Tag:Magic
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: February 2, 2009 11:36 am
 

Raptors - Week 14 in review

Well, here goes another attempt at trying to figure out the enigma that is the 2008/09 Toronto Raptors. With wins last week against the Bulls, the Kings and the Nets for their first three game win streak since opening the season 3 – 0, stopping a 7 game losing streak in which they lost 2 to the Celtics, as well as one to the Bulls, to the Pacers, the Suns, the Hawks and the Pistons, they find a way to let the Bucks, playing without Michael Redd, beat them and then they get embarrassed at home by the Magic.

 

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Raptors – 107
Nets – 106

With Jose Calderon back in the lineup, the Raptors needed his 17 points and 11 assists to hold off the Nets who were again lead by their solid back court of Devin Harris, who had 25 points, and 10 assists and Vince Carter who had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. This was one of the first games in a very long season that the Raptors found a way to make a couple of stops down the stretch as Devin Harris missed the winning shot at the buzzer to give the victory to the Raptors. At times the Raptors had excellent ball movement and worked the ball around with a balanced attack, but Anthony Parker was the player of the game for the Raptors with his 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists while Joey Graham and Jason Kapono offered some solid work off the bench adding 15 points from JG and 10 from JK. Though Chris Bosh was pretty much a non-factor in the game, Andrea Bargnani struggled with only 8 points, his lowest game total since December 29th against the Warriors, ending his streak of 10+ points per game streak at 15. Keyon Dooling, Brook Lopez and Bobby Simmons were solid for the Nets who were just outplayed a bit by the Raptors bench.

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Raptors – 85
Bucks – 96

A terrible game by the Raptors who looked disinterested the whole night. Charlie Villanueva dropped 26 points and collected 13 boards as he out played a bored Chris Bosh. Andrea Bargnani scored 16 as did Jermaine O’Neal, Jose Calderon scored 7 to go with his 11 assists. Andrew Bogut and Charlie Bell combined for 24 points off of the bench while Richard Jefferson and Luke Ridnour scored a combined 32 points while the Raptors could offer little resistance to a team missing it’s go to guy with Michael Redd out. The Raptors coach offered this summation of the game “I give them credit because they outworked us”. That pretty much sums up the game.

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Raptors – 90
Magic – 113

AND it wasn’t really even that close after half time. With double – doubles from Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard, this Magic team showed how you play a team that has no desire to show up. The Magic were quite content playing Dwight Howard off Chris Bosh turning him into a jump shooter, ending the game 4 – 11 with 11 points on the game. Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus all ended the game in double figures while Jose Calderon, Joey Graham, Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh all were in double figures, but no one had more than 16. The team looked tired and gave a terrible second half performance after being down only 6 at the half.

With games coming up against the Lakers, the Hornets and the Cavaliers, the Grizzlies and the red-hot Timberwolves, this Raptors team seems to have given up at this point. Let’s hope they can find a way to play some inspired ball rather than the lack-luster effort they have shown most of the year. The issues go far beyond chemistry and bonding, there are some serious issues with the heart of this team as the players don’t seem bothered by the losses any more. That can never be a good thing.

Posted on: January 26, 2009 2:24 pm
 

Raptors - Week 13 - Jose Returns

Week 13 saw the return of both Jermaine O’Neal and Jose Calderon as the Raptors wallowed in the midst of a 7 game losing streak. Since I have discussed the Pistons game and the Hawks game, I will focus on the Bulls and the Kings games which saw Numero Ocho return and remind us of what was missing from this lineup.

