The Pacers and Raptors have split a pair of games this season. I was in the house covering the game when the Raptors won 123-112 in November. Danny Granger had 36 points in that loss. Jack was on fire and was perfect from the field coming of the bench at the time scoring 18 and Calderon was good as well with 21 as the stater. CB4 had an awful shooting night going 5-19 from the field and had 16 points and 12 boards. But the Raptors walked away with the win despite that.
Earlier this month the Raptors would travel to Indy and not be so lucky. Bosh was better with 27 points but the team around him was not. The Pacers meanwhile has a full team effort and had 6 players in double digits on the score sheet and it was enough to hold off the Raptors 105-101. Granger in that game lead the Pacers with 23. This hopefully will serve as a reminder to not take the Pacers lightly as Toronto will face them in the next 2 games starting with an early evening tilt with Pacers at the ACC tonight and travel to Indy for the re-match on Tuesday.
It has been a tough season overall for the Pacers. T.J Ford has fallen out of favour and can't get minutes behind Watson and rookie Guard from UConn A.J Price. Who in that game earlier this month Price had 16 and was one of those 6 players in double digits. In Addition Danny Granger has not looked like the franchise guy that Indy was hoping he was on the path to becoming. The one positive in Indy is Roy Hibbert who came to them via the J.O deal with the Raps. Hibbert the former Hoyas standout is doing the school's legacy of big men in the NBA proud and has really started to crank it up in his second season in the NBA
The Raptors have been lights out at home of late but have failed to answer the bell for the opening quarter in the past couple. Indy can shoot the 3 ball and Raptors will need to have solid perimeter defense if they hope not to have a mis-step on their home floor. No word on if Demar suits up today and Andrea Bargnani has been has some issues as well. However even if the Raptors were short handed today there would be no acceptable excuse to dropping another game to the Pacers.
In fact when you look towards the sked heading into the All-Star Break Raps have many of those "winnable" games in front of them. However if they do not start coming out and falling behind the odds eventually are going to catch up with them. No one loves a good rally more than the Dino Blogger but for my personal sanity and that of the Raptors fans like you that I care about, I think we can agree we can do with out the drama.
Raptor if they can do what you would expect and beat the Pacers twice that would put them 5 games over .500 and facing the 4-41 Nets on Wednesday. Raptors can really start to make some distance from .500 and the back in the East. Miami lost last night and the Bobcats were winners. Oh and coming from around the outside and passing the Heat is Chuck Swirsky and the Chicago Bulls. Raptors enter today just 1/2 game in front of Charlotte and a full game in front of Miami and Chicago.
So the margin for error for the Raptors is slim at the moment. Lose a couple you are suppose to win and you could be in 8th from 5th in the blink of an eye...Just ask the Heat.
I hope you enjoyed what may turn out to be the only ever episode of Basic Basketball Basics.
However the Raptors would begin the comeback trail after falling behind by as many as 16 points. Two of the guys leading the charge back were a surprise indeed. Antonie Wright hit a few key 3 pointers. He was only 34.3% from behind the arc on the season. Maybe that was even after last night so it might be even lower. Whatever the case Wright was a perfect 3 for 3 from behind the are and all of his shots were big ones when the Raptors needed them. The other guy part of the comeback charge owes it all to ball. Hedo Turkoglu bizarre post game interview aside in the game was the best he has been as a Raptor. When Halftime came around the Raptors were back in the basketball game trailing by 4 points.
It was a tight 3rd quarter in terms of the score line but D for most of the night was only a rumour at MSG. Raptors would out offense the Knicks to take the 3rd quarter 30-28 and head to the 4th down just 2. Bosh would also be part of the comeback party as well. Though he would have his struggles on D and hanging on to the BALL with 6 turnovers. Bosh would end up the games high scorer (For The Raptors) and get a key rebound down the stretch to help secure the win. Along with Bosh you had Jarrett Jack yet again be part of the rally and make the most important play of this win. Jack would draw a charge on Al Harrington and that would seal a 106-104 victory and the the Raptors would hop on a plane and get the heck out of NYC feeling likely lucky to get a win.
But not before Jack Armstrong would interview Hedo Turkoglu a very relevant question to Hedo's great performance in which he 26 points, 11 rebounds a couple steals and a block. His response to Jack...BALL. Yes that is it ball. So why did Hedo play better finally.....Ball. It was one of the oddest post game interviews I have evey seen and Jack Armstrong is a pro for doing his best to pull it out of the fire. But it takes 2 to tango and clear Hedo did not want to dance. Raptors needed that performance though as Andrea Bargnani struggled with just 2 points on the night. Easily one of his worst night's offensively on the year. He did keep fighting on D though and had 3 blocks and a key one late. David Lee ticked not doubt at getting snubbed from the All-Star game was tremendous with 29 points and 18 rebounds. Bosh had 27 and 15 shooting just 10-24 from the field.
Raptors have won 4 in a row and they have come from way back to win them all. In every game of this 4 game win streak that Raptors have trailed by 10 or more at some point. I am sure Jay Triano would like to do with out that. Raptor fans would likely agree with that. However I am seeing a scrappy team the likes I have not seen since Sam Mitchell left. Whatever you thought about Sam he demanded his teams play hard and fight. Well that fight and scrappy nature is back and only likely to improve with a guy like Reggie Evans chomping at the bit to return. Raps move on to back to back encounters with the Pacers.
Raptors 106 Knicks 104
The DNB where we are ALWAYS BALLin. Thoughts on Raps and Knicks tomorrow.
Paul refers to his article (in the Interview) well there is a link to it so you can read he was referencing. I can't tell you how much it means to me to have someone that I respect mention how hard that I work. It is always nice to know that people see the effort you put in and to have them acknowledge in a public way means a lot. I really enjoy any chances I get to talk with Paul he is a great person and has a great passion and love for the sport of basketball. Like I said off the top Raptor fans are lucky to have so many folks that care so much about what they do and for the fans of this team. Granted I have never worked in other NBA markets but you would be hard pressed to find so many good ones as we do here in Toronto. Also the fact that people in this market are willing to interact with folks in the Blogging community is also something that I would venture to say does not happen in all places. It is a two way street though as I am sure Paul would agree that Raptor fans are some of the most passionate and dedicated fans not just in the NBA but in all of pro sports. Paul and Eric have the call tonight of Raptors and Knicks on the Fan 590.
So if you think you have the stuff to Battle me or one of the other "pros" then go on whotheman.com and tell them why. Like I said if this thing ended in a ALL DNB FINAL I would be proud to see that happen. I am going to do my part to try and hold up my end of that. See if you can get in on the fan side and make it happen for you and for the Dino Nation. You will be the one with all the prizes and glory and I will be the guy most happy for you.
Also I am your Host with the Most for Raptors and Heat tonight on The Score.com and Score Mobile's Live Blog of Raptors vs Heat. Scheduled start time is 7pm but I will likely fire it up a little early for you folks. Raps have won 10 of last 11 at home. Should be fun as 5th in the East is up for grabs.
Demar is set to be in a dunk off with Eric Gordon on All-Star Friday night at halftime of the Rookie vs Sophomore game as well. Hopefully these injuries will not impact on that. DeRozan will have something to prove as he was left of the roster for the Rookies in the game. Gordon will be playing in the game which sets up a rather odd dunk off at the half. Demar had started at the 2 spot for every game this season(Note For Idiots that picked Rookie Team ). I believe the only other player that has started every game at his position is Chris Bosh. Who will get the start at the 2 spot likely would be ether Marco Bellinelli who has been great off the bench. In fact so great you might want to leave him in that roll and start Antonie Wright who would be a better defensive option. Wright as well has been better ever since I slammed him in my mid-term grades here on the blog ironically.
Yesterday we already talked about the added importance of this game. If the Raptors win over the Heat tonight they will leapfrog them into 5th in Eastern Conference standings. It is the front half of a home/road back to back. The Raptors will take on the Knicks who lost by 50 at home to a team the Raptors beat in the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks had a nice bounce back vs Minnesota to wipe that bad taste out of their mouth.
