This Week In Raptorland: 2012 Year In Review

Today we take a look back at the calendar year of 2012 for your Toronto Raptors. It was interesting 12 months for the Toronto Raptors. A failed attempt to land Steve Nash, Andrea goes from a Mirage of Greatness to public enemy number one. New faces like Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross. While young players like DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis go from struggling to showing big signs of growth. This Raptors calendar year offer you just about anything you could hope for. This along with you Raptor DNB Awards.

On behalf of myself and Josh I wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year. Thanks to those of you that have supported this podcast from the start. When I look back on 2012 this will be at the top of my list of things I have enjoyed. Hopefully you have as well and will tell your friends to give it a listen in 2013.

Also special thanks to Manu and the folks from St Louis Wings for coming on board as sponsor for this podcast and of the Dino Nation Blog. We value their support and thank them for providing you the listeners with some of their great chicken wings as prizes for your contributions to the show.

The way this season began it may have crossed my mind a time or two that what on earth have I done starting a podcast at perhaps one of the worst times in franchise history. That said we have survived and thrived. All the best for Raptors to keep things on the right track in 2013 and thanks to all of the players that have been part of our show. Special thanks to Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan that both did some cool bumpers for the show as well as all the other folks like the JYD, Jack Armstrong and our own fetature columnist and former member of the Raptors Dance Pak Candice.

A lot of work goes into this every week but because of all the help and support that has been provided from all of the people mentioned it has been well worth it.


Raptors end 2012 In The Magic Kingdom

The last time Magic and Raptors met it started the Magic on a 4 game losing streak. Raptors won that game 93-90 and had a balanced scoring effort with 6 players in double figures led by DeMar DeRozan with 17 points. The Magic were without Glen “Big Baby” Davis and it was Aaron Afflalo caring the load with 26 points. This game also feature a couple highlight dunks from Terrence Ross that actually counted on the scoreboard.

The Magic have loses to the Jazz, Hornets and Wizards since losing to the Raptors. This just screams a struggling team doesn’t it? Also, when the Magic look ahead on their schedule they take on the Heat in an all Florida tilt to cap off 2012 on December 31. The Raptors this is their last game of the calendar year of 2012.

Speaking of which were going to have the first ever DNB Awards on our podcast This Week in Raptorland. Tune in for the best and worst of the Raptors in calendar year of 2012 in Toronto Raptors basketball.  What are the awards? Who is nominated? Who wins? We don’t know. You give us your Awards and winners and have a chance to enjoy some Chicken Wings on us and St Louis Wings.

Use #DNBAwards on Twitter or leave your suggestions in the comments.

The Raptors looked very inconsistent last night in New Orleans but eventually found a way to win. A better start would be nice against a struggling team. Can the Raptors end 2012 on a positive note with a win?   The Raptors will not leave the Eastern Time Zone until March 2, 2013 against the Bucks. Lots of home games and a much easier schedule begins to take shape for the Raptors.  If the Raptors are to rally and get in the playoff hunt it would start now. A winner of 6 of their last 7 only begins to make up for this team’s 4-13 first month and a bit of the season.

This Week in Raptorland will be out on Monday to close out 2012 and will have some thoughts on this game with the Magic.  So, I will save the Happy New Year greetings for now.

Raptors have lost 2 of their last 3 in Orlando and are 11-18 all-time in the home of Disney World.


Birth of The Anti-Hero In New Orleans Produces A Win

Well that was something. The Raptors were good, bad and at times ugly in New Orleans. At the end of it all there was a returning Kyle Lowry making a rather loud statement in OT to lead the Raptors to a win they tried to give away down the stretch. It marks the first OT win for the Raptors and as I noted on Twitter the loser will now be forced to be called the Pelicans this year. Raptors got down 17-7 early in this one and failed terrible down the stretch. But Kyle Lowry is crowned your ANTI-HERO and saves the day complete with black compression shirt for his shoulder. Oh and DeMar DeRozan had a great night to and hit more threes than Terrence Ross. He had 30 to lead the charge with 5 players in double figures none named Jose Calderon. Raptors take it in overtime 104-97 for their first road win vs. a Western Conference team this year and just their third overall on the season. Here are some takeaways from the night:

Lowry 1 Calderon 0: You know I am going here so why not get it out of the way. Jose Calderon for all the wonderful things people will say does his best work when his challenger for his playing time is out. Lowry returns and he has 2 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in over 30 minutes of floor time. Dwane Casey trying to play Switzerland by playing both late in this game worked tonight but won’t long term.

Lowry will drive you nuts and an ill advised shot that was blocked late was an excellent example of what people don’t like about him. Like it or don’t like it you better learn to love it. Kyle Lowry isn’t going to change anymore than Jose Calderon is going to make the NBA’s All Defensive Team. Lowry had 17 points and 8 assists and saved some of his best play for overtime.

Terrence Ross Isn’t As Good As His Hype, Still Least we Didn’t Draft Austin Rivers:  I am growing tired of all this Terrence Ross over hype. His best play of the night was a dunk that didn’t count. It is not that he sucks or is a bust. I think he has talent but he is far from being the player some Raptor fans are trying to make him out to be. That said if the Raptors hadn’t taken Ross there was a lot of buzz they might have taken Austin Rivers. Thank God that didn’t happen. He was terrible tonight and has struggled in his rookie year with the Hornets. Maybe Doc Rivers was smart to make it clear he never wanted to coach his son. The way he has entered the NBA would make the Rivers household quite the mess if Doc was coaching him.

Rivers did out play Ross on this night with 11 points but it took him 41 minutes to get that much. He also had a terrible turnover late in the game. Ross was awful 1-8 and 0-6 from three point line. He is doing a decent job on defence but shot like that and hit the bench son. Landry Fields deserves some minutes on nights like this. Ross didn’t have it at all on offence.

29 Minutes of Good D: Raptors defense had their moments. It was a good second and third quarter along with the OT from a defensive perspective.  The first 6 minutes of the first and the last 6 of the fourth were forgettable. Ok so that is 40 minutes of good play out of 52. Kyle Lowry was never the problem about the defensive side of things. He only helps to improve the Raptors in this perspective. It is that Andrea guy that is the issue. Without him the Raptors are 6-3 and last season the team’s defensive resurrection under Casey came with Bargnani only playing 31 games.

They made a solid point on broadcast about when Andrea returns. He may have to go back in the starting line-up with Jonas out. Had that not been the case no one would argue he deserved to be on the bench. In fact maybe he still does. Ed Davis continues to prove he deserves to start with 13 points and 5 rebounds going 6-12 from the field.

Is it the Hair? Amir Johnson continues to rock the claw hair cut and his play has been solid with it. It was a solid performance with 12 points and 8 rebounds off the bench for Amir Johnson. He lead the team in +/- with a + 18 on the night. Amir Johnson just continues to be the same guy he always has been. He even hooked up with Lowry for a nice play. Amir can have chemistry with anyone he just does a good job setting picks and rolling to the basket. He makes it easy for whoever his point guard is. He probably is banged up with injures we don’t even know he has but he never stops going. Funny loving off the floor and a true gritty performer on it is what Amir Johnson is. 

That is about all the thoughts I have. Raptors win but likely exit this game with more questions than answers with Kyle Lowry’s return to the line-up. Also some under the radar play from Alan Anderson and Aaron Gray in this one. Both solid guys that never demand attention but on some nights deserve it. Anderson does this on more nights than Gray obviously. Will we get any answers in Orlando tomorrow? I highly doubt it. Raptors are trying to massage this point guard situation and on this night they did and escaped with a win. Don’t expect that to last over the long haul. Hornets are a six win team and a better team would have stole the Raptors lunch money and left them with a loss.

Raptors look to bounce back vs the Bugs

Raptors try and rebound taking on a franchise that is in full rebuilding mode in New Orleans. It was the once league owned Hornets that hit the jackpot in the NBA lottery landing Anthony Davis. He has only played in 15 of the Hornets 28 games far. He comes into tonight off a double-double performance with 12 points and 11 rebounds in a game against the Magic who the Raptors will face tomorrow. The Hornets won that game just their sixth win of the season.

The major thing about Davis his shot blocking presence. He is averaging 1.8 blocks per game so far but alters a lot of shots.

The hornets also have another rookie that some Raptor fans were dismayed that Raptors passed on for Terrence Ross. Maybe the Raptors got this one right though as Rivers is averaging just 7.7 points per game and under 3 assists per game. In his last 3 games just averaging an even 6 points a game. Compare this to Ross who has averaged 11 points per game despite only averaging 6.5 points per game on the season.

But here is major difference it is playing time. Ross has averaged just 17 minutes per game compare that to Rivers who is averaging over 10 minutes more per game checking in at 28.2 minutes per game.

Raptors have enjoyed heading to the New Orleans in the past with a 6-5 record in the city known for the Saints and partying. Compare that to the overall franchise record when the Hornets called Charlotte home is just 9-16 and one of those wins came in Oklahoma City before there was Thunder and it was the temporary home for the homeless Hornets after hurricane Katrina.

