Tag:Toronto Raptors
Posted on: February 1, 2011 5:26 pm

3-Up, 3-Down: Lakers riding the see-saw

Posted by Royce Young

Each week we give you three teams trending up and three teams trending down in correlation with our Power Rankings. Check out the latest edition of CBSSports.com's Power Rankings here.


1. Dallas Mavericks (5): Here they come. Finally.

After a few weeks of major struggles following Dirk Nowitzki's knee injury and Caron Butler's season-ending surgery, the Mavs finally appear to be righting the ship. They've won five straight and appear to be finding that mojo all over again. Better yet, the injury to Dirk might have a silver lining as some other players had to re-find themselves a bit. Shawn Marion is playing well, J.J. Barea has stepped up big off the bench and Tyson Chandler is playing downright angry.

2. Knicks (12): The Knicks have been a bit up and down, but that comes with being a largely mediocre team. But they've won three of four and appear to actually be finding a bit of defense too. In a big win over Miami, they held the powerful Heat to just 88 points including a fourth quarter lockdown where they gave up just 15 points.

The Knicks clearly aren't equipped to be an actual contender in the East, but they do look like a squad that will give someone fits in the postseason.

3. Phoenix Suns (18):
When Steve Nash is running your show, all hope is never lost. The Suns have eased themselves back into the Western playoff discussion after winning seven of 10. The new pieces are starting to come together as Marcin Gortat had one of the best games of his professional career. Vince Carter is still showing a heartbeat and Mickael Pietrus is helping add a little defense to their chops.

With wins over the Celtics and Hornets the past week, the Suns are starting to grab some attention again. Sustaining success will be difficult in the West, but they're at least part of the conversation again.

1. Los Angeles Lakers (7): One week, they're on top of the world looking like maybe the most dominant team in basketball. The next, they're rather pedestrian, struggling to find points and having an even harder time finding stops.

The Lakers are the type of team with the spotlight directly in their face at all times and when they stink, we all notice. Kind of comes with being the defending champ, you see. General manager Mitch Kupchak is talking trades, Andrew Bynum's knee is acting up again and Kobe is hogging the ball. Just another day in Lakerland, right?

2. Utah Jazz (13): Jerry Sloan just can't seem to put his finger on the problem righ tnow in Utah. They've dropped seven of nine and the two wins were only over Minnesota and Charlotte. And both were struggles to get there.

The obvious issue is on the defensive side where the Jazz are giving up a hundred points to everyone . And when Deron Williams isn't able to carry them, they just can't keep up. Al Jefferson has been solid, but Paul Millsap just isn't the same as Carlos Boozer. Utah is still a good team no doubt, but there are problems to be solved.

3. Toronto Raptors (29):
The only reason we haven't all noticed the Raptors' 12-game losing streak is because Cleveland is toeing a historic line right now. But Toronto has been miserable lately. They were never good to start with, but the past two weeks have been especially terrible.
Posted on: January 31, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 11:47 pm

Pacers loosen up after O'Brien firing, beat Raps

Pacers win first game under Frank Vogel, show signs of legitimate life against terrible Raps team. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Sometimes, a change can do wonders.  In their first game after Jim O'Brien was fired, the Pacers looked wholly different than they have for the past two months. Much of that is attributable to playing the Raptors, who are truly terrible. But there were a series of positive signs that under Frank Vogel, things might improve for the Pacers. 

First and foremost was Roy Hibbert. Hibbert looked like an All-Star candidate early this season, then tailed off to the point that he as consulting a sports psychologist . Hibbert's regression had been a focal point of the scrutiny on O'Brien. For a night, at least, progress seemed to have been made. Hibbert went off for 24 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks against the Raptors' puny interior defense. It wasn't just a good night against a bad team, though. Hibbert seemed to respond to Vogel's encouragement. The result was more and more focus from Hibbert, who looked to have new life. And he wasn't the only one. 

