Tag:Chris Paul
Posted on: February 11, 2009 2:31 pm
 

Raptors - Week 15 Catch up Review

Week 15 – Catching up with the Raptors

Well, let’s see, we lost Chris Bosh for a few games, lost to the Magic, the Cavaliers, the Lakers, the Hornets and the Grizzlies, but we recovered to beat the Al Jefferson – less Timberwolves, but barely. This team is now 20 – 34 and they play the Spurs, then have the All-Star break to rest, though they should have training camp at this point and start over! Then they have the Cavs again and the Knicks a couple of times, then the Wolves again, then the second game against the Suns to end the month. Not much to look forward to at this point.

The Magic game – Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard had huge games as the Raptors offered little resistance. Jose Calderon lead the team with 16 points while Chris Bosh had 9 rebounds. Joey Graham had the first of a series of solid games this past week. Lost by 23 and it was flattering at best!

 

 

The Cavaliers game – LeBron James – 33 points, monster block on Chris Bosh, Wally Szczerbiak – 16 points, Daniel Gibson – 18 points off of the bench. The Raptors looked awful again as the Cavaliers toyed with them the whole game after opening a 22 point 1st quarter lead. For the Raptors, Chris Bosh had a good game with 29 points while Jermaine O’Neal offered 20. Anthony Parker was solid with 8 assists. Lost by 18 but really had no chance after that first quarter as LeBron sat a lot of 2nd half.

 

The Lakers game – Kobe Bryant – 36 points, Pau Gasol – 31 points, Lamar Odom – 13 points and Derrick Fisher had 12 points as the Lakers continued the season without Andrew Bynum, but just keep rolling on. The Raptors played an ispired game and kept within reach for most of the game but couldn’t climb all the way back as Jermaine O’Neal, Joey Graham and Andrea Bargnani all had more than 20 points each in the loss. Chris Bosh added 12 and left with a sore knee. Anthony Parker started for the ailing Jose Calderon and added 18 points and 9 assists. Jamario Moon scored 2 points as Joey G started. Roko Ukic added 8 points and 2 assists off the bench. Loss by 8.

 

The Hornets game – No Chris Paul should bring joy to the hearts of opposing coaches, but the Raptors could not find a way to stop Peja Stojakovic who scored 28 points and David West, James Posey and Rasual Butler all added 17 points. The Raptors held an 83 – 75 lead with 6:52 left and held an 11 point margin, but still lost. The key to the game was the 3 point scoring of the Hornets who hit 15 while the Raptors could only manage 7. Loss by 9

 

 

The Grizzlies game – Probably the worst NBA game I have seen in the past 10 years or so, it should be removed from all highlight packages as game not played and the fans should all be refunded and offered therapy. Two bad teams playing badly. Only 6 players score 10 or more points – Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo and Hakim Warrick for the Grizzlies and Jose Calderon, Joey Graham, and Jason Kapono for the Raptors. With a combined score of 148 points, it was painful to watch. Marc Gasol played ok, but looked like a very old man all game, while the Raptors just keep fading. Loss by 8.

 

The Timberwolves game – The Raptors played a bit better, but without Al Jefferson, this Wolves team is bad. Randy Foye dropped 33 while 5 other ‘wolves scored double digits – Mike Miller, Sebastian Telfair, Kevin Love, Ryan Gomes, and Rodney Carney, while the Raptors were lead by Jermaine O’Neal with 22 and Joey Graham playing well with Chris Bosh down scoring a season high 24 points. Jason Kapono scored 18 as did Andrea Bargnani. Win by 8.

 

 

Raptors close the week with a 20 – 34 record second last in the Eastern Conference, but only 5 games behind the Bucks for 8th overall. With the Bobcats, the Pacers, the Knicks and the Bulls and the Nets between us and 8th, the prospects are not good for this team. At least the Wizards are in worse shape than we are at this point. Thank goodness the all-star break is on now.

Posted on: December 21, 2008 12:59 pm
 

Raptors - Week 8 In Review - A season on the edge

Week 8 for the Raptors was a week of frustration for the fans and a week of tough losses for the team. After 3 losses at home during which the fans have begun the boo-birds have made their presence felt, the team has continued to seem lost as a group. I won’t turn this review into whine fest as that is for other forums and blogs. So, here is a review of the past week for the Raptors, as I saw it.

After ending last week on a high winning two games against the Pacers and the Nets, they ended last week 10 – 12 with a 3 game home stand to start the week in anticipation of the start of a 6 game swing through the western conference.