 

 

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 Raptors @ Bulls

Raptors – 114
Bulls – 94

Jose Calderon returned to the floor and quickly provided this team some much needed balance and a steady hand in the back court. He was able to connect all of the pieces of this team that looked very unsure of what was to happen next on offense. With 23 points, 10 assists and 0 turnovers, he lead this team to a 20 – 2 run late in the game to pull away. Jermaine O’Neal played again and looked a lot stronger and more sure of himself playing off the bench behind Andrea Bargnani who has been brilliant this last month while starting for the injured O’Neal. On the game, Joey Graham scored 16 off the bench while Chris Bosh had 17 points, 6 steals and 6 rebounds in a game controlled by Jose and Andrea, who had 22 points on the night. Anthony Parker had 14 points and 7 assists as our back court was just a bit better than the Bulls who’s starter, Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose scored 19 and 12 points with Kirk Hinrich adding 17 points off the bench. The game was taken over by our front line who were no real match for the Bulls smaller front court. Jamario Moon had 6 points and 5 rebounds and 2 steals on the night. Overall, a very solid team effort against a Bulls team struggling to play a consistent level of basketball every night. We needed to win, and the guys went out on the road and got one.

 

Sunday, January 25th, 2009 Raptors vs. Kings

Raptors – 113
Kings - 97

I know, many of you will say “It’s just the Kings, everyone can beat them” and to a large extent, that is very true. We have seen this Raptors team struggle against the “weak” teams like the Thunder and the Wizards and the Clippers this season as their lack of defensive desire seems to allow teams to hang around all game and that lack of killer instinct has been sorely missed this year. Sunday, the Kings came to town 0 – 17 against the eastern conference with a road trip that will take them to games with the Cavaliers, the Celtics and the Bulls. The first quarter the Kings came out on fire hitting 6 – 9 from outside the arc, but only went 5 – 16 the rest of the way as they seemed to play the game far away from the basket while the Raptors pounded the ball inside all evening long and were rewarded with 29 free throws hitting 25. Chris Bosh scored his 11th 30+ game with 31 points and 8 rebounds while Jermaine O’Neal had 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench behind Andrea Bargnani who continues to play at a much higher level at both ends of the floor scored his 15th straight 10+ point game with 24 points and 7 rebounds. The Kings were lead by John Salmons with 21, Francisco Garcia with 18 points, Brad Miller with 15, Kevin Martin and Jason Thompson with 12 each. For the second straight game, the Raptors shot over 50% from the floor as Jose Calderon found open guys who were hitting shots and attacking the rim all evening. Jose has recorded 18 assists and 0 turnovers in the past 2 games. Welcome home Numero Ocho! We missed you.

This week, the Raptors have games against the Nets and Vince Carter and Brooks Lopez and Devin Harris as well as the Bucks who are without Michael Redd for the rest of the season. The still have Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions on the floor, but these are two games we must win before next week’s murderer’s row of games against Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and the Magic, LeBron James and the Cavaliers, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and the Hornets and the Grizzlies the following week. It should be interesting to watch this team as they look to begin the climb back up the ladder in the east. Parts of the game are still missing, but not correctable. At 18 – 28, we are not out of the playoffs yet, but unless team play improves, the playoffs will be little more than fund-raising dates.

Posted on: January 21, 2009 11:12 am
 

2009 Free Agent Class - Overlooked and Forgotten?

I know we are all focused on 2010 when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh become free agents and the rumours that are swirling around with that, but what about next years class? looking over the list i see a lot of pieces that many teams would love to have, so, the question is do you think this season's batch of free agents will be pretty much ignored or will there be a flurry of trades and deals to secure some of these guys before 2010 which, in my opinion, is really a three team race right now.

Here is the list

Hawks -Josh Childress, Solomon Jones, Marvin Williams
Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia
 

 

 

Celtics - Glen Davis, Leon Powe
Eddie House (P)
 

 

Bobcats - Shannon Brown, Jermareo Davidson, Raymond Felton, Ryan Hollins, Sean May

 

 

Aaron Gray,Drew Gooden
 

 

 

Cavaliers - Lance Allred, Tarence Kinsey
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (ETO), Damon Jones, Joe Smith, Eric Snow, Wally Szczerbiak, Billy Thomas, Anderson Varejao (P)
 


