Morning Coffee

Toronto Raptors Morning Coffee April 12

General manager Bryan Colangelo has had busy off-seasons in the past, but the one that looms is shaping up to be his biggest, a summer that assuredly will define his time in Toronto and by extension dictate his future.

Toronto Sun

Turkoglu, more known for his scoring and distributing abilities became a rebounding machine finishing the game with a career high 19 boards.

He also had nine assists, but like the majority of his teammates, he was hard-pressed to find the basket.

It wasn’t for lack of trying as Turkoglu threw up 12 shots in all but saw just two of them fall through.

“I think we just took too many quick shots,” Turkoglu said. “I don’t think it was in a bad way. People just tried to do maybe too much in an effort to win. Sometimes we would take quick shots and they would lead to easy baskets on the other end.”

Turkoglu didn’t mention Chris Bosh’s name during his entire post-game scrum, but it was just under the surface of every answer.

When it was suggested this Raptors team was not together like the team he left in Orlando, Turkoglu objected in, what for him was, strong terms.

“You can’t say that man, especially off the last two or three games,” Turkoglu protested. “We have a good group of guys that are just trying to do the things necessary to get a win. When we were winning, no one was saying anything about us not having chemistry. Of course when things don’t go right, there are going to be people who try to make excuses and try to stick us with it. But as a group, we have to stick together and try to find a way to put ourselves in a better situation. Tonight I think we all tried to do our best. All we have to do is be smarter and try to do the things that will help us win the game.”

As for the mask, Turkoglu said it just wasn’t comfortable.

“I wanted to go out there and play and do the best I can and not have to deal with it coming off or falling off,” he said.

Toronto Sun

At this point, it’s hard to put a finger on what happened with Bosh in the timeline that followed the all-star break, but something happened.

Depending on whom one listens to, whatever happened might have done considerable damage to Bosh’s relationship with the franchise, enough to the point where the team is no longer interested in giving Bosh a max deal.

One can’t be certain whether the truth ever comes out.

Whether the Raptors ever come clean on their position once the season ends, no one knows with certainty.

But something is amiss with this collection.

The word dysfunctional gets tossed around to describe the Raptors, a team divided, where the divisions are based on cultural differences and selfishness.

No one is going to come out and publicly say anything, but eventually word will get out and the truth will be told.

General manager Bryan Colangelo has had busy off-seasons in the past, but the one that looms is shaping up to be his biggest, a summer that assuredly will define his time in Toronto and by extension dictate his future.

Chemistry was one of the biggest issues with the Raptors when camp broke back in October, when nine new faces were asked to integrate and assimilate. As far as chemistry experiments go, this one has completely blown up in the Raptors’ face.

That memorable players-only meeting in Washington back in early December that followed a 31-point humiliation in Atlanta was a watershed moment.

Players cleaned the air and by all accounts decided to play as one by putting aside their differences.

It worked for a long stretch, but it resurfaced and it has been allowed to fester.

Toronto Star

Saying you thought you played hard when the opposition scores 58 points and shoots 52 per cent in the first half — it was the press-conference version of Triano’s playbook, the one that should be entitled “Laughable Defence.” Saying you thought the effort was good when you don’t show up to compete against the team you’re battling for the East’s eighth and final playoff spot — amazingly, it’s what Triano has been shovelling all season.

There are those who will argue he’s protecting his players. But what, exactly, is Triano protecting his players from? Sweating?

When you don’t call out the slackers, when you don’t use the bench to keep anyone honest, when you allow the same bad habits to go unpunished all year — if that is Triano’s idea of protection, let’s hope we never see his version of destruction. Maybe we never will. The Raptors are .434 since Triano took over for Sam Mitchell after last season’s 8-9 start. Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, as much as he has invited the critics to blame him for a second straight sub-.500 season, has also said this many times: “Talent is not the issue.” In other words: No matter what the rest of us think of it, the GM firmly believes this roster is better than it’s playing.

Toronto Star

“You can’t explain it, I don’t know what to tell you,” said Sonny Weems, summing up the group-think that spewed from the locker-room post game.

