When the Raptors go on these west coast trips it really can be frustrating. You have to stay up later and your reward more often than not is watching the Raptors lose to a better team from the Western Conference. It happens all to often and it makes those wins on the west coast seem even more special. Chris Bosh was shut down by the Lakers and struggled through a tough shooting night. He will be the first in line to welcome Jermaine O'Neal back to the line-up. He remains sidelined with an ankle and knee not at 100%. He was said to be a 50/50 decision on the Raptors pre-game show on Raptors T.V. Not sure how much can change in two days before the Denver game. It may seem wise for J.O to sit out at this point till Friday vs the Utah Jazz. That is going to be a game on ESPN down in the United States. Not saying that J.O is waiting for the big show case game on ESPN. But with the added rest prior to that game it makes sense. He could likely even get a practice or two in before that game if things go very well.
The Bench Must Improve
There have been signs of life on the Raptors bench. Joey Graham is showing a lot more "Good Joey" than "Bad Joey" of late. Jason Kapono is starting to shoot the ball again. He is even making some of those shots from 3 point range. But the Raptors got a chance to see what true depth is on a team thanks to the Lakers. Lamar Odom is on the Raptors he is in the starting line-up. Guys like Trevor Ariza and Sasha Vujacic would be welcome additions as well. Even Jordan Farmar would be a upgrade at back up point guard for the Raptors. But that is the difference in being a 1 lose team and .500 team at this point in the season. Raptors were counting on Will Solomon to allow Roko Ukic have time to adjust and get use to life in the NBA. But Solomon with the exception of a great game in Miami has not been good. It has push Roko into on the job training. He still has issues with his shot but he has been working on it. He hit his first NBA 3-ball last night in the last seconds of last night's game. Sure it meant nothing but it is a start for Roko building confidence. Still there are many rumours that Bryan Colangelo is working the phones hard in search of some upgrade to this Raptor roster. Last night was just more evidence that he likely needs to keep at it. I was not sold on this Raptor team to remain the same through out this season and still am not. When December 15th rolls around all of those off-season signings become available to be moved. So we are just a few more weeks from that and the Raptors could truly use the help. The fact that some guys are showing signs of life will make Colnagelo's life a bit easier if he is trying to shop them in trades.
The Tough Road Ahead
The Raptors will have no time to feel regret for a poor shooting performance that was made worse by a terrible 4th quarter last night. Perhaps they will catch a break on Tuesday as I mentioned in the recap last night the Nuggets had Carmelo Anthony leave the game against the Rockets with an injured elbow. But the Nuggets went on to win without him for more than half of the game. Chancey Billups has been doing great in his return for a second run with Denver. The Nuggets have been a different team with Mr. Big Shot than they had been with A.I. This could be the Raptors best chance to get a win on this very tough trip. Playing the Jazz in Utah on National T.V is not going to be an easy task even if Jermaine O'Neal is back for that game. Just like the Lakers the Raptors saw this Denver team in the pre-season as the Nuggets made easy work of the Raptors in Edmonton. But this is a chanced team since that trade and in a positive way. The Raptors will need to play a solid complete game to get a win at Denver or Utah. They have had very few complete performances this season. In fact some could make the argument the Raptors have not had a full 48 minutes of solid play in a game. I would not dispute that if someone said it. To beat teams on the road in the Western Conference you need those complete efforts.
December 3rd is Fast Approaching
Our contest with Raptorman.ca is fast approaching it's deadline. All you need to do is tell me why you are the best fan of the Raptors and the Dino Nation Blog. The person who is successful will win a seat right next to me to see the return of T.J Ford. A free ticket to a big game at the A.C.C is up for grabs. So E-mail those entries as time is running out fast.
I encourage everyone that can attend the game to enter and give it a shot and who knows you may be the winner and have a seat next to me to see the game at the A.C.C. That is all for today some more thoughts on Raptors and Nuggets tomorrow.