Mavericks - Brandon Bass, Gerald Green, Eddie Jones, Jason Kidd, Keith McLeod, James Singleton
 

 

 

Nuggets -Linas Kleiza
Chris Andersen, Anthony Carter, Steven Hunter (ETO), Allen Iverson, Dahntay Jones
 

 

Pistons - Will Bynum (T), Jason Maxiell, Check Samb
Kwame Brown (P), Richard Hamilton (ETO), Rasheed Wallace
 

 

 

Warriors - C.J. Watson
Al Harrington (P)
 

 

Rockets - Mike Harris, Luther Head
Ron Artest, Ron Francis
 

 

 

Pacers - Danny Granger, Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts
Maceo Baston, Marquis Daniels (T), Travis Diener (P), Jeff Foster, Stephen Graham, Rasho Nesterovic
 

 

Clippers - Ricky Davis (P), Steve Novak, Brian Skinner
Jason Hart
 

 

 

Lakers - Coby Karl
Trevor Ariza, Kobe Bryant (ETO), Chris Mihm, Lamar Odom
 

 

Grizzlies - Juan Carlos Navarro, Hakim Warrick
Antoine Walker (ETO)
 

 

 

Heat - Stephane Lasme, Joel Anthony
Mark Blount (ETO), Shawn Marion
 

 

Bucks - Ramon Sessions, Charlie Villanueva
Malik Allen (P), Tyronn Lue, Desmond Mason
 

 

 

Timberwolves - Rashad McCants
Calvin Booth, Jason Collins
 

 

Nets - Nenad Krstic
Trenton Hassell (ETO), Jarvis Hayes (T), Stromile Swift
 

 

 

Hornets - Melvin Ely, Mike James (P)
 

 

 

Knicks - David Lee, Nate Robinson
Jamal Crawford (ETO), Eddy Curry (ETO), Jerome James (P), Stephon Marbury, Quentin Richardson (ETO), Malik Rose
 

 

Thunder - Johan Petro
Adrian Griffin, Chris Wilcox, Damien Wilkins (ETO), Donyell Marshall
 

 

 

Maqic - Marcin Gortat
Keith Bogans, Brian Cook (P), Adonal Foyle, Anthony Johnson (P), Hedo Turkoglu (ETO)
 

 

76ers - Royal Ivey (P), Andre Miller, Kareem Rush
 

 

 

Suns - D.J. Strawberry
Matt Barnes, Grant Hill

 

 

Trail Blazers - Ike Diogu, Channing Frye, Martell Webster
Raef LaFrentz

 

 

Kings - Bobby Brown (P), Francisco Garcia
Shareef Abdur-Rahim (ETO), Bobby Jackson
 

 

 

Spurs - Ime Udoko, Jacque Vaughn

 

 

Raptors - Carlos Delfino, Joey Graham, Jamario Moon, Will Solomon
Jermaine O'Neal (P), Anthony Parker

 

 

Jazz - Paul Millsap, Kyrylo Fesenko (T)
Carlos Boozer (P), Jarron Collins, Brevin Knight, Kyle Korver (ETO), Mehmet Okur (ETO), Ronnie Price

 

 

Wizards - Etan Thomas (ETO)

Posted on: January 10, 2009 1:28 pm
 

Raptors - Week 11 in Review

As 2008 came to a close, the Raptors struggled losing their last 3 games of the year to the Trail Blazers, the Warriors and the Nuggets. With a 12 – 20 record, they were looking for a new year that could offer hope that indeed had a team that could be competitive every game. As the year began, they picked up a huge win over the Rockets which brought them into this past week and games with teams they felt were beatable. Here is how I saw the past week in Raptorsland.