But back to this Demar DeRozan not being on the Rookie Team. I always thought Demar would win the dunk off with Eric Gordon. Now personally I don't want him to just win I want him to smash Gordon and make it VERY OBVIOUS. In fact to be honest I think Demar would have a decent shot to win the whole thing. If the NBA wanted to motivate the young fella by dissing him in not having him in the Rookie/Sophomore game on Friday night might just do it.
This also sets up a situation in which Gordon having played a half of basketball will not be on a level playing field for this dunk in contest. Making it even more of an odd event. However in Raptor terms they just want Demar to get healthy and continue to improve. He now has some added motivation to finish the season strong and make folks take notice.
The one thing I am confident in is that DeRozan will not be phased by it and will continue working hard at his craft. Kobe Bryant gave the young fella some props when the Lakers rolled through town. However Kobe was not picking the rosters for the teams in the game. All Star Weekend as a whole is becoming more and more of a problem with stupid things like this. Allen Iverson starting for the East isn't right. An Event that I use to love is starting to become a bit of a joke. Lebron James backing out of the Dunk Contest and all of it is just leaving me feeling flat. Chris Bosh you would expect will be added to the East roster when the reserves are announced tomorrow. I think that is about as much a lock as you can get. If he is left off I think Canada should demand an investigation on his behalf.
Update 11:50am- Eric Koreen (National Post) wins the Twtter race with the info that it will be Sonny Weems not Belinelli or Wright getting the start tonight against the Heat. I believe this is Weems first start in the NBA and it seems kind of fitting that he would replace Demar as the 2 players seem to be joined at the hip at times.
Two more to go this season and if the Raptors or Heat can sweep the final 2 games that could be very meaningful come April. The Raptors travel to face the Heat in Miami on March the 28th. That will be followed by a game in Charlotte on the 29th where the Bobcats early in the season destroyed the Raptors. The winner of that game will win the season series. So store that one away in the back of your brain. That may be the most important back to back of the Raptors season in late March. It could mean the difference between a 5th seed and a 7th seed in the post season if these 3 teams continue to remain close in the standings.
However first thing is first and the Heat on Wednesday. Miami is only 5-5 in their last 10 games and bring in a 10-10 road record with them to Toronto. When you consider only teams as of right now in the NBA have a winning record on the road (L.A Lakers, OKC, Dallas, Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Atlanta) Raptors hold victories over 3 of the 7 on the list at the ACC and have yet to face the Thunder so in reality they have a win over half of the teams that they could possibly beat of the best road teams in the NBA. What does that mean in terms of the Heat? Not much and Toronto already have an A.C.C win over them as mentioned above. However it does make you stop and think that at least at home the Raptors are a very good basketball team to face regardless of the opposition they face. They did also beat Orlando but that was actually a Road win as the Raptors played them twice at the A.C.C early in the year.
One thing that has changed for the Heat since those first 2 match-ups is the addition of Rafer Alston who was traded to the Nets in the Vince Carter deal and was unhappy in New Jersey ( Really who wouldn't be? ) and was bought out and signed with the Heat. If that brings up bad Vince Carter trade memories I apologize. However what goes around comes around I guess as the Nets sent the Raptors Mourning only to have to buy him out and he like Alston bolted for Miami. Alston like with the Raptors this will be his second tour of duty in South Florida. Rafer briefly played for Toronto be for returning as a free agent after a good season playing with the Heat at the time. When Rafer can keep his head screwed on straight he can be a better than average NBA point guard and is a huge upgrade from what Miami had at the position which was next to nothing with a steal young at time immature Mario Chalmers. A trait that hanging around Rafer Alston is not likely to return. I think my favourite Rafer blow up is when he basically retired in a post game scrum after a Raptors loss. He said something to effect he was dishonouring his family name on his back by the way he was playing and he should just quit. Rafer's retirement was shorter than a Brett Favre or Wrestling Retirement as he was back within a day. Moody but talented might be the best way to describe him. Some Raptor fans may say that sounds like T.J Ford and there might be a small thread of truth to that. But Rafer takes it to a whole new level. But he is happy now as he still has that "Thank God I Am Not On The Nets Glow" and is on a team heading to the Playoffs it would appear.
Raptors have managed successfully to keep harmony at their point guard spot and full marks to both Jose and Jarrett for making that the case. Jack is cementing himself as the starting point guard for this team. If you are surprised you obviously were not believing or paying attention when I told you this would in fact happen. I admit the Calderon injury sped up the process but this happening was inevitable and the writing was on the wall if you only cared to read it. Chris Bosh never was at the Press Conference when Jose Calderon re-signed with the Raptors. He was I assume home Texas or elsewhere. This is not to say that he should have been there. I am not saying that. However when Jarrett Jack was signed as a free agent he was here and made it clear to the Toronto and Canada by Hi-Jacking Jack's Interview on Raps-T.V. Reading between the lines if the day came that Chris Bosh ever felt Jack was the best point guard on this team the case would be closed. Not to say that Bosh would demand that his College roommate be named the starter. He wouldn't have to the fact of Bosh's impending Free Agency would do all the talking for him. Jose Calderon would just make the process a lot easier by getting injured before we every got to that messy point in time. Take it as you see fit you can say this is pure speculation and you would not be wrong. However I prefer to see it as basic common sense and understanding human nature.
Short of Jack being injured himself (Which is HIGHLY unlikely as he played all 82 games last season and has an excellent track record over his career in terms of games played) or the Raptors go on a major skid (also unlikely when you look at their upcoming schedule )Jack is here to stay as the starter. Given the way he rallied this team the last 2 games honestly why would you want it any other way?
The Raptors 15 year celebration makes you reflect at times throughout this season. Like with all this talk of point guards the Raptors have had their fair share of both talented and temperamental point guards over the years. Here is a short list off the top of my head.
Damon Stoudamire, Alvin Williams, Chancey Billups, Mark Jackson, Chris Childs, T.J Ford, Rafer Alston, Carlos Arroyo, Milt Palacio, Muggsy Bogues, Roko Ukic, Will Solomon, Mike James(Best Singer of this group)
That is quite the eclectic group for sure. Toronto has had a love hate relationship with many of these guys and for Jarrett Jack....Love is in the air....You can feel it all around.
That is at least until the Raptors lose a game fans feel they should have won. Then the Jose/Jack debate will rage on. However if you didn't believe me prior to the season maybe you will now...Jarrett Jack is and will be the starting point guard CASE CLOSED. If Jose is the stand up team guy that we have all seen and believe is he will accept his old role and do his best in it which has been the case so far.
Special Note For You The Loyal Readers Of The Dino Nation Blog
Welcome to Danielle and I have spoken with Anas if all goes according to plan he will begin his Dino Blog experience next week at some point. I am happy to welcome them aboard and hope you will enjoy their contributions going forward. If you worried at all that I would be doing less as a result think it is safe to say you have seen that will now be the case. I just felt the blog needed some new life to it and wanted to focus on making that happen. Getting into videos or V-Log and bringing in a couple people I feel I can count on to do good work were both good ideas and I hope you will agree. It will take a little time to get use to it all but I feel that at the end of it the Dino Nation Blog will become a much more Multimedia oriented site and an overall better site as a result that you will want to come to everyday and tell others about. The early signs are that I was correct as more folks have been checking out the blog as a result. I hope that trend continues and with the Raptors winning and my hard work along with my new team members here at the DNB I am confident that it will.
I will close by saying that I am always tremendously grateful for the support of you the loyal readers of the Dino Nation Blog. I work as hard as I do not only for myself and to achieve my personal goals but to do my best to represent all of you people that have become part of this world I have created that is the Dino Nation Blog. It is through your support and kind words over the last 2+ years that I remain motivated and hardworking to bring you the best I can possibly do to inform you, entertain you and hopefully make you feel a part of my work and in some small way my life. The amount of things I have had the great fortune to do truly amazes me and humbles me when I stop to think about. Know that any decision that I make in terms of this blog is always made with you the people that support it in mind.
