Raptors Rewind- Going Hollywood Edition

So the challenge tonight for the Toronto Raptors was a large one. They were up against the best team in the NBA lead by the defending M.V.P. Kobe Bryant has had a welcome documented history of success against the Raptors. Every time he plays this team for the rest of his career people will reference the 81 points he scored against this team. But that was an entirely different Raptor squad. Chris Bosh is a lot better now than he was then. Chris would need to show that as he would be playing once again with out J.O. He was out again for the 3rd straight game. The help for Bosh has come from unlikely source in Joey Graham over the last two games. Jason Kapono who played at UCLA and is a L.A guy will also look to build off his 16 point performance in the last game. But let's be honest the Lakers have scary depth and for evidence of that you have a talent player like Lamar Odom coming off the bench. Nothing is impossible but the Raptors would need an amazing performance just to have a chance to get a win.

The Lakers are 13-1 which is truly impressive. That is being done with Kobe scoring less and playing less minutes. Chris Bosh can only imagine what less minutes feels like. He has been playing heavy minutes and using that floor time to put up some impressive performances. No doubt mission number one for Phil Jackson's Lakers will be to stop CB4. Jackson respects Bosh as much as anyone. He in fact was fined a few years back for saying he would love to have him in Laker gold and purple. So with an A-list crowd in the building it was time to play some basketball.

1st Quarter

Kobe Bryant could make some history tonight. If he got 38 points he would become the youngest player in NBA history to reach 22,000 points in his career. The Raptors were in the black alternates in this one and they would win the tip but ended up losing possession Andrew Bynum would score for the Lakers. Jose Calderon would respond with a drive and score on the other end. We were off and running in L.A. Chris Bosh wanted to rip down the net at Staples and he tried to go in and dunk. He would be fouled and only get 1-2 from the line, 4-3 Lakers early. Kobe would get his first two point of the night from the line and Lakers were still in front by 3 early on.

Andrea Bargnani had his first two of the night. That would be answer by Pau Gasol. Andrea would then get a 3 pointer on the other end. Raptors still trailed 13-10. Raptors showed some hustle as Bynum would miss, Kobe had the rebound stole away by Jamario Moon. It would lead to a chance from line for Andrea Bargnani. This game was being played at a high tempo. Which would seem to favour the Lakers. But Raptors were hanging in the game early. Anthony Parker would cut the 6 point lead down to three points with a 3-ball. He would unfortunately head to the bench not long after picking up his second foul. But the Raptors would score in transition as Andrea Bargnani would score on a dunk as the trailer on the play. Raptors were down just 19-18 now. Jason Kapono would but the Raptors in front with their first lead of the night at 20-19. Pau Gasol would make that lead short lived. But Jamario Moon answered with a 3-ball. Gasol had another 2 points and it was all even at 23 with just under 5 minute to play in the quarter.

A Derek Fisher 3-ball put the Lakers back in front. Bosh was off to a slow start as he was 1-4 shooting to start this game. But Andrea Bargnani had picked up the slack looking good early. He had 8 points on 3-4 shooting for the Raps. Jose Calderon looked more healthy than he has in the this last stretch since his hamstring injury. He drove and scored a basket looking more quicker and effective. But the Lakers would respond as Kobe Bryant had a long mid-range jumper. Pau Gasol would then score in transition. Bosh had a jam to try and shake off his slow start. He went right at Pau Gasol just like he did in China when it was U.S.A vs Spain. Jason Kapono would make a running jumper. Pau Gasol had 12 for the Lakers but Raptors were still in it down 32-29 after 1 quarter.

2nd Quarter

So far so good if you are the Raptors. Still in the game and able to find some scoring from a number of sources shooting 48% for the quarter. Both teams would miss as Bynum was unsuccessful on one end and Bosh on the other. Paris Hilton's favourite Lakers Sasha Vujacic had an easy bucket down low in the paint. Chris Bosh would head to the bench for a break, Jose Calderon was already there as well. Could the reserves lead by Roko Ukic at the point stay in the game. Well Joey Graham was doing what he had been of late in driving to the basket. He would be rewarded with a trip to the line. He would get 1-2 and Raptors were down 36-33. Andrea Bargnani not a reserve but on the floor would get a tap back to score another 2 for him on the night. When these two teams met in pre-season the Laker reserves crushed the Raptor reserves and it was the key to victory on that night. Perhaps the Raptors remember that as to this point they were holding their own. Pre-Season can mean a little something?

Jordan Farmar had a big game in that pre-season tilt and he was on the floor and had a score. Roko Ukic would respond with a rare score for him. Kris Humphries forced a shot that would get rejected he would hustle back and commit the foul on the laker break that resulted. Laker made both from the line and had a 42-37 lead. Chris Bosh was back in but Jordan Farmar hit a 3-ball to extend the lead to 8 points and that was cause for Sam Mitchell to call a time out.

A Kapono miss and it would go out of bounds. The Lakers would take that next possession and make the lead climb to 10 points. Another failed trip and Lakers again convert and were up by a dozen 49-37. Soccer star David Bekham was among the famous on lookers that were watching the hometown Lakers start to pull away. On of the reason for that beyond the Raptors struggles on the offense, was the Lakers getting on the offensive glass with 7 rebounds giving them second chances to score. Lakers lead 51-38 as Chris Bosh would look to change his teams fate getting to the line via a Bynum foul. He made both but Luke Walton had an answer with a pass to Kobe Bryant leading to a score for Lakers on the other end of the floor. Still Bosh was not going to give it up as he would hit a jump shot to make the score 53-44 Lakers.

Still 3 minutes left in the half. Kobe Bryant was having a good start and he made another basket and had 15 points of the 38 points it would take to put him in the history books. But Jamario Moon would find his way to the line and make a pair. Andrea Bargnani making the play on defense with the block. Bosh would find an open Anthony Parker would would make a 3 pointer. Kobe Bryant would respond with the next 4 points for the Lakers. Excuse me let's make that 6 straight points. The Raptors had climbed back to within 4 points and thanks to Kobe that lead was now back to 10 points at 61-51. A Bryant miss but another one off those key offensive rebounds gathered in by Lamar Odom. It would give Derek Fisher a chance to make the lead a dozen at the half but he could not deliver. Still like the good teams do the Lakers closed out the quarter strong and had a 61-51 lead to take to halftime as a result.

3rd Quarter

It would be key for Raptors to start the second half strong if they had any ideas of pulling off an amazing upset. Lakers were being lead by Gasol and Bryant who had combined for 37 in the first half ( Bryant 21 Gasol 16 ). Bryant would need 17 points in this half to make that bit of history I mentioned off the top. I think my money is on Kobe getting it done based on the first half. Bosh would need to pick it up for his side as he had just 9 point in the first half on him. Andrea Barganani lead the Raptors with 10. More impressive for Bargnani was he had 7 rebounds to go along with that. But the Lakers were killing Toronto on the glass 27-16 with 10 of those on the offensive end.

The second half scoring would start with Andrew Bynum going 1-2 from the line. After Raptors failed to score he would get 2 more points. A Raptor turnover and Lakers made the Raptors pay and they had a 5-0 start to the half and the largest lead of the night at 15 points. That was not the start that Sam Mitchell was looking for from his team. A time out to try to figure out what went wrong in the opening moments of the second half for Toronto.

Chris Bosh would miss on a drive to the basket out of the time out. But a rare empty Laker trip on the offensive end would be taken advantage of by Jamario Moon with a 3 pointer. Another chance to cut into the lead and Chris Bosh had made a 3 pointer. The Lakers answered with a 3-ball for them. But Anthony Parker had the third straight 3 pointer for the Raptors. Despite all of this the Lakers still lead 69-60. A jump ball between point guards would be won by Derek Fisher who had got Jose Calderon upset. But Lakers failed to turn it into points and Anthony Parker would get the 2 pointer this time for the Raptors. Kobe Bryant had seen enough and would make a basket for the Lakers. The Jose Calderon and Fisher war of words continued leading to both getting a technical foul. Calderon looked to get it going for himself he would miss on a 2-ball but he would later make a 3-pointer. The Raptors were back to within 8 points. The Lakers had build the lead back up to 11 prior to the Calderon triple.

Andrew Bynum would get it deep in the paint and after his first attempt was blocked he got it back and jammed it home. Jamario Moon made a sweet pass as it looked like he was going to take a 3 pointer. But he would instead find an open Anthony Parker for the easy lay-up. Later Moon would take a 3-ball as he was wide open and missed badly. But the Lakers would get the rebound and turn it over looking for the long pass to cash in the miss on the other end. Lamar Odom had check in and he had a basket and the Lakers were back on track. The would get another score on a Bryant feed to Gasol. Laker now lead 82-69. The Raptors would turn it over and the Lakers would score again and the Raptors were back to being down 15.