 

Sunday, January 4th, 2009 Raptors vs. Magic

Raptors 108
Magic 102

On a day where Jermaine O’Neal and Jose Calderon were both out with injuries, the Raptors were lead from inspired back court play by Will Solomon and Roko Ukic who were both needing and wanting the opportunity to show they can play well at this level. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 39 points while Andrea Bargnani started at Center for the third straight game. With 18 points and 5 rebounds, he played a solid game and looked very comfortable with his new role in the low post as he was still able to stretch Howard out to a place he was unable to be effective defensively and as a result of the extra room, Chris Bosh was able to collect 23 points and 11 rebounds in the game. Rashard Lewis scored 20 on 6 for 6 from 3 point range while adding 9 assists. The big step up of the game was Anthony Parker who has struggled all season with not only his defense, but his shot has been very suspect as his confidence has waned. Sunday, he scored 26 points on 13 – 16 shooting taking 0 3 point shots with many coming off drives as the interior defense of the Magic was stretched. Ending the game +6 on points in the paint against a tough Magic team was a large part of why they were able to carry the play down the stretch. Back to our point guards who both played excellent games. Will Solomon scored 11 points and added 4 assists, but committed only 2 turnovers in the game. Roko Ukic scored 12 points and had 7 assists while committing 2 turnovers as well. 23 points and 11 assists from the guards who both showed that they belong in this league and should allow Jose Calderon to take the time he needs to heal his ailing hamstring. Jamario Moon added 9 assists as the Raptors shot 53.5% from the field and were +8 for total rebounds while committing only 10 turnovers.

Monday, January 5th, 2009 Raptors @ Bucks

Raptors 97
Bucks 107

The Bucks were lead by Michael Redd and Charlie Villanueva who scored 35 and 25 points in a game they needed to win coming off of losses to the Bobcats and the Rockets, this team looked to extend it’s lead on the Raptors who are still in the race for that 8th playoff spot in the east, so any chance they can get to extend that is welcomed, and they took advantage of a Raptors team that has struggled in close games this season. Down the stretch, the Raptors went 0 – 5 while the Bucks hit shot after shot lead by Luke Ridnour who hit a huge 3 point shot over Chris Bosh after the Raptors had extended the lead to 4 at 95 – 91 with 2:52 left in the 4th. Ridnour added 2 more before Charlie Bell tied the game at 97. The Raptors then missed their next 5 shots while the Bucks pulled away. The game was a tough loss on the road but the signs are there that this Raptors team is moving the right way. The Bucks played without Andrew Bogut and Malik Allen while the Raptors were still without Jermaine O’Neal and Jose Calderon. Ramon Sessions added 11 points off the bench for the Bucks. The Raptors were led by Chris Bosh with 31 points and 11 rebounds, Andrea Bargnani with 21 points and 8 rebounds and Will Solomon matched his career high 11 assists with 4 points and only 2 turnovers starting again. Roko Ukic added 11 points and only 1 assist. 16 turnovers turned into 23 points as the Bucks were +9 in that category and were +5 in offensive rebounds. Jason Kapono looked and played bad with 5 turnovers which seemed to occur at critical points of the game.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009 Raptors @ WizardsRaptors 99
Wizards 93

After dealing Hassan Adams to the Clippers in the afternoon, the Raptors faced the Wizards with only 9 players as both Jermaine O’Neal and Jose Calderon were both at home trying to find a TSN2 feed to watch the game and Jamario Moon was in Alabama awaiting the birth of his daughter. The Wizards came into the game with a 7 – 26 record and last in the Eastern conference, but coming off a week in which they beat the high-flying Cavaliers and the Rockets. With no Gilbert Arenas, this team has struggled all year and like the Raptors, have had an early season coaching change. Led by Antawn Jamison with 32 points and 7 rebounds and Caron Butler with 15 points, the Wizards had trouble controlling the Raptors shooters as they ended the game shooting 54.5% for the game while the Wizards could not find many answers. Though the Wizards were able to be +4 on second chance points and +3 on the offensive glass, the Raptors were hot from outside ending the game 8 – 16 from 3 point range and +9 on the game. This was a game we were supposed to win, and a much better effort from the team as our very short bench contributed 22 points. Mike James and Andray Blatche were solid for the Wizards while Andrea Bargnani poured in 25 points and gathered 4 rebounds in one of his best games this season as Chris Bosh struggled with 18 points but added 8 rebounds and 6 assists to his solid game. Anthony Parker added another solid game with 15 points and 7 rebounds and 2 assists while Will Solomon starting again for Jose chipped in 14 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Jason Kapono had a strong game off the bench with 12 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist. Jake Voskuhl added 5 rebounds and 1 assist to the mix.