On a night when someone needed to step and take command, when someone had to emerge as a leader, the guy who could will his teammates on, the Raptors shot a miserable 41 per cent from the floor, allowed the offensively-challenged Bulls to shoot 49 per cent and cowered when the going got tough.

“You’d like to have everybody as a group step up,” said coach Jay Triano in a moment of post-game wishful thinking. “I think the intent was there, I just don’t know why we couldn’t do it. To a man, nobody took the reins and was able to get anything going for us offensively.”

Or defensively.

Or in any of the intangibles that can turn games.

There was very little passion and only spotty effort.

“From start to finish they took us out of the game,” said Jarrett Jack. “They came in here like a desperate team, they wanted to get into the playoffs.

And probably will.

Globe and Mail

The Raptors’ season has gone so wrong that even the good thing stands as an indictment.

In the absence of Chris Bosh and with Andrea Bargnani hesitant to shoulder the offensive load – the big Italian had 16 points in the first half and just two in the second – Sonny Weems, the unheralded second year guard who has passed for a bright spot lately tried to lift his team, finishing with 18 points. He scored one basket on a twisting left-hand lay-up late in the second quarter, cutting the Bulls lead to five. But Chicago inbounded quickly and Luol Deng – Weems’s man – had a layup at the other end, racing by Turkoglu, who was slow to help, fouled and allowed Deng to make a three-point play.

But there was plenty of lack of focus to go around. In the third quarter as Chicago was pulling away, it was Turkoglu who scored at the rim, only to watch as Deng scored at the other end, this time Amir Johnson waving aimlessly.

The Raptors never led after the two minute-mark of the game, trailed by 10 at half and were being blown out 84-55 heading into the fourth quarter, the boos holding the day.

Raptors head coach Jay Triano was left to explain how a team could turn a standing ovation the 19,515 fans greeted Toronto with before the game could turn into abuse so fast.

He was as lost anyone on the floor.

National Post

In a game that is likely as close as the Raptors will get to the post-season this year, the Bulls pounded them 104-88 at the Air Canada Centre.

Is anybody surprised?

"Yeah, I thought it was going to be a closer game," Bargnani said. "They’ve been playing better than us compared to our last two weeks. They’re playing better.

"Surprised, but not much."

That sounds about right. Those Bulls, who looked worlds more in sync than the Raptors on this night, lost to the New Jersey Nets – a team that was flirting with the worst record in league history up until a few weeks ago – on Friday in an important game. With the home crowd, and one that was revved up, the Raptors would have had to deliver a royally insipid performance not to keep it within single digits.

Well, that is exactly what they delivered. And the most disturbing part was that they were largely defending the effort that produced it after. (Or maybe the most disturbing part was that defending the effort was not totally outrageous.) Sonny Weems, who along with Bargnani scored a team-high 18 points, called the defensive effort "so-so." That was as critical as they got.

Coach Jay Triano said they played hard, but then conceded he was embarrassed by the result. Jarrett Jack, who is watching his first trip to the post-season in his five-year career slip away, said the team was simply undermanned.

"I think we’re missing some key guys with [Antoine Wright] being out and also Chris," Jack said. "You erase probably your best perimeter defender and any team’s best player, it’s going to have a different make up. If you take Derrick Rose off their team and Joakim Noah, are they a playoff team? Nothing against the other guys, but it’s just a different team now. The normal plays that you run are kind of tough to play. We can’t use that as an excuse."

National Post


Who’s hot? Ben Gordon has scored at least 20 points in each of his last three games, including a 39-point outburst in a win over Miami on Friday.

Who’s not? After signing a big contract last summer, former Toronto Raptor Charlie Villanueva’s numbers have dropped across the board from his career season last year.

National Post

And make no mistake, this was indefensible. It’s not even that Toronto lost the game; Chicago came in with the exact same 38-41 record, and Toronto was without Chris Bosh and to lesser effect, Antoine Wright. This race for the eighth and final playoff slot in the East may be setting basketball back 10 years, so it’s not a shock when either of these two teams lose. Chicago lost to the 12-win New Jersey Nets on Friday — for the second time this season.