Chris Bosh was struggling as well going only 4-12 from the field on the night. Jason Kapono would get a 3-ball and Lakers would respond with a 2 pointer. But just like earlier the Raptors had Anthony Parker hit a 3 pointer. Raptors were on another run. Jose Calderon would get it to Anthony Parker off a Laker turnover. Parker was slow to get up before he would head to the line. Give Raptors some credit they were not willing to just roll over and die for the Lakers. A last second Jason Kapono shot would bounce around the rim but just not fall. The score was 90-81 and despite a huge effort from the Raptors they in the end could only cut 1 point off the Lakers 10 point halftime lead. Jose Calderon already had a double double with 12 points and 12 assists. Andrea Bargnani also had a double double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. But the Lakers had done a good job at slowing down Chris Bosh and that was a big key. Bosh had 12 points on 12 shot attempts not a good ratio.

4th Quarter

The Raptors were having a great night from behind the 3 point line. They were 10-19 from the field and that had kept them in it some what. But you had the feeling the Lakers were just the better team and could respond when needed to get this win. Bosh's tough night would continue in the 4th quarter as he missed a long jumper to start the 4th quarter for him. Anthony Parker had got to the line he had a rare free throw miss but was leading the Raptor with 19 points at this point. Roko Ukic would drive and score with a unique looking lay up. Raptors had cut the lead down to just 6 points. Sasha would drive and score for the Lakers to get the first points of the quarter for them. Sasha then hooked up Trevor Ariza with a bullet pass for a lay-up. Andre Bynum had a monster jam and the Lakers flex their muscles and go back up by a dozen.

Keep in mind the Lakers were doing this with both Gasol and Bryant watching on and resting. Bynum was at the line now and he pushed the Lakers over 100 with over 7 and half minutes to play. The Lakers were all the way back to a 15 point lead now on an Ariza dunk. The score was 103-88 and the Lakers may not need to have Bryant or Gasol return. Kobe would have to pass on making history but he would gladly trade that for another win for the Lakers. The record of Wilt Chamberlin will likely remain as Kobe showed no signs of returning.

The wind seemed to be out of the Raptors sails as they had really tried hard but just were not good enough. The Lakers had now their largest lead of 19 points. Both teams seemed content to let the reserves play this basketball game to it's finish. The Raptors would be looking for a better fate versus Denver who since bringing in Chancey Billups for a second tour of duty with the Nuggets had looked great. The Nuggets were winners over Rockets earlier 104-94. But they would do it without Carmelo Anthony who left the game with a sore elbow. Perhaps the Raptors could catch a break and avoid Melo. But it would still be a tough task. The Lakers meanwhile were cruising a long with a 110-90 lead. The Raptors had just 3 made field goals in over 10 minutes of action in the 4th quarter. Jack Nicholson was convinced enough to beat the traffic and leave early. But for the Raptors despite maybe wanting to follow him could not. Roko Ukic would get his first NBA 3-ball but it was not memorable as the Lakers win 112-96 in convincing fashion.

The Raptors move on to Denver as mentioned on Tuesday. To see the ugly details of this one the boxscore is below for the brave folks out there that choose to click on it.

Lakers/Raptors Boxscore

Chris Bosh Is Special This Year

I think some Toronto Raptor fans need to stop worrying about where Chris Bosh will be in 2010. They should focus in on what he is doing right now. If they don't they are missing out on what is quickly becoming a special season for the Raptors franchise player. He has been willing his team to victories that have not come easy for the Raptors. I can only imagine what Sam Mitchell must have felt like when he was told is star player was stuck in an elevator and may not make it to A.C.C in time for the game. Some think Sam is coaching for his job. So to be down your best player and the star you acquired in a trade would have been impossible to imagine any kind of success.

Bosh has a great relationship with Mitchell and that is part of the reason Sam has been able to keep his job through all the issues the Raptors have endured over the years. Kevin Garnett give credit to Mitchell for being a mentor for him in Minnesota. Bosh with Mitchell in the role of coach has learned a lot of those same things that Mitchell impressed upon K.G. Chris Bosh deserves much of the credit for all of his success. He works hard and wants to be a winner. He sets goals that some at first thing are not realistic. But Bosh does and shows us all that he is not just about saying it, he is about doing it as well. Still it needs to be said that Sam Mitchell for all that have bad things to say about him. Understand that he has been the guy that has pushed Chris to reach this level. He has every right to smile and feel a part of the success of CB4.

Bosh has just taken his entire game to a new level that we have never seen before. The talk of if Chris Bosh is a true franchise player should be over. The never conversation should be is he one of the true elite players in this league. He played with a lot of the names in that class in his time with team U.S.A. It seems clear that Bosh has learning some things from Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and D-Wade. He feels he belongs in that kind of club of names. He boldly stated that he wanted to be in the M.V.P conversation prior to the season. Well at the end of November just turn on NBA-TV or ESPN and guess what he is. The only thing holding him back is his team's record.

A reader in response to my interview about NBA Live 09 commented that Bosh should be on the cover next year. Vince Carter was once on the cover of a Canadian release of the game. I am pretty sure that was the 2004 game but I could be wrong. A few years ago would I have considered Bosh for being a cover man for the folks at EA? I would not have for a lot of reasons. But in the last 2 years while Bosh has improved on the floor, he also has unleashed his personality on North America. The wacky You Tube Videos and appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Fans also got to see a lot of him in the Olympics both on and off the floor. It all has built him into someone that is known to the degree that I think EA would look at him. He is a guy that likes video games as well. He does admit that he is more of a Madden guy than NBA Live or any other basketball video game. But a trip out to Vancouver may get him into it.

I am not going to put any limits on Chris Bosh. Like he has said that if you set a goal that is a number what happens if you reach it? Why stop there. So why have a number to limit what you can do. I understand that kind of thinking cause I live it in a different way. If I set limits on what I was doing here would I have been able to accomplish all the things I have? It is highly unlikely. That is why I reach out to folks and hope for the best. I don't always get what I am after. But if the effort to do it is not there the chances of getting them to happen are none. Chris Bosh sets a fine example for all people young and old. Never allow yourself to settle. Always push to do more and to be more. There are few people in this world let alone pro sports that deserve titles of being Role Models or Heroes. But I will tell you what...Chris Bosh is both.

Will he win an M.V.P award in his career? No one can say for sure. But if he can be those two things above at the end of the day, if the Award comes his way or not, it means much more to be those things. I am not as willing to call Kobe or Lebron those things. They could be Heroes on the court but with Bosh I am talking on and off the floor. Is Lebron James quest to be a billionaire athlete real the stuff of a role model? I mean sure we all want to make money. I am sure Chris Bosh does and I would as well. But is that the message you want to send. In recent months I don't think loyalty is a word that goes with Lebron James. Chris Bosh I truly believe is that loyal guy. You can say all you want about him going here and going there. But he has never said it or implied it at any point in his Raptor Career. In fact I think Chris Bosh has a rather old school attitude of wanting to be a rare player that spends his entire career on one team. Luck for us that team would be the Toronto Raptors. I guess in 2010 we will find out if I am right about all of this. But until that time comes I encourage you to stop worrying and start watching what this guy is doing. Like it says in the title this is truly special to be watching what he is doing right now. Tonight he takes on a guy that knows about 81 things of what special is all about. Kobe Bryant is guy that respects how good Chris Bosh is. In fact all of the big names mentioned in this blog thus far do. Time for folks in Toronto to understand it to if you haven't already.

Contest and Letters

Just a reminder that the deadline for the contest to check out the return of T.J Ford with the Dino Blogger is December 3rd. It is not hard just tell me why you love the Raps and love this blog simple as that. In fact it doesn't even have to be long because entries are 500 words or less and Videos are less than 1:30 if you choose to go that rout. No one has so far but if you want to express yourself that way feel free to do so.

Also even if you do not want to enter the contest or can't based on where you live. That is o.k I still want to hear from you as well. On December 4th when the 3 finalists for the contest will be announced and able to be voted on by you. We will also be re-launching the mailbag feature for the blog. This version of your questions and comments in this blog is called Nation speaks. You are the Nation that makes up this blog and you deserve to have a voice as well. This will be your chance to do so. Please take advantage of it because I want people to feel a part of things and this is a good way to do that.

So send your Contest Entries and Comments and questions to me at dinonationblog@sourcecable.net
Please Mark Contest Entries Return Of T.J Contest and the mail and comments Nation Speaks.


Raptors Rewind- Hawks Invade ACC

Toronto Raptors the last time they saw the Atlanta Hawks the would get soundly beaten. They would have to try to that without Jermaine O'Neal. They almost had to do it without Chris Bosh as well. Why? Seems that even an NBA All-Star can get stuck in an elevator. So some repair man in Toronto could be the M.V.P for the Raptors tonight for getting the star player to the arena in time to make the tip. The Hawks were hoping to have Josh Smith back who has been out since he left the game vs the Raptors early in the season. But he was not going to go. So with everyone present and accounted for it was time to play some basketball at the A.C.C.

