Bargnani refuses to drive and Rose scores off a pick and roll with Noah and were off and running 4-3 Bulls. heDO really? he did a big 3 hopefully start of good things. The other USC product on the floor getting work done, that would be Taj Gibson with back to back hoops. Bulls take early lead 10-5 with just over 3 minutes played. Raps would storm back and with Bargnani at the line a chance to tie it up at 10 which he would do. Rose to easy in response with the hoop. But Bargnani shows some 7 foot point guard skills even at 12. Amir Johnson as he often does was in the middle of everything points, a foul little bit of this and that. Bargnani off to his best start in like forever. Actually working a bit. Noah gets to the line and makes a pair and Bulls lead 18-16. Noah draws defense and dumps it off for Gibson as Bulls go a 6-0 run. Jose Calderon hit a jumper to break the run.
Enter Reggie and Demar to the game late, Reggie got to the line with no result. While Flip Murray the other way with the score. Jarrett Jack would drive and score and why he is not starting is beyond me. I know I am at the game ask Jay. Maybe post game if Jack does well. Bulls win Round 1 of 4 at the ACC 28-23. Jokes between quarters as fans boo Vince Carter when he came up on a list of all time leaders in steals. He was 3rd by the way if you were wondering. Mo-P and Doug Christie ahead of him.
Jack a big 3 to start the quarter, he has been the heart and soul of this team and at times, looks like the one trying the hardest to get to post season. Meanwhile note to Jose Calderon fans they are booing call on Amir, not at your guy. Amir picks up his 3rd foul. After that at least 2 Raptors in the area of a rebound and they let Noah have it who kicks out for 3. In fact let the 3's rain down as Bulls extend lead quickly via the 3 ball to build a 41-29 lead with still 8:30 to play.
Weems scores out of the time out that was badly needed. Murray and Bargs then trade buckets. Weems again the slam in transition If someone had told me start of the year Sonny Weems would be our best player, in the team's most important game, I would have assumed they were high or drunk. But full marks to Weems and for the passengers on the bus with the big contracts...um what is there left to say? Weems sparks a mini comeback....Rap in it with score 45-39 Chicago. Turkoglu was dropping dimes though...#7 to Jarrett Jack....for the ALLEY OPP? Chuck Swirsky is in the house so this is ok.....ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Bulls once 12 point lead cut to 4....45-41. Bargnani still can't rebound but scoring at least with 15. Raps would close to within 2 only to have the Bulls push back and lead 53-46 with 2:10 to go in the half. Bull would end up with a 58-48 halftime lead.
3rd Quarter (The Start)
A Deng three to open half not exactly what I had in mind. The Bulls would continue to expand the lead to 17 before Jay Triano finally was forced into a time out. Ok stop the train I want to get off. In fact I am stopping this re-cap, to spare you folks the pain. Crowd booing with the occasional sign of a pulse from the Raptors. The defense for this team was embarrassingly bad. When you consider the stakes of this game and how huge it is, it makes it all the painful. The Raptors now officially do not have their destiny in their own hands. Given all that has gone it is a miracle it has taken this long.
Jay Triano opened up his post game press conference by saying his team's effort was good. Well with all due respect it wasn't, and you had a crowd booing to let you know that. I am sure fans watching at home did not feel much better about it. If you watched this game and could think this team and it's effort was good, you must not have been watching the same game. When a team shoots close to 50%, in what in effect was a playoff game, that is not good effort. When a team gets a rebound with 1 of their guys, and 2 or 3 of your guys in the area, that is not good effort. When your starting point guard, in the biggest game of the season has only 7 points and 4, assists that is not a good effort. He wonders why fans boo? They boo because honestly they are tired of it. Honestly who can blame them?
Bottom line, if this epic collapse reaches it's final destination, in the Raptors not making the post season, someone is going to have to be held accountable. Not only was this a bad season, but it may in fact cost the Raptors their star player in Chris Bosh. Which becomes unfortunately more likely by the day. I have said that Jay Triano is that guy. Face facts, it is not going to be Colangelo as he had his option on his contract picked up. You can point out the 3 contracts from hell all you like, the point is it would shock me if Colangelo was gone. That being said if he was, Jay would soon follow anyway, if a new G.M was in the plan . If you want to blame the roster that is fine, but some of these guys just can't be moved, especially not in an off-season that is all about having cap space for most NBA teams. That is without even considering, how bad the contracts are, or the fact the NBA is set to have a new CBA after this next season. All indications are that it is going to be a CBA that will favour the Owners, given the state of both the U.S and NBA economy(s) . So, someone is going to have to take the fall. The only thing that leaves some gray area is the injuries down the stretch. However, if that is used to save Triano's job it is WRONG. This team has been in a free fall since the All-Star Break. Their defense minus a stretch of about 6 weeks, has been horrible to the point of record levels. In the end, someone has to pay for this and if nothing is done it will be the fans that do. Given all that Raptor fans have endured this season, and what may lie ahead in the summer, they(you) are the last ones that should pay.