So it never can be said to often....Thank you for reading, listening and watching The Dino Nation Blog and I appreciate so much the continued support of so many. I am not sure if you will ever truly understand how much it means to me. Never meant for that to be so long but I felt that need to show you folks some love today.
Update- 3:50 pm
Demar DeRozan was injured today at practice as he turned an ankle. The Score's Holly Mackenzie was @ practice and filed her notes from practice on The Score's NBA Blog- Nothing Easy. Holly is always on top of things and does great work for The Score.
I hope through this column you get to know a little about me and a lot about the NBA since that’s what I’ll be focusing on. It takes a lot for me to throw my loyalty behind a club, especially a Toronto-based one considering the success rate of other clubs in the area (Please, do not get me started on the Leafs). This may upset some of you but the Toronto Raptors as a club have not created a situation where a championship can reside - yet. I say “yet” since I have faith in the talent of this team and what it is trying to accomplish. I love how Andrea Bargnani dove in the NBA head first considering the cultural and language barriers he had early on moving from Italy. Now the 24-year old can come off a back injury, driving through the lane for a (wait for it) one-handed reverse dunk in the first quarter of the Laker game this past Sunday. And I’ve been a Laker fan since birth so for me to admit that says a lot. Oh and Turkoglu hitting a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds left in that same game to give the Raps the win - makes anyone have faith these guys can reward Toronto fans with the NBA Championship trophy that has been eluding them thus far.
So there you have it. I have stated where I am coming from and where my loyalties are so we can move forward. Next week, I will be bringing you hot topics and stories from around the NBA you can sink your teeth into. Not like the first batch of K-D I ever made. I neglected to boil the water first and dumped a few packs in before I realized what I did. I recovered as best I could but my friends dubbed me “jiggly bits” after tasting my cheesey creation. But that was back in high school and I learn from my mistakes. My cannelloni is much better.
The truth be told win or lose, I would be proud of the Raptors today. They fought hard in this game against a quality opponent and gave the Lakers a battle. This team is take steps in the right direction. The A.C.C is also becoming a difficult place to play basketball again. When the Raptors won their lone Division Title it was on the strength of a great home record. The Raptors have won something like 10 of their last 11 games on home court at the A.C.C. That is pretty impressive however you cut it.
The question will become do the Raptors use this win as a springboard into the second half of the season? The Raptors have flirted with the .500 mark for quite some time and need to start building wins and getting beyond that point and try to break away from the pack and focus on positioning for the playoff rather than just making them. The idea of getting home court advantage in the playoffs is rapidly becoming a long shot at best. However the 5th seed is wide open and seems to be a 3-way fight between the Raptors, Heat and Bobcats. The Bobcats have been on fire of late but are terrible on the road and face a lot of road games in the next stretch of games. The Raptors schedule is becoming much more favorable in terms of home dates and opposition as well. The Heat are a team that has not shown any kind of consistence as well and they have turned to Rafer Alston to be their point guard...remember him? The chance to make a strong move is here.
Also some great news out of Raptors practice today. Reggie Evans practiced for the first time at full speed. Evans is targeting a return date of Feb 17th after the All-Star break as a possible return/debut date. I have mentioned it before that I am rooting for Reggie to get back and hope he does well once he does. As Reggie told me in one of my visits to the ACC this season, this is the first major injury he has ever had. Frustration can now turn to hope as Reggie is almost ready to make his long awaited Raptors debut. IT IS ALMOST TIME TO UNLEASH THE BEAST!!!
That is good too because if there was one thing that was not so great yesterday as I mentioned in my V-Log it was the rebounding where the Raptors got killed. Reggie Evans in effect will be like the Raptors making a move and giving up nothing to improve. Some would say that is what they did in the first place trading Jason Kapono to Philly. However I was not taking a shot at Kapono just mean that Raptors will be adding something without giving up anything from the roster they started the season with.
Speaking of the Heat they are up next for the Raps at the ACC in what will be a very important match-up. More on that in the coming days as the Raps actually have a few days to prepare for this one as it does not take place till Wednesday.
The Dino Blogger is going into battle. I was approached about taking part in a pro vs joes style Raptors debate contest being put on by WHOTHEMAN.com. They have also hooked me up with my own home page. I am going to have one of the folks from the site come on to be a guest in The Starting 5 and explain this tournament and how it all works. However basically if you enter and get selected you could end up taking on me in Finals or one of the other Pro Bloggers/Experts in the final. But I will save all the details for the interview. What they have also given me is a chance to post video questions for their users and you folks to chime in on. I didn't have a question for you. I thought of something better.
So take up the Challenge and give your best 2 minute sales pitch to Chris Bosh to remain a Raptor. Fans in other NBA cities have been doing their best to get him to leave so why not do your best to convince him to stay. Chris is a member on the site so he may even see you video himself. The good ones I will post here in the DNB. So bust out your Cams and do your best.
Finally barring anything strange Danielle will be making her debut in the Dino Nation Blog tomorrow. So please check out what she is doing and share your opinions with her. Hopefully you will enjoy her contributions here. That is all for today I am liveblogging college basketball tonight...Hoyas and Orange it gets no better. Check my Twitter @Dinonationblog to get linked up for the live blog starting at 7pm.
If you like what you see please take a moment to give the V-Log a rating on YouTube it will help them become more popular and hopefully the Dino Nation Blog as well.
In reality the Raptors chances of getting a win today are likely slim at best. However can they play a game like they did against the Cavs and not lose momentum. That is a more interesting question. The task will be tough but the Lakers do not enter this game on fire or anything. They are just 6-4 in theri last 10 and bounced back from a loss in Cleveland to beat the Knicks which is not exactly an impressive feat as the Raptors trashed those same Knicks not that long ago. Kobe Bryant has fractured his right index finger but it is only an annoyance for Kobe. In all honesty whatever you think of Kobe Bryant bad or good. No one can deny the competitor this guy is and his desire to win may be unmatched in this league. Mix that with his killer instinct and you understand why he has earned the nickname "Black Mamba".
We all know the Lakers career high vs the Raptors but the Raptors high is held by Vince Carter with 34 points. Chris Bosh was able to pour in 44 points against the Bucks. However if he could score a high number against the Lakers that would open up some eyes. Bosh is having one of his best seasons stats wise. Some still point to his lack of defense. However almost ever star from Jordan to Kobe and others have had their defensive effort questioned. Basketball is one of a few sports that players have to play both ways. You will not be seeing Peyton Manning tackling anyone today unless he throws a pick and even then it is highly unlikely. Chris can be a capable defender but is it not far more important that he scores for this team. Who would pick up the slack if he did not. The fact that you can just count on Chris Bosh getting you 20 points and 10 rebounds as an almost given is something special as well. If you flopped those numbers around and say Bosh had 10 points and 20 rebounds would the Raptors have a chance to win? Not likely. If Bosh can play D on the plays that matter the most that is all I personally ask.
If there is no Bargnani expect Rasho Nesterovic to start again. Rasho despite not playing much this season held his own in the game vs the Bucks. A much tougher task today for him. If the Raptors can be in this game in the late 4th quarter that in itself will be progress and win or lose it can have a positive impact moving forward. When you play the best in this league it will expose you and let you know where you are truly at. So the Raptors face another tough challenge and a chance to measure themselves against the best in the league. That is something that a team should embrace and will see if the Raptors embrace that challenge today. THE CHAMP IS HERE....So time to step up and give him your best shot.
Join Me for all the action on The Score Live Blog of Raptors vs Lakers. I usually get rolling a little early for Raps games it is a 6pm scheduled start time but probably get it going 10 minutes prior to that.
So hope you enjoyed that keeping it mind it was a first effort and all. There will be more stuff to come as I really am really enjoying messing around with video again it has been quite a while since I have. Will be liveblogging today's Lakers vs Raptors game for The Score.