Friday, January 9th, 2009 Raptors vs. Grizzlies

Raptors 103
Grizzlies 82

The Raptors ran out to an early 13 point lead only to once again give it all back in the third quarter as Rudy Gay scored 22 points in the game but was shut down in the 4th quarter. Memphis came into the game having lost 11 of 12, but did pick up a win last week against the Mavericks while losing to the Nets and Timberwolves. Hakim Warrick scored 18 off the bench while O.J. Mayo, a leading contender for Rookie of the Year, scored 11 on a tough shooting day as he went 4 – 14 on the night. Marc Gasol added 9 points and 5 rebounds for the struggling Grizzlies who are now 2 – 15 on the road. Chris Bosh scored his 10th 30+ game of the season finishing with a double double with 32 points and 10 rebounds on the night. Andrea Bargnani continued his inspired play with 21 points and 8 rebounds as he out played the smaller front line the Grizzlies threw at him. With 64 points from our front line of Bosh, Bargnani and Jason Kapono who added 11 off the bench, the Grizzlies were only able to answer with 31 from their front of Gasol, Warrick and Darrell Arthur. Will Solomon had a steady game with 10 points and 9 assists and 3 turnovers. The first half had the bad Raptors show up with 8 rebounds which allowed the Grizzlies to keep the game close after closing the score in the second quarter. With only 5 in the second, they were able to pull away and put this team away and were able to sit both Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani with about 4 minutes left in the game giving the bench some valuable minutes to put the game away. They responded with 31 points as a group and were a huge reason why this game ended early for the Grizzlies. With 10 points from Jake Voskuhl and Kris Humphries and 6 assists for Kapono, these guys pulled away in the 4th and were instrumental in maintaining the lead the team rebuilt in the 3rd.

Players of the Week

Chris Bosh – with Jermaine O’Neal missing the entire week, Chris recorded 2 30+ games and 2 double double and averaged 26 points and 10 rebounds and 3.75 assists. He lead this team at both ends of the floor and shot nearly 60% from the floor on the week as he spent a lot of time attacking the rim and working the boards.

Andrea Bargnani – As he continues to make starts as this teams Center, he continues to flourish with his solid inside play combined with excellent outside shooting making him a very tough player to matchup with for most opponents. Making 14 3points shots over the week, he opened up the interior all week so Bosh could make use of the open floor.

Will Solomon – Starting for Jose Calderon, Will was able to use the opportunity to have consistent minutes to elevate his game to a level most expected him to perform at. His week ended with him averaging 9.75 points, 7.25 assists on 2.25 turnovers and 1.5 rebounds per week. Combined with Roko Ukic, the two gave us 16.75 points and 10.25 assists per game. Solid play by both, but Will was the leader as he played the bulk of the minutes and controlled the floor and got the ball where it needed to be and was able to push the tempo when he could. This was his best week as a Raptors player by far and very a timely display of the skill we were waiting to see.

Honorable mentionsAnthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono all played solid this week and at times were stellar performers. Parkers 14 points per game were critical as were Moon’s nearly 7 rebounds per game. He isn’t scoring as we would like, but his defense has picked up and I am sure his offense will return. Jason had a couple of good games and a couple of bad games, but he is working hard and it will pay itself off soon as he finds his stroke again.