Sunday, December 14th, Raptors vs. Hornets @ Toronto

Hornets 99 Raptors 91

The Raptors entered this game looking to keep the points in the paint under control by keeping Chris Paul from driving through the key. The game plan was to allow the Hornets shooters to win or lose the game as the Raptors interior defense continued to mature and close the lane off with a combination defense of a soft zone and match up zone defense to keep the drivers moving toward the automatic help that is provided on the rotations. What that allowed, unfortunately, was the outside shooters hit 12 3 point shots, which was enough to keep them out of reach down the stretch as the Raptors could not find a way to stop them. David West scored 29 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, but the real hero of the game was James Posey who hit 5 of 5 3 points off the bench in the 1st half ending with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Rasual Butler was 4/9 from 3 point range ending the game with 16 points. Chris Paul and Jose Calderon had similar games with Chris Paul scoring 12 points and handing out 12 assists while Jose Calderon scored 22 points but only 7 assists. Both controlled the game with solid distribution of the ball and seemed to find the correct pass most of the night. Jose went 8/8 from the field and 5/5 from the line and had 1 turnover. Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal had 25 and 19 points and 15 rebounds between them on an afternoon when the Raptors played a solid game on defense overall, but just couldn’t seem to close out the perimeter shooters well enough.

Monday, December 15th, Raptors vs. Nets @ Toronto

Nets 94 Raptors 87

Vince Carter had 20 points and 10 rebounds while Devin Harris scored 20 points, 16 in the 4th quarter including 10 – 11 from the free throw line as the Nets returned the favor and beat the Raptors in front of a cranky crowd. Ryan Anderson scored 21 points for the Nets while 6 Raptors scored in double digits, but missed their first 14 shots in the 4th quarter after leading 70 – 63 after 3 quarters. The key to the game was second chance points as the Raptors again were dominated on the glass, especially the Offensive end giving up 54 rebounds while grabbing 38. That alone is enough to lose most games in the NBA, but the Nets grabbed 11 more offensive boards which was translated into 28 points in the paint and 26 second chance points. The Raptors were only able to score 18 points in the paint and a pathetic 2 second chance points on 7 offensive rebounds. Still, Chris Bosh and Jason Kapono scored 17 each, Jose Calderon scored 15, Jermaine O’Neal scored 14 while Jamario Moon and Andrea Bargnani scored 10 each. By the numbers alone, the game seemed to be the Raptors to lose as they shot better as a team from the field – 40% to 38.1% for the Nets, better percentage from 3 point range – 42.9% to 38.1%, but the Raptors gave up 84 shots while taking only 70 which allowed them to keep the Raptors from coming back as they just couldn’t grab a rebound it seemed in the last 2 minutes. This game was a tough lose as they worked hard to build up a lead in the 3rd and just could not find a way to get the ball into the hands of the hot players in the 4th as the Nets forced us into a jump shooting game and just out played us on the glass.

Wednesday, December 17th, Raptors vs. Mavericks @ Toronto

Mavericks 96 Raptors 86

On a night when the Raptors outscored an opponent 30 – 14 in the paint, the Raptors were again exploited from the outside as the Mavericks ended the game 50% from the field as a team. Dirk Nowitzki scored 27, Jason Terry scored 27 and Josh Howard scored 20 as they went 29/51 or 56% as a trio while grabbing 18 rebounds as a trio. As a team, the Mavericks scored 9 3 point shots on the night while the Raptors hit only 4. Jermaine O’Neal scored 19 and grabbed only 7 rebounds on a night when the Raptors were outrebounded again 47 – 37. Chris Bosh struggled all night against Josh Howard ending up with only 12 points but grabbed 9 rebounds including 3 offensive rebounds. Jose Calderon had another double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds as well as 5 rebounds. Jamario Moon scored 13 points and ended up with 9 rebounds. There are not many teams this Raptors team will beat allowing them to shot 50% from the floor.

Friday, December 19th, Raptors vs. Thunder @ Oklahoma City

Thunder 91 Raptors 83

"It felt like we won a championship," forward Desmond Mason said.

The Thunder came into the game with a 2 – 24 record and were allowed to out play the Raptors in just about every aspect of the game and there isn’t much more to add to that. The Raptors shot 2 – 11 from 3 point range or 11% and were out rebounded again. Kevin Durant scored 24 points, Russell Westbrook scored 19, Jeff Green scored 13 and Nick Collison scored 10 while the Raptors had Chris Bosh scoring 22 with 16 rebounds, Jermaine O’Neal left the game with a sore shoulder and was limited to 5 points while Andrea Bargnani scored 16. After losing JO, the Raptors were outscored in the paint 40 – 32 and shot 44.4% from the field.