What will Chris Bosh do for an encore after his career high 44 points? Do you think the Raptors might get him some touches down the stretch of the game. That is part of problem you face as a star power forward or Center in the NBA. You have to depend on others to get you the basketball. Last night Kobe and Lebron did not have to worry about such things. That is the advantage of being a star wing player in this league as opposed to a small big. Still that not excuse what went down in Milwaukee. With Bogut fouled out of the game the Bucks had no one that could seriously guard Chris Bosh and win that match-up. The Raptors should be able to beat the Bucks with the advantage the have on the offensive end in the front court. Getting Bogut to foul out and in foul trouble was a positive move by the Raptors. It should have helped put them into position to win.
Part of the reason it didn't was the play calling down the stretch. However how the Raptors got to that point is another story. The Bucks out hustled the Raptors and did a better job on the hustle stats. The Bucks were aggressive in getting on the glass and did a solid job on the offensive end especially. Good defense without rebounding is like owning the highest tech security system and forgetting to activate it. The result is the house gets robbed blind.
Looking ahead to the Lakers on Sunday who will not exactly be happy about a loss in Cleveland it does not exactly look good for the Raptors chances. I should mention that I will be Live Blogging that one for the folks at The Score. I am looking forward to it. Not sure why given the likely result but I am. So turning attention back to tonight the Raptors need to get a win or they will be likely starring at a 4 game losing streak dead in the eye. The Bobcats are red hot and the Raptors can not afford to allow them to get to far ahead of them. If the Bucks could sweep this back to back and season series that would go along way in getting them back in the hunt in the Eastern Conference Playoff race.
I am otherwise engaged tonight with a live blog of Celtics and Blazers so I will not be getting to see this one live. But I will share my thoughts on it once I a do. Also the post below this one talks about something new I am going to be trying in getting into the whole VLog thing. I see lots of folks doing it and I figure why not give it a shot and see what happens. I have been taking some of my spare time to work on some stuff and figure it all out. So much like the DNB when it started in might be rough around the edges at first but will see. Let's hope not.
Raptors need a win badly and games like that last one are not good for more than just the Raptors record but the moral and desire of Chris Bosh to remain a Raptor. Both not good things.
I said Changes were coming to the Dino Nation Blog and this is one of them. So coming very soon the Starting 5 V-Log Edition along with some other things in not to distant future. There is also going to be chances for you as well to be a part of things so dust off those web cams if you got them or whatever video taping device you prefer.
That game that Jerome mentioned is on March 5th.... as FINALLY THE DAWG POUND COMES BACK TO TORONTO!!! If you don't remember in his time here Jerome was also a big wrestling fan and once was a guest referee in a WWE match at the ACC. Jerome is still doing good things, and as I said in the interview at the end sports needs more stand up folks like the JYD. It was a great thrill for me to talk with one of my personal all time favourites, and I hope you all enjoyed it listening to it, as much as I had doing it for you all. So remember, on March the 5th if you are heading to the ACC , get ready to Bark up a storm as Jerome put it, as 2 of his former teams do battle with the Knicks and the Raptors going at it in what could be an important game in the Atlantic Division.
Ah memories of last season with no TSN 2. I never got a picture till the Raptors had a 7-2 lead. From when the T.V came back on it was the Bucks pushing back. Although Bucks were not exactly shooting the lights out. Andrea Bargnani finally gets Raps going again with a long 2. Hedo Turkoglu the goat last night off to a better start 2 of 3 with 5 points as he hits a 3 ball. That is already 2 more points than last night. 14-8 Raptors midway through the first quarter in front of friends and family of the Bucks in Milwaukee. Amir Johnson scores to answer a Bucks bucket. Andrew Bogut the big Aussie was off to a good start he scores and it was 16-12.
Jerry Stackhouse enters the game as he just signed with the Bucks his last job was in Satellite Radio. Bucks were going strong and Brandon Jennings 3-ball made it an 11-2 run and the Bucks lead 19-16. Raptors were not doing a could job guarding Jay Triano's house. Let's see if a time out will change anything? Demar DeRozan's jumper is getting better on a daily basis he hits for 2. Bucks answer with a 3 ball. Chris Bosh the counter punch 2 and it was 22-20 Bucks. Chris Bosh gets fouled makes 2 at the line and ties it. Jose Calderon drives with reckless abandon and scores off the drive. Raptors close the Quarter strong to lead 24-22 after 1.
Jerry Stackhouse misses he is a bit rusty I guess. CB4 not so much nails a jumper to extend the Raptors lead. This was looking like a game the Raptors would have to grind out a win. Both teams were not exactly impressing anyone with how they have played early on. Amir Johnson already 2 fouls in the books and a rare 2 for 2 at the line for him. More Amir as Bosh finds a streaking Amir as he SLAMS IT DOWN. Trying to get myself a bit pumped up. Raps were building some distance and had built the lead to 7 points with the score 35-28. CB4 had a strong first half yesterday and again tonight with 16. The key will be to keep it rolling unlike last night.
Carlos Delfino you might remember he was the guy with the good hair. He had 6 points and 5 boards against his former club early on. Calderon was doing a good job and in this new reserve roll has been better than good. He extended the lead to 9 only to have the fellow with the good hair and a pretty good jumper at times hit a 3 ball to cut lead to 6. Bosh continues to be strong and his total climbs to 18. But Bogut would answer and score. Raptors would but the pedal to the metal after that and build a lead to 52-41. Bucks were staying in it with the 3 ball with jacks from Delfino and Bell falling and Raptors lead cut to just 5. CB4 answers the bell on track for a possible monster triple double with 22 points 8 rebounds and 4 dimes. Not trying to jinx it but it would be the first in his career. On the other side of things remember that good start for Hedo for get about it he is now 2 for 7. Raptors take a 56-49 lead into the half. A good but not great first half for the Raptors overall.
Bucks start off on a run as Delfino hit a jumper and Bucks chopped the 7 point lead to 2 in the blink of an eye. Bosh the drive the score and the 3rd foul on Bogut. Bosh would make the and 1. Carlos Delfino hit a 3 and he had 17 against his former club. Raps lead again just 2 points. The Bucks would tie it up at 61 and Jay Triano calls a time out as his team had come out of the locker room FLAT!!! Raptors were struggling and Bosh and Calderon were the lone guys that to this point were only Raptors having a good game to this point. The Bucks had their first lead since the first quarter up 66-65.
Chris Bosh gets to the line and he was perfect 10-10 at the line with 27. Bogut a score and a terrible turnover from Jack and that lead to an easy Jennings score. This was going to be a dogfight of the sports variety not the Micheal Vick variety. Raptors tied it at 70 only to watch Carlos Delfino nail a 3 to extend lead to 5. Bosh answers with 2 he had 34 but it was the Bucks on top 77-72. This was like a flashback to games earlier in the season where Bosh was on fire and the team around him was non existent. If a few guys could step up and help CB the Raps should be able to take this one. Raptors would take the lead 78-77 on an Antonie Wright bucket only to have Luke Ridnour score back to back baskets and give the Bucks an 81-78 lead. That is how the 3rd would finish. Bucks a 10 point swing in that quarter and what would the Raps have left in the tank on a second night of a back to back. Bosh who on Prime Time Sports on the fan 590 was called a 1a guy and rarely gets 40 points was on his way to getting 40 and not looking like a 1a player on this night but he was in desperate need of a Robin to his Batman.
Hedo Turkoglu scores and would he awaken for the 4th? More help from Jose with the score plus a foul and the game was tied at 84. More Jose to the rescue with a much needed 3 and Raptors leading 87-86. However Jerry Stackhouse would answer with a 3. Bucks were getting a team effort and it was helping them stay on top. The Raptors defense was doing their part as well. Leading 93-89 with 7 and a half to play.
