Tag:Chris Bosh
Posted on: December 10, 2008 11:13 pm

Raptors - Pacers - A Game Review

Wednesday night, the Raptors and Jermaine O’Neal hosted the Pacers with T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic in their return to the ACC. Emotions were running high on both sides of the floor as the Raptors had come into the game with a 4 game losing streak looking for the first win as a head coach for Jay Triano, while the Pacers were on a 3 game losing streak after beating the Lakers with 2 losses to the Celtics and 1 to the Cavaliers! As a Raptors fan, I thought we had a tough schedule, but we are second behind the Pacers in that regard. With games against the Lakers, the Nuggets, the Jazz, the Cavaliers and the Nets, these two teams have played a lot of very difficult games in the past 2 weeks so both were looking to this game to help readjust their outlook to some winning ways.

On most nights, the Raptors rely on Chris Bosh to carry this team and the past week he has looked tired and out of sorts and his struggles on both ends of the floor have contributed to the tough 2 weeks they have endured. Not to say there are not a lot of other reasons for the struggles, but one could see the weight of the losses mounting on him as he became a jump shooter and working his game away from the inside game that has made him an effective weapon all season. Tonight, he was able to score 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, the most critical of which came in the 4th quarter as he grabbed a couple huge offensive boards to keep the ball out of the Pacers hands and keep the pressure on them to stop us as we pulled away down the stretch. Tonight, the game was not about Chris Bosh and his rise to the top 5 players in the league, it was about the Raptors playing as a team and working through their poor defensive play to work as a group at both ends of the floor.

The game started slowly with both teams forcing the game and their will upon the other with little success. Then the Raptors looked to Jason Kapono who started the game hot and continued his solid play throughout. With Anthony Parker hurt, the starting line up included Jamario Moon at the SG position and Jason Kapono at the SF position. Both responded with spirited play on defense as a combined 42 points between them with Jason scoring 25 in the game. Jamario Moon grabbed 2 offensive boards, one a flying put back that rocked the building ending with 8 rebounds and Jason Kapono had 8 as well. Andrea Bargnani had a poor game offensively with 0 points, but he had a couple huge rebounds defensively as the Raptors looked to seal the game down the stretch. He ended with 4 rebounds. Jamario provided some very solid minutes defensively as he hounded Danny Granger all night and was 7 – 22 shooting at one point ending with 22 points, but was not much of a factor in the second half as Jamario Moon and Joey Graham held him in check. Joey Graham played one of his best games defensively Wednesday night and was a pest offensively posting up his man and attacking the rim collecting 12 points off the bench. Roko Ukic provided solid minutes again running the ball and attacking the rim scoring 5 points and handing out 2 assists but did much more to allow Jose Calderon valuable time to rest. He has begun to become a solid guard and with Jay Triano able to coach him from a guard’s perspective, I look forward to see the improvement of all our guards at both ends of the floor. Jermaine O’Neal picked up two very quick fouls and looked early like it was going to be a long night for him. From that point, he worked hard on defense and found himself getting the ball inside against Rasho Nesterovic, he went to work and ended up with 10 points and 9 rebounds including 2 offensive boards. Over all, a solid game for him as he faced his old team and looked very comfortable as the 3rd or 4th option on offense.

The night was heralded as the T.J. Ford Jose Calderon battle part 1. What we saw was a game that featured Jose as a pass first guard playing a slashing PG who couldn’t find his game. T.J. Ford struggled early shooting 2/4 in the first half and went 0/4 in the second as Jose and Jamario chased him down and gave him little room to pass as well. Jose Calderon ended the night with 11 points and 14 assists and only 2 turnovers while Ford ended up with 2 turnovers and 4 assists. Round 1? Jose refused to say this game was about them, and I agree. He showed a lot of class as he has done his time with the Raptors. Tonight was about the Raptors coming together as a team, not about getting in the face of the team you came from. Well done both guys who refused to let it become about them.

A couple points I wish to leave here. The Raptors held the Pacers to 34.7% FG and only 28% from 3 points range. The difference tonight was that the Raptors had a man on the shooter most of the night and the Pacers had few open looks. It was a good job by the Raptors to work hard at finding the shooter and staying with him through the rotation. Marquis Daniels had 21 points and was 7 – 19 but 7 – 7 from the line. He seemed to be the only Pacers player early who was hitting shots as the Raptors found their place in the new defensive rotations. He moved well with out the ball and eventually the Raptors found him and made him take tougher shots as the game moved on. Troy Murphy led the Pacers with a 20 point, 20 rebound game and was the only consistent threat from outside as he shot 4/8 from outside.