1st Quarter

So with no J.O the Raptors would go with Jamario Moon again in the starting line-up. I admit it would not have shocked me to see Joey Graham in the starting line-up. But that was not the case. The Hawks would control the tip and Mike Bibby who killed the Raptors in the last game would miss his first shot. Moon would score on the other end. Raptors never lead the last time they played Atlanta. Jose Calderon would hook up Bosh and he would get sent to the line. He would make 1-2 and Raptors were off to a 5-2 start. Both teams were looking a bit chilly. But Mike Bibby after missing his first had a two pointer and now hit a 3-ball followed by another 2 pointer. A quick 7 for Bibby and a 9-5 lead for Atlanta. Anthony Parker who had a bucket early would hit a 3 pointer to cut the lead to just 1.

Andrea Bargnani was having a slow start till the lane opened for him for a drive and jam the Raptors still were down 11-10. Chris Bosh would respond to an Atlanta score with a basket and a foul shot to come with a chance to tie it up. He would hit the shot all even at 13-13. Anthony Parker had his second steal early on and that like the first would lead to points for Andrea Bargnani to make a 3-pointer. Andrea would miss on anther long attempt but on the third time he go the ball in a short span he would drive and score. Raptors had a 18-15 lead. Atlanta would close to with in one again only to see Chris Bosh score and make the lead back to 3 points at 20-17. Chris Bosh has said he wants to be the M.V.P and tonight he was dropping dimes along with buckets. He had 4 assists early on making his team come along for the ride. Jose Calderon had a open 3-pointer that would have given Chris assist number 5 but he missed it. Jamario Moon would hit a jumper for that assist number 5 for Chris Bosh. Raptors were still in a close battle despite all of that. Jose Calderon would make a basket to make it 24-21 Toronto. Atlanta would turn it over and a last second chuck by Joey G would not fall. So the score remained 24-21 Raptors after 1 quarter.

2nd Quarter

Jose Calderon would start the second with a nice media range jumper. Jason Kapono would score and Joey Graham scored too. the Raptors had a 6-0 run to start the quarter. Raptors had a 30-21 lead on the Hawks. I don't want to say it but could it be that Joey Graham has finally got it? He scored and got fouled and made that. Chris Bosh would return to see his team up by 10 with the score 33-23. Jason Kapono is actually taking and making shots. The Raptors were getting a lot of solid efforts from a lot of folks. Chris Bosh would think a long time about taking a 3 pointer he would but would miss. Evans on the other would not wait a second to take and make his 3-point effort. The Hawks were starting to fight back and a Marvin Williams jumper cut the lead down to just 4 points. That was enough for Sam Mitchell to look to regroup with a time out.

Chris Bosh out of the time out would pass out of double and get it back from Jose and score. He would than combine with Jose for a highlight worth alley-opp. Seems that Sam Mtichell message was pass the ball to Chris. That is always a wise move. Jamario Moon maybe feeling the Joey G heat on his heels? Whatever the reason he was taking and making a couple nice jump shots. The Raptors and Hawks were having a good little battle with the Raptors up 43-39. Joe Johnson who had been quiet had a score and a steal that would lead to a score for a team mate. We were all tied at 43. While Joe was getting going Joey was cooling off. He would miss and Atlanta would come down the other end and Mike Bibby would hit a open 3 ball in transition. Bibby would get another chance to score as he was fouled on a break to the basket. His 5 points were the margin for his Hawks up 48-43. Jason Kapono would respond with a 3-pointer for the Raptors. The hawks would get one more basket before the time expired. The Raptors had seen the lead slip away down the stretch. Hawks had a 50-46 lead thanks to the late push to close the half.

3rd Quarter

Chris Bosh would get the first touch of the second half and make it count he has 12 so far. Hawks would answer and both teams were trading baskets early. Chris Bosh would score and get to the line and hit. Raptors were within 1 now early in the 3rd quarter. But a key second chance for the Hawks and Bibby would make a 3-ball of the offensive rebound. But Chris Bosh did not care he had another basket and 7 in the quarter. He was trying to keep the Raptor alive on his own again. Atlanta was getting some key second chances but this time they could not get it. However beyond Bosh nobody was making buckets. Andrea Bargnani picked up his 4th foul on the evening but would remain in the game for now. The Raptors with no J.O were very thin in the front court.

Mike Bibby was killing the Raptors again as he had 20 points on 7-9 shooting. Hawks had a 59-57 lead that Bibby was a big part of. A.P would make a jumper to help the cause. Hawks were beating the Raptors on the glass and that was helping as well. A rare Bibby miss and a chance to pull even for the Raptors. But it would not happen as Raptors got tagged for a 3 second violation. A.P would draw a charge to give the Raptors and give Raps a second chance. But Bosh would get called for an offensive foul on the other end. Al Horford would extend the lead back to 4 points. Jose Calderon would miss a shot he had hit the floor earlier and was possibly a bit banged up. Well a bit more banged up is more accurate. Chris Bosh would score though and he once again was allowing the Raptors to hang around. If not for Bosh this game may be a blow out. Thank you Mr. Elevator Repair Man. Hawks, despite looking like the better team were just up 61-59.

Joe Johnson would score on the runner. But Chris Bosh was more than happy to answer with a jumper of his own. Hawks again scored and it was again Chris Bosh with the answer. It really is amazing how good Bosh has been this year. If people could just step up and help this team could be good. Will Solomon was checking in for Jose. He has been little used of late. He would jack up a shot and do nothing to lose his Mike James tag. Next time the Raptors would get the ball to bosh who found Kapono for a 3-ball. Bosh would score again and he had 15 in the quarter and the Raptors had the lead back. Will Solomon made a good defensive play leading to a turnover for the Hawks. It would end up with Kris Humphries on the line looking to extend the Raptor lead. He would make both. Just like the Raptors faded in the second the Hawks did the same in the 3rd quarter. The Toronto Raptors lead 69-65.

4th Quarter

Chris Bosh may have showed up late for work but he sure was making up for that with his performance on the floor. Sam Mitchell may just tell him to show up late every night if he kept this up. But late or early, Chris Bosh had been just out of this world all year long. The star of the show had a block to start the 4th. It would lead to Kris Humphries getting a basket on the other end. Bosh would than get a score and the Raptors had 12-0 run going and lead 73-65.

Joe Johnson would break the run out of the time out. Joey Graham back on track with a basket a steal and a dunk? Wow that is a dose of "Good Joey" in a major way. The Raptors had a 10 point lead to defend. The Hawks would get a 3 pointer and cut it back down to 7 points. The Joey Graham show was back on track he had another dunk on an offensive rebound. A historic moment at the A.C.C... a Joey chant. I admit it I really don't want to believe but I think I am starting to believe. Raptors lead was 83-74. Marvin Williams would get a basket and the Hawks had scored a couple straight buckets and lead was trimmed to 5 points.

Bosh to this point he had 27 points and 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Both teams were cold and the next basket would be key. Jason Kapono would make that basket with another 3 pointer for him. Chris Bosh would continue to answer the call with a basket plus a foul and would be heading to the line with a chance to get 30 on the night. But more important to him extend the Raptor lead to 9 points. he made it and Raptor lead 89-80 with under 4 minutes to play. Evans got a basket after a Bargnani turnover and the lead was down to 7. Another failed Raptor trip Hawks score and the lead was down to 5 points.

Hawks had a chance to get even closer with under 2 minute to play. Evans got a open look from 3 but could not connect. But Raptor miss again and Mike Bibby scored. Jose would answer with drive and score only to see Bibby do the same. Raptors would than almost have another turnover with :38 but would get 1 second added to the shot clock. A time out to figure out how they can get something to the basket quickly to avoid a turnover. Turns out it was a shot clock violation after all. Hawks had a chance to tie with a 3-ball. they would go for a two point effort and fitting that Chris Bosh would get the key rebound. Just 16 seconds to play and the Raptors would be heading to the foul line for some very important free throws. Raptors were able to inbound this time. Jason Kapono was the guy on the line. He made the critical first shot. and he made the second. A long 3 ball did not fall and this game was done as the Raptors would dribble it out for a key win before a brutal road trip. So the Raptors have won 2 in a row thanks to a 93-88 win. The chances of making it 3 in a row would be very tough as they play the Lakers. But let's enjoy this win and leave worrying about that till Sunday. Another M.V.P type night for the man in the 4 Jersey. Hang it in the rafters now because Bosh is that good. How good? check the boxscore

Raptors vs Hawks Boxscore

It's In The Game? No It's In The Dino Nation Blog!!!