This will be an important bounce back game for both the Raptors as a whole and DeMar DeRozan as an individual. He lead they Raptors starting five with a meagre 8 points vs. San Antonio. The bench came to play and the starters didn’t.

Speaking of which how is that great bench play going to be impacted by the return of Kyle Lowry. He is expected to back-up Calderon making his return to the line-up. Can he lose the selfish tag and keep the Raptors second unit producing at a high level? Guess will find out.

Point Guard Controversy activate. It will be more of one if the Raptors lose more games than they win. After all winning cures all as they say. 


No Surprises In San Antonio

Not a great deal of thoughts on the Raptors losing to the Spurs 100-80. It was likely expected if you allowed yourself to look at this game objectively. The Spurs based on their past encounter with the Raptors at the ACC which went to double overtime were not about to overlook them. The fact they had won five games in a row heading into this game was likely helpful in that regard as well.

It was another rough night for DeMar DeRozan against the Spurs which as pointed out on the broadcast has been historically the case. Just 8 points for DeMar going 3-9 from the field is not what you need from the most talented player on the floor arguably in terms of scoring.

Landry Fields was back and got to see some time in this game. Casey even tried going with a small line-up playing Fields at the 4 which was pretty odd to say the least. Fields hopefully can play his way into taking Linas Kleiza’s minutes because he clearly has not learned how to shut up.

Kleiza’s constant complaining about calls does the Raptors no favours at anytime let alone against a top team that is likely to get the majority of calls without his help.

Calderon had his usual brilliance in the assist column with 10 but only scored 7 points to go with 3 turnovers. Raptors committed 15 on the night which is not a terrible number on the surface. The problem was they were ill timed and the defense was getting burned on the break on many of them.

The bench remained solid and you don’t see this everyday in the NBA with 4 guys on the bench hitting double figures and not one of the Raptors five starters getting beyond double digits.

Amir Johnson had 12 points and 6 rebounds to lead the team tied with Alan Anderson who also had 12.

It is not so much the Raptors lost this game as it is in how they lost it. What now becomes the focus is if they can recover from it and be able to get wins in two games that they honestly should vs. New Orleans on Friday and Orlando on Saturday.


Back In The Saddle In San Antonio

Hope everyone had a good Christmas and is having a good holiday season. The Raptors season took a turn for better prior to the Christmas break with a 5 game winning streak. The most impressive of those wins came against the Houston Rockets in terms of quality of opposition. It is another team from the Southwest Division that provides the opposition tonight  in the San Antonio Spurs. The Raptors had one of their better performances of the year vs. the Spurs losing in double overtime. That was a breakout game for Ed Davis who had to sit and watch Andrea Bargnani continue to suck in overtime. No Bargnani now and will see about Kyle Lowry for tonight.

The Spur has an impressive 12-4 home mark all-time versus the Raptors. Toronto’s last win in San Antonio is almost 5 years to the day winning on December 28th in 2007. Spurs sit tucked behind Oklahoma City in third in the Western Conference. They enter tonight winners of two straight but have a very impressive 10-2 record on their home floor.

You can never predict what Pop will do with his line-up but the Spurs are a deep and dangerous squad. If the Raptors make it 6 wins in a row this would easily be their biggest win on the season. That said, don’t count on it, as that double overtime game in Toronto likely was a wake up call not to take the Raptors lightly.

Also both Bargnani will not play (Which might be a good thing considering how he played in first one) and Jonas Valacuinas who broke his right ring finger prior to the break will not be in the line-up.

In any case even if things take a turn back towards reality at least Raptors fans got to go into Christmas feeling good about the team for the first time since the pre-season. Also, the Raptors have to much more winnable games in from of them on this road trip with stops in New Orleans and Orlando before returning home to welcome in 2013.

So shake of the rust it has been five days but the Raptors are back in action tonight at 8:30. While you access the damage you did to your bank account be it for Christmas or at the Boxing Day sales you can see if the Raptors can give us yet another surprise with a win over the Spurs.

Just 3 games left in 2012 for Toronto and they need to keep winning if they hope to climb back in the playoff race. 


This Week In Raptorland: Christmas Special

We have a pretty packed show for you this week. Interviews with Alan Anderson, John Lucas III and Amir Johnson. We get into everything from Amir Johnson's new haircut to the end of the world that never happened. We also talk a lot of basketball as per usual. We do give the Fan 5 Frenzy and Alan Anderson nickname contest the week off. But if you sent in something tune in next week as your submissions will still be carry over for next week's year end show. As always Josh Lewenberg is along for the ride. Josh gives us the top five nicknames in Raptors history. All this along with talk of the Raptors winning streak, the point guard situation that looms after the break and Terrence Ross capturing the imagination of a lot of Raptors fans.

We at the Dino Nation Blog will be taking some time off along with the Raptors. I want to thank all of you that come to check out our podcast each week and all the great content we try to provide you on a daily basis. I also wrapped up my work for prior to the Christmas Holiday with the Bleacher Report talking about Kyle Lowry's future with Raptors and the unsettled state of the point guard position. Feel free to give that a read and leave a comment if you like. Remember to use the hashtags #TWIRAA for your Alan Anderson nicknames and #TWIR5 for your Raptors topics and question on Twitter for the show next week.

If you need to download it directly and listen in your car while you Christmas shop as we suggested...You can down to Itunes or directly here

May all of you that take the time to come here and be entertained and informed by us in the DNB have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. We will see you on boxing day to preview the Raptors and Spurs.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Hottest Team In Eastern Conference...Your Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors enter the Christmas break as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. Doing it without Andrea Bargnani and without Kyle Lowry. It really is the storyline of some cheesy Christmas movie almost. The Raptors have been getting it done with great production from their bench as well. Things have been going so well that Landry Fields who by all indications is medically cleared to play did not see the floor last night as it was Mickael Pietrus and Alan Anderson getting the job done at small forward.

When you combine what Bargnani, Lowry and Fields are being paid roughly that is over 20 million of your cap space doing nothing as part of this 5-game winning streak. Terrence Ross pictured above has been getting his minutes as well. Some coach Casey made a point to emphasis post game that he is earning. The Raptors are at least at this point not concerned with development as much as they are production.

The development of Jonas Valanciunas will be sidelined for quite some time as he broke a bone in his right ring finger and likely will be out for some time. Something has changed for this group and maybe it actually is because of Andrea Bargnani.

Bargnani and pretty much everyone in the organization says his comments about the Raptors being the worst team in the league and other comments about the team not communicating and playing well together were mis-quoted and lost in translation. It would seem that argument falls someone flat when you look at it closer.

Their were rumblings that in the team meeting the Raptors had during their road trip that saw them go 0-5 things were said about Bargnani and Kyle Lowry playing selfish basketball. They are gone and we see a Raptors team playing a great example of team basketball on both ends of the floor.

It seems all to simple of explanation but it really does feel like the right answer. Jose Calderon has like in the past when his rival for playing time has been out that is cue for him to step up and he has. Nothing new in this he has been doing this since T.J Ford was a Toronto Raptor.

Basically the Raptors have done the opposite of what they were doing earlier in the season. Finding ways to close out games and being able to execute plays down the stretch. Last night the Raptors let a 10 point advantage get reduced to one. Earlier in the season this team would have folded and lost. But they didn't last night and found a way to walk away with the win 93-90 over the surprising over achieving Magic.

It was far from perfect as the Raptors go crushed on the boards 45-32. There rotations on defense looked slow and sloppy at times. But maybe it goes to something that John Lucas III said to me which you'll hear on This Week In Raptorland. He talked about this team being able to get the key stops to win games. They did that on this night to enter their Christmas Break as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference winners of 5 straight.

It will be no easy task when the Raptors return from the 5 day break as they travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Maybe Pop will give his team an extended vacation from Christmas and rest his starters? In any case it will be no easy task. The Raptors battled the Spurs hard losing to them in double overtime at the ACC. That was the game that real saw the start of the emergence of Ed Davis.

Thanks to Jevon Minott of our Team DNB Staff for the photos. he snapped a ton even a few of me while at the game last night if you want to go check them out. In terms of the blog will have an Episode of this Week in Raptorland for you enjoyment and than we will enjoy the Christmas Break. Featured on the show will be Alan Anderson, John Lucas III and Amir Johnson joining myself and Josh Lewenberg. Don't forget your questions via Twitter with hashtag #TWIR5 and you Alan Anderson nicknames with hashtag #TWIRAA as will be giving away some chicken wings for both of those.