Raps would trail by 6 and Bosh pushing took a charge on another night he likely would not. Raptors were doing one thing right they were 24-24 at the line...Bosh the latest to make his free throw. Antonie Wright ever since my grade of F in the DNB has been playing well. I am not taking credit for it but he makes a big jump shot and cuts the lead to 2. Raptors were still stuck 2 and make it 4 as Bogut was killing the Raps with 25 far above his average. He would then foul Bosh and I think that is his 4th. Nope his 5th and Bosh finally missed one at the line and split a pair. Raptors trail 99-98. A big moment with 4:11 to play and Bucks up 3 as Bogut shoves Jarrett Jack to the floor earning foul # 6 and a front row seat to watch the end of this one. Bosh the score and the foul he has 41 going to the line looking for 42. If he gets it the Bucks lead will be 1 again and he does. Tying his career high of 42 points. Bosh a block on the D but Bucks control and score the lead is back to 3. Hedo a turnover and Raptors were in trouble down 3. Bucks can't capitalize but a terrible jumper from wright and Bucks do cash in this time with a score plus a foul the lead is 6. on three straight possession the Raptors don't get the ball to Bosh and there reward was they were down 8. Finally goes to Bosh but to late as Bosh sets a new career high with 44. Bargnani would hit a 3 with 28 seconds to play cutting lead to 5 but the fate of the Raptors seemed set barring something bizarre. Nothing bizarre would occur and the Bucks down the Raptors 113-107.
All I got to say is your Franchise player has 42 points and he doesn't get the ball on 3 straight trips. That is a failure of epic nature in terms of coaching. After the first time you should be calling a time out saying to get the ball to Chris. After the second time YOU REALLY should be calling a time out and saying GET THE BALL TO CHRIS. the 3rd time you just shake your head. If you were a fan of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air the dopey coach of Will Smith's Prep School had a simple game plan and it was pass the ball to WILL. If he could figure it out why couldn't Jay Triano or the other 4 guys on the floor for the Raptors. A very frustrating loss as the Raptors go below .500 on a night where the Bobcats beat the Heat by a ton. Just saying.
Hope you enjoyed and I will look to get Eric Smith back for the Starting 5 when we can reschedule him. Also have another Interview lined up tomorrow with someone who everyone who is a Raptor fan will know. Who? Well sometime tomorrow afternoon if all goes as planned you will find out. Thanks to Alex it was great to talk with him as I have got to know him over the past year a bit through Twitter. I hope to have him back as a guest in the future.
Raptors and Bucks in a few hours and my Radio Appearances in Montreal have moved to Wednesdays on CJLO so you can hear me with my thoughts on the Raptors and NBA at 12:15am and maybe I will give a hint to our guest tomorrow.
Raptors win the tip but fail to score and LBJ drives to the basket scores and draws an early foul on Hedo Turkoglu. Cavs would make it 2 straight baskets and Shaq had his milestone. A second quick foul on Hedo and he did not last 2 minutes in the first quarter. Demar Derozan finally got Raps on the board with a jumper to break a 6-0 Cavs run to start the game. Bosh would find DD to make it back to back buckets for the rookie from USC. Bargnani scored and was fouled but could not make the and 1. But the run would not stop as Demar an early 6 points. Shaq and Bosh trade baskets Raps had an early 10-8 edge. Mo Williams and Cris Bosh trade 2 point efforts and the Raps after a slow beginning trading blow for blow with the Cavs.
J.J Hickson missed on an alley oop earlier but drove to the basket and scored with Bargs on him. Jack would score to restore the 2 point lead. Mo Williams would even it up at 16 all. Call off the shooting guard search as Demar DeRozan on fire with 8 early with another basket this one in the paint. Mo Williams hit a corner 3 and Wright answered with a quick 2 as he was seeing early time thanks to Hedo's quick two fouls. Raptors looking solid up 20-19. Am I crazy to think the Cavs might be the best match-up for the Raptors come April? A win tonight and maybe not.
Big Z in the game and hit a jumper to give the Cavs the lead 21-20. Lebron draws contact and gets to the line extends the lead to 3 at the line. Wright obvious upset about his F grade in the DNB midterm ratings score and is fouled and ties it up at 23. Heir Canada lives and keep the game tied after a Cleveland score to make it 25 all we are under 2 to go in an entertaining first quarter. Andrea Bargnani for 3 and it goes...Raps on top 28-25. But Lebron James would drive score draw the foul and make the and 1....After 1 and it was even at 28.
Cavs shooting 61% but only tied with the Raptors. D needs to pick it up but Raps are hanging with the Cavs. Teams trade buckets to make it 30 all. Delonte West hit a 3 off a broken play and Hedo off the bench with an answer for 3. Raptors lead 35-34. Marco Belinelli back from the flu a long 2 would make it a 3 point lead. Raps are having some issues as Mo Williams the latest to nail a 3 from corner and Cavs on top 39-37. Jose Calderon a nice jumper for 2 and Shaq puts the Cavs back on top with the 2 and was fouled but it's Shaq no and 1.
Marco Belinelli appears to be healthy as he slams one down to to give Raps a 42-41. Raptors were battling hard with the Cavs and Shaq gave Chris Bosh a love tap let's call it. CB4 answers with his jumper and Raps lead 46-45. He would get to the line later and again give Raps lead back at 48-47. Bosh is the Raptors answer with 10 in the corner and for 3 rd straight time giving the Raps the lead back. Then back to back baskets would make it a 3 point lead 52-49 Raps. Hedo gets his 3rd foul and teched up and good bye Hedo at least for rest of the half. Cavs would make the Tech and would go on to take the lead 53-52. James was getting the benefit of some calls and the Raptors were getting frustrated and now Wright would get teched up. The Cavs as result had built a 5 point advantage with score 57-52. Andrea a big 3 late has cut lead to just 2 with score 59-57. Ex-Raptor A.P answers with 3. However Wright would answer that with 3. Defense not on the menu as Cavs lead 62-60.
Raps are putting on a solid show for the folks south of the border but could they shock the folks tuning in on NBA-TV? Shaq and Jack trade buckets and were off and running in the 3rd. Bosh a score he has 18 already and Mo Williams answers with a long 2. G-Tech team up as Jack answers with a 3 ball and Raptors buzzing down just 1 with score 68-67. LBJ was dropping dimes as well as buckets his 7th dime of the night a great pass to Hickson for a dunk. Demar DeRozan show NO FEAR as he drives it at Shaq and gets whacked and head to line and drains a pair. But some vintage A.P with Parkerville Court in Cleveland now as he dials up a 3. Later though Anrea Bargnani would answer with a 3 and we were tied at 73.
Jarrett Jack is fearless as well as he also drives and get walloped by the Big Shaq Diesel. This was a heck of a battle going on. Demar DeRozan would give the Raps the lead. But Anderson Varejao would score and draw a foul to tie the game at 77 with his free throw to come after a time out. Varejao would make the and 1 and Raps a quick miss and James score. James miss and Varejao put back lead climbs to 5. Bargnani breaks up the run only to have Williams hook up James for the easy score. Jack and Parker trade baskets and Cavs lead 86-81. Amir Johnson in the game and making an impact with a block on Varejao. Raptors were is a battle trailing 86-83 to the Cavs.
Mo Williams another corner 3 as he must have a rental agreement with Parker on Parkervillie court...Hit a big 3 and Cavs have a 6 point lead. Moments later Williams would check out of game clutching his shoulder. Raptors were struggling to close out the 3rd as the lead had expanded to 8. A Lebron James turnaround 3.....NO....Whew...Raps escape quarter still down 8.
Raptors will need a strong push if they want to stay in the running to win the game. Raps went the last 3:52 of the 3rd without a field goal. Marco Belinelli starting the quarter strong with 2 then later a 3 ball and Calderon would score and Raptors had cut lead to just 3.Cleveland call a time out and turnover the basketball out of time out. Hedo tries for 3 to tie and his struggles continue as he missed. Bargnani the big block and the long 2 Raptors on a 9-0 run and down just 1. A costly turnover for CB4 and Cavs score in transition to end the run.
Marco Belinelli making and impact in his return to the line up as he makes the pretty reverse lay up as he leaked out on the break. Bosh another turnover on let's just say a suspect offensive 3 second call. Raptors sitll down just 1 with score 95-94. Mo Williams back in the game and shoulder must be ok as he nails a 3. Hedo a miss and Cavs make them pay. 100-94 Cavs a Lebron James slam makes it 102-94 and Cavs answering the bell with a 7-0 run.