Saturday, December 20th, Raptors vs. Spurs @ San Antonio

Spurs 107 Raptors 97

The Raptors came into the game looking to at least show they could compete with this Spurs team that seems to be struggling having lost 2 in a row to the Magic and the Hornets. At this point in the season, the Raptors were looking to turn around a 4 game slide and came out sharp leading the game 25 – 20 after the first. The 2nd quarter saw the Spurs outscore the Raptors as the shooters seemed to not only be open, but couldn’t miss outscoring the Raptors 36 – 23 in the quarter. The Spurs relied upon a franchise record 16 3 point shots including Matt Bonner who went 4/7 and Roger Jr. Mason who went 4/6 scoring 14 and 16 points against their former team. Tony Parker scored 24 points, handed out 10 assists and grabbed 8 rebounds and was in total control of the game hitting open guys all night as the Spurs constant ball movement kept the Raptors off balance all night and kept them running to guard open shooters all night long. Tim Duncan scored 19 points on a quiet night for him while Jermaine O’Neal scored 24 and Chris Bosh scored 17. Perhaps a good sign for the Raptors is both men had 10 rebounds in the game with Jermaine O’Neal grabbed 4 offensive boards. However, the Raptors still were outrebounded and out shot, but they did play with a lot more resolve and were in this game until the final 2 minutes. A couple of stats the Raptors would probably find very interesting are the fact that Jake Voskuhl, signed earlier this week, played his first 6 minutes for the Raptors and outscored Jamario Moon and Andrea Bargnani scoring on two nice turn around jumpers in the low post over Tim Duncan. At this point, any sign of growth is huge for this team. For the Spurs, Michael Finley scored 14, and Manu Ginobili scored 13 while Kurt Thomas grabbed 12 rebounds. Jose Calderon scored 16 but could only manage 4 assists while Jason Kapono scored 12.

Overall, it was a much better game by the Raptors with many good signs this team could be close to turning the corner as a team. Joey Graham and Roko Ukic continue to improve, Will Solomon contributed some solid minutes against the Spurs as Jose struggled with an upset stomach, so there are some good things happening. We shall find out as this team continues it’s trip through the west with games against the Clippers, the Kings, the Trail Blazers and the Warriors before they return home New Year’s eve to host the Nuggets, then play the Rockets and the Magic in the first week of the new year.

Posted on: December 15, 2008 10:58 am
 

Raptors - Week 7 in Review

Week 7 in the Raptors season saw the team move far away from the Sam team and become the Jay Triano lead Raptors. With games against the Trail Blazers, the Cavaliers, the Pacers and the Nets, we knew it would be a rough week. 3 of those games were against teams above us in the standings and one against the team we made our huge trade with last season so emotionally, that Pacers game had a lot of mystique around it as team looked to recover from the brutal road trip against the Lakers, the Jazz, and the Nuggets.

Sunday, December 7th, Raptors vs. Trail Blazers @ ACC

Trail Blazers 98 – Raptors 97

Steve Blake scored on a 3 point shot that they borrowed from Vince Carter and the Nets to ruin Jay’s bid to win his home debut. Scoring 19 points on 5 – 8 3 point shots he kept the Trail Blazers close enough to win on the last shot. The Raptors played a much better defensive game allowing only 24 points in the paint which is half of what they had been averaging. Andrea Bargnani was a first over all pick, that, we are well aware of, but the Trail Blazers have the 2nd and the 6th picks in LeMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. Bargnani has shown improvement but has not accomplished nearly as much as these two to this point in their careers. Andrea has not completely grown into the role he was projected to fill to this point, though this season he has improved in a lot of areas and I believe could be a solid player. Aldridge finished with 20, Roy with 15, Bargnani had 5 points. Player of the game for the Raptors was Jermaine O’Neal, for the Trail Blazers, Steve Blake. A game we should have won again exposed our weak wing defense and perimeter defense.

Tuesday, December 9th, Raptors vs. Cavaliers

Cavaliers 114 – Raptors 94

LeBron James – 31 points and didn’t play the 4th quarter. Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal, Anthony Parker, Andrea Bargnani – 34 points. Jose Calderon had 14 as our starters looked awful as a group. Joey Graham had 17 and was Player of the Game for us and Roko Ukic had 10 points or this game was even more laughable than it was. Wally Szczerbiak had 16 points and looked like he was 24 again. Not a pretty game for the Raptors, but it did signal a change as Jay had to overhaul the starting lineup as Anthony hurt his ankle.

Wednesday, December 10th, Raptors vs. Pacers @ ACC

Raptors 101 – Pacers 88

With Anthony Parker hurting, Jason Kapono stepped into the lineup and scored 25 points to lead the Raptors to their first victory under Jay Triano. Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal, Jose Calderon, Joey Graham and Jamario Moon all had 10 or more points as a balanced attack kept the Pacers off balance all night long. Danny Granger scored 22 but most of the time looked out of the game shooting 9 – 25. The Player of the Game for the Pacers was Troy Murphy who had a 20 – 20 game. Marquis Daniel added 21. This was a much better overall defensive game by the Raptors who would not let T.J. Ford loose to drive and his team could not shoot well enough to keep the game close.

