Tag:Nuggets
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 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: January 1, 2009 1:24 pm
 

Raptors - Nuggets - A Game in Review

New Year’s brings with it a time to reflect on the year that was and unfettered hope for the year about to commence. Wednesday evening at the ACC in Toronto, the Raptors held their collective breath as they hosted the Denver Nuggets in the rematch of the 39 point loss suffered in Denver on December 2nd. To open and close a December in which this team went 4 – 12 after losing another very winnable game against the Nuggets seems to be appropriate.

Heading into the game without Jason Kapono and Jermaine O’Neal sitting with leg injuries, this already undermanned team began the game under extreme pressure up front and would need huge games from Andrea Bargnani and either Anthony Parker or Jamario Moon who would be given the task of trying to slow down Carmelo Anthony. At some point, someone on this team that plays the 2 or 3 position needs to decide that they are embarrassed to be schooled every night. At this point, it seems, this Raptors team play 3 on 5 at both ends of the floor night after night. With Jason out, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon would draw the tough job of covering J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony who would combine with Linas Kleiza and Dahntay Jones to total 50 points and 14 rebounds while the Raptors would get decent games from Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon, Joey Graham was only able to add 6 points to Parker’s 12 and Moon’s 10 for a difference of -22 from the off-guard/wing position while collecting 13 rebounds as a group. At this point, there really isn’t much else to add as our inability again to defend the wing/perimeter game allowed this smaller quicker Nuggets team to open up the inside for Nene who scored 21 points mostly inside. The Raptors again were dominated in the paint giving up 50 points in the paint while holding this running team to only 10 points off the break while Chris Anderson had a double double off of the bench. That improvement was a small victory as this Raptor teams any positive signs they can find right now. As I watched this game, it became very clear to me that this group of guys has decided that losing is what they do best. I can understand Jay’s frustration after calling a time out and walking away from a time out in the third after getting into bonus 8 minutes left in the quarter and then not even taking the ball to the rim until Chris Bosh hit the line with about 2:30 left. These guys gave the game away in that stretch committing turnovers and jacking up stupid shot after stupid shot, it’s no wonder Jay was screaming at them. Not much a coach can do when the players won’t do the obvious small things you need to do as a team that will put you in a position to win. Again in the 4th after bringing the game back to within 1 possession, they again tried to be the Lakers or the Hornets or the Spurs and began to settle for 17 – 25 foot jump shots. I am not sure what the numbers for the 4th look like but I suspect they shot less that 40% for the quarter despite scoring 30 points. I am pretty sure that our bench must be held to account on this as well as Will Solomon, Kris Humphries, Jake Voskuhl, Joey Graham and Anthony Parker were again weak to start the second quarter offensively. Their defense was decent, but the lack of consistent offense in the 2nd and 4th quarters puts the fragile group of starters under the gun to outplay opponents. Last night, the Nuggets bench outscored the Raptors bench 36 – 17 and was ultimately the difference in the game. Turnovers cost this team the game again as the Nuggets were +7 in points off turnovers.

With Jermaine O’Neal down, Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani all stepped their games up combining for 68 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists. They also combined for 8 of the teams 12 turnovers, most on weak entry passes from Jose. Overall, they found out last night how useless Jason Kapono has been as they were 10 – 24 from outside the arc and sure didn’t miss his lack of foot speed against this quick Nuggets team. These guys have not hit bottom yet as they are not desperate in their mode of play, they still look as if they don’t want to pay the price to be even a .500% team at this point. They give up way too much on the perimeter and they have no bench play that is worth talking about. With games against the Magic and the Rockets on the horizon, this team could easily be 10 games under .500 before games against the Bucks, Wizards and the Grizzlies next week. This team has no heart, no character and no desire to pay the price to improve and look to be awaiting a saviour in 2010. The way this team is structured, it will be a miracle if they can keep Chris Bosh and there is little chance of us landing either Dwyane Wade or LeBron James as there is no realistic opinion that they would move to this country for many economic reasons. The Raptors look resigned and the season of hope has quickly turned to disappointment. Happy New Year all!