Starting 5 With John Chick From CBC.CA

I go back in my personal history to talk with one of the great people I got to know working at TSN. This was so long ago Sportscentre was called Sportsdesk. My time there allowed me to get to know some pretty great people and this is one of them. John Chick now covers NBA and Raptors for CBC.CA and was one of the many great people I got to know that had a passion for basketball at TSN. We catch up and talk about Adnan Virk was another one of the people I met back in those days. Adnan was guest here a few times when he was working for The Score at the same time I was. I reconnected with John covering a Raptors game and knowing him thought he would make for a great guest to talk with for The Starting 5. If you don't follow him on Twitter you probably should as he is just as entertaining as me on the good old twitter machine. He can be found @roofthatpeach on Twitter. Worth a follow on their and worth a listen on here. We talk about the strange situation the Raptors find themselves in despite their current 4 game winning streak. The future of the franchise in terms of Bryan Colangelo and Dwane Casey. As well as some talk of Andrew Wiggins and the recent actions of the NCAA as relates to Myck Kabongo who has been a guest here on several occasions.

Was great to catch up with John and as long as the world is still here tomorrow you can expect to see him back as guest in the blog in the future. It is funny how many people that I have got to know in my life in terms of the media. Where that all started was in my short time with TSN. It is nice to know that those relationships have been able to stand the test of time.

If you have trouble getting the podcast through the site head over to our podcast host and you can listen there or download it through Itunes or directly.


History Tells Us To Beware of Pistons

I am not sure what more we can say about the Raptors and Pistons at this point. This is like the fourth time these two teams have met up including the pre-season. Two of those three meetings have resulted in close wins for the Pistons. The only one that counts was one that was on my birthday which is November 23 rd for the rest of the world.

The Raptors on that night Toronto lost 91-90 and it featured perhaps the best performance of the season for Andrea Bargnani who scored 34 points and Kyle Lowry also played and had 19 points. They have been the focus of why the Raptors are now winning with out them. It has been suggested their selfish play might be at the root of the problems. Scoring 43 of the Raptors 90 points in this match-up might just illustrate that. The next highest totally Raptors were Ed Davis with 9 and Jonas Valanciunas with 9 as well.

On Pistons side of things they got 19 from Greg Monroe and 16 a piece from Brandon Knight and Tayshaun Prince. Andre Drummond had 13 points and 13 rebounds which got a lot of Raptors fans saying see we should have taken that guy.  He is averaging just 6.5 points 6.4 rebounds heading into tonight’s contest at the ACC. Terrence Ross since that time has really become a fan favourite especially of late.

Toronto in their history is just 10-21 vs. Pistons at the ACC. That tenth victory game last season in Detroit’s only appearance at the ACC which was a 10 point Raptors win. Despite both franchises going through some serious rebuilding over the last two seasons it is Detroit that holds a 5-2 mark. This after the 2009-10 season  in which the Raptors swept the Piston 4-0 for the only time in the history of this franchise.

The winning streak has been great and the Raptors are playing good ball. Pistons have lost 5 in a row and are almost as terrible on the road as the Raptors with a 2-12 mark. So why am I worried this streak could end tonight? The overall historical record of 19-46 does not exactly instil confidence.

That said this is a winnable game for this franchise at this point and the Raptors given the hole they have dug for themselves can not let any of those chances slip away if they are every going to hear the word playoffs in the same sentence  as them this season and not have people laugh.

It is on Sportsnet so no Jack Christmas singing…BA HUMBUG TO THAT!!!


Raptors Streak Can Not Be Stopped By Change Of Venue

The Raptors head to Cleveland and were looking to extend their winning streak to three. They would face a Cleveland team that had lost three in a row and saw the Raptors as a way to end that streak. It led to a pretty gritty throw back game. Here are some thoughts on what went down at the Q:

Double A: Alan Anderson may never reach the level of fame of Arn Anderson. That said his return has coincided with this Raptors turnaround and he has been a big factor in the winning for the Raptors. He led the scoring off the bench with 18 points going 6-12 and 5-7 from three point range. That is only part of the story with him though. He is kind of doing everything. His D is solid if there is a loose ball he finds it. He is just that glue guy the Raptors hoped Landry Fields would be. Fields was able to return tonight but was not needed. We are so excited about Alan Anderson were doing a contest to get him a better nickname than double A. So chime in on Twitter with hash tag #TWIRAA and give us you best Alan Anderson nickname or leave one in the comments. Winner will take home some Chicken Wings from at St Louis Wings.

Bench Mob: The Raptors bench out scored Cleveland 59-21 if you are looking for a key to the game that is it. Four guys in double figures along with Anderson you had Amir Johnson with 17, John Lucas III with 11 and Kleiza with 10. The bench played heavy minutes into the fourth quarter and not only maintained the lead they extended it.

Calderon Battles Irving to a Draw: Calderon and Irving was a great match-up and it was closer than many though it would be. Calderon was perhaps a touch better than the Cavs Rookie star. He had 2e points going 10-15 from the field with 5 rebounds 6 assists. He did have 4 turnovers but made up for that with 2 steals. Irving was equal in scoring with 23 points he had 7 assists but 5 turnovers and 3 steals going 9-16 from the field. That is a win for the Raptors if Jose can hang with Irving from a production standpoint.

Hard Fouls: The Raptors dished out some hard fouls. They made it pretty clear to Cavs that this was going be a long night for them. The Raptors did get a few terrible whistles against them but they just kept making things difficult for the Cavs. Anderson Varejao maybe most of all was taking the beating.  He had 22 points and 10 rebounds which likely sounds like a good night. Consider he averages 16 boards a night leading the NBA. The Raptors sent him to the line 16 times. He made 12 of his 22 points there. It was nothing to dirty although Amir Johnson did get called for a flagrant at one point. It was just hard nosed Bad Boys Pistons style ball something Amir knows all about from his time with the Pistons.

DeRozan Steady: DeMar DeRozan has learned that without Andera Bargnani in the line-up he doesn’t have to do everything. He has handled the added attention better and his 16 points and 5 rebounds with a couple of steals is a nice night. What might open some eyes for those paying closer attention is 4 assists from DeMar. He along with this entire team did an excellent job of moving the basketball tonight.

So the Raptors come home to face the Pistons tomorrow with only their 2 win of the season on the road and riding a 3 game win streak with 113-99 win out scoring the Cavs 35-23 in the final quarter. Bargnani and Kyle Lowry are firmly catching the blame for all the Raptors struggles by just simply being absent during this winning streak.

2010 Free Agency Casualities Meet Up In Cleveland

It has been tough times for Cleveland and Toronto since the summer of 2010 when their stars took their talents to South Beach. The Raptors are 5-2 since Chris Bosh left them and Lebron James left Cleveland. This includes going 3-0 in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena.  The Raptors may well trade that in to have the “luck” the Cavs have had in the NBA Lottery since than.

This is the first of four times these teams will meet this season.  Kyrie Irving made his NBA Debut against Toronto and it wasn’t exactly stunning. In 3 meetings last season he averaged 10.6 Points and 6.6 assists and was a -10 in two of the three games.

The Raptors never got a chance to draft Tristan Thompson but if the did how would he compare to Jonas based on his rookie season and what Jonas has done so far?

Thompson: 8.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1 block per game shooting 43.9% from the field and just 55.2 at the free throw line

Valanciunas: 8 points,  5.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, shooting 51.3% and 70.7% at the free throw line.

Advantage Jonas to this point, despite that fact, of late he has not looked great and Dwane Casey has talked of reducing his minutes saying he may have hit that “Rookie Wall” of late.

Cavs have been ever worse than the Raptors especially lately. This might be surprising with Kyrie Irving having recently returned to their line-up. But they have lost 3 straight and are 2-8 in their last 10 games. The fact they are playing at home is not much of an advantage as they are just 3-7 at The Q this season. They are 5-20 overall and now sit only ahead of the Wizards it the Eastern Conference Standings.

The Cavs do have something the Raptors don’t with a player leading the league in rebounding. Anderson Varejao may have more trade value than Andrea Bargnani as he leads the league with 14.6 rebounds per game and 5.6 of that is on the offensive end of the floor which also leads the league.

I am thinking rebounding might play a role in this game. I know, this kind of genius, when we are just 7 days to Christmas and I really haven’t shopped yet.

We have yet to address the elephant in the room yet though. The Raptors have been just awful on the road. The only game they did win they really deserved to lose. They are just 1-14 away from the ACC this season and have been blown out more than they have been close on the road.

An old coaching expression is that defense travels, meaning if you can play good defense you can do that anywhere. Guess will test that theory out tonight as the Raptors defense looks as well as it has all season in the last two games.

So good that the fact Landry Fields is going to dress for this game and be available may not matter. He just might not be needed. Still I would take him off the bench before Linas Kleiza going forward. But Alan Anderson and Mickael Pietrus should get the bulk of the minutes at this point until they have a good read on where Landry Fields is at.

At some point you will have to decide where Fields fits in this rotation. You are paying him far too much money to leave him on the outside looking in. Also perhaps now with this surgery behind him maybe he can be more like the player the Raptors were hoping to get when they signed him in off-season.