 

 

Friday, December 12, Raptors vs. Nets

Raptors 101 – Nets 79

Vince Carter and Devin Harris as a tandem had come into the game averaging 47.7 points per game and Raptors fans were concerned that they would explode against Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon who are not the greatest man up defenders in the game. What we saw was a team defense that funneled two of the best guards in the East to a waiting wall of big men. Jermaine O’Neal and Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh would not allow the penetrating attack the Nets so love and they were reduced to shoot. With Josh Boone just coming back from an injury, they had no real inside game as Brook Lopez was held to 6 points. Vince and Devin were held to 3 points and 14 points as Vince was 0 – 13 from the floor. Yi Jianlian was the Nets most consistent big man scoring 14. For the second game in a row, the Raptors had 6 players in double digits while Jermaine had 8 points and 9 rebounds. The Nets ended the game shooting only 31.1%

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, December 14th, Raptors vs. Hornets @ ACC

Hornets 99 – Raptors 91

Well, a tough loss to the Hornets Sunday on a day when the Raptors could just as easily pulled out the win. After a solid defensive effort in the 1st quarter, the Raptors began to lose track of shooters like James Posey and Rasual Butler as the team ranked #1 in 3 point shooting in the league put up shot after shot as the Raptors struggled as they have all year with perimeter defense. Over-all, this game was exciting and very well played by both teams, but the Raptors continue to struggle working the ball inside to Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal consistently. Yes, Chris Bosh scored 25 points and 8 rebounds as well as 6 assists, but in the 4th quarter, he began to settle for jump shots again which is out of the context of the offense and too often leads to shots from the top of the circle with no rebounding support late in the shot clock. Jose Calderon played a very good game with 22 points and 7 assists to Chris Paul’s 12 points and 12 assists. Very solid games from 2 of the premier PG’s in the league.

I think that even though we lost 3 of 5 games, this team has come a long way since December 3rd. They understand what is required of them at both ends of the floor and have shown they have the heart to compete at the highest level. As they continue to work on the schemes the coach is instilling in them this team will have the opportunity to win more games than they will lose. A good week for a struggling team with a new coach and a new attitude.

Posted on: December 14, 2008 4:02 pm
 

Raptors - Hornets - A Game Review

Well, a tough loss to the Hornets Sunday on a day when the Raptors could just as easily pulled out the win. After a solid defensive effort in the 1st quarter, the Raptors began to lose track of shooters like James Posey and Rasual Butler as the team ranked #1 in 3 point shooting in the league put up shot after shot as the Raptors struggled as they have all year with perimeter defense.

Here are the keys to the game as I saw them.

Keys for the game:

1)  Protect the Paint – allowing only 34 points in the paint to the Nets was a huge victory for this Raptors team that had been averaging 47+ points in the paint nightly. Against the Hornets Chris Paul and Rasual Butler will look to force the Raptors out of the defensive lanes that held Vince Carter to 0 – 13 shooting with no lanes to penetrate. Sunday, the Hornets outscored the Raptors 28 – 20 as the Raptors seemed to have no desire to attack the teeth of the Hornets defense with NO Tyson Chandler.

2) Perimeter defense – Not letting Mo Pete and Peja Stojakovic will be looked to shoot over top of the 1 – 4 structure that Jay has implemented. With Jose Calderon being pulled out of man coverage on Chris Paul, the defensive movement of Jamario Moon and Joey Graham will be critical to putting pressure on the array of shooters this Hornets team will bring to the game. Morris Peterson did not play, but the Hornets took 32 3 point shots, and made 12 of them. James Posey hit 6 mostly open shots as the Raptors could not keep the shooters under pressure at all.

3) Rebounding – I will say this every game until the Raptors begin to assert themselves on the glass consistently. Against a smaller front court like the Hornets, there is no reason why we can’t dominate this team on the glass, especially if Tyson Chandler does not play. With him out, David West becomes the leading rebounder on this team and he should have a difficult time against Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal all afternoon with Andrea Bargnani in the mix, the Raptors should be able to work toward a more balanced rebounding effort. Sunday, the Raptors started the game strong on the glass but down the stretch, their weak rebounding kept the game out of reach. They ended the game -7 to the Hornets as the Raptors were only able to grab 2 offensive boards in the second half while the Hornets were able to grab 6. David West grabbed 3 offensive boards.

4) Transition defense – This Hornets team will look to take advantage of turnovers as Chris Paul is one of the league leaders in steals with 53. The Raptors will have to contain the transition offense and early baskets that the Hornets will attempt to capitalize on. The Raptors on Sunday were able to hold the Hornets to only 7 points in transition, but were only able to get 2 themselves.

5) Control the Ball – Turnovers will be a huge factor as the Raptors will be hard pressed to keep the ball and keep the number of turnovers closer to 10 than to 20. As this team becomes more comfortable with Jay’s systems, I look to Jose Calderon to have more than 3 assists as well, but more critical, this team needs to keep the assist to turnover ratio closer to 2/1 to continue its success. Sunday, the Raptors had only 10 turnovers while the Hornets had 11, both teams had 13 points off of turnovers.