But it’s the method that’s at issue. Twice Toronto allowed fast-break layups after the Raptors themselves had scored. Another time Andrea Bargnani stood with his arm in the air like a swan as Luol Deng ran the other way, and when the shot missed Deng was only prevented from scoring by a late-charging foul.

Loose balls, open jumpers, open layups, the Bulls got ’em all. Chicago entered the game as the 28th-ranked offensive team in the league; they rolled up 58 points before halftime. The lead stretched to 25 at one point, but that was just academic.

The Raptors didn’t just lose; they took an electrified crowd that wanted so badly to believe in this small part of them, a crowd that delivered a standing ovation before the game, and they made that crowd boo its lungs out.

"I have no problem with that," said Calderon, one of several lost souls. "They want us to get to the playoffs, and we didn’t play today like we wanted to be there. We play a really bad game. We were trying, but nothing worked. So for sure, they’re going to be mad."

"They just responded to what they saw," sighed Jack, who seemed to want to say more than he said.

Chicago Tribune

"I wanted to impose my will as much as I could, be aggressive at both ends," Noah said. "I was really focused. This was a huge win and I wanted to make sure our team played harder than their team."
That was apparent from the start as the Bulls put Friday’s nightmarish double-overtime loss to the Nets in their rearview mirror with great ball movement leading to 19 first-half assists and aggressive defense.
Noah had a double-double by halftime, Flip Murray provided second-quarter scoring punch off the bench and Rose delivered the knockout punch, scoring on back-to-back drives late in the third quarter when the Raptors closed to within 11.
By the fourth quarter, the Bulls led by as many as 25.
"I knew if I attacked the whole game, people would be open," Rose said. "I just tried to be aggressive."
Rose had vowed to play better after committing seven turnovers against the Nets, and his 26-point, seven-assist night featured just one miscue — with 4:19 remaining. Not bad for close to 38 minutes of work.
"I’ve been up and down, thinking about a lot of stuff," Rose said. "I was so mad (about the one turnover). The ref told me he missed (a foul call). But I knew I was going to come out better."
Andrea Bargnani and Sonny Weems each scored 18 to lead the Raptors, who played without Chris Bosh and Antoine Wright. Noah said the Bulls smelled blood — and he played like it.

Chicago Sun-Times

"They were better than us, obviously," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "They shot the ball much better."

Jarrett Jack had 14 points but was the only Raptors reserve to score until Marcus Banks converted a layup with 5:20 left in the fourth.

The Bulls can clinch the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with a win and a Toronto loss, or by winning their two remaining games. The Raptors hold the tiebreaker over the Bulls after winning the first two matchups this season.

"We haven’t done nothing yet," Rose said in a rowdy Bulls locker room. "We’ve still got two games to play."

Chicago hosts Boston on Tuesday and travels to Charlotte on Wednesday for its season finale. Toronto is at Detroit on Monday and finishes at home to New York on Wednesday.

"We’ve still got a long way to go," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We’ve got to refocus and get our energy back for Tuesday. Every game is like a playoff game for us. This was just one step in the right direction but there’s still a lot of things to handle.

"We know what we have to do," Del Negro added. "It’s not going to be easy but we’ve put ourselves in this situation and now we’ve got to handle it. Tonight was a good step for us."


Do either of these teams actually want to make the playoffs?
Maybe last night’s Bulls-Craptors game answered that question. The Dinos — who recently lost Chris Bosh for the season due to a broken face — fell behind by 10 at the half (58-48), by 19 after three quarters (84-65), and by as many as 25 in the fourth (94-69). Honestly, I’m not sure they were even trying. I’ve had more passionate battles against belly lint.
Want some examples? I’ve got some examples. Near the end of the third quarter, Hedo Turkoglu, who has become persona non grata in Toronto, casually bricked two free throws and the crowd reacted like it was "Free Bag of Poo" night at the Air Canada Center. Late in the fourth, Jannero Pargo forced up an air ball that was hauled in by Reggie "The Nut Burglar" Evans. Evans then threw a lazy pass that was easily interecepted by Pargo, who walked it in for an uncontested layup.
Did I mention that Jose Calderon is signed through 2012-13 (when he will make more than $10 million), Turkododo is signed through 2013-14 (when he will make over $12 million) and that Andrea Bargnani is signed through 2014-15 (when he will make around $12 million)?
Oh yeah. Chris Bosh is totally going to resign with the Craptors this summer. Sure thing. And I’m a Chinese jet pilot.


