Things have been going rough this year so you think David Stern could let us have this one? Make a phone call, refuse to clear someone to play on his team? I mean he had no problem refusing a trade right? Maybe he could order that Andrea Bargnani has to play? Alright enough jokes. The Hornets have an even worse home record than the Raptors which is saying something. If the Hornets franchise is every going to turn around being better than 3-14 at home would be a start. They actually have a better road record at 5-12. Still, given how the Raptors have performed in situations where you expect them to win, if you were a little bit afraid it would only be human.
If nothing else two losses to Wizards and one to the Bobcats has taught us anything the Raptors can not afford to overlook anyone in the NBA. The Raptors continued the trend that has gone on for most of the season with starting off slow in games. However, what might have been more concerning was some of the reactions last night based on some rather interesting choices made by Dwane Casey down the stretch. Demar DeRozan seemed less than thrilled with his seat on the bench. Given the Raptors struggles to score at times I would tend to agree. That said it was likely more about his defensive effort that saw him on the bench. While I may not endorse the moves he made I do like the idea of Casey sticking to his guns.
It will be interesting to see if anything lingers from last night in what we see tonight. But faces don't lie and there were not many happy ones on the Raptors bench last night. In what was a close games there seemed to be a general disinterest on the part of some. At some point the reality of losing sets in for a team and perhaps the Raptors have reached that point. Although to Casey's credit, he does put the guys on a given night that are willing to fight on the floor. If your not performing in his eyes your not playing. The is the accountability that has been missing on this team for quite some time.
While the Raptors have struggled with Andrea Bargnani the Hornets have been without the centerpiece of the Chris Paul trade to the Clippers in Eric Gordon. He only played two games before injuring his knee and requiring surgery. It makes the 13 games that Bargnani has played seem like a lot. Former Raptor Jarrett Jack has replaced Paul and is having a nice season averaging 14.9 points and 6.3 assists. As for the other parts to that Paul trade Chris Kaman has had 11.8 points and 7.7 rebounds. Al-Farouq Aminu barely makes it worth knowing how to spell his name with 4.9 points and 3. 9 points. Wonder how many teams will be calling the Hornets come trade deadline given the whole Paul mess prior to the season? If Hornets have a trade can Stern slip it in 5 minutes after the deadline. Technically any deal the Hornets make is already in the league office right?
While I ponder this and many other things about NBA owned Hornets a basketball game will be played. Here are some keys on the Raptors can win this basketball game:
1. Start Strong: This is a broken record by now go back and read old previews for the full explanation.
2. Ball Movement: It was sorely lacking least night at times and it led to some pretty awful choices in shot selection.
3. Demar Defense: Demar needs to have a good two way game. After last night it is important we see an engaged and active DeRozan on both ends of the floor.