Posted on: December 29, 2008 5:41 pm
 

Raptors - Week 10 in Preview

Tonight, the Raptors head to the Bay area for the conclusion of a dismal road trip that saw them lose to the Thunder, the Mavericks, the Spurs and the Trail Blazers while scoring victories against the Kings and the Clippers. Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, Tony Parker, Brandon Roy and LeMarcus Aldridge all played top notch games against this struggling Raptors team that saw great games by Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal and some solid play off the bench by Andrea Bargnani and some awful play by Jason Kapono and Joey Graham. Jamario Moon is coming off a good week on the glass and looks to contribute more in the up tempo games to come this week. Here are the games as I see them this week.

Monday, December 29, 2008 Raptors @ Golden State Warriors

The Warriors come into the game after a win against the Celtics on Boxing day followed Sunday with a thumping by the Lakers in Los Angeles. With losses against the Magic and the Heat, this team comes into the game with a 9 – 23 record and with the addition of Jamal Crawford, this team can score in transition and do as the Celtics found out. With Corey Maggette and Monta Ellis out, the Warriors have been lead by Stephen Jackson and Andris Biedrins and have 8 players that average more than 9 points per game. The Raptors will have to play fantastic transition defense to keep this team in check as they did to open the season. A win tonight would bring the road trip to a 3 – 3 close. Not the best, but 3 much needed wins to say the least.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 Raptors vs. Nuggets

The Nuggets carry a 20 – 11 record into the week with a win against the Knicks last night and a game against the Hawks who have returned to early season form and are now sitting with a 19 – 10 record, in 4th place in the East. The Nuggets are lead by Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups with Nene and J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin, this team is one of the top teams in the league and will be a difficult team to match up with as the earlier blow out indicates. Let’s hope we can keep this one close and our back court with Jose Calderon and Jason Kapono or Anthony Parker can provide a spark to this game.

Friday, January 2, 2009 Raptors vs. Rockets

With Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Rafer Alston, Ron Artest Luis Scola, this 20 – 11 team is tied with the Nuggets in the west and brings a lot of fire power to any game they play. The Raptors will have to get strong play from Jamario Moon and Joey Graham to contain Ron Artest and the rest of this band of scorers. Tracy McGrady is hurting and is questionable right now, but with games against the Wizards and the Bucks, he will probably be ready to play Friday.

This will be a character testing week for the Raptors who have shown little so far this season. Guys like Will Solomon and Joey Graham and Jason Kapono should be realizing that their jobs are hanging by a thread with this team and should begin to step it up. Jose Calderon needs to take his game back up to the level he was earlier this season, but with Jermaine and Chris demanding the ball everywhere on the floor, his job has required a lot more patience and better decision making which has failed him at times this past month. Should be a very interesting week for Raptors fans as we continue to sense change coming earlier than later.

Posted on: December 7, 2008 8:58 pm
 

Raptors - Week 6 in Review - Transition Week.

This past week in the Raptors schedule saw the end of an era, the beginning of a new one, and 4 games this team will need to quickly forget to begin to build some sort of success with the rest of this season. Here is the week in review as I saw it!

After wins against the Bobcats and the Hawks, the Raptors embarked on a road trip which had stops against the Lakers, the Nuggets and the Jazz who are all at or near the top of the western conference and at or near the top of their game. Though they were coming off two wins, the Raptors had begun to develop nasty habits on both offense and defense that teams had begun to exploit. Defensively, the team was struggling to maintain leads and maintain any sort of consistent effort in the area of perimeter defense. Heading into games that feature some of the premier perimeter players in the league right now, the Raptors needed to find someone to step up and take that role to heart or find a way to play better team defense. With Jermaine O’Neal still nursing his sore ankle, prospects heading west were ominous at best. With the inconsistent play, it was clear that Sam Mitchell’s job was hanging by a very thin wire and he was on a very short leash at this point.