With a back to back with the Celtics followed by games against the Bulls and the Pacers with the Suns and the Hawks early next week, this was a much needed week for the Raptors and, who knows, the Celtics look vulnerable right now and an inspired game by the Raptors could bring some positive results for this team.

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 5, 2009 2:18 pm
 

Raptors - Week 10 Review

Week 10 in the NBA for the Raptors provided an insight to this team long overdue. With games against the Warriors, the Nuggets, the Rockets and the Magic, we faced 3 teams with 20+ wins and a team that pushes the tempo any chance it gets. Starting week 10 with a 12 – 18 record after losses to the Clippers and the Trail Blazers and a victory over the Kings on the road, this team finished its 6 game road trip in Sacramento before heading home to face the Warriors. Here is how I saw the games last week

Monday December 29th, 2008 Raptors @ Warriors

Raptors 111
Warriors 117

With Corey Maggette and Monta Ellis out with nagging injuries, the Raptors looked to stem the tide of losses with a trip to the bay area. Stephen Jackson and Marco Belinelli had other ideas. With 55 points between them, this game was not settled until late into the 4th when C.J. Watson dropped a floater over Chris Bosh in the last minute. On a night when 6 Raptors had 10 or more points with Chris Bosh with 30 and Jose Calderon with 21, Kris Humprhies with 10, Jason Kapono and Joey Graham with 11, and Jamario Moon with 12, this was a very solid game offensively for the Raptors as Jose dished out 16 assists against the quicker Warriors. The difference in the game was points off of turnovers where the Raptors were -10 for the night. Though they lost a tough game, this team played tough grabbing 20 offensive boards on a night when Andris Biedrins scored 13 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had 5 blocks after losing Jermaine O’Neal early in the game and we could find no answer for him. For being the last game of a brutal road trip, these guys played well enough to win in most aspects of the game, but allowed the Warriors to shot 50% from the floor and from outside the arc, and we won’t win many games when we allow those to both happen.

Wednesday December 31st, 2008 Raptors vs Nuggets

Raptors 107
Nuggets 114

The Nuggets came into the game after beating the Knicks but losing to the Hawks and looked to continue to be a force in the West and showed the balance that tends to happen when your coach has 899 wins heading into the game. Tonight, the Nuggets had 7 players with 10 or more points with Nene scoring 21, Carmelo Anhthony adding 20, Kenyon Martin, Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith added 15, 18 and 16 respectively, but he damage was done by Carl Anderson with his double double off the bench and Linas Kleiza with 10 as well off the bench. Known for their love of transition ball, the Nuggets were held to 10 fast break points as the Raptors were able to control the tempo only giving up the ball 12 times on turnovers, but were quick to recover on defense to slow the Nuggets down. With Jermaine O’Neal out however, the Nuggets pushed the ball inside and attacked the rim at will and were +16 in the paint for the game. Anthony Parker had a very solid game as he started again for Jason Kapono with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in one of his best games in a couple of months. Chris Bosh had another solid game with 24 points and 11 boards while Jose Calderon struggled with 11 assists but 5 turnovers and 18 points. Andrea Bargnani started at center and scored 26 points and grabbed 6 rebounds and was huge defensively with 5 blocks. Will Solomon put in 11 off the bench while Jamario Moon contributed another solid game on the boards, with 7 rebounds and 10 points on the night. The Raptors had opportunities to get the game back to level, but struggled with their outside shooting in the second half. All in all, they played well, but again allowed this team to shoot 51% from the floor. After watching Jay Triano burn a time out as they refused to push the ball inside after getting the Nuggets in bonus early in the second and they didn’t get free throws until late in the half, he yelled at the guys and sat down to let them figure out why they keep settling for jump shots in transition. As I watched, I could sense the guys finally were ready to listen to the coach. Though they lost the game, this team played hard and I think attitudes were adjusted that night, finally.