It's looks almost like the real thing. Video games have come a long way in my lifetime. It has been amazing to me as much as some of the things I have seen in watching the game of basketball. I have always been interested in how they make these things happen. NBA Live 09 takes over 200 people to make and the process goes on for an entire year. I decided that I would find out how this game I played for years comes together. I mean when I am not writing a blog on basketball or reading about basketball, I am usually playing video games of basketball. What better way to get out your frustration of Bryan Colangelo not making a trade or Sam Mitchell not making the right call than to do it the right way in my opinion. So I reached out to the folks at E.A Sports and asked if I could talk with them about NBA Live 09 and find out how they make the game I have played for years. I was able to chat with Marcus Stephenson who is an assistant producer that works on the NBA Live franchise of games. He was great to talk with and tells me that the Raptors are actually pretty popular around the E.A Sports office. They do a lot of the work for making the game based out of Vancouver. Seems the right place to be making a basketball video game, after all it was a Canadian that started this whole game. I am not sure what Dr. Naismith would think about NBA Live but they work hard to make his game come to life on your T.V screen.

Among the topics I talk about with Marcus is the new Dynamic DNA feature that has been added to the NBA Live Game on the latest game platforms. The players in the NBA have said it almost is like the scouting reports they get to study to play the real games. There is a good reason for that. The data that is being used in basically coming from the same place. We will get into that in detail later. But first thing is what exactly is the role of Marcus in this process. In talking with him I would learn the role of producer and assistants is not that far removed from the concept of a producer of a T.V show. The basically creative the vision or the idea of what the game they are making is to look like. That idea is then passed on to the skilled computer and technically people to make that idea become reality. It is a lot more complex a process, but in plain english that is how it happens.

The one thing that I as a player of the game has always been most concerned with is the ratings. Marcus tells me not just I am but the guys in the league are too. I often wondered that and seems they do care. To offer some evidence of this fact Marcus told me about when "The Matrix" Shawn Marion visited the folks at E.A. Shawn is a cool guy as I know from meeting him at Vince Carter's Charity game back in like 2000 or 2001. But not so cool that he didn't want to know the scoop on his virtual counter parts ratings.

Marcus Stephenson " We had Shawn Marion in here last year. It was pre-trade so he was still with the Suns. The first thing he said when he shook hands was we need to talk about my ratings later in the day. It was really funny."

But Marcus tells me that almost all the NBA players are aware of the ratings they have in the game. So it is not just Shawn Marion that is interested in it the majority of the players are and I would suspect lobbying to get a bump. Players will call up EA and look for reasons for ratings they have. But if you are the folks at EA you have to love that your game matters to these guys. In fact the stars that enter the NBA have grown up on playing the NBA Live series. It has to be a great factor for them from a marketing standpoint. Marcus agreed and talks about that aspect of the players being fans of the game.

Marcus Stephenson " We love to be the game that the players play. They have grown up playing this game and in Canada it is NHL while in the states it's Madden. You hear from Canadians that they bought two games as a kid, NHL and NBA Live. In the states it is Madden and NBA Live. It is really funny to hear the athletes say that. They get so involved in it. They call us when there rating is down. It is so funny it is the first thing they want to talk about is their rating in the game. They are just really into it and it means something from a marketing stand point. The players grew up playing this game and this is the game that they have played since they were young. They love to speak about it and we really don't have to do anything, because they will talk about it all the time to the fans and the communities. So it is really good "

In fact being a fan of the game is part of what can make this happen:

The cover of the NBA LIVE game itself. In talking with Marcus I asked about what goes into getting on the cover of NBA Live. He said that it is not just the fact that you are a star in the league but also that you are some one that is a fan of video games. Tony Parker has been on the cover in France for a number of years. But this year the native of France in on the cover of the main edition here in North America. Parker is know to be a junkie for the video games. I remember him being featured on the show NBA XL here in Canada, and Tony Parker was as into winning at the video game as if he was playing for the Spurs. At the All Star Contest that EA put on in New Orleans he won the competition as the top NBA player at the game of the guys invited to compete. It was right around this time that he was being considered for the cover of NBA Live. Which is something he really wanted to happen. In him winning the contest it was a great selling point to have him be on the cover. Now Parker is having injury issues this season but it not to the point of a "Madden Curse" for the folks making NBA Live. In fact both EA and Spurs fans can be happy because Tony Parker was back after 3 weeks on sidelines with a bad wheel he was back "In the game" last night. Marcus tells us what EA is looking for in the guy that goes on the cover. About this year having Tony Parker as the cover guy for NBA 09 and being the first European player to be on the cover for North American gamers.

Marcus Stephenson " There is a lot that goes into are cover guy each year. But most importantly do they like video games? Do they play video games? Are people going to connect with who is on the cover? We want them to like the game so when they talk about the game they know what they are talking about. So Tony Parker, really wanted to be on the cover. We thought it would be great with him being an international player and that is becoming so popular in the NBA. What better player to represent that than Tony Parker. But it really has a lot to do with their passion for video games and there willingness to front our game."

Raptors Andrea Bargnani was on the cover in his homeland of Italy this year. EA is looking for a high profile player but also a guy that is a fan of video games as well. It is that combination that can get you a shot at being the next guy on the cover of NBA Live. But for the folks at EA that is a two way street. They are big fans of the NBA as well. I had seen a feature on the making of the NHL game that EA makes and they showed a lot of the folks that make that game would often play ball hockey in the down time they had. The folks that work on NBA live have their fun as well. A big event that goes on for the basketball folks is they get a net and lower it down and have a slam dunk competition. I will let Marcus tell you about this in detail. These guys are big fans of the NBA just like you folks that read this blog and likely a lot of you play their game.

Marcus Stephenson " They are complete nuts about it. We are actually having are annual dunk contest here. We lower the rim down and some of our software people or whoever wants to get in on it does like a big studio wide dunk contest. We all the studio come in and we have judges. It's really good we have a really good time "

That studio where they hold their dunk contest has also seen a ton of people from the NBA pass through it's doors. We have all seen the photos of the guys in those famous black suits with the grey dots on them. That is what we have all come to know as part of the motion capture process and it has been done right here in Canada in Vancouver. EA has the world's largest motion capture studio in the world. Even the Raptor own Andrea Bragnani was in the famous black suit. If Andrea continues to improve as he has so far this season. I ask EA to please invite him back every summer to play in the black suit. Here is a photo of some of the folks from this summer that were balling with Andrea including the cover boy Tony Parker and Raptor killer Andre Iguodala.

We all know the EA slogan if it is in the game it is in the game. Perhaps that slogan has never been more on the money as it is today. The biggest change to the NBA live game is this new feature called Dynamic DNA as part of NBA 365. I mentioned about how for me and it seems the NBA players it is all about those ratings. In the past EA would take the real NBA stats and through a formula they created it would relate those stats in the specific player rating for the players. But Dynamic DNA and NBA 365 have totally changed everything. I remember seeing a feature on T.V talking about this new feature and a few players said that the new feature was just like getting a scouting report of a player. That is actual pretty close to reality.That is because EA is getting the same data that 25 NBA teams get for the use of scouting.
Synergy Sports Technology is the company and they provide all the data that make the DNA feature come to life. That data is what is driving the AI (Artificial Intelligence not Allen Iverson) in this edition of the game. Marcus tells us about a bunch of aspects about how Dynamic DNA and NBA 365 Features have changed the game. Starting with how the way the ratings for players have changed based on this new data and technology.

Marcus Stephenson " Up until this year we had a formula that people that are a lot smarter than us had put together. Based off of real life stats. Those real stats in the NBA would translate into our game and shot out a rating. We tried to keep out a lot of the manual thinking and ideas of what a player should be from the producers ideas in their heads. We basically didn't want it to be a crap shoot. Our software engineers came up a tool that would take each real life stat and apply it to an attribute for our players in the game. But now we have the data were get from Synergy Sports Technology that we have partner with this year. They track stats and tendencies for ever NBA team and player. We are able to take all that data and update are player ratings on a weekly basis."

As an example of what Marcus is saying. Jose Calderon was only a 64 rating overall but now with the updates is an 80. This DNA feature has been referenced as almost being able to be a scouting tool. So for players in the league that are playing the game they can say that they are studying up for the next game? That is how advanced this Dynamic DNA and NBA 365 can be? So what do the guys at EA sports think about that. Do they to think this can be applied to the actual NBA as a scouting tool?

Marcus Stephenson " We hope that people are thinking of it as a scouting tool. When the NBA teams that sign up with Synergy Sports Technology they are using it as a scouting tool. So that is the best thing that people can possibly say. We have this feature that we call Dynamic DNA as part of NBA 365 for the 09 game. Synergy Sports Technology tacks tendency data. So for example with the Raptors will take Chris Bosh. What is Bosh doing? What is he doing when he is the post. Is he using a drop step or is he turning around and spotting up to shoot. What is he going to be doing? Well they know what he is doing at every single point on the floor. We are able to take all of the data and have it drive the artificial intelligence of the game. So when you play as the Toronto Raptors they play like the Raptors."