Heading into Los Angeles the Raptors started the tough 3 game trek against the Lakers looking to see if they could elevate their game to a new level. The first quarter was exciting and with a shoot out looming, the quarter ended 34 – 29 for the Lakers. After that point, the Lakers pulled away and over powered the short handed Raptors leading 61 – 51 at the half. The Raptors showed a lot of heart outscoring the Lakers 30 – 29 in the third, but the Raptors were never really able to mount any kind of sustained scoring as the Lakers would create a turnover or grab a rebound and run the floor scoring lay up after layup on the slower Raptors. The Lakers score 18 fast break points to the Raptors 7 and with Kobe on the bench for the 4th quarter they pulled ahead for good with their bench out playing the Raptors all over the floor.

Lakers game stats

Kobe Bryant - 23 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
Pau Gasol - 24 points, 8 rebounds
Andrew Bynum - 18 points, 10 rebounds
Trevor Ariza - 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Lamar Odom - 3 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals

47/92 - 51.1%
15 offensive boards - 54 total
34 assists
10 steals

Team Rebounds - 10
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 13
Fastbreak Points - 18
Points In The Paint - 58
Second Chance Points – 30

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers
Andrea Bargnani - 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks
Jose Calderon - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists
Anthony Parker - 19 points, 2 assists
Jamario Moon - 11 points, 3 assists, 3 steals
Jason Kapono - 11 points
Joey Graham - 7 points, 4 rebounds - 3 offensive
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal
Kris Humphries - 3 rebounds, 3 steals

34/88 - 38.6% - 11/25 - 44% 3 points
36 rebounds - 11 offensive
23 assists
13 turnovers
11 steals
6 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 17
Fastbreak Points - 7
Points In The Paint - 32
Second Chance Points – 10

As we can see, this game was lost on the glass with the Raptors ending up -18 for the night but a more telling -4 on the offensive glass. We were -11 in assists, and -26 on points in the paint. The Lakers ran the ball at will and scored on open shot after open shot in transition. This game was a good effort, but it was very obvious to most observers that this Raptors team had no clue defensively both in transition and on the perimeter. It was too much to ask our thin front line to compete with the solid and deep Lakers squad who seemed to play as hard as they needed to until they got up a few in the 3rd, then let the very talented bench take over and finish this game.

Next up for the Raptors, the Nuggets were waiting. With Jermaine O’Neal set to return, this game offered a hope that the Raptors would have some strength inside again. Though he provided 12 points, it was no where near enough to slow down the Nuggets and this game was over very early and was the last game in the Sam Mitchell era for the Raptors organization. Here are the game stats.

Nuggets game stats

Carmelo Anthony - 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
Chauncey Billups - 24 points, 14 assists
Nene - 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks
Kenyon Martin - 11 points, 4 rebounds
Linas Kleiza - 12 points, 4 rebounds
J.R. Smith - 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
Dahntay Jones - 5 assists, 9 points

49/82 - 59.8% including 13/24 or 54.2% from 3 point range
46 rebounds - 5 offensive
37 assists


Team Rebounds - 11
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 16
Fastbreak Points - 27
Points In The Paint - 50
Second Chance Points – 10

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 24 points, 12 rebounds - 5 offensive, 5 assists
Jose Calderon - 9 points, 7 assists
Jermaine O'Neal - 12 points, 3 rebounds
Roko Ukic - 13 points
Andrea Bargnani - 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Kris Humphries - 4 points, 8 rebounds - 3 offensive
Jason Kapono - 0 points

34/93 - 36.6% including 5/17 - 29.4% 3 point shots
39 rebounds - 12 offensive
21 Assists
10 turnovers
6 steals
4 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 8
Fastbreak Points - 17
Points In The Paint - 28
Second Chance Points – 9

The Raptors were outplayed all over the floor and the lack of both creativity and any defensive pressure at all cost Sam his job, signaling the beginning of the Jay Triano era. We did see a vast improvement in the play of Roko, but again, this Raptors team was out rebounded by 7, but on a night when the Nuggets shot almost 60%, they had no real need to rebound to control the game. This game was ugly early and most turned it off by half-time, I watched Amadeus!