Over-all, this game was exciting and very well played by both teams, but the Raptors continue to struggle working the ball inside to Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal consistently. Yes, Chris Bosh scored 25 points and 8 rebounds as well as 6 assists, but in the 4th quarter, he began to settle for jump shots again which is out of the context of the offense and too often leads to shots from the top of the circle with no rebounding support late in the shot clock. Jose Calderon played a very good game with 22 points and 7 assists to Chris Paul’s 12 points and 12 assists. Very solid games from 2 of the premier PG’s in the league.

One of the biggest differences in the Raptors the past 3 games had been the play of Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon. Today, they both struggled adding only 7 points each on offense. Balanced scoring will be a key to this team every game, with only 3 players over 10 points, the Hornets were able to focus on Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon down the stretch and no one else was even in the game other than Jermaine O’Neal who had 19 points. Another issue was rebounding again. Not one Raptors player was over 10 rebounds while Posey was able to gather in 10 for a nice double double off the bench. Someone has to decide that they want to become the rebounder this team needs to keep control of the ball and the tempo of the game. I think that we have taken a lot of steps in the right direction and Jay has done a great job getting this team to play closer to their potential. This will be a tough week with the Nets, the Mavericks, the Spurs coming up with the Thunder on Friday night. Let’s hope the climb to respectability continues.

Posted on: December 13, 2008 4:20 pm
 

Raptors - Hornets - A Game Preview

Sunday afternoon the Hornets visit the ACC to take on the suddenly 2 in a row winning Raptors with a new head coach and a new defensive attitude holding the Pacers and the Nets to a combined 34.1% field goal percentage in the last 2 games. Sunday, Chris Paul and David West lead the Hornets with Peja Stojakovic to give them a different level of test of their defensive mettle. Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal will be tested inside all afternoon as Chris Paul looks to penetrate and kick all game looking for Peja and Morris Peterson off the dribble. With Tyson Chandler questionable for the game, Hilton Armstrong will be looked upon to provide some offensive boards for this team who will be out manned up front. With Kris Humphries and Anthony Parker still in suits, it will be up to Andrea Bargnani to step in and provide solid defense up front while Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon get the start at the 2 and 3 spots.

Keys for the game:

1) Protect the Paint – allowing only 34 points in the paint to the Nets was a huge victory for this Raptors team that had been averaging 47+ points in the paint nightly. Against the Hornets Chris Paul and Rasual Butler will look to force the Raptors out of the defensive lanes that held Vince Carter to 0 – 13 shooting with no lanes to penetrate. Joey Graham will need to continue his solid work cutting off the top of the lane from the slashing guards the Hornets have.

2) Perimeter defense – Not letting Mo Pete and Peja Stojakovic will be looked to shoot over top of the 1 – 4 structure that Jay has implemented. With Jose Calderon being pulled out of man coverage on Chris Paul, the defensive movement of Jamario Moon and Joey Graham will be critical to putting pressure on the array of shooters this Hornets team will bring to the game.

3) Rebounding – I will say this every game until the Raptors begin to assert themselves on the glass consistently. Against a smaller front court like the Hornets, there is no reason why we can’t dominate this team on the glass, especially if Tyson Chandler does not play. With him out, David West becomes the leading rebounder on this team and he should have a difficult time against Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal all afternoon with Andrea Bargnani in the mix, the Raptors should be able to work toward a more balanced rebounding effort. Though they won the game, the Nets were +15 on the offensive glass. I believe that this will correct itself as the team continues to respond to the schemes and attitudes that Jay has begun to implement on this team.

4) Transition defense – This Hornets team will look to take advantage of turnovers as Chris Paul is one of the league leaders in steals with 53. The Raptors will have to contain the transition offense and early baskets that the Hornets will attempt to capitalize on.

5) Control the Ball – Turnovers will be a huge factor as the Raptors will be hard pressed to keep the ball and keep the number of turnovers closer to 10 than to 20. As this team becomes more comfortable with Jay’s systems, I look to Jose Calderon to have more than 3 assists as well, but more critical, this team needs to keep the assist to turnover ratio closer to 2/1 to continue it’s success. Right now the Raptors are 4th overall in assists per game with 22.8 per game, but they average 14.4 turnovers per game. Lots of room to improve there as a group. They are 4th in the league in A/TO’s right now, but there is a lot of room to improve ball control and work at protecting the ball. The improved play of Roko Ukic has provided a much noticed improvement in this area the past week.


I can see the Raptors working to improve on the effort they have begun to show and should they be able to contain Chris Paul and David West and make Peja take shots under pressure, I think it will be a good start to a brutal week with the Nets and the Mavericks coming to town before facing the Thunder and the Spurs on the road by Saturday.