Same goes for whatever NBA team you choose. This as I expressed to Marcus can be a good thing and a bad thing. Which he agreed. Basically if the Raptors are struggling it will be reflected in the game. Both as teams and individuals the data is happening in the real NBA and in about 24 hours it is in your game at home. I mean that is kind of crazy stuff. But they also have a feature called NBA Rewind that will allow you to replay a game from the day before. So if you think Sam Mitchell was not getting it done. EA is giving you a virtual example of what he had to work with on a night by night basis. Should Joey Graham have started over Moon? Well you could try that and both players would play based of their actual performance in that game. Every game played in the NBA you would be able to replay and see if you could change the reality based on what the players were doing on that night. This is pretty crazy stuff. What if a trade happens? Well you will be able to see how a players DNA has changed as soon as he suits up for his new team. compare his performance from old team to new team. From all aspects video games are getting to the point that they almost mirror reality. I asked Marcus based on all of this are we getting to a point that the game I watch on T.V and the game I play are almost getting to the point of being the same?

Marcus Stephenson " Yes, and that is where we think we are getting. With this NBA Live 365 and Dynamic DNA feature we feel like were getting to that point. You watch the Raptors vs Hawks maybe not then you can turn on your game, but by the next day we feel like you can play that game. However the Raptors played that is how they will play in the game."

There are so many aspects of video games these days. I could have got into conversations about the audio and way the game is called in play by play. Music that is on the games. For people in the music world to get on a video game is a huge break for them. Not to mention advertising. Virtual Ads on video games are now part of the mix. In the recent U.S Election Barack Obama had ads on several video games including the NBA Live 08 game. Where else would the President Elect want to advertise. Change in politics and the real world is not always easy to make happen or see. But in video games it may not be easy to make change but the results are easy to see in the games as they come out each year.

It is also a very competitive business. In the case of NBA Live they have other basketball games to go against head to head. It is not like the case with Madden in which they have an exclusive contract with the NFL to be the one and only NFL video game on the market. But for the folks at NBA Live they are aware of the competition out there. They welcome the challenge not just from other basketball video games but all games. They are as driven at what they do as the players that they put in the games. I asked Marcus about this aspect of competition.

Marcus Stephenson " I think competition drives us to succeed and be better. All of us in the office we read all the message boards, we read all the comments and we see all the commercials and we see all that is going on with the competition and it just drives us to make a better game. I think competition will drive you in anything you do. Same case here in making video games. But it is not just direct competition we are in competition with all video games. When are game was coming out Call Of Duty was coming up, Gears of War was coming up. That is heavy competition. So not just basketball related. But competition in general totally drives you. "

I am guessing those are big games Marcus referenced. I am totally a sports junkie so I would have no idea. All industries that have competition makes it better for the buying public. Just the same as sports franchises are in competition for folks entertainment dollar, folks in the gaming industry are also looking to have a product that you will want to have.

I mentioned that this is a year long process for the most part. it goes through many phases. The day you picked up NBA Live 09 in a store if you have already. The folks at EA have already started pre-production for the NBA Live 10. People in any business want to keep what they are working on kind of on the down low. I have a bit of experience in that with my recent partnership with The Score. But I asked Marcus for a little hint as to where the game would be heading for the NBA Live 10 version.

Marcus Stephenson " We have just scratched the surface on this whole Dynamic DNA and NBA 365 stuff. So you should definitely look for some innovations in that area. I can't get into to much detail about it. That is where we see ourselves going. Taking that info from
Synergy Sports Technology and applying more of that to use to in the games artificial intelligence. Come up with cooler ways to get content out to users more often so that they can feel that what they are seeing in life is being reflected in the game "

How far can this go? All of this DNA stuff? Will Allen Iverson decide to skip practice? Could we see this same DNA be brought into the coaches? I think if there is anything I have learned in playing video games all of my life for the most part, is that anything is possible. This interview just gave me a brief look into what is a truly cool virtual world of the NBA. What they are doing is just as exciting in some respects. If you want to ever check out this game and are checking out the Raptors down at the ACC. They have a big display set up out front of the main gates. You can play a little NBA Live on the giant screen T.V before you check out the real thing. The way things are going the difference between one and the other is getting very small indeed.

I just want to thank the folks at EA for letting me jump into their world for a bit. They were great to work with and were happy to answer my questions and help me do my job. I hope I did a decent job at that. This was really one of the most fun things I have done in just over a year of doing this. If EA every wants to make a virtual blogger in the game I would be happy to help. That probably won't happen but truth be told the way games have become so close to reality who knows. I hope to have them come back and visit the Dino Nation Blog in the future. We have already talked about that and just like all are guests the door here is always open.

Dirty Birds Fly In To Toronto

A Little Soap Box Material

I have made no bones about it. I do not like the Atlanta Hawks. I joked the last time that I didn't even like Spudd Webb which was true but amusing. I also don't like the guy who jumped over him who Jalen Rose says is keeping Chris Bosh's #4 warm for him till 2010. I am glad to see that others feel the same as me about 2010. Jack Armstrong on Wednesday on his Radio Show went off about Lebron James and all of this 2010 non sense. Paul Jones and Eric Smith also talked about Lebron doing a press conference with the Knick back drop behind him. Note to the Cleveland Cavs...You PR director is not doing a good job to let this happen. But hey maybe he tried and this was Lebron playing games. Just like with his new red kicks and that Yankee baseball cap. Enough is enough with all of this. David Stern I mean could you please address this in some way. Sure it might be cool with you if Lebron goes to New York. But last I checked Cleveland, Toronto and Miami were all equal partners in this thing we call the NBA show them and their fans some respect. You may not be able to stop ESPN from turning this into the focus of the next 14 months but there are rules about tampering and you can tell players to not comment on this stuff. If you can make them have a dress code you can at least have them show a little loyalty to the clubs that pay their salary? I would like to think so. I needed to get that off of my chest.

Now The Dirty Birds

I may not like the Hawks but that being said the last time they met up with the Raptors it was like they took their lunch money. The Raptors got mauled in Atlanta and it was not pretty. The Raps have an impossible road swing out west in which they face the Lakers, Nuggets and Jazz. A win against Atlanta would be really needed. But it is unclear if Jermaine O'Neal will play. I am not convinced that the performance against the Bobcats can be repeated. Chris Bosh if there is no O'Neal should see more double teams. But with better players making them. Joey Graham have back to back performances? I guess it is possible but do I have any faith in that? No. Joe Johnson who is going to shut him down? It is going to be tough for the Raptors.

One thing the Raptors will not have to deal with is Josh Smith who was injured versus the Raptors and is out of the line-up for the Hawks. But Smith was out early in that game. The Hawks still went on to a fairly easy win. Mike Bibby had an amazing game the last time these two hooked up. The Raptor perimeter defense was exposed by the Hawks. It will take an improvement in that area for sure. One thing is for sure if the Raptors get a win it will be a well earned one.

Practice On Thanksgiving? Not For A.I

Well this is what I was concerned about coming to light.You have a rookie head coach in Michael Curry and a superstar that doesn't like practice. When Detroit had a practice scheduled on Thanksgiving and Allen Iverson was a no show it seemed almost to predictable. Curry said to Detroit paper that is not surprised if someone is late. He is surprised when they don't show up. But this is a guy that went on a rant about practice not meaning anything in his time with the Sixers. Joe Dumars even brought up the event in the press conference to announce the trade for Iverson. The Pistons are going to be giving what they called a hefty fine and Rodney Stuckey will start in place of Iverson for game against the Bucks tonight. It will be interesting to see if this is just a single incident or if it will become a battle of wills between Curry and Iverson. If you are a Piston fan thinking or hoping that A.I will re-sign with the Pistons this maybe the first sign of not to hold your breath on that. The Dino Nation Blog is sorry to be talking about practice A.I but if you had of shown up we wouldn't be.

ESPN Story On The A.I Practice Issue

Contest and Mail

You have till December 3rd to get your entries in for your Chance to see T.J Ford's return with me. I am a friendly person and will be happy to do my best to make sure the winner has an excellent time. So don't miss out on a chance to see a big game on the schedule for the Raptors. I hope you all have your thinking caps on coming up with some creative entries. I look forward to checking them all out. Thanks again to Raptorman.ca for helping me make this contest possible.

Also along with this contest, on December 4th I am asking for your mail to respond to. I call it the Nation Speaks and that means you folks that read. So if you have a question or comment you would like me to respond to send it to me via e-mail. I have wanted to do this for awhile. So I hope it will be successful. That will take your support. I may not have all the answers but I will give it my best shot.

So if you have an entry for the contest or want to send mail for Nation Speaks. it all goes to the same place.


Mark contest entries : Return of T.J Contest and the mail: Nation Speaks.