Again, the Raptors were outrebounded 52 to 47 which is a much better performance on the glass for the Raptors, but ending up -9 on the offensive glass was a huge reason the game was still close into the 4th. It would be easy to criticize this Raptors team for not getting after the ball in order to limit the offensive boards, but they will correct that issue as Jay continues to work his systems into this group. They were able to grab the ball when needed to control the game down the stretch, and that fact alone shows a huge step in the development of this team from last week. 7 blocks were huge as Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon each had 3 and they seemed to be huge as they came late in the 4th and helped ice the game.

It was great to see 6 Raptors end up with double digits points and Jose and Chris had double doubles and 4 players had 8 or more rebounds. Balanced scoring and balanced effort on the glass has got to become the hallmark of this team and let’s hope tonight is the first step.

The Raptors have the Nets with Vince Carter and Devin Harris who scored 32 in a loss to the Knicks Wednesday. Then they face the Hornets and Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler on Sunday. Let’s hope this gives the guys a much needed boost mentally and as a group. The schedule doesn’t get easier as the season goes on!

Posted on: December 10, 2008 12:47 pm

Raptors - Pacers - A Game

Well, tonight the Raptors return home to host the Pacers and one of the most beloved/hated players after Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter left town. T.J. Ford returns with Rasho Nesterovic and Danny Granger to take on a Raptors team with very little energy, very little offense and very little defense. After a thrashing last night at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavaliers, the challenge for this Raptors team will be to not run and hide. Yes, the Cavaliers are only ranked behind or with the Lakers and the Celtics, but there has to be a point where players have to decide that getting thrashed and embarrassed night after night has to stop. The Raptors have not hit that point yet and seem quite content to run around and score their 95 or 96 points a game while surrendering to who ever decides they want to control the game. Chris Bosh has disappeared from the team at both ends of the floor, and Jermaine O’Neal so far has shown glimmers of what he was brought in for, but has not been able to consistently help this team inside as ONE player won’t bring solid defense and a defensive mentality to the floor night after night. Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant and LeBron James give their teams that pressure to perform every minute they are playing and even when they aren’t, the team responds to their leadership. It is at this point, the Raptors have their biggest vacuum.

Is the season finished? I don’t believe so as I have seen improvement in the past week that has given me hope that this team will recover. The improvement of Joey Graham has been welcomed as has the development of Roko Ukic as a back up PG. Jose Calderon has struggled as teams are learning that he is slow and predictable and won’t push the ball. Bosh has again become the target of double teams on the entry pass and Andrea Bargnani is so out of place at the 3 spot that he can’t seem to find a way to contribute offensively. I believe Jay will take care of these issues, but man this is tough to watch! Here’s hoping we all show up on the same page tonight and Kris Humphries can play. I think that Joey should start at the 3 spot and Jamarion Moon should be the first choice off the bench as Jason Kapono has continued to be a one-dimensional player at best and he is not shooting at all these days and is useless on defense.

Thinking happy thoughts, I really am!
Posted on: December 10, 2008 10:16 am

Raptors - Cavaliers - A Game in Review

What can be said about the Raptors game against the Cavaliers Tuesday night that hasn’t been said yet? Probably not much, so I will offer a few thoughts on what I saw last night and express some of the issues that I feel need to be addressed immediately.

First and foremost, this team has surrendered as a group. From Chris Bosh down to Hassan Adams, this group has no life, no passion and absolutely no will to win. The starting 5 of Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker and Jermaine O’Neal were given a 7 point ball game in the second half and at one point were out-scored 19 – 4 in the quarter. The energy for playing defense starts with every man on the floor deciding that they want to be contributing and that they want to be outplaying the man across from them. Right now, Chris Bosh looks like he has no intention of trying to stop anyone and that attitude is sensed and has become part of the culture of this team and that has turned them into a team that every backcourt in the league is waiting to play. Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker played a sloppy game at both ends of the floor as reflected in 19 team turnovers. Passes were late, into double coverage, and the first two possessions of the game LeBron James caused a turnover and ended with a dunk. 4 – 0 in the first 10 seconds of the game and it only got worse. Defense defines the heart of a basketball team and judging by what was on display last night this team has no desire to compete at any level. The Cavaliers are a good offensive basketball team, but to a man, they play solid defense and are constantly putting themselves in a position to obtain the ball whether it be a loose ball or a rebound or jumping a passing lane, this team has become an elite team in this league from their glass out. Wally Szczerbiak scored 16 points against us mostly from outside, but he was able to grab an offensive board and on the put back against I think it was Andrea, got the foul and made the shots. I am not sure, but at 7’ tall, rebounding should be a big part of his game, but it is not.