So that is about it the Raptors have a real shot at a 3-game winning streak and a rare road win in this one. Will see if they can get it done with a 7pm tip time in Cleveland there will not be many easier opportunities.  


DNB Fan Experience: Raptors vs. Linsanity

Hey fans!

Your girl Jerrica is here back in the blog to talk about Sunday's awesome win against the Rockets and of course I have to include some stuff about Ed Davis.

Ever since Bargnani made that comment about us being the worst team in the league two things have occurred.

One: We're on a two game win streak!
Two: My favourite Raptor Ed Davis has been given more of an opportunity to show his potential and prove to the fans that he can do big things for our team!

Of course the latter could be considered a biased opinion since I am his number one fan but I'm not the only one who believes so.

Those of you who have read James' posts you can tell that he, too, believes that Ed Davis has been doing really well and have been creating some of the best stats in his career.

Josh (@Darkstar_Inc) tweeted me saying: Hey @jeaarr, remember all the Ed Davis haters last year? What ever happened to them? #HesShowingThem #YouAlwaysKnew

David (@VuddyDidNotPlay) tweeted me: wish he played some in the 4th but at least we won.

Ed has certainly grown as a player and everyone asked me why I would be his number one fan and I just let his stats and his performance speak for itself.

To further my point I found this tweet in the twitterverse:

@tdotsfinest26: Ed Davis has long ways to go but I have seen a big improvement in him. More post moves, better shooting. BETTER!

There are so many positives about our Raptors that doesn't just begin and end with Ed Davis' improvement. Jose Calderon has been killing it with his second triple double on Sunday but with all this hype will there be more fans coming to the ACC to support our boys?

What I dislike the most about going to watch a game at the ACC against a "big" team or a team with "big players" is that Torontonians come to watch them and not our boys.

On any normal game you would see crowds of Raptors fans dressed in jerseys, hats, shirts and/or sweaters. You would feel that you are going to a Raptors game. On Sunday, I felt otherwise. I saw Jeremy Lin jerseys left right and centre. I saw blue instead of a sea of red. Only about two people were wearing Jeremy Lin Rockets jerseys and the rest were in Jeremy Lin knicks jerseys/shirts.

Just like the Lakers game I watched with James last year there were Jeremy "Fan Boys" as you can see in the picture above. In the section that me and my friends, Allan, Alex, Jason and Andrew were sitting in we were surrounded by Jeremy Lin fans. At one point during the game I heard the girl behind me cheer "Yaaaay Jeremy Lin!" when he wasn't even on the court. Whenever he would score I would hear loud cheers throughout the arena. If you were there you would think you were in Houston watching a Rockets game instead of in Toronto watching a Raptors game.

Overall, Sunday's game proved that the Raptors have the potential to win more games they just need to be more consistent.

In addition to Sunday being James' mom's birthday it was also my friend Allan's birthday so I would just like to say happy birthday!


Catch ya later dinobloggers!

- Jerrica (@jeaarr)

This Week In Raptorland: Countdown To Controversy?

We are back for another week it is myself and TSN 1050 Raptors Beat Reporter Josh Lewenberg. Raptors are winning which is a good thing. However is there controversy around the corner? We talk about it as well as if this team can come back from depths they sunk to be what they were suppose to be? All this and we hear Reggie Evans thoughts from earlier in the week on Dwane Casey from his interview earlier in the week in the DNB. Also what you have yet to hear from DeMar DeRozan on playing without Andrea Bargnani for awhile and how it changes his role for this team.

So that is it for another week...Next week it is going to be close to Christmas so we might just get in the spirit and give away pounds of chicken wings. So join us next week as the Raptors close out their Pre-Christmas sked on Friday.


Linsanity & Lies and Rockets Blast Into The ACC

Linsanity and Lies are the main focus as the Houston Rockets hit town. Did you remember to go buy your Lin Jersey at Real Sports? No doubt there will be a lot of them in crowd as there was last season when the Knicks came to town. It was perhaps the height of the Linsanity that hit the NBA.

Lin nailed the final shot and got the Knicks a victory and the ACC went crazy. Even some Raptor fans got excited and cheered. Other Raptor fans were pretty ticked off by it. This time around Lin returns with the Raptors in a horrible mess despite finding a way to snap a 6 game losing streak.

Will get to them in a minute but first let’s talk a bit more about Jeremy Lin who showed some signs of his old magic lately. He had 38 points and 7 assists in a loss to the Spurs on December 10th. James Harden has been the one that has been getting things done for the Rockets on most nights though. Lin’s 11 points a game and 6.1 assists does not exactly meet the expectations of his huge contract the Rockets gave him to lure him away from New York.

His stats with Knicks were better in many key areas. He averaged 14.6 points, Shot 44.6% just 39.7% so far with the Rockets. The assists are about the same with 6.2 in New York and 6.1 with Houston. The major improvement for Lin has been turnovers, where he has cut his 3.6 per game average down to 2.68 with Houston.

The Raptors already lost to the Rockets on November 27th. Lin despite his struggles did have a decent outing vs. Toronto. He had 16 points and 10 assists going 7-9 from the field. James Harden on the other hand has improved his points per game by 8 with 16..8 to 24.8. He is more than earning his money in Houston. He had 24 points and 12 assists against the Raptors. Add the two together and they torched the Raptors for 40 points and 22 assists.

Despite their victory the focus of the Raptors has been on injured Andrea Bargnani. He was making news yesterday denying he said what was reported in an Italian news publication. The thing that Bargnani seems the most upset by is the comment that was quoted as him saying that Raptors were the worst team in the NBA.

He claims he was misquoted and that article is a pack of mistruths. Someone is lying that is for certain. The reporter that conducted the interview is standing by it. This also included some disturbing comments about this team lacking trust in each other. Trust did not seem an issue on the defensive end of the floor against Dallas without him.

Bargnani went as far as to say he would talk with Lawyers over the matter. Maybe will have an Andrea Bargnani lawsuit to cover soon in the future.  Thrilling as that is will stick to basketball for now.

It has been an emotional season for the Rockets as they had a tragedy to deal with as their Coach Kevin McHale lost his daughter. It was an inspired emotional Rockets team that faced the Raptors right after this tragedy had occurred and went on to 117-101 win lead by Lin and Harden. McCale recently returned to the bench and his job with the Rockets.

Raptors home record against the Rockets is a strong one with an 11-5 record. It is hard to say what to expect after a blowout win over Dallas. After the game against the Rockets the Raptors schedule does get easier for the next 3 games. So this is an opportunity to start the fight back to respectability.

We will talk about all that is going on with the Raptors on This Week in Raptorland as we do each and every week.  So if you have some questions or topics you would like to suggest feel free to leave them in the comments or contact us on Twitter with hash tag #TWIR5 and send it to us that way. The best ones will have a shot and being on the pod cast and more importantly win a free pound of Chicken Wings from at St Louis Wings.

So that about does it. Will see what the Raptors can do against Linsanity and maybe more importantly the guy with beard and we are not talking Santa Claus.


Raptors With A Friday Night Surprise At The ACC

One thing has not changed. Raptors fans still boo Vince Carter. Aside from that nothing much was similar to what we have seen from the Raptors this season. The Raptors dominated from behind the three point line 12-36 while Mavs were 0-13 snapping their consecutive games with a three streak in which they passed the Raptors the former record holder for that bizarre stat. They had not had a game without a three since 1999.

Rather that a re-cap let’s take a look at some key points.

Bench Production
: The Raptors bench with a few more options came to play tonight. They had 53 points as group with Linas Klezia with 20 and Terrence Ross with 18. How many nights is that happening with Kliezia? Few is the correct answer. In case of Terrence Ross everyone’s new favorite Raptor except for me. Sill regardless of that you are seeing bursts of good play from Ross. Will see if it continues in terms of Ross.

D Was The Key
: The Raptors defense with no Bargnani and it should be noted no Kyle Lowry either was a lot better and perhaps it’s best performance of the season. The Raptors bombing away will steal the headlines but how they follow up this defensive performance is what will be important moving forward. Houston will be a significant challenge on Sunday. If this D can deal with them maybe the light has finally come on or maybe we figured out what was holding it back?

No Mayo
: Raptors did a nice job containing O.J Mayo who has been a big part of the Mavericks being able to tread water without Dirk Nowitzki. Mayo was just 2-8 and had just 10 points on the night. He like the rest of his team could not buy a three going 0-4.

Closing the Deal
: Dwane Casey rolled with what was working in the fourth and it worked. Imagine that as the Raptors out scored the Mavs 26-17 in the final quarter. This team had a team down and they didn’t let them back up the kicked them while they were down. This is something that was a relief to see and will see if that continues. It is a start anyway.

Warning Signs: Not all was good. Jonas continues to struggle and Ed Davis who had been on fire of late was also fairly quiet. 6 points all by Davis and  14 rebounds combined for the Raptors starting tandem at PF/C. Nothing to write home about at all.