I have an interview to do today and you should see the results of that over the weekend. There is also of course the game tonight with the Hawks and the Raptor Rewind. So I will see you later tonight.


One Year And Counting For Dino Nation Blog

It was about a year ago at this time that I came up with the idea of creating the Dino Nation Blog. The truth of the matter is I was feeling kind of depressed after I had my birthday a few days before. For those who do not know I look after my mother who is disabled from a knee surgery that did not work out as it was suppose too. She is not able to walk and requires having someone be here to look after her and help out. I am her only son and my father passed away when I was like 13. So that made having a career in the media next to impossible. My mother had always had knee trouble so taking jobs that were far away did not seem realistic for me to do. I am not saying I would have made it in the media with out those challenges the truth is I really have no idea. I have told some folks about these challenges that I talk with. But I have never gone into detail about it in the blog until now. The reason why was I did not want people to come here as some form of pity for me. I wanted them to come here because they enjoyed and loved the blog. But now that it has been going on for a year today I decided to let folks know this part of my story. Maybe that is why if comments are nasty in nature I really don't get phased by it. I have been through a lot in life and the comments of someone out there who is upset about me or this blog is not really anything in comparison to the challenges I have had in life.

But to get back to the point. I sat here thinking what could I do that could get me back into the media that I truly love and enjoy. I had started reading blogs quite a bit. Some of the main ones that cover the Raptors in the main stream media. I had always been a Raptor Fan and I had some experience in Radio and T.V. Maybe I could turn that into writing a blog. So I took that idea and started writing the Dino Nation Blog. It was very rough around the edges. I am not as good of a writer, as I am in talking about things. In fact if there is anything I have taken critique on more in the last year that would be it. Day after day I hope the writing level has gotten better. I think in looking at it myself it has. But the one thing that I have found is that people despite that have enjoyed the content and ideas that make up the Dino Nation Blog. I am very happy about that. I really have worked hard at that aspect of this blog and think it is the blog's greatest strength.

One of the things that I was able to do is get interviews with a lot of people in this blog connected to the Raptors media. A great deal of the credit for that belongs to Eric Smith of the Fan 590. I had know Eric when I was doing radio and he was cool enough to be a guest on my little basketball segment on the Radio. He and Chuck Swirsky both made appearances on the radio with me. So in writing the blog I happened to write about my great respect for Jack Armstrong as a broadcaster. I was very proud of what I had wrote. So I had emailed Eric and asked if he could pass along the blog I had wrote to Jack. The next day I had a kind e-mail from Jack Armstrong and before I knew it he was a guest in my blog and would come back many times since. Eric would later get me in touch with Paul Jones and he also has been a guest here several times. Not to mention Eric himself who writes a blog as well has made a few guest appearances in the Dino Nation Blog. They through being kind enough to do that gave myself and the readers of this blog a lot of info and made the Dino Nation Blog a true source for information. I am smart enough to understand that most folks had no idea who James Borbath was. They did know who all of these folks were though. I said to Eric after we finished an interview once that is was like in wrestling when the new guy gets the rub by beating the big star wrestler. That is what these guys were giving me by being in this blog. It would be a big step for the blog. I am happy to know that I can e-mail these folks and ask for advice or help and know I will get a positive response from them. If anyone has anything bad to say about these guys I will be the first in line to defend them.

There were some other folks that have come to visit that were people I was able to get on my own as well. Matt Devlin, Sherman Hamilton, Lexi Haslam and a bunch of folks in Australia to learn about Nathan Jawai. I am always trying to find more folks to talk with. I really love doing interviews with anyone. We can all learn stuff in talking with people. Not just about basketball but life itself. It is really hard to sum up all that has gone on in this year. I mean so many things that I never expected have happened. Something written here has ended up on Raptors.com, NCAA Websites and had links from so many other blogs that I have come to know and enjoy reading myself. The latest thing that has come the way of the blog is The Score. When I got an e-mail from Scott Carefoot who at the time I honestly did not know really at all. I was pretty taken back. A chance to have the idea I had just less than a year ago and have it associated with a major sports network. It all seemed really to unreal for words. I was truly so excited to take on this new challenge and see where it would lead.

All of this stuff has been really cool. But to be honest one of the greatest things for me has been getting to know the people like you that read this blog everyday. I have got to know so many great folks that share a love of basketball and the Toronto Raptors. People from all across this country and even some from around this globe. The fact that I can sit in front of a computer in Hamilton Ontario and reach out to people from all these places is something that is truly amazing to me even a year later. I have always said that any success that I get from this blog will be in part your success too. I truly mean that and am grateful to have the support of so many great folks from so many places. I can't tell you how many e-mails I have gotten from folks thanking me for the work I do. Many of these e-mails end with something like keep it up. It is not always easy to do this each and everyday. Getting an email like that on the right day or time can really help you get back on track. It has also has been great that when things happen for this blog, people have responded with a lot of congratulations and kind words for me. I have to admit when I first thought about writing on the Internet I was prepared to take a lot of people being less than kind. However I have been very happy and honestly surprised that majority of feedback I get is of such a positive nature. You the readers of the Dino Nation Blog are always going to be a big part of what this blog is. Don't every think that you do not matter to me because you all do. I try to respect everyone and I am happy that for the most part that respect has been given back to me. I understand you may not always agree with everything you read but that is fine. I just do my best to give you my best at what I think and believe on a daily basis.

In fact in knowing this event was coming I wanted to come up with some way to say thanks to you all. So I had an idea and that is the basis for this contest that I am going to tell you about. It is thanks in part to Raptorman.ca

Dino Nation Blog and Raptorman Are Giving You A Chance To See The Return Of T.J Ford

You can win a seat right next to me. To watch the return of T.J Ford to Toronto as he and his Pacers take on the Raptors on December 10th at the A.C.C.

So how do you do this? Basically it is pretty simple. In whatever creative way you can come up with. Tell me why you are the best fan of the Raptors and the Dino Nation Blog. You want to make a wacky You Tube Video. Just write an e-mail how every you choose to do it is up to your imagination.

You have from now until December 3rd Midnight Eastern time to send in your entry. From there 3 finalist will be selected. Those entries will be posted on December 4th. (Which will also be the day I am going to re-start the Nation Speaks where I will answer questions and comments from readers in the blog.)

Why are they being posted? Well because your fellow readers will be one of the 3 votes that can help you win the prize. The readers will have 2 days to pick their favourite that they feel deserves to win. I will also have a vote and I have selected a third party to be a third judge. The winner will be selected Friday and contacted via e-mail on Saturday with the details on how you can claim you prize.

I wanted to come up with a way to say thank you for a great year and this is it. I will work on a few other things for the winner as well. I am not sure how that will go. So just expect to get a ticket and have fun and get to meet me and have a great time.

Obviously if you can not get yourself to the ACC on December 10th please do not enter. The idea of this contest is to get a winner that can make it to the game and enjoy the experience of Raptors Basketball. If something comes up that the winner is unable to claim the prize the person that came in 2nd would be contacted and become the winner by default. But I hope that does not happen

The Dino Nation Blog is responsible for selecting the winner and that decision is final. The Dino Nation Blog also claims the right to publish any entries for use in the Dino Nation Blog. The winner will get a seat for the game versus the Pacers in the 300 level of the A.C.C. The Dino Nation Blog will not be providing any transportation or costs beyond the ticket to the game.

In order to make sure the winner is a true reader of the Dino Nation Blog there is also a skill testing question to be answered and if the answer is not correct the entry will be null and void. Meaning it will nor be considered. But if you have read the blog it should be simple enough to answer.

Who has not been a guest in the Dino Nation Blog of this list of people:

Chuck Swrisky
Jack Armstrong
Paul Jones
Matt Devlin

That is the question please include the correct answer with your entry.

So send your entry to dinonationblog@sourcecable.net

Please Mark E-Mail: T.J Return Contest

Keep all entries to under 500 words if written or less than 1:30 seconds if it is video

The Dino Nation Blog would like to thank Raptorman.ca for providing this prize. This contest is independent venture and is in no way connected to The Score.

Raptors Rewind- Must Win Edition

So let's start with who is not playing in this game. Jermaine O'Neal is out with his knee and ankle. Meanwhile for the Bobcats no J-Rich for the Bobcats. He is said to be injured but has been the talk of several trade rumours. But point is he will not be in the line-up for Bobcats. The Toronto Raptors faces a game that is about as much a must win as you can get for a late November game. The Raptors will be looking to improve on 2-4 record at the A.C.C this year. It was Jose Calderon bobble head night and he must step up to the plate tonight on defense. Raymond Felton and D.J Augustin coming off impressive outings vs the 76ers. This is a game the Raptors desperately need to win. Andrea Bargnani would start at the center spot and Jamario Moon will fill in for Andrea who had been playing at the 3 spot.

