Morning Coffee – Feb 5

Now at the 50 game mark, the Toronto Raptors players have put together their second five game winning streak of the season and are no longer considered to have only a marginal shot at the playoffs by those in the know. Assuming one believes ESPN knows everything.

Rivals doubling the attention on Raptors’ Chris Bosh –

"They did a good job of mixing up the coverages, I haven't seen that in a while, so many different looks, just to keep me on my toes," he said. "(The) bigs were backing off, I have to make them pay for it eventually."

Over his 6 1/2 seasons, Bosh has seen every possible defence and trying to attack them continues to be a learning process; to think he's got it all figured out is folly.

"I really didn't know how to handle some situations," Bosh said recently. "Coach is always telling me, `Go quick, go quick' and I try to go quick (before a second defender comes) and lose the ball or something like that.

"It's just picking and choosing times to go quick and when not to; and when to take your time, when to pass and when to shoot. It just comes with time."

Adrian Wojnarowski – The FAN 590 Toronto

The veteran NBA columnist joins The Game Plan to discuss the buyers and sellers for the upcoming trade deadline, whether we'll see Amare Stoudemire move places, and what the Raptors might need to do to move up the standings.

Toronto Raptor Player Updates After 50 Games! « Brothersteve’s Green & Red Raptor Blog

The Toronto Raptors are getting better. Since the return of Jose Calderon some 15 games ago, the Raptors now routinely score 108 points per game, just like everyone thought they could at the start of the season.

Now at the 50 game mark, the Toronto Raptors players have put together their second five game winning streak of the season and are no longer considered to have only a marginal shot at the playoffs by those in the know. Assuming one believes ESPN knows everything.

Does Colangelo have an ace up his sleeve? | Toronto Sun

What makes Colangelo such a good general manager is his ability to keep everything close to the vest. Even in those rare moments when information is shared, there is an agenda because that’s how the NBA operates.

He is the ultimate poker player in the supremely high stakes game of brokering deals and altering a roster.

As Colangelo prepares for the NBA’s trade deadline, which kicks in Feb. 18, he’s engaged in that daily exercise of evaluating his team and fielding phone calls from his league brethren.

Catching Up With Sonny Weems | Hoops Addict

Kayla Harris chatted with Toronto Raptors guard Sonny Weems about why he is placing a greater emphasis on the teams success instead of his own, the importance of not letting up against teams with weaker records and the effect a recent batch of injuries have had on the team.

More Vanilla Ice With My NBA, Please: A Canadian’s Perspective – Nba – Deadspin

After "Funky" finished, he did a mini back-and-forth with the crowd, before asking if we wanted some "Ice, Ice Baby". Suffice it to say, we did. So he went right into that song, the place went nuts, people were rapping along, the old couple next to me looked confused, and as quick as he started, he was done. He ran off to a pretty nice ovation, and I would say the whole thing was pretty positively received. As we were leaving the game (an ugly Raptors win over the Nets), I overheard one guy deadpan, "I definitely was not expecting to see Vanilla Ice tonight", which sums it up pretty well I think.

Oh, and during his mini-set, Vanilla Ice shouted "what's up, Canadaaaaaaaa?" about three or four times, which usually makes Canadians smile. Kind of like Nickelback asking a Portland audience, "HEY, ALL OF AMERICA – ARE YOU READY FOR SOME SUCK?"

Andre Iguodala for Jose and DeMar? « An Epic Mess

Raptors fans are split on this trade, which would send Andre and a rookie to Toronto for Jose Calderon, Demar DeRozan, and change. I think the one thing Toronto is lacking(besides their many other deficiencies) is a quality two-guard. Iguodala would definitely feel that void, but it all depends on how much they’d be willing to part with All-Star Biathlete Competitor Demar DeRozan. I mean, he’s already a star, competing in the Dunk Contest and the All-Star Rookie Challenge.

Five Reasons Why Chris Bosh Won’t Be Traded | Bleacher Report

With the NBA's trade deadline approaching in a couple of weeks, there is a lot of speculation and rumors about Chris Bosh getting dealt. But Bosh isn't going anywhere and here are some reasons why:

Dino Nation Blog: Starting 5 With Demar DeRozan

What is the biggest difference Demar sees in himself when he watches film from recently compared to the start of the season? It was a brief chat but hopefully a good one as Demar is looking forward to All-Star Weekend in Dallas and making his return to the Raptor line-up. He had tweeted that Sunday might be a possible return date and given how he was playing prior to going out the Raptor and fans will be happy to have him back in the fold. He has been replaced in the starting line-up by his good buddy or as he says in the interview "His Man" Sonny Weems who had his first career double double last night. Sonny also appears to be part of the game plan for the Dunk Contest as well.