Posted on: November 3, 2008 11:00 am
 

3 games, 3 wins - a good start for the Raptors

So, after the first 3 games of the 2008-09 season, we find the Raptors at 3-0 tied with the Lakers and the Rockets and the Hornets with the same record. I know it is early and that we beat “weaker” teams in the 76ers and the Warriors and the Bucks, but it is still a good start to a year that was to see them fall down the Eastern Conference standings with the rise of the Hawks and the 76ers and the recovery of the Bulls. This was the season that the Cavaliers were to dominate the East with LeBron James over-powering every team he played. So far, we see in the East that the Raptors are 3 – 0 and the Hawks are 2 – 0 as are the Pistons, who were supposed to be too old to compete!

I think one thing we are seeing this year is a general upgrade in the over-all play of all the teams! I have seen a trend toward tough interior defense and forcing teams to shoot outside. That has been the formula the Raptors have used so far this year. The game against the Warriors showed us that this team can run with teams and wear them down even with an 8 man rotation, this team does not lose a lot with the “second unit” on the floor. Well, the second unit has at times shown us Andrea Bargnani, who is scored 19 against the Warriors, but is averaging 5 rebounds a game and a little better than 2 blocks a game off the bench! It was his play in the 4th quarter of the Warriors game that helped tie the game with a couple key blocks. He did the same in the Bucks game! Should he continue to score and get closer to 10 or 11 points per game off the bench, this team will be very hard to match up with. Sam Mitchell has become fond of sticking either Jermaine 0’Neal or Chris Bosh in with the rest of the second wave with Joey Graham or Jason Kapono and Roko Ukic who has quickly become a solid presence on the floor. These minutes he can play and develop his calm steady play will only help this team in the spring as Jose Calderon can keep his legs fresh! The play of Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker has been welcomed to say the least. It is good to see Jamario not drift when he is not scoring and has been rewarded with 10 points, 2 assists, 2 blocks and about 2 steals a game. Anthony Parker has been playing some of the best ball he has played in a Raptors uniform dropping 14 points per game and averaging 2 rebounds, 2 assists and nearly 4 steals a game. Against the tough inside game of the Bucks on a night when Jermaine could not get moving, Calderon and Parker combined for 36 points and 12 assists. The margin of victory was 4 points and the Jose and Anthony out scored Michael Redd and Ramon Sessions by 5!!!

This team so far this season has focused on team defense! Sam and Chris Bosh have committed themselves to this style and we saw in the overtime win against the very short benched and very tired Warriors that this style can and will wear opponents down! A 6 – 0 run to start the OT with 3 steals by the Raptors sealed the win!

This week, we face the 2 – 0 Detroit Pistons who are coming off a 117 – 100 win over the Wizards and the not too surprising Atlanta Hawks who are 2 – 0 after beating the Magic in Orlando and the 76ers at home. The Hawks play the Hornets on Wednesday night and that should be a fun game to watch with Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and David West hosting them. The Hawks offer Joe Johnson averaging 30 points a game, Mike Bibby and Josh Smith averaging 15 each. Al Horford is young and should be a very active presence underneath giving our front court all they can handle!

The Pistons bring their starting 5 of the past 4 or 5 seasons I think of Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups and Antonio MacDyess or Jason Maxiell. Walter Hermann I think is playing good right now, but I think they will present Rodney Stuckey, Arron Afflalo and Kwame Browne and suddenly, the team that is too old is 10 or 11 deep! I would love to see the Raptors win both of these games and they could, but they will have to play spectacular team defense and NOT turn the ball over 19 times!

So far this year, the Raptors have played steady ball control ball. That has proven very successful. This week we shall see how committed this team is to the team game at both ends of the floor! After the Hawks, we will see the Bobcats, the Celtics and the 76ers again, this time at home. This young season starts with some critical divisional games and so far they are on top with the Hawks. This next week will be very much a litmus test for the conference.

Here are my thoughts on the play of the team so far!

Chris Bosh – averaging 42 minutes, 26 points, 10 rebounds and almost 4 assists per game! I am beginning to agree with the MVP threads I have seen on these boards! He has played unselfish ball leading the team in all aspects of the game. He has made some tough plays on defense, has distributed to the open man after he gets the ball where he wanted it keeping his team mates playing at both ends, he has played well when on the floor with the so-called second line which is a term I am beginning to look to replace! His intensity at both ends has allowed Jermaine O’Neal room to move again. Over all, Bosh’s play should be considered among the elite in the league.

Jermaine O’Neal – averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds as well as 3 assists a game. He has brought a breath of life to this front court by creating 2 double team options low. He is struggling a bit on offense, but he has averaged 2 blocks a game and is a defensive force to be sought when entering the key. He has provided the presence we were looking for to off-set Chris Bosh in the front court and he has given us a very tough interior defense that has allowed the team to tighten up outside which killed them last year!