1st Quarter

Raptors win the tip and score with a Bosh mid range jumper. Raptors force a turnover on the first Bobcat trip of the night. Bosh after a few turnover by both would score again on a turn around jumper down low. Gerald Wallace would be sent to the line on a Moon foul and he made both. Jose Calderon hit a nice jumper from the corner and Raptors lead early 6-3. Jamario Moon did not see a pass from Calderon it would lead to a turnover and a second foul for Moon. Andrea Bargnani got his first two of the night. He would score again on a second chance for the Raptors. Gerald Wallace took an elbow to the eye from Jamario Moon. He would leave.

Raptors with a 10-7 lead and Chris Bosh fumbled the ball a bit but was heading to the free throw line. Bosh would make both for Raptors. The Raptors were much more active on defense tonight creating deflections and causing headaches. Gearld Wallace was back in the game and back at the line going one of two with some question on how well he could see the target. Raptors were off to a decent start with a 15- 9 lead about midway through the first. Both teams were looking sloppy and the Bobcats manged to rattle off 4 straight in between the miscues by both. Chris Bosh would end the mini 4-0 run with the a basket he had 8. But Gerald Wallace was back at it again and he scored and had 11 points for the Bobcats. A.P made a nice jumper and he got the Raptor advantage to 19-15. Sean May was seeing some time and the former UNC product had a couple baskets. Raymond Felton had a basket and the score was all even at 19-19. Bobcats continued to keep it going as Emeka Okafor had a couple baskets and Bobcats had a 4 point advantage. Chris Bosh would answer with a drive and score and a trip to the line. He would make that and it was 23-22. Bobcats on the final trip for them of the quarter had a sweet alley opp to Gearld Wallace. Jason Kapono would hit a 2-ball and it was a one point leading 25-24

2nd Quarter

The Bobcats started a bit of a run to start the quarter. Chris Bosh would again get to the hoop score and draw a foul. Another 3 points for Bosh and Raptors were again just down 29-28 early in the second quarter. Bosh would score again to put the Raptors in front. Bobcats would score and Bosh again replied he was 7-7 and at least he understood how important this game was. A steal and Roko Ukic hooked Bosh up for the dunk. Ukic would then get a rare bucket for himself and Raptors lead 36-31.

But Matt Carroll would score. Bobcats would get another basket and Bosh got called for a foul and get a technical as well. It was clear Bosh was playing with an edge as he on his own was trying to keep the Raptors alive. Raptors after letting the Bobcats tie the score would get a basket to go back in front. Gearld Wallace would be fouled by Joey Graham who was seeing some rare time. Wallace would connect all tied again at 38-38. Andrea Bargnani would make a block to keep the score tied. Joey Graham with a rare basket on the offensive tap back. Raptors lead 40-38.

D.J Augustin would draw a foul on Chris Bosh his second of the night and D.J was heading to the line for 3 shots. D.J would make them all for his first 3 points of the night and his team had the one point lead. Augustin would follow it up with a 3 pointer in the more traditional sense. That would get answered by an Anthony Parker 3-ball. Gerald Wallace got another basket and Bosh would answer in reply for the Raptors. Both were having great nights individually. Joey Graham drove and got fouled and was at the line with a chance to put the Raptors back in the lead. Joey would get it done. Joey Graham would get a highlight reel dunk and on a night where few have shown up for Raptors, Joey G has been able to do so. A foul late in the half would send Joey Graham back to the line. The Raptors got a final push from Joey to have a 51-46 lead. Chris Bosh had 24 points and was keeping his team in this game.

3rd Quarter.

Raptors did not play a great half but they had a 5 point lead. So a good second half was needed to secure a win that they were in bad need of. Bobcats missed on two chances to score to start the half for them. The Raptors lost the ball out of bounds on their first chance. Gearld Wallace would score the next time up the floor for the Bobcats. Andrea Bargnani nailed a 3 pointer on his first shot of the second half. Chris Bosh would get an offensive rebound and get fouled on a drive to the basket. He would make both and was 8-8 from the line to this point. Raptors lead 56-48 early in the third. Gearld Wallace and Chris Bosh were having a battle. Wallace was keeping the Bobcats in it. But Bosh was doing just a bit more to keep his Raptors in it. The score was 60-54 Raptors.

Chris Bosh had 32 points with lots left to play but yet his team had just a 62-59 lead. Andrea Bargnani was giving help on D with his 3rd block on the night but the lead was still just 3 points. Joey Graham was having a night and he had another basket plus a foul. I am far from Joey Graham fan but he was helping more than anyone else to this point. The bad news is Joey Graham would pick up his 4th foul on a night you needed him to stay on the floor. But Joey was staying in the game and had 13 points a season high I am confident in saying without checking. Bargnani would get a basket and raptors had built a 70-61 lead. Jose Calderon joined the party hitting a 3 pointer. Joey Graham had another basket and he had 15 points now I am almost ready to believe again. The Raptors would take a 75-68 lead to the 4th quarter.

4th Quarter

Raptors needed a win bad and let's see if they could get it. Jose Calderon getting another 3-ball was a good start. Jason Kapono would pop in a long 2 pointer and Raptors lead was 80-70. Joey Graham would get nailed with an offensive foul his 5th foul on the night. Chris Bosh would get back in on the action with a basket to push his total to 34 on the evening. Raptors lead was 82-74 for the Raptors. Joey Graham was remaining in the game with the 5 fouls.

Joey would eventually get taken out by Sam before he fouled out and he got a nice hand from the ACC crowd that was well deserved. Despite a huge night from Chris Bosh and rare night of excellence from Joey Graham the lead was only 87-82. Gearld Wallace cam back in the game with about 5 minute left to try to rally the Bobcats. Joey Graham was back in as well with his 5 fouls. D.J Augustin would drive and score and that Raptor lead was now just 3 points at 87-84.

Chris Bosh does not get the respect that a player of his level deserves. He drove to basket and got hacked with no call. Emeka Oakfor hit a corner jumper and this was a one point game. Chris Bosh answer the challenge with his 38 and 39th points of the night on a jumper. Raptors had ball and got key second chance that Joey Graham would score on. He had 17 points. That was 3 points away from a career high for Joey. Raptors had a 5 point lead with a minute to play. Bobcats would mis-fire and Raptors had the ball Jose Calderon would hit a basket and this game should be over. A bobcat turnover that just so happened ended up in the hands of Joey Graham. Raptors get back to .500 with a win. Chris Bosh had 39 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. Raptors take the Bobcats for second time this year 93-86. For the rest of the numbers check out the boxscore below.

Raps/Bobcats Boxscore

The defense was better but not perfect but the bottom line was the Raptors got a win and it was one that they desperately needed.

The Path To Christmas Is Tough For Raptors

There has been a great deal of talk about what lies ahead for the Toronto Raptors as relates to the schedule. The road to a visit from Santa is a tough one for the Toronto Raptors. They will need to keep hard at work through this holiday season. This is a key reason why a game like tonight versus the Bobcats is very important for this team to get back on track. After that they will take on the Atlanta Hawks who they have already faced this year. That was a rather one sided loss to the Hawks in Atlanta that the Raptors lost 110-92. So to say a win over the Hawks will be easy is not being honest. Also when you factor in the one of the Raptors that played well in that game will likely not be active for that game. Jermaine O'Neal was one of the few guys that could hold his head high after that game in Atlanta based on his personal performance.

This is followed by a 3 game road trip out west that the Raptors will not be the favourite in any of these games. Lakers, Nuggets and Jazz would all be favoured to get a win over the Raptors. So if the Raptors do not get at least a win tonight over the Bobcats they could be on the verge of a long and painful losing streak. You may have heard a lot of folks are not happy with Coach Sam Mitchell. People already are wanting him to be fired. A long losing streak would only add to that idea of a change at the coaching position. It would be difficult to imagine Sam Mitchell finding a way to get through that. The Thunder and Wizards have already made changes early on in this NBA season. But both of those teams were truly in rough shape. That being said if the Raptors are having a 7-game losing streak heading into a home game versus Portland. Can you just imagine the scene at the Air Canada Centre if Mitchell was still the coach? I can and do not want to imagine it. The scene would be very ugly indeed. It already is pretty ugly at the moment.

When you look even further ahead you see the following:

  • King James and Cavs
  • T.J Ford's Return
  • 2 more with Nets (1@ NJ, 1 in Tor)
  • Chris Paul and Hornets
  • Tim Ducan and a Spurs team that could be fully healthy

About the only softies you will find in the Raps schedule heading towards Christmas is games against the Thunder and Clippers.

The point to all of this is the Raptors need to get their act together in a hurry or the fate of Sam Mitchell is not the only thing on the line it could be the fate of the season itself. A team that is battling through injuries and facing a lot of pressure has to some how find a way to find itself and get this season back on track. Before the season ever got started people said that as in the past the Raptors schedule was front loaded. Meaning that the games before the end of the year would be much tougher. After the start of 2009 just as in past seasons the Raptors see a schedule that sees more home dates and a bit easier level of teams to face. But to truly take advantage of that they must find a way to survive to that point.