Other nice things were ball movement and everyone active and engaged on defense. I am not sure this is something the Raptors can keep up but on this night after losing 6 in a row the fact the Raptors finally get a win and move their record to 5-19 with a 21 point win 95-74.  The concern is did the Raptors get all their bad luck returned with good fortune in one night.

Drama Everywhere As Raptors Host V.C

Where do you start with everything that has been going on in the last little while. Maybe with the fact that none of it really matters in the grand scheme of things till some action is taken.

So there was a board meeting that many thought could lead to someone getting fired. As it turns out that was far from the case as Micheal Grange laid out in this article on the Raptors future. Which is very good and you should give it a read.

Then we have Andrea Bargnani doing the old Jose Calderon trick where you tell the poor people that cover this team next to nothing than spill your guts to a reporter that speaks your language. This because the people that cover this team would never find that out right?

So here is what we didn't find out:

  • Andrea thinks this is the worst franchise in the league at the moment. 
  • That no one has faith in anyone else and it is hurting the team
  • That he expects to be out at least 3 weeks. 

I can only speak for myself as someone that covers this team. I would not want to know any of that information. Wait...No I think that I would. I even bet that other people that cover this team would as well. In fact as I heard Sid Seixerio point out on the Fan 590, I bet reporters I know would have had follow up questions to all of this news.

The main stream media and people that cover this team get a bad wrap from fans sometimes. No one that covers this team is in the mind reading business and we can only report on what players actually tell us. Ask questions based on those responses to the things we are told.

Jose Calderon pulled this same stunt with Toronto Media around the whole T.J Ford situation. He would claim to me Mr Team Player until he hit Spain that off-season and in his first interview back home with his upcoming free agency only than suggested he felt he deserved to the the starter.

On top of all of this someone who likes talking to media especially here and especially now is Vince Carter. So we get to hear his take on the Raptors woes of late. Not for nothing, but given the state of this franchise which is owned by the same company under a different structure mind you, can we now understand fully why Vince left town and wanted out.

Here is a whacky idea don't bring back Vince to play have him run this franchise if anyone understands it's issues it is him. It is a joke, but honestly he does have perhaps one of the better understandings of things with this franchise than any player that has come before or since. He was the one star this team had that transcended the market. Even he could not recruit too many stars to come help him here.

Oh and yes the 4-19 Raptors take on Vince's 11-11 Mavericks not that anyone really cares about that much at this point.

Here is what I tweeted and it would be truly bizarre should it happen. Vince Carter cheered and The Raptors booed at the ACC. It would be unthinkable right? Kind of like this season were going through would have been? Maybe it happens and maybe it doesn't. However one thing that is clearly true is Vince Carter a man to be known to have an Ego has to get a pretty big boost to it when he looks at the franchise he left behind. What would be even worse, is if he didn't and actually feels sorry for the franchise and team he once took to heights that looking back on them now seem remarkable compared to how they did at the time.


Starting 5: In The Locker Room With Reggie Evans

When I first got access to the Raptors to cover the team the first guy I interviewed was Reggie Evans. It was pretty scary to be honest. It quickly became obvious the Reggie on the court is nothing like the Reggie off the floor. In his time in Toronto he became one of the guys that I personally loved to talk with and despite his struggles was always willing to talk to you. He talks about his time here and his regrets that he couldn't do more. He still keeps a close on eye on his former club and keeps in touch with a lot of the guys on the Raptors roster. He has a lot of good things about coach Casey who he never played under in Toronto but did play for him when he was an assistant in Seattle. He also in Reggie's own way comments on the NBA's new rules as relates to flopping. It is basically Reggie Evans unplugged for about 9 minutes. He has a lot of love still for Toronto and all the people he touched in his time here.

As it turned out in the game Ed Davis stepped up and played well against his former teammate. He won the stats battle with 24 points and 12 rebounds but Reggie got that win he was looking for along with 9 points and 11 rebounds on the night. He was a guy that really embraced the fans in Toronto. It may always be a case of what might of been. Reggie seems to have found a new home in Brooklyn with the Nets where he seems to be happy and enjoying his role on the team. He is one of the guys I will always wish nothing but the best for regardless of the uniform he is wearing.

If you are unable to listen to the interview here head over to our Podcast host and you can download the interview there Via ITunes or directly. 

Same Result But Under Different Circumstances At ACC

The Raptors after a terrible road trip came home with a 5 game losing streak and an injury list that was growing like a greedy kid's Christmas list. The Raptors entered the contest at the ACC with 8 health bodies and Quincy Acy arrived in Toronto at  approximately 5:45 on route to the arena. It was totally understandable if the Raptors lost to the Nets and had their doors blown off. It would have been what was expected. However, the Raptors actually took the lead in this game and at one point led by double digits.

They lead 27-20 after the first quarter and manged to lead 45-37 at the half. The Nets were under performing and perhaps given circumstances expected an easy night to snap their own losing skid. Whatever Avery Johnson said at halftime was effective as the Nets took control in the 3rd outscoring Toronto 31-19. They would continue to control the game in the 4th leading by 11 points with just under two minutes to play. The Raptors would make one final push but came up short 94-88.

What was clear throughout the game was Ed Davis was well aware that opportunity was knocking for him. Later in the night the Raptors would announce news on Andrea Bargnani's injury. His status is unknown in terms of when he will return. But based on the description it sounds bad. Bargnani has a ligament tear in his right elbow and a strained right wrist.

Davis entered this game and likely for the near future knowing he can play down the stretch if he is earning the minutes. Andrea Bargnani is no longer a roadblock to that happening. Davis is saying all the right things in terms of his chance and will not say anything bad against his teammate. As close as he got was saying "Andrea is a great scorer but I can score too." Which is what Davis did in this one. Tying his career high that came in that rather fishy closing game last season also against the Nets in which Ben Uzoh also had a triple double. Davis had 24 points and 12 rebounds on the night. This was against the Nets "A" squad this time around.

Which includes former Raptor starting now for the Nets Reggie Evans. Davis did a good job battling with Reggie in his return to Toronto. Davis told me pre-game that with the combination of injures for himself and Evans they probably only matched up in practice maybe like 3 times. Whatever the case Davis was not afraid to take it at Evans and battled him hard on the boards all night. Evans had 9 points and 11 rebounds in his return to Toronto. I had a chance to have a lengthy chat with him prior to the game. Will have a preview of that chat on TWIR this week. It was a great chat that covers a lot of ground.

While Davis shinned and Jonas also had a nice night. It was DeMar DeRozan that suffered from a lot of extra attention with no Bargnani and No Kyle Lowry who is said to be out for 10 days with partial tear to his right triceps muscle. This is a position DeRozan found himself in last season with Bargnani on the sidelines. He had 11 points and 5 rebounds on the night and a lot of those points came in the late going. Had a breif chat with Demar after the cameras went away post game. He does feel last season helps him know what to expect from teams when Andrea is out. Will see if this much improved version of DeRozan can handle it better.

Raptors fall to 4-19 and will get Amir Johnson back from his one game suspension. They are also expected to see Alan Anderson return from injury to the active roster for that one as well. Dallas already has a win over a much healthier version of the Raptors in Dallas. Will see if a few more bodies help for the game Friday.

Raptors got a a few boos from the crowd in the 4th. I get how upset people are with team and franchise. However on a night with just 9 guys and one guy that arrived less than an hour prior to the game that probably was not the time to express you displeasure. The result for tonight was predictable but more based on the circumstances not on the traditional pattern the Raptors have had this season.


Brooklyn In Our House

A quick preview of what could be a very ugly night at the ACC. You wanted Andrea Bargnani gone? He is but not by a trade by injury as he it out indefinitely. Amir Johnson as suspect did get suspended for a game. Kyle Lowry is hurt and being re-evaluated. Kleiza hurt too, Pietrus may not go either. There are technically 8 healthy bodies and things are so desperate the Raptors are scrambling to try and get Quincy Acy back on the roster for tonight’s game vs. Brooklyn Nets. 

If that doesn’t work DeMar DeRozan was jokingly recruiting people from the media to suit up tonight. My big chance!!! But sadly I have not played a competitive game since the age of thirteen. It has all the makings of another very ugly loss for Toronto in this one. However, this one would be more than understandable given the state of the roster.

If you were thinking maybe Anderson or Fields would make an unexpected return that isn’t going to happen as neither is ready to go yet. Still have not even had a timetable laid out for a return for Fields.

So off to Toronto I go…least I will get to see Reggie Evans for first time in over a year and half. He has been starting for the Nets of late.