Jose Calderon – Jose has become a solid point guard in this league! I would consider him a top 10 guard at this point as he does not focus on his own scoring, but as we saw against the Bucks, can step up as he needs to! I believe that we shall see this team rewarded by making him the starting PG! His steady demeanor on the floor has a calming effect on everyone out there. He leads with his heart and his team responds very well to his leadership! With Roko Ukic off the bench giving him some solid minutes of play while he rests, this team looks very good at the #1 spot! Averaging 19 points and 9.7 assists, he is off to a flying start. As he continues to score, teams will not be able to collapse or they will pay the price!

Anthony Parker – Jose’s back-court mate is off to a great start averaging 14 points and 2 assists and 2.3 rebounds and 3.33 steals. A very solid option off the wing as he is often guarding the other teams top scorer, he has acquitted himself well not letting anyone out play him so far this season! Whether he is on the starting rotation or the other rotation, he continues to play consistent intense defense and has been a pest to the 3 back-courts we have faced this season.

Jamario Moon – I feel he still can be a major contribution to this team, but he will have to figure out how to offer at least 15 points a game to stay in this lineup with Jason Kapono on the bench waiting! He is exciting to watch, but seems unable to consistently finish but when he does just let the ball fly, he can score in this league! He is still young mentally though at 28, the experiment has shown flashes of brilliance and some signs of concern. When he is firing from outside, this team can go on deep runs as he has stepped up his defense this year but needs to become way more active on the glass!

Andrea Bargnani – Is this the same kid who wore #7 last season? Where did he get the tough from? What a joy to watch him score 19 against a quick strong Warriors team, only to see him vanish against the Bucks! If he can continue to play solid defense, then the Raptors can find scoring, but if he can find a way to drop 10 a night, this team would be very hard to match to 8 or 9 players. I would love to see him grab 5 or 6 boards a night and keep his head in the game in the paint. That would allow that step out game he has to flourish.

This week should show us a bit more of the heart of this team! the games will be against 3 teams expected to be at or near the top of the Eastern Conference! Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will give this team all they can handle! enjoy the games!

Posted on: May 14, 2008 3:10 pm
 

Kobe Bryant and his Lifetime Achievement MVP

here is a collection of posts discussing Kobe Bryant winning the MVP this season. I will say that he should have had at least one by now, but this was the wrong year to give it to him unless you are making it a compilation of the past 3 seasons with the slugs he had around him calling themselves Lakers. this might seem a bit random, but i am responding to other posts which i will try to separate when i can.

Please enjoy. Comments and hate always welcome and i will read it all.

here are some posts i have made in the past few days..

here is the first post and the original article

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/
8111712/How-Kobe-fina
lly-earned-his-first-MVP

i agree that Chris Paul probably was the more deserving winner this year over Kobe Bryant... but here is how i see the final weeks in the voters heads... humour me abit :-)

"ok, Kobe finally has a team and looks like he wants to play with Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom and Jordan Farmar.. but this Chris Paul kid with the Hornets.. wow, he has taken a team that struggled for years to the top of the Western conference... young guys like David West, Tyson Chandler, vets like Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson sure have helped make him a worthy candidate... let's see.... o dear, it seems Kobe has NEVER won an MVP, we can't give one to this kid until Kobe gets one... maybe then he and his army of loving adoring homer fans will shut up and stop emailing us about how good he is..."

vote Kobe Bryant for MVP.... not saying he didn't deserve one this year or by now... but i am pretty sure he got more than a few votes that way... next year, it will be LeBron James who will win as he has to get one before anyone else new gets one... maybe the Cavaliers fans will stop whining about how great he is by then.. yes he is good... Bill Russell is was and always will be great. When LBJ can show us 11 rings, he can tell us how great he is.

then the guy responded

Kobe and Paul were clearly the clear-cut MVP candidates this season - both were equally deserving based on their cumulative merits based on this season's performances.  In the end, the balance of the scale finally tipped in Kobe's favor based on one key reality - the Lakers finished the regular season atop the hotly contested Western Conference.

 

so based on this statement, the MVP SHOULD have been Kevin Garnett since he was the Best player on the team with the BEST record, or is it only based on the best record in the west..?? it seems the playoffs have revealed to you western conference fans that the east is not as full of walkover teams as the west as the Nuggetts barely made the Lakers break a sweat yet were touted as a championship caliber team stuck in the tough west.. same for the Warriors.. the 76ers and the Hawks both put up a great first round battle to teams that had better records than both the Lakers and the Hornets in the Pistons and the Celtics.