Raptors had been fought hard the whole night long but down the stretch Cavs looking like the Eastern Conference leaders that they are. Still over 3 minute to play but Cavs looking well in control of things. However Raps refusing to go away as they trail 104-100. Jose Calderon does to one thing well on D at times and that is drawing charges and he draws a key one down the stretch in this one. Bosh has been muted by the Cavs with just 3 points in the half and he attempted a jumper and missed it. James draws a foul and that is 5 on Andrea and James makes the free throws and the lead is 6. In the final moments Demar Derozan getting minutes worth noting. Bosh another costly turnover late and that will likely seal it.
Raptors will not find the winners circle on this night but it was a good effort overall with some glaring exceptions but overall this team hung with the best team in the East. Raptors fall 108-100 and are 21-21 but they did show they can hang with just about anyone. If you are honest with yourself did you actually think the Raptors would win tonight? The answer is likely know. But they did play a good competitive game for 4 quarters and that is something to build from. People will take Hedo and Bosh to task no doubt. However Raptors got great contributions from Bellinelli and Wright with a combined 26 points which made up for some of that. There is really not much folks can say to defend Hedo with just 3 points in a big game. He was in part brought in for his ability to perform in the clutch and in big games. As a Raptor we have seen little of that. In terms of Bosh he had a really bad second half after getting off to a great start and looked on pace to have a great night through 2.
When you take who you were cheering for out of the equation that was a very entertaining basketball game and folks on NBA TV in the U.S got to see a solid performance from Canada's NBA team.
What happens tonight will only count for 1 game in the standings but for a lot of folks that are not hardcore b-ball fans in the states this will be their one impression of the Raptors. Will it be a good one or a bad one? Playing the Cavs at the Q is a much different task than beating them at the ACC. Cavs are an impressive 14-3 at home and 31-11 overall. Not to mention they have that Lebron James guy. He has had his career high in scoring vs the Raptors and in the past has had a ton of success vs Toronto.
Oh and in case you missed it with MLK day south of the border the Charlotte Bobcats had a win and leapfrogged the Raptors and Heat and now sit in 5th in the Eastern Conference. I know a few people like laughed when I said the Bobcats would make the playoffs in the East. Not looking so funny anymore is it. What makes it all the more impressive or depressing, depending on how you look at it is the fact Charlotte is a dreadful 3-15 on the road. That makes the Raptors 8-14 record away from the ACC look impressive.
The Raptors head into this one of the impressive win over the Mavericks and are 10-3 since December 18th. If this was another team you would say wow that is mighty impressive. However with all the talk in Raptor land at times you sometimes lose sight of that fact. It is much easier to see a point guard controversy on the horizon or the fact that Hedo Turkoglu continues to underwhelm us all. However the positive tip has been the play of for lack of a better nickname the killer B's. Bosh and Bargnani are making the impressive duo. The Raptors had made a trade for Jermaine O'Neal to have a form of twin towers like the Spurs. If they only had waited they had one in the making already.
Both the Cavs and Raptors head in winners of 7 of their last 10 basketball games. I seem to be on a role at figuring out some X-Factors for games of late. If you have been checking out the Live Blogs on the Score you can vouch for me. Tonight for me the guy is Mo Williams who I admit is not much of an X-Factor. However he is a solid 3 point threat and if he gets hot from behind the 3 point line that could cause problems. For the Raptors I will go with the guy that has is popularity on the rise on Twitter even though he isn't on it. Amir Johnson. He can be a big factor on the glass and help the Raptors out. Shaq, Big Z and Varejao are not exactly world beaters on the glass. Fear Amir and hope he can stay out of foul trouble and contribute his max minutes available.
If I take away my Raptor pom poms for this game it would appear this should be an easy home win for the Cavs. That being said I fully expected Cleveland to come in and trash the Raptors of an opening night loss the the Celtics. Win or lose though this is yet another test against a "elite" NBA team and the Raptors of late have done a good job in these match-ups. However the Raptors are just 10-17 all time vs Cleveland and have lost 9 straight there. What has happened in the last 4 or 5 years to cause that I wonder? Oh yeah that Lebron James guy.
To expect a Raptors win would be a bit foolish. However to expect a hard fought close contest is not. The Raptors have earned enough respect for that have they not? Whatever the case this is there big moment to shine south of the border. Well as much as anyone can shine on NBA-TV. I wonder if Sam Mitchell will be in studio. If he was that would make hunting down the NBA-TV feed of the game worthwhile. Win, Lose or Draw the Raptor Rewind makes it's return as unless I get late word I am not doing this game for The Score.
Just A Final Thing
Just wanted to say I finally got to watch the 500th Episode of The Basketball Jones. This show broadcast via the internet has become part of my daily routine. J.E Skeets , Tas Melas and the crew that put that together Monday through Friday do a great job and are highly entertaining. If you are a fan of the NBA beyond the Raptors and have never checked them out...you should. So you missed the first 500 episodes who cares. It is well worth it from whatever episode you start watching you will keep watching it from that number on. Congrats to them on 4 years of hard work and it sounds like the party they had in Toronto on Friday was quite the event. If there is a party for show 1000 I will be first in line to be there.
You have to understand that I truly think of this thing that I have build as something that I take great pride in. I also care deeply for all of you that have read and support the Dino Nation Blog. So this is not something that I take lightly at all. I put a lot of thought and consideration into if I wanted to do this. However I feel that I have found two people that will add to the Dino Nation Blog in a very positive way. This is only the start of what I hope will be positive changes to the Dino Nation Blog. I want to grow what we are doing and how we do it. That is a factor in this as well. In adding some other people to the mix it should allow me a bit more time to focus on those things as well. At the end of the day this is being done to improve the overall product that is the Dino Nation Blog.
Not to mention the fact that is bizarre and yet thrilling that people would see being associated with this site as a positive thing for them. So that is enough about why, I hope by this point you want to know who is coming on board here.
The first person is someone I have worked with in the past. I think that at some point I mentioned that I had worked on AHL Hockey Broadcasts on C101.5. Well this is one of the other folks who worked on that broadcast. We had run into one another at a gathering for a mutual friend and I had mentioned what I was doing with myself these days. About 6 months or so later I decided to see if she would be interested in contributing to the Dino Nation Blog in some way. I honestly expected a polite decline. However I got an enthusiastic yes instead. Now this person like myself has a background in Television and Radio. She has worked for the CBC, W-TSN and is actually doing some CIS Basketball locally on Cable 14 here in Hamilton covering McMaster Basketball. She has always been a basketball fan and I am sure at some point in this will try to convince me the WNBA has more to offer than Candace Parker the sister of former Raptor Anthony Parker. Anyway this is her first experience getting into blogging or writing on the internet but with her media experience I am sure she will catch on. Heck if I can do it... I am sure she can. She is a Laker Fan she says from birth and also now that Raptors came a long likes them as well. She also hopes Toronto one day will get a WNBA Franchise. If that happens maybe will have a spinoff blog like a successful T.V show. Her name is Danielle De Graauw and she is going to be doing a weekly feature in the blog (starting next Tuesday). The plan is for it to be a bit more league based than Raptor based. However as I have told Danielle this is her thing and she can do it as she sees fit.
I want both of the people I am adding to be themselves and have control of what they are doing here. I also want to give them the chance for them to introduce themselves to you and have you know them and hopefully eventually them know you.. As for this second person some of you already know him and I got to know him through The Score. Anas Ahmed did some writing for the Court Surfing Blog and I got to know him through that. Anas wrote his own Bio and had this to say about joining the team here at the DNB.
Anas Ahmed is a recent Journalism graduate from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. He joins the Dino Nation team after writing for RealGM.com and The Score's Court Surfing blog. He spent last year as an intern in The Score's NBA department and brings a great passion for all things NBA. He also really likes Black Diamond Cheese Strings. And ranch dip. He cites conquering seasons one through five of The Office in under one month as one of his greatest victories. He is a firm believer that combining Butch Carter and Kevin O'neill would form the greatest coach in Raptors franchise history. He would name him Butch O'neill over Kevin Carter so as not to confuse the combo for a Kevin Willis-Vince Carter hybrid (a giant, high-flying, injury-prone centre with a mean mustache who would have somehow managed to play into his early 60's). He also believes that Canada's laughable mainstream coverage of basketball is rivaled only by the American coverage of hockey. You can hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @thisisanas on Twitter. He also doesn't know why he wrote this bio in the third-person but he, I mean I, really enjoyed it.