Tyler Hansbrough apparently unleashed a "rant" about O'Brien after the game, following his 14-point, 6-rebound performance in just 15 minutes. Rookie Paul George had 16 points, when his season average is only 7. More importantly, the team won. Even with Danny Granger having a tough night, and the opposition so bad (the Raptors have lost 12 straight), there was enough to feel good about this win for Pacers fans, just as a monster ice storm settled into the area, keeping attendance to just over 10,000 officially and far less unofficially.  The effort was there, a spark was there, and sometimes that's more important than precision, system, or cohesion, all of which are areas the Pacers still need help with.

Getting started on the right foot is important in a situation like that. Indiana's just two games out of the seventh seed in the East, and has the talent to get there. Maybe a move towards a younger coach is just what they needed. It's just one game and things could fall apart just as quickly, but at least for a night, the Pacers looked to have new life under the new coach.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 8:18 am
Edited on: January 26, 2011 8:19 am

The Shootaround: LA takes Utah's swagger

Charles Barkley names his pick for best point guard, A Magic writer keeps Dwight Howard's future in perspective, the Jazz take another top loss, Billy Hunter warns the Sacramento Kings to save money and Kendrick Perkins' tough road back to the court is remembered. Posted by Ben Golliver.  shootaround
  • There have been some very early reports that Dwight Howard might fly the coop in Orlando when he's able to be a free agent, but Orlando Pinstriped Post argues that it could be worse for Magic fans, as Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams has already turned up his rhetoric. "Williams' remarks illustrate that Orlando doesn't quite have it so bad with Howard. Apart from complaining about his teammates' defense--something he's obviously entitled to do, given the accuracy of his statements and his status as a team co-captain--Howard's at least remained neutral about his pending free agency.
  • Speaking of the Jazz, they've been struggling, and got crushed by the Lakers last night. Raja Bell tries to explain things to the Salt Lake Tribune, "We just lost our swagger somewhere along the lines. You know, we start pressing, we start trying to do everything so right that it backfires. I think it's a tough way to play."
  • Beyond The Beat catches up with the Sacramento Kings regarding an impending work stoppage. "It could take a year. It could take a day. We really don't know, but I know it's a serious issue and I can see them (players' association) pushing a lockout," Carl Landry told Beyond the Beat. "He (Hunter) forewarned us that there might be a lockout in effect, and he shared different ideas that will help prepare us for the lockout. They (players' association) are there for us and are already thinking about different contestants and things that will help the players."
  • Former Seattle SuperSonics guard Gary Payton says he does not support the Oklahoma City Thunder in any way, notes the Seattle PI. "He would not attend an alumni event in Oklahoma City if invited. 'I didn't play in Oklahoma City,' he said. 'That would be disrespect to Seattle fans. We never played there. Why would we go to Oklahoma City and give the fans that opportunity or privilege?'"
  • Good news for Hornets fans: AFP reports that the team won't be going anywhere. "The NBA New Orleans Hornets will remain in the Louisiana city for at least another season after meeting an attendance goal that prevents an escape clause activation in their arena lease."
  • The Heat Index investigates what using LeBron James as a power forward will look like for the Miami Heat.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 2:46 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2011 2:46 pm

NBA Power Rankings: 3-Up, 3-Down 1.25.11

A look at which three teams are rising and which three are falling in this week's CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings. Posted by Ben Golliver.

This week's 3-Up, 3-Down looks at a bunch of streaking teams: good, average and horrible. The latest edition of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings will be up later today.


3-up New Orleans Hornets (8): Pretty chill week for the Hornets, who hit their attendance benchmark on Monday, the same night power forward David West hit a game-winner to lock up the team's ninth straight victory. That West is making noise about his contract extension and may bolt only dampens the party somewhat. Monty Williams is the Rookie Coach of the Year, without question, and a solid outright COY candidate. The Hornets have done it with defense, most memorably when they made the Atlanta Hawks look historically hideous on Friday

Memphis Grizzlies (13): Just like New Orleans, Memphis got a game-winner to extend a winning streak on Monday night, thanks to Rudy Gay, the Most Interesting Man in the NBA, who sent the Grizzlies to their third straight victory. Point guard Mike Conley said that the Grizzlies were "finishing like a playoff team" after the win, and the Grizzlies are now just 2 1/2 games out of the Western Conference's No. 8 seed.

