for Aaron Gray would be a more than welcome exchange.

Sam: I like the sound of that…switching gears to tonight’s game, what will the Rockets concentrate on tonight to beat the Raptors?

Michael: From what I’ve seen this year, the Raptors are playing hard and with an increased level of ferocity on the defensive end. Houston played an overtime game in Boston last night in which they collapsed in the fourth quarter, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can sustain high energy with ball movement and consistent attacking of the basket. If not, Toronto can easily grind out a win.

Given how Jose’s been playing since the last outing, I expect a more evenly matched head-to-head with Lowry. Really want to see him hit those jumpers off the high-screen and force Lowry to man him up on the perimeter. I have more confidence in Ed checking Scola than with Amir, and with Gray playing the way he has been recently, the Raps front-court should be able to hold their heads high in this one. The key will be how DeRozan handles Martin by challenging his jumper, not giving him free trips to the line, and forcing him to defend DD off the bounce and not bailing him out with long jumpers on the defensive end.

I dunno, I’m smelling a win tonight. Houston’s a 2 point favourite, but given they lost to the Celtics last night in Boston in overtime, I’m calling this bad boy even; Raptors by 4.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Pat Sullivan

  • howlonghowlong

    I’d rather we lose by 2.  Winning games this season is not helping the future.  The more balls in the lottery the better.  I just want to see competitive basketball and good defence.  Bargnani out has been a blessing in disguise.

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      You win the ‘I am stuck on stupid’ badge for today- enjoy & congrats…smh lol

      • Nilanka15

        As per Michael Grange:

        “The year was 2009 and the Jermaine O’Neal experiment had run its course. The last-legs big man was traded to Miami, who coveted his massive expiring contract so they could (eventually) sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh. 

        Sam Mitchell was fired early in the season and replaced with Jay
        Triano, and while a lost season remained lost, there was much official
        optimism placed on the Raptors finish that year, as they went 9-4 down
        the stretch. 

        A month after the season ended Triano was given a three-year contract based, in part, on the team’s strong finish. Nothing wrong with that, except that strong finish in a lost season saw the Raptors picking ninth
        in the 2009 draft instead of seventh, conceivably. 

        The Raptors got DeMar DeRozan, the two-guard who certainly looked the part as he put up 25 points in Toronto’s 83-75 win. But Golden State
        got Stephen Curry at the No.7 spot.

        Tanking is a word that gets tossed around pretty freely, but there’s a difference between purposely losing games and simply accepting fate, losing your share and living to fight another day bolstered by stronger draft talent. It’s called rebuilding.

        The Raptors (12-25) are at a critical point. If the season were to end today they would theoretically draft sixth, but they could easily
        stumble along and end up with the second or third most ping-pong balls.  Conversely it wouldn’t take much for them to finish with the ninth-worst record. A real hot streak could completely screw things up.”


        • Destro

          THIS team is incapable of a hot streak…The danger for Tank Wars advocates like myself is winning those one off games against teams like Houston at home,they throw monkey wrenches into your tank nation positioning at years end…Kind of why i applaud bonehead coaching moves like benching your top scoreres in closing mins of single digit games….I see you Dwayne !

      • Nilanka15

        He goes on to say, “It’s why this season, painful as it may be, any steps the Raptors can
        take short of outright throwing games to ensure they pick fifth instead
        of 10th is simply good business.”

        The higher selection greatly outweighs a few meaningless wins in a lost season.

        • Sam Holako

          I fully agree; just that it’s tough to get on board when we’ve perpetually been on the treadmill, and have won/lost games to no avail. 

          • Nilanka15

            Do you mean this year, or the past 16 years in general?

            • Sam Holako

              Past 16 years in general

        • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

          Last season the Raptors had 3rd worst record & ended up picking 5th….play to win & let the ping pong balls fall where they may in Stern’s controlled behind closed doors Lottery draw.

          Players can only stand so much losing whether by 20 points or 2 points as the culture of losing isn’t easily reversed no matter the slight of hand image changes- new head coach yet 3 assistant’s under Jay retained, BC provides via media spins.