We have not exactly defined a role as to what Anas will be doing here. I would suspect he will be helping out giving his 2 and sometimes even 3 cents on the Raptors. Although as a recent grad you never want to give to much money away.
Ultimately we end up with a Big 3....Hey it worked for the Celtics. But seriously we have 2 very talented people here that I feel fortunate to welcome into my little world I have created here. They also like me have experience beyond just writing and that will likely lead to looking to do more exciting things in the future taking into account our backgrounds in broadcasting. If I hit the lottery tomorrow the Dino Nation Blog Television Show will start production in a week. If not we may just have some form of audio and video content for you as this grows and expands in the future.
But for now I just ask you all to welcome them and support the work they do here. Like I said at the start of this it is not a choice that did not have a lot of thinking behind it. I have had offers from folks to write for the blog in the past. I kindly declined. In part with some because of timing and others because I didn't feel they fit with what I had built here. I feel that both Danielle and Anas will fit in well and contribute to the DNB in a positive way that will help expand on what I have been doing for over 2 years. I also find it exciting to have a female be a part of the Dino Nation Blog. I think that adds an interesting element to the mix and hopefully you will as well.
So please make both Danielle and Anas feel welcome and treat them with respect and love as you folks have done towards me for the most part over 2 + years.
These grades are based on performance vs my personal expectations and a little of what others have to say on the various folks. Basically it is far from a scientific process.
Bryan Colangelo (B-) It has not been perfect by any means in terms of what Colangelo has done. Hedo Turkoglu and that 53 million dollar contract is looking worse by the day. However that 50 million dollar one for Andrea Bargnani looks better by the day. Jarrett Jack has been pretty good and emerged as a leader. Reggie Evans has yet to play a game. Marco Belinelli has been inconsistent at best. Sonny Weems is actually a rotation player? not bad for what some felt was a throw in to a trade. Amir Johnson has stepped up and filled in for an injured Reggie. His choice for the coach in Jay Triano has his moments both good and bad. He has stayed firm in his dealing about the whole impending Bosh Free Agency. In the end the lack of production from Hedo Turkoglu hurts. As one of the readers of the Dino Nation Blog correctly pointed out the "biggest" move Colangelo has made the last 3 seasons has not exactly produced positive results. Kapono was a failure...J.O was a bust and Hedo Turkoglu has not lived up to the hype. Still Colangelo overall has improved the level of talent on this team overall and even though he likely had higher expectations than 6th in the East and 21-20. Still he has made up for his mistakes to the point the Raptors can be considered a playoff team in the East. What ultimately will define the Colangelo era is what becomes of the whole Chris Bosh situation. Has he done enough to keep Bosh a Raptor? If he hasn't can he honestly make a deal that will make the Raptors better without him. Seems unlikely and it really will be what his ultimate grade will be based on. Colangelo in part was brought here to build a team that could win around Chris Bosh even he admits that Bosh was a big reason he took the job in the first place.
Jay Triano (C+)- Jay Triano has been a source of frustration at times. It has taken quite some time but he may just have turned the corner and got this team to play at least decent defense. I am not thrilled with how he manages games at times and sometimes he seems a bit unwilling to accept something doesn't work. For example going with Hedo, Jack and Calderon on the floor together. That being said Jay does do a nice job of substituting offense for defense down the stretch of games. He also seems to do a better job out of time outs (when he does decide to call them) than Sam Mitchell in terms of executing a play. I remain unsold that he was/is the right choice to coach this team. However the Canadian in me cheers for me to be dead wrong. Still enough things happen that just concern me and do not make me feel comfortable with Jay. Colangelo says anyone that suggested Jay's job was in trouble was crazy. Well call me crazy but if the Raptors had not closed 2009 the way the did it was hard for me to see Jay being coach much longer. However he has turned things around and so far has managed the point guard situation with Jack and Calderon the right way. There is time for Jay to improve this grade greatly but for now he is getting what he got from me. Had he broke maybe one more clipboard maybe he would have got a B- but not likely.
Chris Bosh- (A) - Honestly I seriously considered the A+ but his defense at times can fall asleep at the wheel and still commits the odd silly turnover. That aside this has been THE BEST SEASON of what has been a solid career for Chris Bosh. It makes the impending free agency all the more troubling. Bosh has his share of critics out there but this guy is a very good and bordering on great NBA talent. He is unique in his skill set and he leads the league in double doubles to this point in the season. Chris Bosh was playing a higher brand of basketball than his team was early. When he plays at his max and this team does a long side him this is one of the better teams in the NBA. So many bigs in the league are a liability at the line. Bosh is a close to 80% shooter. Chris Bosh stay or go is having his best season as a pro. Not to mention he has handled all of this with the professionalism and class that we have come to expect from Chris Bosh. He took over the franchise lead in scoring and has become a better leader and better player than Vince Carter was in many aspects. Just because Vince won a single playoff series and slam dunk contest that does not make him the best Raptor ever. The most notable perhaps although Bosh in his own unique way has become a known attraction as well. He who wears the crown of franchise player takes a lot of heat and gets a lot of glory. Bosh has grown into the role and it suits him very well.
Andrea Bargnani (A)- Andrea has come a long way and is really starting to impress on both ends of the floor. It is shocking how much he has improved as a rebounder and defender. There is also a noticeable difference his the young man's confidence. I never thought I would see the day Andrea would grab 17 rebounds and show confidence that is not just dictated by his shooting night. A guy who most felt could never play at the 5 spot is not only playing at it he is starting to excel at it. You will never confuse Andrea for Kareem, Shaq or Bill Russell. However he has taken his own unique skill set and adapted to his position on the floor. Improved passing as well and a greater chemistry with Bosh have also been noticed. The contract he signed for 50 million and 5 years that he signed in the summer that worried some( Myself Included ) now looks like one of the best contracts in the league going forward.
Demar DeRozan (B-)- I have never hidden the fact that I like Demar. Think he is a great kid and has a great attitude towards growing as a player. Basically that is what we have seen for the most part. His jump shot is a work in progress but is showing signs of getting better. He is slowly trying to learn what it takes to be a defender on the NBA level. Some nights you think he is way out of his league and on others he looks like the next coming of Vince Carter. The answer is likely somewhere in between but leaning to the V.C side. I think when all is said and done Demar has a chance to be a better defender than Vince. In part because Vince never pushed himself to be a great defender. Demar will I think. The 2 main skills that Demar has mastered thus far in the league is to throw it down and get to the line. For a rookie it is amazing how often Demar can get to the line when he puts his mind to it. As for his bag of tricks dunking the ball I think we have only scratched the surface of what is to come. Demar and what he can be in April and then in next September is something that gets me excited and it should all Raptors fans. He is getting better a day,week and month at a time. So far I am impressed with what I see.
Jarrett Jack(B) - He is the starting point guard and started as the back-up. So it took an injury for it to happen but I told you it would. However even I am surprised it happened so fast. Honestly I think Jack can be a lot better. That being said what he has done off the floor deserves a lot of credit. I think he has become a leader for this team in the locker room. Something that Jose Calderon has not been. Calderon is a great team player but I see him more as a follower. Leading the team on the floor is one thing but being a leader off it is another. Jack has done a decent job in all areas but the most important thing he has done is pushed the basketball. He gets this team moving and going in transition. He also offers more defensive resistance than Jose Calderon. Jack does nothing so exceptional that it stands out and nothing so glaring that it stands out. Jose Calderon may end up with better numbers but Jack will or at least should remain the starter. He at times has shown the ability to step up and make big plays at the perfect time. He also is durable and you do not have to live in fear if he is injured. He played all 82 games for the Pacers last year and you can count on him being in the line-up night in and night out. How Jack,Triano and Calderon manage this situation will be key to team success. Mitchell, Calderon and Ford did not handle it well and it ended up in team making a trade that should have been not needed.