Few Points On Tonight Vs Charlotte

Yesterday I touched on how the Bobcats put it together to beat the Sixers. The game plan they used in that game could be useful for them tonight. But the Raptors to offer more in the way of 3-point shooting than the Sixers provide. Guys like Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono could be helpful for the Raptors tonight. They will need someone to step up and help Chris Bosh. It should be no surprise to anyone if you see the Bobcats just decide to double up on Bosh at every turn. That will make it key for others to make shots.

On the flip side you have to have some major concern on how the Raptors will deal with yet another speedy point guard in D.J Augustin and he along with Raymon Felton have been being used on the floor together at times and it is something the Bobcats used very effectively against the Sixers. So much so that rumours of trades for Jason Richardson have surfaced over the last few days. After we find out check out the Raptor Rewind to look back on how it happened or if you saw it for yourself a bit of a review.

For more on tonight's game here is a link to Holly Mackenzie with her notes from down at the ACC.

Court Surfing- Game Day Notes

Coming Attractions....Lebron James

I just wanted to chime in on the Lebron James show last night in NYC. I give Lebron a ton of credit he does create an energy for things like this game. He also more times than not lives up to the moment. The Cavs crushed the Knicks and by the end of it Knick fans were almost like Cav fans as they made their voices heard that Lebron James is more than welcome to come to New York in 2010. James even debuted shows for this game which were called "Big Apple" or something along that line. I am not one of these folks that cares about shoes. It is the guys in them that concern me. But James is always as savvy from a marketing perspective as he is on the floor as a player. So every trip to N.Y.C till 2010 for James will be an event and that is why he will continue to feed the speculation to where he may go in 2010. In him saying nothing about it that speaks volumes. Cleveland fans would love to hear him but an end to all of this and say he is not going to leave. But that would make no sense to do that for Lebron James and ultimately that is who is his first concern.

Tomorrow is our Anniversary

It will mark one year tomorrow that the Dino Nation Blog first got started on Facebook. It was come a heck of a long way in that time and it has been a great year. I am going to talk about all of that and announce the details for a contest we are having to celebrate the anniversary of this blog being started. So if you are new to the blog you can learn a bit on what has gone on before you found us. If you are not you can enjoy my reflecting back on what has been a truly great year for me. I have got to know so many great folks from the guest to the readers and it has been a great thrill for me. So I encourage everyone to check in tomorrow for that. But we have a game to talk about before that. So check back later tonight for Raptor Rewind of Bobcats and Raptors.


J.O Out For Rest Of The Home Stand?

Just a little news to pass your way. Jermaine O'Neal who left the game in Sunday vs Boston. It is being reported that O'Neal hopes to return to the Raptor line-up on Sunday November 30th @ the Lakers. O'Neal is listed as day to day with a strained left knee. In comments to reporters O'Neal suggested the rather large brace that he wears on the injured knee is likely the reason his injury was not as bad as it could have been. It has been made clear in his coming to the Raptors the issues that he has had in the past with that knee. So the Raptors are likely going to be without O'Neal's services tomorrow versus Charlotte and Friday versus Atlanta. Both these games are at the ACC to close out a four game home stand for the Raptors. The Raptors hit the road for 3 games on the west coast starting with the Lakers on Sunday.

Update( Wed. Afternoon ):

J.O is also having issues with an ankle along with the knee. He is doubtful for tonight versus Charlotte. It is a day to day situation and the Raptors have not made any announcement on his status. The Laker return date was based on updates that were on Toronto Radio station yesterday. The Raptors will be hopeful to have O'Neal back in the line-up and healthy as soon as he is able as it is a key time for the club.

Bounce Back A Must For The Raptors

After the last few days of people calling for Sam Mitchell to be fired. Others wanting unrealistic trades. Most of you are getting back to a more calm state I would hope. In fact you may even be feeling a bit positive that the Raptors can get back on track against the Bobcats. I bet that 76ers fans felt like that too. But they ran into one of the most under rated rookies in this draft class of a lot of talented rookies. D.J Augustin had a career night of his short NBA career. 25 points, 11 assists and 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Larry Brown the Bobcats coach was using something the Raptors would do last year with T.J and Jose. He was playing both D.J and Raymond Felton together. Felton had 23 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. The Bobcats were winners over the Sixers 93-84. Here is the boxscore:

Bobcats/Sixers Boxscore

One of the issues the Raptors have had is getting beat of the bounce by guys like Devin Harris and Rajon Rondo in recent games. So the message for everyone is don't sleep on the Bobcats. It will take a better Raptor effort if they are going to stop this slide that they are on. It will not be as easy as you think.

Court Surfing In Dino Nation Blog

Some of the folks over at the Score in the court surfing section have been putting in their two cents on the Raptors and Sam Mitchell. First is another D.J (Bennett) and Randy Urban share there thoughts via video.

Court Surfing on The Raps

Meanwhile another member of the Court Surfing staff of writers had a lot to say on a bunch of topics Raptor Related. He talks on Jose and CB4, Sam Mitchell and J.O among them. Joe Casicaro is the writer and among what he has to say is that J.O may have had more guts than brains and Sam Mitchell is a great man but that it is out weighed by him being a worse coach. I admire Joe and his courage. I am not sure if I would be that direct given the temper of J.O and Sam Mitchell. I would not J.O or Sam mad at me.

Raptors Early Woes

I have not met any of these guys but hopefully as the relationship between The Score grows I will get to know more folks over there and see if we can work together for some things. It is all new so it is a matter of folks getting to know me. Likewise for me to get to know them. It is not like Cabbie is on my speed dial at this point or anyone else at The Score. But in the future I welcome the chance to work with them if they are willing to do so. I may even pop in on the live blog for the Court Surfing Show on The Score. That is tonight at 7:30pm.

Live Blog- Tonight 7:30 Court Surfing

Eddie Jordan You Are The Next Contestant On Replace Sam Mitchell Show

O.K for some of you folks I have a beef with you. If you are one of these folks that automatically take every released player and fired coach and automatically assume they are the right guy for the Raptors. Eddie Jordan after only being able to get 1 win out of 11 with no Gilbert Arenas was fired from the Wizards. I read just totally insane stuff from some fans out there. Eddie Jordan is a great defensive coach? He is? Please go back and watch some Raptor and Wizards games from the past and see if you want to say that. I am not here to knock Eddie Jordan and is he a good coach? I think so. But to automatically assume he just enters a line of guys just hoping that his phone will ring and Bryan Colangelo is on the other end is not likely.

All of these names you hear are still getting money from their former teams. Some are also getting paid for T.V gigs. They are in no hurry to rush to get a job and can afford to be selective in where they will look to go next to a point. Doug Smith in an appearance on the Fan 590 last night suggested that any of these big names you hear are not likely to come during the season. He gives a very logical reason for this and that is the fact that they all will want a long term contract. Is Bryan Colangelo prepared to do that or will he wait till the off-season and just give an interim job to Alex English or Jay Triano. Scott Carefoot in the Raptorblog yesterday suggested he would take anyone other than Sam at this point. I think a lot of folks share that opinion. If Sam Mitchell was to go and that is the case that Raptors just promote from the staff. I would really be pulling for Jay Triano as it would be a historic move to have the first ever Head Coach in the NBA from Canada. Sure it would be interim but it still would mean a lot. But I am in no way a fan of wanting to see people get fired most of the time.

Sam's Loss Would Be Your Gain?

One Raptor Blog is offering 25 dollars for the person that is successful in saying when Sam Mitchell is fired. I have to say this in not something I would do. I try even in these tough times to still have some element of positive stuff. That is just the way I am and how I choose to look at the world. But hey times are tough everywhere so if someone is giving you a chance to win money. Well It would not be right of me not to point you in that direction so you can have a shot at the cash. So check out the link to Cuzoogle. I must offer my apology to the Cuzoogle the site was left of my blog directory when I had to swap sites. It was not intentional thing at all. It is one of the more funny and entertaining raptor sites out there. After I am done this I will add him back to the directory.

Cuzoogle Contest Link

Speaking of contests I am going to be having my own contest as well. Just ironing out the details. But it should be fun and I think you will be happy with the one and only prize that will be on the line. This contest is just being put on by the Dino Nation Blog and is not connected to The Score. How you will be able to win? What you will win? Find out on Thursday when Dino Nation Blog celebrates one amazing year of doing this thing we call the Dino Nation Blog.

That is about all for today. I also have an interesting interview set up for Friday that I should have put together on the weekend. So there is that to look forward too as well. It is not from one of our regular guests it is something basketball related that I hope you all will enjoy. So take care and see you folks tomorrow as the Raps will be looking to bounce back against the Bobcats.