Friday, January 2nd, 2009 Raptors vs. Rockets

Raptors 94
Rockets 73

Too many people will say that this was a game that the Raptors won only because the Rockets are playing bad basketball right now having lost to the Bucks on New Year’s Eve. They came into the night after finishing December with a 9 – 5 record, beating teams like the Jazz and the Nuggets and the Nets, but losing to the Cavaliers and the Hornets and the Wizards. Still, they are a playoff team in the West sitting in 7th spot behind the Mavericks and still ahead of the Trail Blazers. The Raptors were missing starter Jermaine O’Neal, but welcomed Jason Kapono back to the floor after missing a couple games with a leg injury. The new starters included Andrea Bargnani in his second straight start at Center and Anthony Parker returning to play the 2 spot and Jamario Moon looking to solidify his spot at the 3 after a few good games rebounding, he looked to become more consistant at the offensive end as well. Chris Bosh played well scoring 19 points and grabbing 5 rebounds, but Jose Calderon went down in the first and left in the second quarters requiring Will Solomon and Roko Ukic to step up and provide the court leadership we would need on the night. Will Solomon responded with 8 points and 7 assists while Roko Ukic added 3 assists and 2 points. Jake Voskuhl was huge off the bench again with 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 points in 18 minutes on the floor. Kris Humphries and Hassan Adams both added 4 points as the team responded with solid offense and tough defense. The Rockets were held to just 34% shooting on the night while committing 22 turnovers which the Raptors took full advantage of turning those into 27 points. Andrea Bargnani looked very solid in the Center spot and had a very good game with 19 points and has begun to look like he belongs on the floor night after night finally. A much needed win by the Raptors as they not only built up a huge lead, but were able to hold on and beat a team that they should not beat. Happy New Years all around.

Sunday, January 4th, 2009 Raptors vs. Magic

Raptors 108
Magic 102

Any time Dwight Howard comes to town, the Raptors seem hold their breath and Sunday was no different. With the first 9 points of the game for the Magic, he seemed on a mission to show Chris Bosh and the Raptors why this team has gone 26 – 5 since dropping the first two games of the season. 39 points were not enough to secure the victory as he was unable to make the free throws the Raptors were more than happy to surrender to him as he missed 7 from the line. The Raptors were 23 – 24 with Chris Bosh making 13 – 14 while collecting 23 points for the game. The Magic were 17 – 24 and lost by 6. There is not a lot of other reasons why this game was won or lost as the teams were pretty even though the Raptors were +6 in the paint despite 39 from Superman. Rashard Lewis scored 20 and Jameer Nelson added 15 while Hedo Turkoglu had only 9 on the afternoon. The Raptors were +8 rebounding and +2 in turnovers while Roko Ukic scored 12 and offered up 7 assists on the game, Will Solomon starting for the injured Jose Calderon had 11 points and 4 assists and was able to control the flow effectively. Anthony Parker had 26 points as he spent the afternoon scoring at will as he took the ball strong to the rim and shot 13 – 16 on the day and seems to have returned to the offensive form having had a good week at both ends of the floor. His return to form is critical for this team as the new year begins. Andrea Bargnani making his 3rd start at Center scored 18 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and added 3 assists to a balanced offense that again saw 5 guys with 10+ points.

Coming up this week are the Bucks, the Wizards and the Grizzlies, it will be interesting to see how much momentum we can carry from this week.

Posted on: November 19, 2008 9:44 am
 

Raptors - Magic - A night to Forget

Well, our fears were realized last night! Jose Calderon is the piece that is holding this team together. Chris Bosh had a monster game and Jermaine O'Neal played a solid game on Dwight Howard and we get our butts handed to us. The Raptors can not continue to turn the ball over and for the third game in a row rack up 20+ T/O’s with 24. That, along with 12 steals and 2 – 14 from outside after missing the first 12 was just too many wasted chances to hold the 10 point lead they worked hard to get. Will Solomon scored 10 points but caused 7 turnovers with only 4 assists. That just won’t cut it in the NBA.