Friday took us to Utah to take on the Jazz who were as vulnerable as they have been all season long. With Carlos Boozer out and Andrei Kirilenko recouping from an ankle injury, the Raptors had an opportunity to control the game inside. That never happened. Mehmet Okur showed why he is considered one of the best shooting Center in the game today. He scored from inside and from outside, short jumpers, fade away, off the dribble and off the break. Jermaine O’Neal had no ability to stop him as he had no help any where. When Bosh was on him, he had shots from 7 to 10 feet and very little pressure from the weakside. I guess defensive bad habits and bad attitudes take more than 1 or 2 practices to correct. Most of the time teams that have a coaching change seem to take to the floor with a bit more energy and a bit more focus in response to the firing. This was not the case for the Raptors. They looked listless and helpless all night long. Not the type of response Bryan Colangelo was looking for and I am sure Jay expected more from his guys, but I guess we can excuse them for not wanting to compete, but the effort they played with was awful. Here are the game stats.

Jazz game stats

Paul Millsap - 17 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks
Mehmet Okur - 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Deron Williams - 14 points, 5 assists, 2 steals
Ronnie Brewer - 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals
Andrei Kirilenko - 7 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Matt Harpring - 14 points, 7 rebounds including 4 offensive
Kostas Koufos - 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal

49/95 - 51.6%
13 offensive rebounds 52 overall
31 assists
12 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 25
Fastbreak Points - 9
Points In The Paint - 66
Second Chance Points – 15

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 18 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers
Jose Calderon - 10 points, 8 assists, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 13 points, 5 rebounds
Jermaine O'Neal - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Andrea Bargnani -7 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Jason Kapono - 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Jamario Moon - 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Will Solomon - 7 points
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 4 assists, 1 steal

36/82 - 43.9% - 4/17 for 23.5% from 3 pt range
38 rebounds - 3 offensive
23 assists
23 turnovers
8 steals
10 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 16
Points In The Paint - 44
Second Chance Points – 2

Allowing 66 points in the paint is inexcusable at an NBA level. The Raptors were beaten by a very good team, and they looked unable to run simple plays out of an offensive set. The coaching staff has a lot of work to do.

Sunday, the Raptors hosted the young Trail Blazers featuring 2 players that Bryan Colangelo MIGHT have drafted rather than Andrea Bargnani. With both the 2nd overall pick after Andrea, LeMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy drafted 6th in the lineup, one can only wonder what might have been. Here we have yet another game that the Raptors opened up a 16 point lead only to see it disappear as yet another team exploits this teams inability to guard on the perimeter. Steve Blake looked like Steve Kerr out there and the Raptors had no way to hold on to the lead. This game will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many Raptors fans as we seem to be seeing the beginning of a Chris Bosh meltdown underway. During a very tight third quarter that saw the Raptors recover from a 10 point deficit to take a lead, we saw Chris Bosh decide that he was the best option from outside the arc with Jason Kapono open to his left. Jay Triano seemed to bench him after that selfish play and he was on the bench for the first 8 minutes of the 4th while Joey Graham and Jason Kapono and Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon and Jermaine O’Neal were able to build a 5 point lead with 3 minutes left. Chris Bosh came in and although he did manage a block late, he scored only 4 points in the second half, was blocked twice and turned the ball over and took fade away shots over a much smaller defender too many times to consider it coincidence. I have never seen him play for himself so much and on the final inbound pass, he tried to dribble from outside the arc with a wide open Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon in his line of sight, he threw up a horrible shot over LaMarcus, looking for a foul I guess. I have not often seen him play so poorly when the team needed him to compete. I hope that they can work things out as he is too valuable to this team to watch him play this way. I hope this is not an indication of any more unrest within the walls of this locker room. Here are the game stats