Hedo Turkoglu ditched the mask, and apparently put on some Dennis Rodman drawers while he was at it. Hedo pulled down a career-high 19 boards to go with 9 assists, but like The Worm he forgot his jumper, going 2-for-12 from the field … Without Chris Bosh, everybody in Toronto wants Andrea Bargnani to be more aggressive and operate closer to the basket. When Bargs (18 pts) got an and-one layup in the first half, one announcer screamed, “Enough of this jump shot nonsense! Play the city game!” … This game didn’t solely determine the 8th seed. In fact, the Bulls have a significantly tougher final two games than Toronto. While the Raps get the Pistons and Knicks to close out the regular season, Chicago has the Celtics and Bobcats

By The Horns

Near the end of the third quarter, Hedo Turkoglu, who has become persona non grata in Toronto, bricked two free throws and the crowd booed him with extreme prejudice. Late in the fourth, a Jannero Pargo air ball was hauled in by Reggie Evans. Evans then threw a lazy pass that was interecepted by Pargo, who walked it in for an uncontested layup.

Yep. This one was ugly, folks.

If the Raptors had any will left to win this game, it was broken by Joakim Noah, who finished with 18 points (7-for-10), 19 rebounds and a career-high-matching 7 assists. Forget the asteroid and volcano theories. It was obviously Noah who drove the dinosaurs to extinction.

And although the fact that Toronto ranks dead last in Defensive Efficency probably had something to do with Noah’s stat stuffing performance, Joakim obviously brought his A-Game.

And then some.

Daily Herald

The player who could make things easier on the Bulls is their former leading scorer, Ben Gordon. The Pistons host Toronto on Monday and fall squarely into the category of a team seeking late-season redemption for a miserable season. Gordon got the ball rolling last Friday by scoring 39 points at Miami, ending the Heat’s nine-game win streak.

Considering how poorly the Raptors played against the Bulls on Sunday, this looks like the Pistons’ night. Toronto is playing the second leg of back-to-back games, as well as its seventh game in 10 days. Detroit had Sunday off and this is the final home game at the Palace this season.

If the Pistons win, the Bulls could clinch a playoff spot at home on Tuesday.

Without Bosh and Wright, Toronto didn’t have the bodies available to get into foul trouble. When Amir Johnson picked up his third personal at the 10:25 mark of the second quarter, the Raptors scrambled, at one point going small and playing Hedo Turkoglu and DeMar DeRozan upfront.

"When we got into foul trouble with Amir early, that put us in a situation where we had to go a little bit unconventional with our matchups and that is when they pulled away," Triano said.

The Bulls outscored Toronto 26-17 in the third and went into the fourth ahead by 19. The Raptors trailed by as many as 25 in the final quarter, with Triano clearing his bench midway through, perhaps thinking ahead to Toronto’s game against the Pistons on Monday evening in Detroit.

With the victory, the Bulls move one game ahead of the Raptors, as each team has two games remaining. In the event of the two teams finishing with identical records, the Raptors would make the postseason as a result of the tiebreaker they own against the Bulls, winning the season series, 2-1.

Noah remembered the 110-78 thrashing that the Raptors dealt the Bulls in Chicago earlier this season, all too well.

"I actually got thrown out that game," Noah said smiling. "It wasn’t a good time, [wasn’t] a good memory. This, this is a much better memory."

Toronto Sun

The worst season in Maple Leafs memory thankfully ended Saturday night.

The Raptors followed that up with a disgraceful performance Sunday evening in a game that was supposed to mean everything to their season.

The soccer team attracts fans who show up and have fun whether they win or lose — so it doesn’t really matter what they do.

But it mattered at the Air Canada Centre Sunday night.

The season was supposed to be on the line for the Raptors. It mattered to the fans who acted playoff-like with standing ovations before the game even began and ended with the same fans either walking out early or booing — or both.