After being + 6 rebounds most of the first half as our front line played tough inside frustrating Dwight Howard and keeping him to 4 points in the first half, something happened and they forgot to stop watching CB try to win the game by himself as they became stagnant on offense with no ball movement at all. The Magic scorers began to just out play our pathetic play on the perimeter. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis started to hit outside shots and create wide, and I do mean WIDE open looks from the corners. Andrea Bargnani was unable to create any problems as Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick moved the ball and scored at will.

A tough night for the Raptors, but it was good to see that we are getting solid play from our front as we had hoped. The biggest thing we saw last night was how tough it is for Roko Ukic and Will Solomon to step in and be a PG in this league. Redick has taken 3 years to develop from and NCAA star to an adequate replacement for Mickael Pietrus. A very good decision by Van Gundy to start Redick as we could offer him Anthony Parker who looks very tired these days. Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono look so out of place without Jose to create the open shot for them. Both have a long way to go to keep their playing time up as they are quickly becoming liabilities when they are on the floor.

Here’s hoping tonight they will not remember last night against the Heat.

Posted on: November 17, 2008 10:14 am
 

Raptors - Magic Pregame Thoughts

The Raptors head to Orlando to take on the Magic after beating the Heat Sunday afternoon. The Magic are coming off a win against the Bobcats in a game that saw Dwight Howard score 4 points and collect 7 rebounds in just 26 minutes before fouling out. Hedo Turkoglu lead the team with 20. The Raptors will have to continue the front court pressure to keep Dwight Howard off balance and off his game to take advantage of our front court again. Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal will need to work inside against Howard and Turkoglu as well as Rashard Lewis in the SF position. He is bringing 17 points and 7 rebounds to the floor. Should Sam put Andrea Bargnani at the SF position again, the front lines of both teams will provide us a very entertaining game.

The back-court of the Magic with Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietris will test our back court of Will Solomon and Anthony Parker as both are quick and love to attack the lane. Should Jose Calderon be available and 100%, then the back-courts should be about even and the game will fall into the hands of our front line. The game could hinge on substitutions and keeping the guys fresh and keeping the Magic off balance on defense as our guys all bring a different intensity and skill set to the floor. With JO averaging 13 points and 9 boards and CB4 averaging 25 and 10 we have the ability to keep most front courts working very hard on defense. The hallmark of Dwight and the Magic is defense with Howard averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds and Hedo adding 17.5 and 5 boards, our guys will have to work together to keep them playing hard at both ends. Howard is averaging 4.5 blocks per game which will hopefully make our guys aware of where he is and keep the ball moving as they did Sunday.

Keys to the game.

First and foremost, we will need the inspired play we got from our bench guys. Jamario Moon will need to play with the intensity he did against the Heat. Jason Kapono brought energy and some smooth shooting to the game. Perhaps neither of these guys should start as they could be great weapons off the bench. If we can get Kris Humphries to provide the same level of play in support of JO and Chris, this team will be able to put Andrea Bargnani at the SF and create havoc on the wing against smaller guys.

To win the game, the Raptors will have to keep Dwight Howard off the glass and out of the game defensively. That means ball movement and moving Jermaine and Chris in and out of the paint all night. This Raptors team loves the high – low game and will need it to work well against this mobile Magic front line. Andrea or Jamario or Jason will have to keep Rashard Lewis from bombing all night. One of the 3 or all of them will need to be in his face when he has the ball challenging him to drive. With our interior guys playing solid defensively, we need to keep him off the arc. Our guards will have to provide the solid play we got from them, as well, they will need to find a way to shut down the solid tandem the Magic provide. The game will give Solomon, Roko Ukic and Anthony Parker the opportunity to show they can be the stoppers defensively. Our guards won't be able to give up the ball so easily as 24 points off of turnovers will kill us against this team, or most teams in this league.

I think that we have the chance of taking both games in Florida and I would love to see the guys keep playing solid team defense. Our offense will take care of itself.

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