Trail Blazers game stats

Brandon Roy - 15 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
LeMarcus Aldridge - 20 points, 8 rebounds including 6 offensive, 2 blocks
Steve Blake - 19 points including 5/8 3 point baskets, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Greg Oden - 10 points, 10 rebounds - 5 Offensive, 2 blocks
Rudy Fernandez - 16 points, 8 rebounds - 3 Offensive

36/82 - 43.9% including 12/24 - 50% 3 point shots
48 rebounds including 18 offensive
19 assists
3 steals
5 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 12
Fastbreak Points - 2
Points In The Paint - 24
Second Chance Points – 20

Raptors game stats

Jermaine O'Neal - 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 6 blocks
Chris Bosh - 19 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block
Jose Calderon - 15 points, 13 assists
Jason Kapono - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Joey Graham - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
Andrea Bargnani - 5 points, 4 rebounds

38/77 - 49.4% including 8/17 - 47.1% from 3 point range
31 rebounds - 4 offensive
26 assists
8 turnovers
7 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 8
Points In The Paint - 34
Second Chance Points – 10

I think there were a few things that I really liked from this game and a few things that concern me greatly. Once again, the Raptors were -17 on the glass with only 4 offensive boards while giving up 18 offensive boards to a very active Trail Blazers team. Offensive boards reflect the heart of a team and the Raptors played this game with no desire to attack the offensive glass. That one fact alone keeps them in a very small window to grow as a team offensively as they could have sealed this game late with a couple of tough rebounds and a couple of loose ball plays that the Blazers seemed to be the only team wanting the ball most of the game. We gave up 12/24 or 50% from 3 point range to a team that is known as a good shooting team. Steve Blake, like Vince Carter, killed us with a huge 3 point shot on a very similar play that the Nets ran on us, maybe the Raptors are the only team that doesn’t dissect game film to figure opponents tendencies out before the game is played. Jay did a great job with the rotation after the team had lost the lead. They continued to work the ball around and a balanced offense was the result with 5 guys in double digits scoring. Watching the last 3 minutes and the meltdown of Chris Bosh as he was very much in the way the second half, was difficult after watching them battle hard to put themselves in a place to be one rebound away from beating this very good team. We did only have 8 turnovers which was great but our lack of perimeter defense killed us again.

As I started this by saying, it was a very difficult week for the Raptors and we played 4 very good teams and perhaps the western conference champion and we struggled in every aspect of the game. Some interesting facts I found this past week by the numbers.

1) 49.5 – average number of points in the paint given up in the past 4 games. This means that over the past week we have given up a lot of very easy baskets. With the Raptors averaging only 34.5 points in the paint a game, that is a huge disparity and one of many reasons why we struggle so much from game to game.
2) 181/351 - 51.5% - the combined opposition field goal percentage. You can’t let teams light you up every night. Not only are the Raptors getting beat inside, our lack of solid perimeter defense is reflected in the high shooting percentage. For a team like the Raptors that struggles on offense, we can’t continue to let teams score 1 out of every 2 shots they take.
3) 50 rebounds given up per game with 12.75 Offensive boards per game allowed. We can not expect to succeed on any kind of consistent basis giving up those kinds of numbers on the glass. Rebounding reflects the heart of a team defensively, from the numbers shown here, we have a long way to go.


Though it was a tough week, I think that the move to Jay was a step in the right direction and the game Sunday showed that the team does have the talent to compete should they chose to, but I am afraid the tendency towards mediocrity this team has displayed so far this season has become systemic in nature and will be very tough to overcome from the top to the bottom of this roster.

This week we also saw a much improved Joey Graham begin to reveal some character and some heart. I think he is ready to start as what we have had just isn’t good enough and we have some very tough games coming quickly. Roko Ukic has begun to show us the skill he has and as a young guard, has provided some much needed rest for Jose. Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono had some good minutes scoring this week as did Jamario Moon. Here’s hoping that those guys continue their improvement on both sides of the floor. Andrea Bargnani is becoming a force defensively but has paid the price offensively. It is a very difficult thing to balance, but this team needs him to score as well as provide tough defense, but the improved defense will provide him opportunities to score in transition more as the tempo of this team improves offensively and in transition.