          I grew up following the Sonics in the late 80s so I recognize what game is being run on TDot fans by BC aka BullChit….

          Btw- CB is doing just fine post BC…..how about us TDot Raptors fans get that same chance at NBA basketball life without BC?

          • Nilanka15

            Relying on the balls to fall where they may, is relying on luck (or in last year’s case, bad luck), rather than statistical probabilities.  The more games we lose, the better our “chances” of getting a high pick.  This is not opinion….this if fact.

            I’m not suggesting that the players should intentionally lose.  The players should be putting in maximum effort every game.

            But as a fan hoping for talent infusion, it’s not “stupid” to be hoping for better lottery chances, which is what losses provide.

            • Yelaroth

              I wouldn’t say last years draft pick was unlucky for us, receiving Valanciunas was the best possible thing to have happened for us in the draft.

              Still wouldn’t mind ‘luckily’ winning 1st pick this year from a 5th or 6th worst record! haha

              • Nilanka15

                I totally agree on Valanciunas.  He’s going to be a very important piece for this franchise moving forward.

                But I meant the “bad luck” of finishing with the 3rd worst record, but falling to the 5th selection.

                • Destro

                  I wish people would ease up on the undue praise for a guy whos never set foot on a nba court….I could name you 30 failed “cant miss” euro big men on the spot for each one that was “serviceable”..

                  Not an indictment on this guy,but i need to see him play against NBA players and not bums that he dominates in europe… 

                • Nilanka15

                  He’s played against NBA  players in international competition.

                  Plus, you could make the same argument for ALL rookies, whether they’re European big men, or not.  None have played against NBA players.

                • Destro

                  People tend to assess his upside based on his league play and not a few tournaments…

                  and no you can not make the same argument for NCAA talent because they grow up playing closer to an NBA game against other prospects who project to be the next NBA stars.
                  Europeans have such a dismal record especially bigs of succeeding in the NBA and panning out,that you cant evaluate them the same…NCAA players have a history of succeeding in the L,euro big men do not….You can project a player like A.Davis much easier than you can a guy who plays in Lithuania against bums…

          • Akash_singh

            you’re much older than everyone thought you were.

            • CJT

              That’s true.  I thought this dickweed was about 13 or so. 

              • Destro

                Nothing exposes ur age more than using terms like “dickweed” tho

    • Lorenzo

       That’s what i’m saying, Bargnani being out has helped us

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

    It is terrible to enjoy losing the next game because is better………..I know for the future…….

  • Marz

    Why on earth would we do an Amir Johnson for Johnny Flynn trade? Ever?

    • Nilanka15

      I might be inclined to do that trade.  Flynn definitely has potential, and we have a plethora of big men.

      • Lorenzo

         More like a cornucopia.

      • Raptorboy

         Flynn will never produce on the NBA level. BC understands this.

      • Jwss

        And that “potential” relegated him to the bench on a bad Minnesota team and now deep, deep on the Houston bench.  Like many draftees from Syracuse (Melo being an obvious exception), Flynn looked better in the NCAA than he really is.  Their system hides a lot of flaws.

        • Sam Holako

          Really good point; Lawrence Moten (my favourite college player of all time) couldn’t translate his game to the NBA. I thought for sure he’d be a star of some calibre in the league.

    • Sam Holako

      With Jonas coming in next season, Bargnani coming back from injury, and Ed Davis the cheaper option; Flynn could be the plan b when/if Jose gets traded. I’m also sick of Amir’s apathy; we haven’t gotten a consistent level of effort from him since we traded for him.

      • jimmie

        Is that sarcasm re: Amir? You might be the only one in Toronto who thinks he gives less than 100% effort.

        Oh, and a PG who can’t beat out Goran Dragic for minutes and barely played while Lowry was hurt isn’t really even Plan F if Calderon is traded.

        • Sam Holako

          Maybe apathy isn’t the right word; he’s just so hit or miss from ame to game with his production it bothers me

          • Yelaroth

            Yea i reckon Amir focuses too much on his little ‘competitions’ on twitter and Facebook haha.