Portland Trail Blazers (14): The team the Grizzlies trail in the playoff chase, the Portland Trail Blazers, had an excellent 4-0 week come to a screeching halt against the Sacramento Kings at home on Monday night. Still, the momentum has been all upwards, as the Blazers took care of business against some of the league's weaker sisters, putting some distance between themselves and .500, where they have hovered for much of the season. The big question: Will Aldridge's hip check out OK? He underwent X-rays and an MRI due to soreness, and losing him for any length of time would be devastating.


Utah Jazz (11): Deron Williams is upset and talking about his future, Jerry Sloan has been forced to juggle his lineups and four straight losses on an ugly road trip has Jazz Nation in a bit of a panic mode. On the bright side: they're just a game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Division and they're not dealing with the Carmelo Anthony drama like Denver or constant injuries like Portland.

Toronto Raptors (27): When trading for Alexis Ajinca is the highlight of your month, it's been a tough month. The Raptors are losers of eight straight, torn apart by injuries and unable to close out games. They're now tied with the New Jersey Nets for the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, with no real hope for significant improvement. They would be edging closer to Cleveland Cavaliers territory, but the Cavs are determined to be the team most devastated by a free agency loss, having dropped an astonishing 17 straight games themselves.

Minnesota Timberwolves (29): The Timberwolves now occupy the cellar in the Western Conference and their only hope, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, is both struggling in his development and continuing to hint that he doesn't want to play for the team. Minnesota still isn't sure what it has in 2010 first round pick Wes Johnson, but that's like the team's 14th biggest concern, as Kevin Love is carrying all the rebounding load by himself, the Wolves can't take care of the ball, and no one outside of Michael Beasley is adding much scoring punch. Also, Darko Milicic and Jonny Flynn are not future All-Stars.
Posted on: January 22, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: January 22, 2011 11:21 am

Bosh out, Wade questionable with illness

Posted by Royce Young

Chris Bosh won't have the opportunity to stick it to his old team. And one of his SuperFriend teammates may be missing in action as well.

Bosh will miss his third consecutive game tonight when the Heat take on the Toronto Raptors in Miami. Bosh is out with a sprained ankle he suffered against the Bulls last week.

Dwyane Wade is questionable after missing today's shootaround because of an illness.

The Heat haven't had their trio healthy for almost two weeks after LeBron James injuried his ankle against the Clippers. LeBron has since returned and Wade played last against the Hawks, but the Heat have hit the skids. After ripping off 21 of 22 through December and January, the Heat have dropped four straight. All of this coming after LeBron's now famous karma tweet. Just saying.

However, with the struggling Raptors in town, a team that just took a 112-72 beating in Orlando last night, one would think the Heat would get by without one of their stars. Take away Wade though and things might be a little trickier.
Posted on: January 21, 2011 6:04 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2011 6:07 pm

Report: Ajinca deal held up by league for now

Posted by Royce Young

According to Yahoo! Sports and ESPN Dallas the NBA has held up a trade to send Dallas Maverick forward Alexis Ajinca to the Raptors. According to the reports, several rival front offices have privately charged an illegal side deal had been arranged to get Peja Stojakovic to the Mavs.

Peja of course was waived and bought out by the Raptors Thursday.

All indications still point that the Mavs appear to be ready to sign Stojakovic once he clears waivers. He'll become a free agent Monday and has reportedly given the Mavs a verbal commitment.

To create a roster spot for Stojakovic – who had almost immediately committed to the Mavericks – Dallas agreed to send the Raptors the 7-foot Ajinca, a future second-round pick and cash to Toronto for the rights to Georgios Printezis.

As the report from Yahoo! notes, such accusations like this are hard to prove and the league is just performing its due dilligence in holding up approval. The trade is still likely to go through, according to reports. When reached by email on Friday by Yahoo!, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban denied there had been an illegal prearranged deal.