If you made it through this, thanks and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Posted on: December 3, 2008 12:00 pm
 

Raptors - Nuggets - a post mortum

There is very little that can be added to the result of last night’s game in Denver. The Nuggets were lead by Chauncey Billups with 24 points and 14 assists and Carmelo Anthony with 23 points and 6 rebounds. Nene added 19 points and 11 rebounds and Kenyon Martin added 11 points and 4 rebounds. Linus Kleiza and J.R. Smith were able to add 12 and 14 points to the mix. In and of itself, these totals seem to be average game totals and don’t reveal a few things that the Raptors didn’t want exposed.

First, some good things I saw for the Raptors last night, and yes, there were a few. First, Chris Bosh was able to score 24 points and 12 rebounds, though he had 10 rebounds in the first half. Roko Ukic scored 13 and offered a glimmer of hope that this team might have a backup point guard soon and rest Jose Calderon who struggled again on both ends of the floor, but mainly on defense as he was just clearly out hustled all night long as the Nuggets back court ran at will on him scoring many easy lay ups in transition or on penetration from the top of the arc. Joey Graham looked to herald the return of bad Joey again but ended up with 10 points and 5 rebounds. Kris Humphries grabbed 8 rebounds to make up for Jermaine O’Neal who looked lost most of the night and only grabbed 2. Somehow, the Raptors were able to grab 12 offensive boards to the Nuggets 5, yet were unable to convert most of them into buckets as the Nuggets were much quicker to recover inside and we seem unable to hit a 3 foot or shorter shot last night, well, most nights for that matter. After a first half with 8 turnovers, they finished with 10 as well as 6 steals, but we are still unwilling to run the ball and convert those opportunities into layups which has been a problem all year. Did anyone else notice that the Nuggets made their runs when Andrea Bargnani was not guarding Carmelo? A very solid defensive effort by the big man again as he continues to grow in confidence and show the talent he has for the game.

Some of the ugly things I saw before I turned it off and watched Amadeus with my girl friend. Jermaine O’Neal looked awful on defense and very slow. I suspect he is not ready to play at 100% as Jose Calderon isn’t at this point either. Chris Bosh and Jose both have not played well defensively and that continues to be a huge problem for us. Anytime a team can shoot 59% against you, you have serious issues with defense. A team can get hot outside and kill you there as the Nuggets were 54% from outside hitting 13 of 24 shots from downtown, but the Raptors were beaten in the paint again as the Nuggets continued to attack the lane at will. The Nuggets scored 50 points in the paint to the Raptors 28. They scored 27 fast break points to the Raptors 17. As well, the Nuggets score 16 points off of turnovers to the Raptors 8. There is your 40 point loss in a nutshell. The Raptors were out-hustled and out-played and out coached all night long, again. The team looked disillusioned and bewildered all night long and had no answer to any challenge laid before them. I am not sure any of it can be blamed on the elevation as they continued to shoot and at one point early in the game they were around 28% from the field with NO intention of moving the ball inside. Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono are just not able to provide this team with that level of outside scoring, yet they were not willing to go inside as both Andrea Bargnani and Jermaine O’Neal were in foul trouble early, again.

Overall, it was a horrible game to watch and must not have been very much fun to play. With the Jazz up next on Friday and Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur at home where they don’t lose very often, the Raptors will have to work much harder than they did last night. Carlos Boozer is listed as out right now and Andrei Kirilenko is listed as questionable leaving them vulnerable to a solid performance from out front line. Are they willing to step up and play? We shall see.