Taking A Look At Bigger Picture Beyond Loss At Rose Garden

Recapping the game vs. Portland doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, it was a familiar script complete with a fourth quarter collapse. There were a number of things that happened in this game that will have a more lasting impact and will talk about some of those. The game in general was a terrible one from an entertainment standpoint. It was close through the first 3 quarters but not in a good competitive way. Neither team could buy a three, in fact Portland ended this game going 0 for 20 from three which is another one of those whacky records that the Raptors seem to have been a part of this season be it winning or losing. Blazers still won this one going away 92-74

1: Injuries: The banged up Raptors got more banged up in this one with Andrea Bargnani going down injuring his elbow. He had x-rays that came back negative which is positive as nothing was broken. It does pour cold water on any Bargnani trade talks for the moment as no one is traded for an injured Andrea Bargnani. Kyle Lowry also got banged up and did not come back. It was his back or his shoulder not really sure. He was not playing well most of the night and apparently was trying to play through whatever was bothering him as the injury apparently happened in the first quarter according to talk in post game.

2. Johnson Ejection: It was a really strange situation in which Johnson and the ref ended up wrestling for the ball like two little kids. Some words were exchanged and Johnson was kicked out. If it had ended right there Amir probably gets fined and plays Wednesday. However Johnson after learning of his ejection seemed to snap and chucked his mouth piece at the official. That likely gets him a game suspension at least no ruling on this of yet.

3. Frustration: it is reaching a boiling point with this team. The Johnson ejection was just the most obvious example. But you saw at the end of Clippers game frustration as well. It has been on of the toughest road trips in recent memory for the Raptors. Raptors go 0-5 on the trip that ended last night in Portland. A lot of frustration seems to get directed at the other team or the refs but some of it has been with each other at this point.

4. Change Gets Even Harder: If Bargnani is out as mentioned that kills any trade options with him. It also means any package deals with him and Calderon go out the window as well. Colangelo went on record that he has no plans to fire Dwane Casey. While if you fire him than you almost certainly are going to have Ed Stefanski step in be on an interim basis or they could make it a long term hire. Neither option appeals to me at this point. So this leaves the Raptors stuck in place with no way to shake things up from a roster point of view really.

5. Fan Anger Meets Frustrated Team: This could get ugly at the ACC on Wednesday with a possibly under manned Raptors team going against a more talented Brooklyn Nets team. Fans meanwhile are frustrated as well and the ones that show up at ACC on Wednesday likely will not have a long leash in terms of supporting the Raptors.

In short this team is 4-18 and a complete mess at the moment. No one is happy and no one should be.


This Week In Raptorland Marches On

The road trip from hell continues. B.C is in full spin mode despite calling the team's performance this season an embarrassment. Andrea Bargnani continues to amaze with his lack of concern. It has been a tough week to be connected to the Toronto Raptors from the top all the way down to fans. We try and make sense of it all as well as bunch of your questions. We double up the Wing giveaway and reward two pounds of wings to feed our loyal struggling Raptors fans. So have a listen to Josh Lewenberg from TSN 1050 and myself try and make sense of the now 4-17 Toronto Raptors.

There is no recap of the game with the Clippers as we discussed it in the podcast. Here is the boxscore of another Raptors loss 102-83. What I said at the end about our thanks is 100% truth. It is hard times for everyone and the fact you come and listen to us is much appreciated in times like these. In starting out with a weekly podcast the thought of this season being as bad as it has been was really not expected. That said I think we have done a pretty good job with it. I really do enjoy doing it each and every week. I also am proud of the fact that we have made it something that you the listeners can play a roll in and we can offer you some kind of prize as a way of thanks. This is because of our wonderful sponsor St Louis Wings.

Good or bad the DNB and this podcast will march along. We all wish there was just more good. If you are unable to listen to the podcast here link up with are podcast host and you can download it directly from there or via ITunes. 


At Least The Clippers Won't Score 90210 Points.

Perhaps the worst road trip since Sam Mitchell was fired in Denver years ago marches on the L.A. The Raptors have been staying in 90210 land prior to this one, but look about as out a place as the Clampett's  in Beverly Hills on a basketball court of late.

After what the Jazz did to them it has looked like this team has entered crisis mode. We had a team meeting, Bryan Colangelo out in the press calling the team's performance an embarrassment. While fans are going crazy as well, even a site has emerged to have Colangelo fired. Sam Mitchell knows how that feels as he had one dedicated to that in his time in Toronto.

It is a home coming for guys like DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson the trouble is to go back home means your facing the Clippers or the Lakers. Honestly at this stage the Clippers are the tougher team to face and that is who the Raptors will challenge this afternoon at Staples Center.

Toronto lost their only meeting with Clippers last year by 12 points. This was without Chris Paul which creates his own series of problems all on his own. Give the Clippers oppuntunistic defense and run the floor "LobCity" style of play this could get ugly.

Even if the Raptors dig in and give an effort that is more representative of their talent beating the Clippers will not be easy.

Clippers sit currently 4th in the Western Conference at 13-6 they are on a 5 game winning streak and have a 9-3 home record. The Raptors come in with just one win on the road all season at Indiana. In a game that they almost tried to lose by scoring just one field goal and 5 points in the fourth quarter.

They face an 8-12 Portland squad tomorrow night that is only 4-4 at the Rose Garden and just 3-7 in their last ten games. Normally you would suspect the Raptors would look to rest key players if this one got out of hand and live to fight another day. However given the state of things don't know if they can do that or should do that.

They seem to be sticking with the same starting line-up for now. Jonas after rumours he may head to the bench did not in the last game vs Utah and I would suspect will start today in L.A. No update beyond the X-Ray on his hand was negative for Ed Davis so it would appear he should be good to go. Kyle Lowry was also nicked up his right ankle but returned shortly after in the game vs Utah.

Reminder we tape This Week In Raptorland tonight and need your questions and topics just use the hashtag #TWIR5 and send it to us on Twitter or leave it in comments of this post.

That is all from me. I will leave with this thought, It seems like the Raptors should get destroyed in this one. This is usually when they play a good game. They need to in a serious way. Even if they do still think Clippers will win this basketball game.


An Embarrassment In Utah Met With Anger To Apathy From Fans

Honestly in some ways maybe the only thing that should be written about last night in Utah is if you missed the game you should consider yourself fortunate. It didn’t start out that way with the Raptors building a 10 point lead in the first quarter. After that something I am pretty sure I have never seen in my life watching basketball. It was a 42 point swing by the end of the night.

The Raptors in their history have had some shameful performances. There was the loss in Denver that got Sam Mitchell fired. I can recall some one sided beat-downs from the Atlanta Hawks over the years. Humiliating losses to struggling teams like the Charlotte Bobcats. Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game in which the Raptors actually led at halftime. However, in some ways last night’s game feels like one of the worst in franchise history.

NBA-TV said it was the most points the Raptors have given up to an opponent in regulation this season with Jazz scoring 131 points, the final 3 quarters producing 106 of those points with 38 in second and 68 in the second half. That falls short of a record for the points in a second half ironically held by the team the Raptors will face next in the Clippers who scored 78 points back in March of 1998. That also was the game Raptors surrendered most points all-time of 152.

Maybe that Clipper game was worse as at the time it was loss number 6 in a losing streak. However, hard to debate anything is worse right now as the Raptors road record expands to 1-12 on the season. The individual performances mean little in a loss like this. Andrea Bargnani deciding to show up to get 20 points and 8 rebounds is great for him but it really went unnoticed.

What was noticed is Raptors dropping like flies in this one adding to injury concerns. Ed Davis had to leave to have X-rays on a finger he bent back. What seemed like seconds later Kyle Lowry got up gimpy with a jammed right ankle or was it left…I forget. He did return though. Also Mickael Pietrus got banged up too.
It has been an epic disaster for this club and you get a feeling that SOMETHING has to happen.

What that is remains to be seen. Firing Casey seems like a move that doesn’t make much sense unless you can lure some candidate we would not think would consider taking the job would agree too it. Do I see Jerry Sloan, Stan or Jeff Van Gundy or any other marquee name coming here? Not really. As for the Raptors staff I am not convinced they are not part of the problem as well. Johnny Davis as Interim Head Coach is something I will pass on.

So fire B.C that seems the popular choice. Raptors would then put Ed Stefanski in as interim G.M. No, that doesn’t really appeal to me either. The only option left is to shake up this roster with a trade or trades. Which most NBA teams are not ready to do at this early stage of the season.

The Raptors feel like they are in quicksand and sinking fast with no real answers to save themselves or their season. The 131-99 loss to a Jazz team, that was missing Al Jefferson their star player, is only a flashpoint to a much larger problem that faces the Raptors.

This franchise has been in low places before but for a fan base some old enough to be around for the entire 18 years there is apathy in the air that should scare the people at MLSE far more than any of the issues with their struggling basketball team.


This Week in Raptorland: Special Edition

This started as a little joke on Twitter. I said we should do a special edition of the podcast like a CNN Breaking News: Raptors In Crisis. Josh responded with he was free and let's do it. So we did, not exactly like CNN breaking news, but it is a serious point in the Raptors season at 4-15 and Andrea Bargnani clearly public enemy number one. He is the major focus of this special edition of this podcast.