And it had to matter more than the passive Jay Triano demonstrated after the crushing loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Triano had every reason to pull a Ron Wilson, have a caustic comment or two, point a finger, blame somebody, get pissed off, scream, but instead he whispered weakly about how he thought their effort was good and their preparation was good and the players were fired up.

It was only the game and the score and just about everything else that wasn’t any good.

Watching Triano, with head down, eyes looking to the floor, mumbling his way through the post-game press conference Sunday night was almost uncomfortable and spoke volumes about this sad excuse for a basketball team.

He was soft, his team is soft, the MLSEL template is all about soft teams.

Right to the end he protected this group of malcontents, divas, and overpaid underachievers. Right to the end he offered no answer to any question of merit.

Toronto Sun

Sonny Weems called the defensive effort “so-so.” He was being generous, but Weems did admit the Raptors didn’t come out with the proper fire for a game with this much on the line.

“You can’t explain it,” he said. “We have two more, that’s all we can focus on.”

The Raptors just had no answer for Derrick Rose, easily the most talented player on the floor.

Rose began the night by hitting from the outside and then mixed it up the rest of the way driving at will on the Raptors’ porous defence or stepping back and hitting jumpers.

Bargnani said the game plan going in was to force the Bulls to settle for those mid-range jumpers. When they started falling, the Raptors had no reply.

Rose finished the night with a game-high 26 points throwing in seven assists just for good measure.

But not only were the Raptors unable to stop the Bulls, they couldn’t score.

Bargnani and Weems shared the team lead with 18 apiece with 16 of Bargnani’s coming in the first half. As a team ,they shot just 41%.

Yes, the Raptors were playing without Chris Bosh and yes they were playing without Antoine Wright but it wasn’t like they were playing a team that was clicking on all cylinders. The Bulls were coming off a double-overtime loss to the New Jersey Nets, the second time the Bulls have lost to that team this year, a claim not too many teams can make against the 12-win Nets.

The loss, while crippling to the Raptors chances of making a post-season appearance, was not the end of their hopes.

Bleacher Report

And with two games left in the season, the Raps are in big trouble. Frankly, the Raptors are lucky to still be in the race with the Bulls losing to the New Jersey Nets Friday night.

The Bulls face a Boston Celtics team who is actually fighting for something so this could be a tough opponent for them. Then, they face the Charlotte Bobcats, who don’t have much to play for because they are currently stuck at 7th and can’t go anywhere.

The Raptors have two winnable games coming up against the Pistons and the Knicks. So if the Raptors can manage to win both of those, they have a good chance for the playoffs.

So even if the Raptors make the playoffs, what’s the point? Getting swept in four games isn’t going to be fun. But I’ll tell you something. Experience will be gained. And that’s important.

And hey, we might get to see Bosh in a Raptors uniform for the last time. And most importantly, it’s the playoffs. Anything can happen.

Pro Basketball Talk

Derrick Rose dropping 26 and 7 isn’t surprising. With Chris Bosh out, he’s the best talent on the floor. But Flip Murray adding 10 and the Bulls holding Jose Calderon to 7 points is big, even if Jarret Jack dropped 14. From there, it was the Bulls’ bigs doing work, establishing control of the boards and getting buckets off of poor rotations.
A prime example? In transition, Rose fed Noah deep in the post. Andrea Bargnani was slow to get back in transition, leaving Jose Calderon to try and stop Noah. As Noah turned on Calderon, with Bargnani getting back into position to at least contest an attempt, Amir Johnson foolishly overreacted and leapt to intercept Noah…which of course left a wide open passing lane for Noah to dump off to Amir’s man, Taj Gibson for an easy slam.
Your 2009-2010 Toronto Raptors!

The Zan Tabak Herald

The Raptors fell short.  Plain and simple.

The team could not buy a bucket for large stretches of time.  They settled for jump shots instead of driving the net and did not play an ounce of defense on the other end of the floor.

When your best offensive player is out and, arguably your best defender, someone needs to step up.  No one did.  Derek Rose was a one man show and without the inside presence of Chris Bosh, Joakim Noah had a field day in the low and high post.  On the other end, the Raptors could not put a solid run together and looked discombobulated on offense.