NBA Trade Rumor: Josh Howard To The Raptors Or Heat | Dime Magazine

Having one of the worst seasons of his career, the Mavericks aren’t losing much if they ship out Howard. He’s averaging only 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds (career low), 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals (career low) and 0.3 blocks (career low) per game, and has played in only 28 game so far this year. Perhaps new scenery will do him some good.

Dino Nation Blog: My Night At The ACC

When you try and get stuff pregame it can be hit and miss depending on who is hanging around when the locker rooms are open to the media. Like I always like to try and catch up with Reggie to see how he is doing. I was really excited to do so on this night as he is closing in on returning finally. But unfortunately Reggie was not around when I was wondering around the Raptors Locker room.

Tip-In: Toronto Raptors Post Game Report – Breathless Jack – Raptors HQ

Back-to-backs have become the norm in a Toronto season that has ranked amongst the toughest. While New Jersey kept it close, the Raptors still pulled out a 108-99 win. Raptors HQ takes a look at the man who seems to be putting his stamp on the team.

Doug Smith’s Toronto Raptors blog

Here’s what taking and missing three-pointers can do for a team:

Allow it to offensively rebound the ball a lot better.

I’ll have to go and check the video (or just mention it anecdotally and leave it at that) but I counted at least four times the Nets were able to track down their missed threes and three times the Raptors did it and that’s the one oft-forgotten aspect of the shot.

I know the Raptors track this kind of thing much more in-depth than I do but there is no doubt three pointers yield more offensive boards than any other shot.

It’s a bane to teams who allow them, it keeps possessions going, but it’s a boon to teams that take them and I’m dead certain it’s part of the reason Jay would like the Raptors to get up more threes than they are.

They took 19 last night and made 10 and the coach was entirely okay with that.

NetsAreScorching – Thoughts On The Game: The Nets Are Back To Losing Close Games Again

As for what the Raptors did to win last night, they hit the three ball. They were 10-19 from deep. The three point shot was a real problem for the Nets in the beginning of the year, but over the past couple of weeks, they have done a very good job defending the three point line. Maybe it was the teams they were playing (The Clippers, Sixers, Wizards, and Pistons don’t light it up from deep), but it was disappointing to see, and I think it cost the team the game.

Ballin’: Ice Ice Baby | The Big Lead

Raptors 108, Nets 99 – 4-44. That’s got to be a record, right? Seriously, my favorite part of ever SportsCenter ever day is tracking the Nets against the 76ers that year that totally blew. In addition to the Nets’ attempt at futility, Vanilla Ice performed at halftime. What a treat for the folks in Toronto!

Mavs trading Josh Howard to Raptors or Heat – Sports Rumors – NBA Blog – Yahoo! Sports

The Mavs are saying it won't happen but folks who know Howard are supposedly saying he's headed to the Toronto Raptors or the Miami Heat. It's not like the Mavericks will miss him that much. He's having a horrendous year this year. (Maybe too much offseason pot smoking?)

Still, a lot of teams are apparently interested in Howard but don't likely have the pieces that the Mavericks would like in return. Mavs owner Mark Cuban and all his minions aren't happy with the team right now so a shakeup may be coming. Even if it's not Howard, it could be Drew Gooden(notes) or Erick Dampier(notes). Someone is likely to go.

A silver lining | Toronto Sun

The Raptors, who have Thursday off, will be back on their practice court on Friday, when it's expected Turkoglu will practise with the hope of playing in Sunday's home meeting against Sacramento.

It's expected Turkoglu will don some kind of mask to protect the sensitive area below his right eye.

"He wants to play,'' Raptors head coach Jay Triano said of Turkoglu. "And he wants to play without a mask, but doctors have strongly recommended against it."

Turkoglu is one of those high maintenance kind of players who needs to have things precisely right, both on and off the court.

A few years ago, he broke his nose as a member of the Orlando Magic. Turkoglu wore a mask for one game before discarding it because the apparatus proved too cumbersome.

Sonny shines for Raptors | Toronto Sun

A night earlier, Weems went scoreless in Indiana, struggling with his shot and struggling to defend Danny Granger.

But to his credit, Weems rebounded by posting his first career double-double (14 points and 11 rebounds) in helping the Raptors bounce back from a bad loss to the Pacers.