Will be back in are usual spot on late Sunday or Monday with all the news of the week. We are always looking for your topics and questions. Use the hashtag #TWIR5 on Twitter and tell us what you want to know or want us to talk about in the Fan Five Frenzy. Raptors are in Utah to take on the Jazz tomorrow.

Acy assigned to Bakersfield Jam

In a move that I have predicted from almost the opening of training camp, Quincy Acy has been assigned to the NBDL Bakersfield Jam.

Acy was not getting any time on the floor with the Raptors at all so this seemed enviable. Acy has played in just 3 of the Raptors 18 games and has averaged just  2.3 points and 2 rebounds in a total of just 21 minutes on the floor.

Acy becomes the 6th Raptor to be assigned to the D-League. The others are as follows:

Solomon Alabi  2010, 2011,2012
Ed Davis  2010
Nathan Jawai 2008-2009
P.J Tucker 2006-2007
Pape Sow 2005-2006

Ed Davis upon a return from the D-League in 2010 said what it taught him was he never wanted to go back there. In the case of Acy it might not be the case as Bakersfield is likely nicer than Erie as a place to be. It also will give him playing time that was clearly not coming his way if he remained with the Raptors.


Andrea Bargnani Continues To Be A Royal Pain In Loss To Kings

It is becoming almost repetitive in nature at this point. The Raptors once again dig themselves a hole, they dig out of it, but Bargnani back in the game and lose.  Kyle Lowy had 34 points and 11 assists but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Kings or the curse that has become Andrea Bargnani. He was 3-14 going 0-6 from three point land with just 8 points. Jonas Valanciunas also had tough night at the office with just 3 points and found himself in foul trouble early and did not see much time once he was. DeRozan only had 14 points as well and had another night of frustration in terms of getting calls.

Lost in the losing was also a great performance by Mickael Pietrus with 21 points and a slam dunk that made everyone just stop and say wow. Also during the Raptors struggles and specifically Bargnani’s struggles Ed Davis continues to produce with his second double double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds in just less than 23 minutes off the bench.

The Raptors now sit with the second worst record in the NBA and a fan base that is absolutely furious. Dwane Casey has stuck to the line he said after the team lost in double overtime to the Spurs. “Come hell or high water” Andrea Bargnani is his guy or their guy.

Fans are at a loss with what to make of this. While many want Bargnani traded and gone that really just repeats a Raptors mistake of the past. Trading players at their lowest point in terms of value has happened before.  Something this franchise has been very good at. That said, sending him to the bench as some have suggested doesn’t really do much to improve his value either.

It appears the much talked about trading for Paul Gasol that I speculated on weeks ago in the Bleacher Report has now actually been talked about in reality. But the Lakers want to wait on Steve Nash returning from injury before they make any decisions on Pau. Once again Nash screws Colangelo a second time.

Things are just terrible and the Raptors still have three games left on this West Coast Trip all tougher than the Kings. The Raptors could very well be 4-18 the next time you see them at the ACC hosting the Brooklyn Nets next Wednesday. If that is true and Andrea Bargnani is still a Raptor who ever does show up will likely let him hear it.

Things are reaching a boiling point for a lot of fans. Some last night over boiled on Twitter. It may get worse before it gets any better.

Oh yeah….Raptors lost to the Kings 107-100.


Two Struggling Franchises Hook-Up In Sac-Town

If you think the Raptors are a mess that might be nothing in comparison to the Kings. I started my morning reading this story comparing the Kings' Ownership situation to the movie "Major League" written by Aaron Bruski for Pro Basketball Talk on NBC Sports. It has been just a mess of the court for the Kings the last few seasons. If you believe this article not much is being done to improve it on the court as well. They enter tonight the worst team in the Western Conference with just 4 wins like the Raptors but two less losses at 4-12.

If the Raptors fail to get a win tonight the rest of this road trip seems bleak. I wrote something for the Bleacher Report on the Raptors struggles and who are some of the people to blame for all of this.Andrea Bargnani made that list of who is to blame. Here are some quotes from him to an international publication likely translated from Italian. But check out what Andrea Bargnani has to say about his own situation and the Raptors. Not exactly confidence building comments nor a guy that sounds like any kind of a leader.

As time marches on the pressure to do something with Bargnani will increase. Ryan Wolstat who has been a guest here many times suggests if you can't trade Bargnani you should send him to the bench in this article. I am not sure this will have an impact on Bargnani. If anything it just might spark his own desire to be traded rather than get any improved effort out of him. It would send a good message to the rest of this team.

Josh mentioned the Raptors horrible road record vs the Kings which I believe he said was 2-13. Raptors did not travel to Sacramento last season in the lockout shortened season. They lost the only match-up between the two in Toronto.

As for the actual basketball match-up this is one that offers some of the same challenges that Denver offered to a lesser extent. The one wild card is DeMarcus Cousins who has had his share of success over his career against Toronto. Last season he had a monster 21 point and 19 rebound performance.

Must win seems to apply to this game for the Raptors. It is a late one with 10 pm tip time locally.


Raptors Make It LooK Better Than It Was In Denver

The Toronto Raptors headed into Denver a place where they rarely find victory. The last time the Raptors got a win in Denver was back in 2003 as we mentioned on This Week In Raptorland. The first three quarters of this basketball game were painful to watch. The Raptors actually did start turning tide late in the third by imploring a hack a  McGee strategy. It was about the only way the Raptors could control pace of this game.

The Raptors trailed at the half by 17 points in this game. Not that it would have made a difference but Linas Kleiza sat this one out. That gave Mickael Pietrus the start, he played 25 minutes and went 1-5 from the field with 3 points and a steal.

There were some positives on the night despite the terrible first half. Kyle Lowry looked back to the pre-injury version of his self. He was the only Raptor that was finding a way to get the line in this one going 11-11 from the line. On the night he got 24 points and had his 6-foot size he had 3 blocks.

The Raptors after doing a heck of a job convincing folks they had no chance in hell of winning this game. They would make their plucky underdog push in the fourth. Terrence Ross who has rapidly become a fan favourite made some big shots in this rally. Maybe it is that I have becoming jaded but I never once thought the Raptors would win this game.

In the end I sadly would be right. The Raptors would get as close as two points in this one before Denver woke up in the last couple minutes of this basketball game.

This is one of those games that summarizes the Raptor fan experience nicely. Some people at the end of this game were praising the Raptors run to make it close in the fourth. They did out score Denver 35-24 in the fourth quarter. However, it should not excuse the fact the Raptors got in this position to be there.

In the end this team has played many entertaining games over this season. I would not call this game one of them. However, regardless of entertainment value it has to start being about winning and losing. The Raptors in that regard are 4-14 and that is not acceptable.

In the end another close but no cigar doesn't cut it for me. The Nuggets take the win 113-110 but this game was close to three quarters of domination from the Nuggets.


This Week In Raptorland: Welcome To December

Ho Ho Ho and welcome to another week of the best podcast on your Toronto Raptors on the World Wide Web. Least we like to think so. Today on the program we look ahead to the Raptors west coast road trip, Andrea Bargnani actually plays defense and other surprises. As well as your questions and topics in the Fan Five Frenzy. Where each and every week someone takes home a 1lb of chicken wings thanks to the folks at St Louis Wings.

As mentioned if you can afford it and help support Eric Smith's Santa for Sandy project please do. It is the getting into that holiday season so it is always nice to do something good for someone in the this season of giving. Some folks had mentioned they were having issues listening to the podcast through the site. Mostly seems for IPhone users. Try using this link and going directly to our podcast hosts and you should be able to get all the DNB's audio features from This Week in Raptorland, To The Starting 5 to interviews with the Raptors from when I am covering games.

It has been a lot of fun doing this podcast this year and it is rapidly becoming the highlight of my week. If your enjoying it as well please share it with your friends and help us grow our audience. A lot of hard work goes into it and it keeps getting better each week hopefully.


Raptors Win: Blip or Breakthrough

It ended up being a familiar situation with an unfamiliar result. It started out looking like it might be an epic disaster at first. The Suns who lost by 40 to Pistons came out strong and took a double digit lead early.  By the end of the quarter the Suns lead would be chipped down to 25-19.

The Raptors would continue to scrap their way back into the game in the second but still found themselves down four with just seconds to go. Linas Kleiza got the ball and you expected he was going to chuck up a brick and that would end the second half. He would end up getting trapped in the corner and forced to pass to Kyle Lowy who nailed the buzzer beater three that left it a 54-53 Suns lead at the half.

Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson both were question marks heading into this game but would play and would play a big role in the ultimate outcome. Will get to that later, first some thoughts on the newest Raptor Mickael Pietrus who made his debut as a Raptor.  He made a couple threes and only shot 2-7 but he had a big impact on defense playing really well in 31 minutes off the bench for an ineffective Linas Kleiza.