None of this is personal in terms of Jay. In fact given all he has done for basketball in this country, at least for me, it hurts to have to say it. But this is clearly not working on a couple of fronts. In terms of his motivation tactics for this team and his defensive game plan. He said post game he felt that his team was ready for this game. Well clearly they were not. That is on the coach. Sam Mitchell was the polar opposite of Jay Triano. Many felt that Saam lacked the X's and O's in terms of his coaching. But until the very end, you could never question a Raptor team's effort. If you could, you wouldn't have to because Sam Mitchell would beat you to it. The most famous rant of Sam is " We are looking for some men that want to play". Sam was a fantastic motivator, and when people felt he lost that, he was done. In fact if you combined Jay and Sam's assets, you would have one hell of a basketball coach.
Jay is given credit for the development of Andrea Bargnani. How is that working out recently? Not so hot is the correct answer. The player Mitchell developed is the team's 5 time All-Star and he did a great job. Sam would never allow Chris to be satisfied. When was the last time you heard Triano, as the head coach say anything bad about Chris? Nothing jumps out at you does it? Sam would always be complimentary to Chris and all he accomplished. But if Chris say had 35 points and 12 rebounds, you could count on Sam be it humour or not, to say he should have had 40 and 15. One of my greatest concerns when Jay was given this job was how the core of this team would take to it. Meaning, Bosh, Calderon and Bargnani. I think it is safe to say the only one that has improved is Bargnani. However his improvement is hardly noticeable on some nights. Calderon has clear taken steps backwards. He is not the starting point guard he was billed to be, when the Raptors dis-guarded T.J Ford to Indiana. While Bosh has not regressed at all. In fact he has had some outbursts of pure brilliance but not always has he been able to follow it all the way through.
But at the core of my concern is how they honestly think of Triano? They all like Jay that is not an issue. In fact they may like him to much. I believe they respect Jay. But here is where the problem is, I don't think any of them fear Jay. Ask players in Utah about Jerry Sloan, they fear him and should. It is important for a coach to have the respect of his player and especially his core players. I wonder if deep down in these guys, does Jay have that? Steve Nash would run through a wall for Jay Triano. However would Bosh, Bargnani or Calderon? I don't know and that is why I have never been at ease with the idea of Jay as coach. It boils down to that for me, and I think everything else is a symptom of that core issue.
I could go on and on. I had an entire train ride to think about it. I had yet another enjoyable night at the ACC, with everything minus the game itself. I got to meet little Kid Raptor and that was fun for me, as I hope it was for him. In addition got to see so many folks including Adnan Virk, who if you have not heard is off to ESPN after just 1 season working for MLSE. I have known Adnan since meeting him at TSN where he worked in a capacity behind the camera. I told this to him as I am writing it now, I am so proud of how far he has come. He assures me he will not forget me when he is a ESPN big shot. Which is the truth I have no doubt. Both at The Score when he was there, and here with the Raptors he was very kind to introduce me to a number of folks. So best of luck to him and after this game I am almost tempted to ask him if I can go too. Maybe be his personal assistant or something. But to be serious Adnan is a great guy and always has been to me. I will miss seeing him and wish him nothing but success down in Bristol at ESPN.
I also want to take a minute to thank Jim LaBumbard, and the rest of the Raptors PR staff. It has been a great experience from going up to Ottawa, to even tonight's mess of a game. It was brought up this whole issue of bloggers and access earlier in the week . I have said my 2 cents on that. However the fact is, I have had a chance to have access thanks to Jim. It is something that I had always dreamed of for the blog. It really is a much different experience to have some access to the team, and be around even if only on a limited basis as I have. I feel it has helped me learn and grow in the work that I am doing. I hope, it also helps me form opinions with the help from these experiences. So, with this being the last game of the season that I am attending, I felt it only right to mention that. I hope to continue this on and grow and learn more, to do a better job for all of you folks that read and support the Dino Nation Blog. I go there with the thought in my head, that I am representing all of you and I hope that I have done a good job of it. I try to be your ears and eyes and mouth in this environment. Which at it's core, is what journalism is suppose to be, in a blog, or in newspaper, or Radio and T.V. That is not always what ends up happening in journalism, but as far as here goes, you are always part of the thought process.
So thanks to all of you for allowing me to represent you....It is an honour and one I take seriously. I do a lot of joking around in this blog. In my writing and with crazy cartoons. However this is something I truly mean and is part of the core of values I use to run this thing.
I also try to be as honest as I can with everything. So in keeping with that this may have been on of the toughest night's as a Raptor fan in a long time. The Raps may still be mathematically alive, but I sure feel like I went to a funeral with that game. I never want to be right about things that are bad in terms of the Raptors but sadly in this case I feel I am.
Almost forgot...Raps lose this 104- 88 . On to face Detroit now in the Raptors only road game left.