“It just feels good," Weems beamed. “Give a lot of credit to Jarrett, who sucked it up and played like a true warrior.”

The Raptors are bent on returning DeRozan to the starting unit once the rookie returns, which could be as early as Sunday.

Depth is a good thing to have, especially at this point of the season when the Raptors are thin and getting thinner.

The question that can’t be answered is how will head coach Jay Triano manage minutes and more importantly massage egos.

Raptors looking for new blood prior to deadline –

“It wasn’t just the fans that were worried about the slow start,” said Colangelo. “We all were. But we kind of knew it was coming … with so much change, those effects are going to happen.

“We had a (tough early) schedule … it wasn’t an excuse, it was a reality. We had the fact that everyone had to acclimate, including the coaching staff, to all the new bodies. But we seem to have found a nice balance. We’re competing night in and night out.”

Colangelo knows that the Maple Leafs likely won’t find themselves contending for a title in the near future, but he believes Burke’s decision to shake things up will have long-term benefits — much the way Colangelo’s flurry of off-season moves helped shape the Raptors.

“To make a deal that clearly is going to work out, and that was proven as early as (Tuesday night’s 3-0 Leafs win), it’s a great feeling to make a deal like that,” said Colangelo. “And it makes you hunger for more.

Subpar Raptors pass the survival test –

"When I woke up, I didn't know if I was going to be able to play but I told coach and the team I was going to give them everything I had, if it was two minutes, three minutes. Tonight it happened to be 39 minutes thanks to coach taking it easy on me," Jack said.

Jack's performance mirrored that of the Raptors, who weren't great but good enough when it counted to subdue the 4-44 Nets, who played hard but collapsed in the final seven minutes.

"He was pushing the ball, he changed the tempo a few times and he got the crowd into it and got us into it," Chris Bosh said of Jack. "We needed his hustle. He did more things than just numbers; he was a leader for us out on the court, he got us going."

Raptors stay hot at home – The Globe and Mail

“I told the players before the game, this is a big game for us,” Toronto coach Jay Triano said. “This team [New Jersey] is playing a lot better, the last four games have been close games. They’re battling now.”

With Sonny Weems, starting in place of injured rookie DeMar DeRozan, once again providing plenty of up-tempo play – including an awesome one-handed slam off an in-bounds pass from Jack in the second quarter – the Raptors ripped off a 16-4 run to regain the lead and held on for a 57-56 advantage by the half.

The Raptors hauled a tenuous 83-78 lead into the fourth quarter, then a high-flying fast-break slam by Weems, who contributed a career-high 14 points and 11 assists, helped propel the Raptors to their sixth consecutive win at home.

“Sonny was energetic and beyond,” Triano said.

Raptors Slam Down Nets, 108-99 – ESPN Video – ESPN

Raptors grab their sixth win in seven games

khandor’s sports blog » Raptors’ improved defense an illusion?

this recent stretch of improved winning has many of the team’s supporters excited about what might actually lie ahead in the 2nd half of the schedule and, possibly, in the post-season.

Closer inspection of the team’s performance in these 16 games, however, reveals that there is still a long way to go before the Raptors have any realistic hope of becoming a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.

NetsDaily » Nets Let Game Get Away in Second Half

The Nets fell to 1-24 on the road Wednesday night, unable to hang with the improved Raptors in Toronto. The Nets quickly went down 11 points, but the second unit turned the game around with an 18-3 run that spanned the first and second quarters. It was tight until the end of the third, when some poor execution by the Nets allowed the Raptors to go on a 12-1 run. The Nets couldn’t get enough stops after that to make it interesting. Toronto shot 47 percent from the field, 10-16 from 3-point range and got to the line 29 times. The Nets had six guys in double-figures, with Kris Humphries recording his first double-double with the team, but Devin Harris shot just 4-17 from the field and turned the ball over four times. Nets’ latest loss drops them to 4-44

“Our second unit was really active,” Douglas-Roberts said. “We had a lot of energy. That’s all it was. We made plays on both ends of the floor.”

But after holding Toronto without a field goal and just three points for the first six minutes of the second, the Nets’ defense softened. The Raptors hit eight consecutive shots and took the lead on a Jack three-pointer with 2:57 left in the half.

“We just let down on energy,” Vandeweghe said. “For most of the game I thought we were pretty good,” Vandeweghe said. “It’s those lapses a couple minutes at a time that hurt us.”

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