The Raptors did out play the Suns in the third out scoring the Suns 29-24 to take a slim 4 point lead into the fourth quarter. It was some guys off the bench that were helping the Raptors maintain the lead in the fourth. Mainly, Amir Johnson, who if you saw the photo of how he turned his ankle against Memphis you are just shocked he did play. He did not just play but he played well leading the bench with 16 points. A lot of those points came thanks to his amigo from another mother Jose Calderon who himself had a 13 point and 9 assist performance.

Things were going well with the reserves and you wondered if Dwane Casey would role with them down the stretch. More specifically if he would leave Andrea Bargnani on the bench, who was coming off his own injury to his ankle and did not play against Memphis. It had been a fairly unspectacular night for him. Dwane Casey said the now infamous word the Andrea Bargnani was his guy “come hell or high water.” True to that statement he would insert Andrea into the line-up down the stretch.

This is where things got weird. At first Andrea would be getting taken to school and you could almost feel the collective groan from Raptors fans. The game had slipped into an all too familiar tight situation and Bargnani was not doing a good job on defense while his offense continued to be MIA. Suddenly something strange happened. Andrea got stuck on point guard Dragic and instead of getting blown by he would use his feet and play excellent defense and force Dragic to throw the ball away leading to an Amir Johnson dunk on the other end. He wasn’t done either as he would play good defense on Luis Scola on the next two possessions and would end up with the defensive rebound and got fouled made the two free throws and clinched the win and pizza for the fans. 

It was right out of the Bizzaro World of the Superman comic book. Where everything is the opposite of what it is in the real world. Even on a play with Scola inbounding the ball Bargnani was jumping up and down like on a pogo stick. The Raptors end up with a badly needed win 101-97.

No mention of DeMar DeRozan who is making his performance seem more routine now as he produced  23 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists to lead the way on offense. He and Kyle Lowry who wasn’t particularly good in this one produced 15 rebounds from the Raptors back court.

The Raptors now embark on a challenging five game west coast road trip that begins in Denver on Monday who lost to the Lakers on this night. It will not be easy but the Raptors enter it with some form of confidence. If this season does turnaround November 30, 2012 might be a key date as to where it began. It also could just be a blip on the radar for both Andrea Bargnani and the Raptors. Time will tell as we march


Raptors add Pie(trus) to mix Vs Suns

So the big news heading into this one is the Raptors' signing of Mickael Pietrus finally confirmed this morning by the Raptors at roughly 10:30 am. Here is a breakdown of his career numbers from Basketball Reference.

Of note he has only started 10 games in the last two seasons. He may well end up starting for the Raptors given the sorry state of affairs at the small forward position. Add another name to the long list of people to start at small forward since Vince Carter left town.

Does this signing change or fix all of the Raptors issues that have led to a 6 game losing streak? Obviously not, but it is a good band aid solution to one of the problems. It is just a one year contract and if he does well once players return from injury you can keep him and have some additional depth.

The Suns have their own problems after losing to Pistons team that these Raptors lost to by one point the Suns lost by 40 points the other night. It adds to a dismal road record for the Suns who enter tonight at 2-6 on the road but overall they sit at 7-9 on the season.

Raptors broke a long losing streak vs Suns that lasted the entire run of Steve Nash being with the Suns last season. Nash is now gone so that changes a lot in terms of the Suns. It was 14 straight losses in total. The Raptors won that game last season to break that streak in Phoenix. The Suns did not visit the ACC last year in the lockout shortened season.

This game is vital for the Raptors to come out with a win as after this they embark on a five game west coast trip which has never been a kind place for the Raptors.

Ready or not this one gets rolling at 7pm. If your looking for Pietrus he will be wearing Damon Stoudamire's number 20 for the Raptors. He is slightly taller and can speak French.


McGuire Out, Pietrus In

Talked about this earlier today in the blog. it appears it is just the formality of a Raptors Press Release away from being reality. The Raptors will sign Mickael Pietrus and they will wave Dominic McGuire to make room for the signing.

Pietrus played last season with Boston this was after rumours he was coming to Toronto but something about his physical killed the deal between the Suns and Raptors. When official word comes from the Raptors will update this story.

For my thoughts on Pietrus here is a link to the blog from earlier today. Will see what Raptors say but he could be in the line-up as soon as Friday against one of his former teams in the Suns.

Update 10:35 AM: Finally made official via RaporsPR on Twitter and he confirm Pietrus has been signed and will wear Number 20 (Mighty Mouse's Number) and Dominic McGuire has been Waived to make room on the roster for the signing. 

Details on his status or educated speculation in our preview of Raptors vs Suns later today. But he is in shape according to reports and did play on the Suns not that long ago so think he suits up tonight and plays coming off the bench.

DNB Top 10: Ways To Cope With Raptors' Losing Streaks

Let’s face it losing SUCKS. In 5 years of doing this, there have been many losing streaks to endure.Today in the Dino Nation Blog we offer you 10 tips to survive Raptors' losing streaks. So, if your ready let’s go.

  • #10 Take like 3 hours get off Twitter go take a walk in the park.
  • #9  Make a friend that doesn’t have any interest in basketball
  • #8 Avoid any channel that could play the Andrea Bargnani Primo Pasta Ad
  • #7 Play NBA 2k13 and build a SUPER RAPTORS team that can’t lose
  • #6 Focus on whatever the thing is you enjoy second most in life (Note: if that is being a Leafs Fan this will not work or a Hockey fan)
  • #5 Write an angry letter to Bryan Colangelo. Sending it to him is optional.
  • #4 Not for Me- But Go Workout burn some of that anger off.
  • #3 Play a Video game where you can beat someone up or blow something up (More for Guys)
  • #2 Anything that makes you laugh can do wonders
  • #1 Consider moving to Oklahoma City.

Some of those are serious and some not so much. In any case in times like these I really appreciate your support. This is a daily grind for me and I totally understand that some people need breaks when times get tough like this. However hang in with us in the Dino Nation Blog.  I do my best to keep you entertained and informed regardless of the Raptors record. Sadly, I have become pretty good at keeping things entertaining in times like this. 

One of the reasons I keep doing this is the great spirit and humour that so many of you have that cheer for the Raptors and support this blog. A joke on twitter, a kind word from someone saying they like something I have done goes a long way at anytime but even more in times like this.

I truly feel for fans that had high expectations for this team. You all deserve a team that wins. I hope that I am still here for that day. It would be nice to not have to work as hard to make folks smile.

Morning After Memphis Meltdown

The end result last night was not a surprise to anyone or it should not have been. The fact the Raptors led after 12 minutes and were in the game at halftime likely was. The “we don’t need no stinking Bargnani movement,” was all smiles at the half as he sat this one out with a sore ankle. But the third quarter without Bargnani went like many games with him with Grizzlies coming out and getting to business and stepping up their game on both sides of the ball. They would win the quarter 33-14 and put the outcome of this game to bed. The Grizzlies would coast from there to a 103-82 win.

It is not an over reaction to say the Raptors season is pretty much on the line over the next few weeks. For all the people that were clamoring for Terrence Ross might see a ton of him soon if things don’t turn around. After a career high 19 he came crashing down to earth with just 8 points and going 0-6 from three point range. Not good at all. Honestly it really wasn’t a particular good night for anyone. Ed Davis who got the call to start with Bargnani out had 10 points and 6 rebounds which is not bad until we mention the 4 turnovers. Even DeRozan was at best average with one exception in this one. He had 16 points to lead the team. He was able to connect on two out three from beyond the arc but only got to the line 4 times making them all.

News was breaking that the Raptors could be very close to bringing in Mickael Pietrus. This would require the Raptors cutting someone to sign him. The likely candidate would be Dominc McGuire. Pietrus almost was a Raptor I believe it was a season ago. The Raptors had been reported to work out a deal with the Suns but something about the medical Pietrus took was not to the Raptors liking. This move is being considered because according to reports from ESPN Alan Anderson and Landry Fields are likely out for at least month longer. The Anderson projection does fall in line with what the Raptors have said. He was said to be out anywhere from 3-6 weeks. While Fields, is expected to have stitches removed and after that could not be re-evaluated for at least another two weeks.

Pietrus in his career has been able to make threes and is considered a decent defender. If he is in shape he could in theory jump right into the starting line-up. Will this solve all the Raptors problems? Far from it. It does at least give them potentially some production from the position. McGuire offers little offensively and Kleiza who started last night seems content to just chuck the ball at will and is not all that interested in playing a team style of game.

Ryan Wolstat from the Sun posted a quote from Kyle Lowry on the status of this team. Lowry said something to the effect the team is not dead but they are 5 feet deep. That is a correct analogy for where the Raptors are at as they have been digging their own grave on their playoff hopes at a rather rapid rate.

The Raptors have a MUST win on November 30, 2012. The Suns are up next and while the Raptors were getting beat by 21 in Memphis to the best team in NBA at the moment. The Suns were losing by 40 to the Detroit Pistons. The same Pistons the Raptors lost by just one to on November 23rd.

No win in this next one you legitimately ask when the next win will come with Raptors heading to the west coast which has never been particularly kind to them.