Posted on: December 1, 2008 1:29 pm
 

Raptors - Week 6 Preview

This week sees the Raptors continue their western trek after a loss to the Lakers in L.A. Sunday night. From there, they head to Denver to take on the rejuvenated Chauncey Billups lead Nuggets. With Carmelo Anthony injured and questionable for the game, the Nuggets come into the game riding a 2 game winning streak with 4 wins in the last 5 games with a loss to the Hornets last week and victories over the Bulls, the Rockets, the Clippers and the Timberwolves. At 12 – 6, they trail only the Lakers in the west and are 5th over all in victories this season in the league with the Trail Blazers. Since trading Allen Iverson to the Pistons for Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets are 8 – 3 having lost only to the Lakers, the Hornets and the Cavaliers in that period.

Without Carmelo Anthony, this Nuggets team will start the following lineup:

C- Nene
PF – Kenyon Martin
SF – Linus Kleiza
SG – Dahntay Jones
PG – Chauncey Billups

While the Raptors will continue with the same lineup until Jermaine O’Neal returns, which we do not know at this time.

C – Andrea Bargnani
PF – Chris Bosh
SF – Jamario Moon
SG – Anthony Parker
PG – Jose Calderon

With some of the defensive strides the Raptors have made this past week, I see this game as very winnable at this point. I like the matchups in the front court and feel we have the rotation to attack at all three positions all night. With Anthony Parker not having a top 10 player to guard all night, I look to him to build on his 19 point game against Kobe Bryant and perhaps be the difference in the game at both ends of the floor as he should be able to help in rotation much easier not having a 30 point threat as a check all night. Up front, I look for Andrea to keep Nene busy all night both inside and out. He is a very good defender both on the block and quite able to guard Andrea outside as well. Another double double from Andrea would go a long way to make Chris Bosh have the room he didn’t have against Andrew Bynum. I am not sure that Kenyon Martin can keep up with Chris and I look for Chris to attack the hoop and make K-Mart stop him. I can see CB4 going to the line 15 times or more.

Chauncey Billups will be the biggest problem for us as Jose Calderon will have a lot of trouble with the bigger guard as he seems to always do. With Chauncey playing at a very high level right now, I see this as our biggest problem to deal with. It will require all of the defensive improvements we have seen the Raptors make to keep this team out of transition and make them work the half court game as much as possible. I look forward to a very good game by both teams but I think that we match up well against this Nuggets lineup and have a solid shot at picking up a victory, but it will require some solid rebounding and transition defense for that to happen.

From here we travel to meet the Utah Jazz who come into the week 11 – 7 over all after going 2 – 2 last week defeating the Kings and the Grizzlies but losing to the Bulls and the Nets as Devin Harris went off for 34 points. They will play games against the Kings and the Heat back to back Tuesday and Wednesday before hosting the Raptors on Friday. With Carlos Boozer missing the last 6 games, the Jazz have struggled to a 3 – 3 record having lost to the Bulls, the Spurs and the Nets over that period. Having Deron Williams back has been a huge lift for them at a time when they needed a boost.

After this game, the Raptors are home to the Trail Blazers who are sitting at 12 – 6 having beaten the Pistons on Sunday night. They bring a 4 game win streak into this week and are tied for second over all in the west as of Monday’s writing. This game will be a huge test for the Raptors as they return home from a road trip against the other 3 top 4 teams in the west! The Trail Blazers have games against the Knicks, the Wizards and the Celtics before the visit Toronto as the fifth game of a five game swing through the eastern conference. With Brandon Roy averaging 21 points and LeMarcus Aldridge averaging 16, this team is young and very much on the rise in the west. Let’s hope by Sunday, they will have been worn out by the Celtics and Jermaine O’Neal has returned healthy.

So this week we play teams with a combined 35 – 19 record. 49 – 20 if you add the Lakers. Let’s just say that if we can keep getting better as the team looks like it has, then this road trip will have helped us achieve that goal. Can we win them all? Of course, most games are not won or lost on the floor, but before the game in the locker room. These games will test the heart of the Raptors and Sam Mitchell. Let’s hope we see the team continue to challenge and grow as a team.

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