Now, finally, in this season, it all crystalized for Kobe - he was finally able to become the team leader that the Lakers always needed him to be - the final result speaks for itself.  Trust in his teammates and ultimately being surrounded by the correct pieces to allow that trust to flourish into confidence and a winning team attitude was the difference in the Kobe of this season from season's past.  Paul was all that to the Hornets as well, but the bottom line is that Kobe was the best player on the best team in the toughest conference this season

i for one am tired of people saying the MVP went to the best player on the best team... if that was the only criteria, the voting would not be done after the regular season. As for the teams themselves.. the Hornets improved by 17 wins, while the Lakers only improved by 15 so that arguement favours Chris Paul not Kobe. and finishing 1 game atop of the pack when there are only 3 games separating the top 5 teams does not mean they are the best team in the division... that is what the playoffs are going to determine... what i have heard over and over again is how this is a team award... that is bs or it wouldn't be called the Most Valuable PLAYER award... i fear that the award has digressed from the days when it was given to the player who was consistently shown that his team is not as good without him in the lineup.. the Lakers can't say that this year.. but the Cavaliers can... LeBron James will win a few as will Chris Paul... Kobe deserved one, but i think he should have won 2 years ago when Steve Nash won his second... that year, he carried a bunch of slugs... this year, he can score or not and the team can win.

then he made the "best player on the best team" comment

i think that simply saying the MVP award goes to the most statiscally impressive player does the award a dis-service - also, then Kobe would have won a couple more as his numbers were more impressive than Steve Nash's except in assists per game both the years he won his MVP and he was statistically better than shaq the year he won. Kevin Garnett won his MVP for taking a bunch of slugs to the Championship round... not because he was the best player in the league or the top statistically in every catagory. this year KG's personal stats suffered as he melded into a system that rewards tough defense and unselfish team play, thus they won the most games of any in the league. i could make a case that Chris Paul means way more to this young Hornets team than Kobe Bryant does to a talented though hurting Lakers team. there have been periods when Pau Gasol has looked absolutely unbeatable and periods when Lamar Odom has been a beast.. Andrew Bynum was on his way to a career year and a possible MVP candidate before his knee said stop and he didn't.. LeBron James is one of the most impressive athletes in any sport. there is no question he IS the MVP of his team as he is about 75% of his teams offense and about the same defensively as well.

so why did Dirk Nowitzki win MVP last year? was he the best player on the best team? well his team did have 67 wins so he was the best player on the team so just give him the award? then Kevin should have got it this year.. the award has to be more than that since Nash did not have the best team in the west the years he won...

true, the last game of the season the Lakers and Hornets played, Kobe took the kid to school... but i offer that made little difference. the award was Kobe's to lose this year as a makeup for the 2 or 3 that got away...  is he the best player in the league? won't go there.. too many people love their team too much to debate that. is he the best player on his team? yes. is he the most valuable? yes, but it is very close as the team seems to be very well balanced and we won't know how beast like Bynum could have been... imagine him down low with Pau!!! wow

and one more for now

I'm really tired of hearing people say that Chris Paul took a WNBA team and turned them into a legit contender for the NBA championship. WIth or without CP3 the Hornets are a good team. Besides CP3 they have 2 allstars and a great defensive center. 

 i agree.. this team was a decent team last year.. 39 wins is decent, but the 17 game turn-around clearly is due to the fact that this year CP3 stepped up big time.. as well, the exact same could be said about Deron Williams who i think should not have been so quickly dismissed. head to head these two gave us a few very good games to watch and the Jazz are not out of the series yet because he has carried them on his shoulders... as he did most of the season... as did Kobe Bryant..

Tyson Chandler has always been a great defender and rebounder.  Before Chris Paul, Tyson  Chander avg 7ppg and since Chris Paul he avg 10 ppg in the last 2 seasons.David West is an allstar. He can create his own shot  and hit the mid range jumper. Before Chris Paul arrived the David West only started 9 games and avg 15 min per game over 2 years. The same year CP3 arrived David West became a starter and his minutes increased to 35 min per game. David Wests numbers and production went up as his minutes reflect.Peja S is one of the greatest 3 point shooters in the game. He is a 3 time allstar and in the 2003-04 season he was 4th in the MVP rankings. Enough said

 i won't disagree with any of this either red, but as we know about the NBA, it is a team game and one that the Magic are so quickly showing us, talented front courts NEED at least an average back court to be consistantly successful. the Celtics are proving how young Rajon Rondo is as he struggles in the few games and the Celtics struggle. David West has struggled this post season i suspect due to the lack of room down low for him to create those shots he made all season.. as Peja Stojakovic has struggled, the defense has packed in around him and Tyson creating a very small area for West to work. and being guarded by Tim Duncan will cause a lot of good players fits.

This team was destined to be a great team this year. Last year they had 3 allstars miss a total of 120 gamges. Peja missed  70 games, David West 30 games and Chris Paul 20 games. It is not a surprise the Hornets are in the second round of the playoffs.

 i understand the injury situation all too well.. the fact is, they won only 39 games last year, this year they won 56, only one behind the Lakers. the play of Chris Paul has been brilliant and that is why he was in the hunt. All i was saying is that i think that Kobe received this award this year to make up for the slight some people think he has received.. not that he doesn't deserve it, that is NOT what i am saying... i just think that his career weighed very heavily on his selection and the fact that the best player on the best team as many say should get the award, Kevin Garnett, already has one.

that of course, is just my opinion...

 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com