The trade was appeared to be done Thursday as TNT's cameras even caught Mavs coach Rick Carlisle breaking the news to Ajinca before Dallas's game against Chicago. Ajinca was told to go back to the team hotel and wait.

Again, this is just the league fulfilling its obligation to check it out and more than likely things will eventually go through. But there is a chance the league could find things were done improperly and Dallas would need to figure out how to clear a roster spot for Peja a different way.
Posted on: January 20, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2011 6:29 pm

Raptors buy out Peja Stojakovic, where to next?

Peja Stojakovic and Toronto Raptors reach buyout agreement. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Update 3:49 p.m.
: The Raptors have announced the buyout is complete, Peja's on the market. 

22 minutes. That's the sum total of time that Peja Stojakovic has spent on the floor for the Toronto Raptors. And it's looking more and more like that's going to be the sum total for his career. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com confirms a report from ESPN that the Raptors and Stojakovic are close on a buyout agreement that will put the 33-year-old fading shooter on the market, where Stein reports he'll seek to join a contender. The buyout is expected to be completed Thursday. 

Peja's top teams are apparently the Mavericks, Hornets, and Lakers. Let's take a look at the three options. 

Mavericks: A reasonable spot. They're in desperate need for a wing option. But Stojakovic's defense is the question here. The Mavericks can't surrender a defensive lapse at that position, the biggest reason they've targeted Stephen Jackson. The Mavericks do need a shooter, though, so this might be an option. He was shooting 38% from the arc with the Hornets in limited minutes, so it's possible he could be a fit. If the Mavericks don't think they can find an upgrade to replace Caron Butler through trade, this might be their default option, should he last that long on the market. 

Hornets: A return home. Peja has been in New Orleans for five years. He's used to playing with CP3, used to playing with David West. And he looked better than he has at the start of this season. But head coach Monty Williams has been very particular with his approach in regards to wing minutes, and it's unclear if they'll be willing to make the commitment to Stojakovic. But if he's willing to come in for cheap, and with the Hornets still trying to figure out that position between Marco Bellineli, Willie Green, and Marcus Thornton, it's possible they could bring in Peja. Then again, that's a lot of players at one position.

Lakers:  A pretty reasonable spot. Championship aspiriations. In need of shooters, with Ron Artest's shooting all over the place. Always shopping for improvements. But with Lamar Odom, Artest, and Barnes all getting minutes at the three-spot, room is short there, and with Bryant expected to play Bryant minutes and Shannon Brown mopping up the difference along with Artest, there may not be room there for Stojakovic, especially with their need for depth down low. 

We'll keep you apprised of Peja's landing spot.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 2:57 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 3:03 pm

Heat Stroke: Chris Bosh's advice to Masai Ujiri

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh offers his advice to Denver Nuggets GM and former Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri regarding Carmelo Anthony.heat-stroke Posted by Ben Golliver.

Well, this is just a depressing topic. The Denver Post asked Miami Heat All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who left the Toronto Raptors last summer during free agency, what his advice would be for former Raptors executive Masai Ujiri, who is now the GM of the Denver Nuggets and in the midst of shipping out All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony via trade.
“That’s a good question,” Bosh said. “That’s why I’m glad I’m not a GM.”
“Just communicate,” Bosh said. “It’s a business. Whether a move is made or not, just communicate. I think that’s important. And just keep the respect and at the end of the day nobody can say the other wasn’t professional if they part. Period.”

“As soon as [Masai] was coming [To Denver], I said ‘Ooh. He’s got his hands full with all the rumors,’” Bosh said. “The rumors had started already before all that. It was just like ‘Aw man he’s going to have to deal with that and do a good job. But you know, Masai, he works hard and he’s a great guy. I think he’ll be fine.”
This is akin to asking a man that chose to leave his wife to offer advice to his ex-wife on her pending divorce with her second husband. Brutal. Clearly, there wasn't a lot of room for Bosh to work with here, but he did a solid job of being cordial, empathetic, complimentary and professional all at once.

Judging from Masai's fierce BlackBerry skills that were shown on national television on Thursday, it looks like he's following the "just communicate" advice with no problem.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com