            Good to see a player interact with people but i dunno if its distracting him or not

            • Sam Holako

              At least he stopped making videos for his website; brutal

            • Destro

              Hundreds of NBA players interact on twitter and FB,these guys have a life off the court you know..smh

    • Lorenzo

       Because if Jose gets the boot, Flynn >>>>>>> Bayless.

      And for the record, I want JC to stay.

    • Destro

      get out from under that contract is one reason…

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    I would love a Raptors win especially seeing that Houston is coming off of an OT game last nite but I get a feeling that Dalembert will stand strong in the paint, KMart will get hot & Lowry will use Jose while JJ may get the better of Parsons.

    The quicker JB & Bosa get in the game for DD & Jose the better the Raptors will fare.

    I still see a Houston W- but I could be wrong.lol 

    How’s Bargnani’s paid vacation going- 13 games seemingly playing harder than in the past 5 years???smh

    • Raps4Ever

      “How’s Bargnani’s paid vacation going- 13 games seemingly playing harder than in the past 5 years???smh’

      What does it do for you to make this idiotic comment, which is also irrelevant to anything being discussed, every day? You Gots2Go get some professional help.

      • smrt

        Likely the fact that he ‘shh’ every time he posts has caused irreparable  brain damage… I was gonna tell him to gtfo but then I loled and realized that he may think he’s a bamf, but really all his posts are tl;dr.

    • CJT

      Thank you.  I decided to give my theory a try and based on your prediction of a Houston win a placed a bet on the Raps.  Keep up the good work.  You are an artist of the incorrect.

  • Bendit

    Yoohoo moderator/system admin person: I keep getting “Invalid URL” trying to access any of the “Latest Web Articles” to the right of this page (main). It’s been such for the evening. Thanks.

    • Sam Holako

      Will check it out. Sorry, guys.

  • KaioKev

    Up next…….ROLL CALL!

  • Tim W

    It is time to trade AB NOW. Amir is showing that he plays much better without AB and in PF position. Ball moves better without AB and we are better defensive team. AB is coming back this Saturday and hopefully BC is show casing him for teams around the league. Can we trade him to Lakers for some expiring contract and first round picks ? How about AB+ Davis to Celtics for Rondo ? 

    • CJT

      And Amir’s 6 points per game easily replaces AB’s 24.

      • Tim W

        It is not about the points as you can see DD is able to replace AB’s offensive numbers. It is about defence and team play and this team is more dangerous and more coheisive without AB. We can keep Amir in his natural position of PF and with Val at the centre, we really don’t need AB. Points will come from DD and the PG that we get for AB and Val and the SF !!! AB’s value is high right now and this is the time to move him. 

        • Gman

          No…crazy talk. We waited the long wait and he’s finally playing at an all star level and then you want to trade him?  Hell no.  He’s finally playing with passion and with significant improvement on his positional defence?  Hell no…

          He’s just entering his prime as a big and you want to hand that over to another team, because you think Amir is the starting answer at PF?  Hell no…

          Amir is the perfect energy big off the bench.  He’s not a starting PF in this league.  Sorry not on a good team.  

          You don’t by chance watch the show intervention do you?

          • CJT

            Not to mention that DD hasn’t shown that he has the ability to consistently deliver 20 point performances.  I for one think it will make DD’s life easier to have AB back to create several scoring options and force opposing defenses to focus on more than one player.  Last night was a great game for the Raps but again they so many players in double digits in scoring and that has not been something that has happened consistently enough for me to want to give my best scorer away.

            • Destro

              You can bring in another scorer that does what Bargnani does to compliment DeRozan…Some act as if he does something that nobody else and gives this team an edge that we cant find elsewhere lol…

              So much praise for a guy that has never been an all star in a league where big men have been extinct for many seasons now…

          • Destro

            I think the point some are making is he has reached his ceiling,lets try to maximiize that value into something that can help take this team to the next level.
            If your like me you believe AB isnt going to be a lead player on a winning team..so take what you can get before he decided to de-motivate himself again…

      • Destro

        It still surprises me how impressed some people are scoring averages on losing teams…for me its about the most overrated thing in the game…

        Remember Mike James had a 20 PPG average on this team in 05-06,a 26 win team as well….