Hedo Turkoglu (D-) - I strongly considered an F. This has not been a good situation from day 1. He sat out the majority of training camp and he at times has looked totally out of gas. The bad nights far out weigh the good ones. In terms of being an impact free agent signing to this point he has been a bust. At times you see flashes of the Hedo that played for the Magic. However in general you have seen a player that has not produced anywhere close to what he should for the amount of opportunity he is given. Can he turn the corner in the second half and become a huge impact player for this team? You would sure hope so as given his contract it is unlikely he is going anywhere for awhile. The recent complaints in the media about his role as well. Hedo honestly needs to look in the mirror and play better. It really is as simple as that. We could break it all down in terms of his effort on D, his shot not falling at rate it has in the past and some other things. But basically he is playing like a kid on scholarship for 5 years and not showing the effort and energy that he used to get the Magic to the finals. Find me that guy. That being said his Pizza Pizza Ad is first rate comedy and for some Raptors fans is a bit to much looking like reality. Instead of worrying about who is snapping his photo in public how about figuring out how you can make yourself fit in better with this talented team. If you do that more people may actually want to see pictures of you instead of posting them on their dartboards.
Jose Calderon (C+) - Has it really come to this? The Dino Blogger actually defending Jose Calderon and trying to convince people trading him is a bad idea? It appears so. That being said would I fight to the death about it? Not a chance. However I think Jose Calderon is not getting a fair shake. Look at what he has done playing in the reserve role. It has been pretty great. His defense is still a gross embarrassment at times. However this whole concept of Jackaron needs time to develop. I also think that Demar DeRozan could become good enough that making a trade for a shooting guard unnecessary. There is time before the deadline and let's let things breath and table this stuff till the trade deadline. Jose as a starter has been a disappointment. His lack of durability and defense is the reason he is where he is. However if he produces like he has recently should anyone complain, not unless you are insane. Jose is as much a victim of over hype than anything else. Stats and people saying you are an All Star does not make you one. Jose Calderon's assist to turnover stat ranks right up their with the Raptors consecutive 3 point shot making streak at 901 if you care. There may be no hope for Jose in terms of defense. However what I am noticing is he is more willing to push the basketball in transition. He has also done a solid job developing some chemistry with some players like DD for example who is making even a bad Jose alley opp pass look good. trading T.J ford was not the answer and trading Jose Calderon is not as well. Although what has become very clear is that if Raps are going to move a major piece Jose is likely it. You are not going to move Bosh, Bargnani and likely can't move Hedo even if you wanted too. I honestly think and hope that Jose is not moved as it really would not make a lot of sense. Unlike some I am not willing to live with Marcus Banks as this teams back up point guard. Jose over him is no contest in terms of talent and impact.
Marco Belinelli (C-) Bryan Colangelo said that this guy could be 6th man of the year in the NBA. I would be safe in saying he would not even make the top 3 on his own team right now. He has been wildly inconsistent. What I have figured out though is he is a talented passer and has more in his tool box than just his shot. That is a good thing because that shot of his has been the issue. Some times he is lights out like Derek Fisher in NBA 2k10 (Guy never misses when I play Lakers ) and at other times looks like the second coming of Adam Morrison. I really at the end of the day am disappointed cause I expected more from him. Perhaps he has helped in what seems to be a more engaged Andrea Bargnani and if that is true I would gladly bump up his grade based on that alone. However that is hard to prove. I really just don't know what to make of him and now am starting to understand the frustration they had with him in Golden State. Let's hope he figures it out and gets on the right track. He currently has the flu and maybe sometime away from the court and everything might help. He quickly could get lost in shuffle if this team continues to play well.
Amir Johnson (A-) - Honestly Amir has been so good that this team barely has to notice that Reggie Evans has yet to play a game that matters this season. Johnson has been the energizer bunny off the bench and he rebounds and blocks and keeps going and going...until he has to many fouls to continue. That is the one knock on Amir is his in ability to avoid fouls. He also has a very limited offensive game. But what he does have is just amazing amount of hustle and heart on the glass. Tom Liston (Huge Amir Fan) is upset that Amir didn't get an A+. However I think A- considering what we thought his role was going to be and has become is pretty good. Johnson and Evans as a tag team coming off the bench is something to just drool about. In big games when they matter most both Evans and Amir can be huge in impact by grabbing key boards for this team. Chris Bosh has gotten a lot of help on the glass this year and Amir is at the front of that list.
Sonny Weems (B)- The fact Sonny Weems is not getting an incomplete is news. When he was acquired honestly did any of you know who he was let alone expect he would be in the rotation at times? Weems has shown great athletic ability but at times forces his offense. He reminds me of Hump in that way. He is an aggressive defender and gives all he has got when he is out there. In fact that is a problem he might be trying to do to much. Sonny is an added bonus however you cut it.
Antonie Wright ( F ) - For whatever reason Wright has fallen out of favour. He has forced his offense and a guy that was billed as a defensive stopper has not lived up to the hype. Half court buzzer beater and the odd highlight here and there but for the most part glued to the bench. Really can you do anything but give him a failing grade? If anything maybe I should give him the D- and Hedo the F but honest Wright based on expectation and actual reality has been a major disappointment.
Rasho Nesterovic ( D- ) - Honestly what impact has Rasho really had on the floor. He has been pretty invisible and rarely sees the floor. Rasho is a great guy and it is nice to have him back with the team but if we are judging this primarily on the on court performance he really has done little. There was a reason the Roy Hibbert took over in Indiana. He is young and talented and turning into a quality big man. Could have been a Raptor but that is a story for another day. The other reason was Rasho is not as assume as he use to be. Sorry Tim Duncan but it is true.
Marcus Banks ( C+) - Sorry that his brief run as the back up did not get me in the Marcus Banks fan club. While solid on defense he still makes just stupid choices at times on offense and often in favour of himself getting a shot. Milt Palacio like in nature Marcus Banks is nothing to get excited about. There is a reason he has been traded around like an unwanted pet. His awful contract is part of it but the player behind the contract is not exactly lighting the world on fire. That all being said was he miles better than Will Soloman and Roko Ukic last season. Heck yeah. But that really isn't saying much. Banks did help this team when he was needed which is far more than any of us likely expected heading into the year.
Patrick O'Bryant (F) - You might say wait a second how can POB get an F? Well if you only are seen during garbage time and on Twitter I am thinking that means 13 other guys are better than you. Bryan Colangelo took a gamble on him at the deadline and it only cost him Will Solomon to do it. However the gamble has failed and POB has become more mascot than player and that is not a good thing. 3 teams have tried to see what this guy has and they have all come to same conclusion.....Not Much.
Reggie Evans (GWS- Get Well Soon)- I really think Reggie will have an impact and I have enjoyed getting to know him a little bit in talking with him a few times over the season. No one will be happier than me to see #30 on the floor for the Raptors. Well accept for Reggie himself.
So were done right....Nope we got 2 more to do.
Dino Blogger (C+) - I honestly feel that I could have done better so far this season. I am still working just as hard but have had some issues this year that have made the blog a bit more challenging to do. I do feel that the interviews I am doing have become better and are more informative and entertaining. I will continue to bust my butt and look for ways to make the Dino Nation Blog better each day. That is my promise to all of you. There have been some very rough moments this season but some how some way I have kept this thing rolling along. I also am pleased that we have started to make in roads in terms of access. Jim LaBumbard has been kind enough to believe enough in me and the Dino Nation Blog to allow that. There are going to be a few changes that I hope you will enjoy going forward.
Raptor Fans (A-) - The fans of this team have come a long way. For the most part all of you are extremely passionate and care deeply about this team. I still would like to do away with the morons that feel Pizza is more important than basketball. I also get a little tired of the constant lack of respect for Chris Bosh by a few. However for the most part Raptor fans are some of the greatest folks you could ever hope to work for. I am proud to say I have got to know a lot of you that read this blog and think you are all fantastic folks. It makes doing this a worthwhile experience that I have enjoyed long before it ever has become any sort of job or career for me.