Hoops Addict

Rose went 12-23 from the field but even though he was playing with a lot of energy he still played in control. In his previous game against New Jersey, Rose committed seven turnovers and tonight he made it a point of emphasis to limit his turnovers tonight while talking with the media he joked he was bitter with the ref for giving him a turnover late in the game.

Even if Rose was bitter about the one turnover he was given credit for he was happy with the energy and focus he played with.

“I made sure I attacked the rim no matter what,” a modest Rose told the media after the game. “I wanted to play as if it was our last game. I went to the hole early and some of my shots were going in and out but I knew if I attacked the hole game those shots were going to eventually go in and it would help get my teammates open.”

This game came down to who wanted it more and it was clear after 48 minutes that Chicago wants to make the playoffs more than Toronto. Chicago was the team that grasped the importance of this game and played at a high level from start to finish.

With Noah controlling the glass and Rose attacking the rim it left little doubt in the minds of fans or members of the media that Chicago wanted this game more than Toronto did.


Thumbs Up:
– Hedo Turkoglu’s career-high 19 rebounds

Thumbs Down:
– Turkoglu’s 2 of 12 FG … along with Marco Belinelli’s 0 of 6 FG and the team overall shooting just 41% from the floor

Smith says:
– “In the biggest game of the season the Raptors came out completely flat. This was a thoroughly disappointing effort.”

Jones Says:
– “That was a disappointing effort in a must-win game. The team did not play together.”

Dino Nation Blog

Bottom line, if this epic collapse reaches it’s final destination, in the Raptors not making the post season, someone is going to have to be held accountable. Not only was this a bad season, but it may in fact cost the Raptors their star player in Chris Bosh. Which becomes unfortunately more likely by the day. I have said that Jay Triano is that guy. Face facts, it is not going to be Colangelo as he had his option on his contract picked up. You can point out the 3 contracts from hell all you like, the point is it would shock me if Colangelo was gone. That being said if he was, Jay would soon follow anyway, if a new G.M was in the plan . If you want to blame the roster that is fine, but some of these guys just can’t be moved, especially not in an off-season that is all about having cap space for most NBA teams. That is without even considering, how bad a the contracts are, or the fact the NBA is set to have a new CBA after this next season. All indications are that it is going to be a CBA that will favour the Owners, given the state of both the U.S and NBA economy(s) .

Heels On Hardwood

19 Rebounds from Hedo Turkoglu? Thanks for coming out but that was just like pouring salt on the wounds for Raptor fans. The man got paid for the season but only showed up for a few games. He received the loudest individual boo’s on the one night he didn’t deserve it. I refuse to partake in that stuff but I understand where the fans were coming from. He may be the Michael Jordan of Turkey, but the non-existant leadership skills and professionalism he has showed,makes him unworthy of carrying that title. You play 82 games for a reason, maybe if he had played like he did tonight, the Toronto Raptors wouldn’t be clawing for that final playoff spot.

The thought of Andrea Bargnani and his now you see me now you don’t act leading this team next season made me feel ill. I don’t doubt he is a good shooter, I agree that he has improved, but bottom line — he is no where near ready to carry a team. People questioned Bosh’s ability to handle that role and he was thrown into the fire at a much earlier age. This past week was an audition for Andrea and sadly he failed miserably. When he plays besides Bosh, it is a lot easier to justify his rebounding numbers but his display over the last few games is completely unacceptable. The language barrier has always seemed an issue with talking on the court but as of late he has been a complete mute. He could get away with it if he showed offensive consistency but that too may be asking for too much. So much for the mind blowing Caliper test results eh?

Raptors Rapture

I am crushed in so many ways. (1) I still cannot believe that a team that was seeded 5th at the all-star break is now most likely going to miss the playoffs. (2) Simply pathetic effort by a group of guys capable of a lot more than they showed. (3) I am still taking in that, that bloody floor scene will most likely be the last I see of Chris Bosh in a Raptors uniform. None the less, I’ll stick by my duties as Raptors blogger and simply say. Go Raps Go!

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