Secondly, this team is lost on offense. Chris Bosh has disappeared from the rotation and has resolved that he is now an outside shooter. The entire team, except for Joey Graham and Roko Ukic, have decided that it is too tough to take the ball to the rim, so they don’t. Jermaine did grab a few offensive boards and was rewarded with a couple of nice baskets, but on the whole we stood around and watched making it difficult for the guards to make entry passes or the defender was just able to step around the receiver and drive for a dunk or a layup. How many games will it take of being out played on the glass before someone steps up and say “ENOUGH”?? Kevin Garnett did that the other night and they were UP 25 at the time. That is why they the Celtics win and the Raptors don’t. I know a lot of people will say he was an idiot or what ever you want, but I promise you, every guy on that bench, including Glenn Davis, will be a much better player after that time out and it will carry over to the playoffs. Leaders show you how to play then tell you what you need to do. This Raptors team is terrible in transition and has no idea how to run the floor on any type of break. We used to be a good team in converting turnovers into easy baskets, but it seems that we struggle to even get a decent shot and our opponents seem to score easy bucket after easy bucket. An inside game will provide that kind or scoring, but right now we don’t have one and our shooters have no interest in the game at all. Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon have had their moments, but they have been missed most nights and for a team like the Raptors, any thing less than a team game will not be enough to win most nights.

Our Bench play last night was actually pretty good as it brought us back from a 19 point deficit in the second to within 4 before LBJ nailed another uncontested 3 as Anthony Parker waved at him as he blew by. Will Solomon attacked the rim as did Joey and Roko. Jamario played a bit better but as a group, the bench play has been week and has cost us many games. Last night, our starters let the game slip away early and again in the third quarter. Kris Humphries has suddenly become the most valuable asset on our bench and he is unable to play. That must tell the team something.

Full credit must go to the Cavaliers who played a very solid game at both ends of the floor last night. Delonte West had 8 assists, Mo Williams had 9 assists and 13 points. Zydrunas Ilgauskas with 6 rebounds became the all-time rebound leader for the Cavaliers team and out played both our big men. Say what you want about Ben Wallace, he grabbed 5 boards last night and 2 blocks. LBJ had 31 in a game where all 12 players scored for the Cavaliers. At 18 – 3, this team is in 3rd place over all and 2nd in the East behind the Celtics and the Lakers and are going to be a difficult team to beat most nights as they are balanced and very good within the defensive schemes they run.

Jay Triano has a lot of work to do with this group of Raptors.

Posted on: December 9, 2008 2:25 pm

Raptors - Week 7 in Preview

The Raptors this week have 3 tough games again with the Cavaliers, the Pacers and the Nets. So far this season the Raptors have the second toughest schedule in the NBA with the Pacers being the toughest.

First up, the Cavaliers host the struggling Raptors tonight and bring a 17 – 3 record to the game which has them 2 games behind the Celtics who are first over-all in the league, putting them 2nd in the East and 3rd overall behind the Lakers who are 17 – 2 at this point. Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas needs four rebounds to break former center Brad Daugherty's record (5,227, 1986-94) and become the Cavs' all- time leading rebounder. LeBron James sits second overall in scoring average behind the Heats Dwyane Wade and just ahead of Chris Bosh with 26.5 points per game. Bosh sits at 25.7 despite a poor week of play. The Cavaliers are 11 – 0 at home and are 1 of only 2 teams to be  undefeated at home, the Trail Blazers are 7 – 0 at home as well. The Cavs’ bring an 8 game winning streak to the game tonight and are 9 – 1 in their last 10 games with their only loss going to the Pistons having beaten teams like the Hawks, the Nets, the Nuggets, the Jazz and the Knicks twice. Aside from LBJ, the Cavaliers have one of the most balanced teams they have seen in the LeBron era with Z and Anderson Varejao and Ben Wallace up front. Delonte West and Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak in the back court, this team has a lot of energy guys on the bench and no longer can teams wait until LBJ sits to take advantage of the weak bench. The starters as a group are averaging 28+ rebounds a game so they are working hard as a group and have been rewarded for the attention to the glass so far this season. The way the Raptors front court has been, I can’t see tonight being any different than the past 4 games as the Raptors will have to wait until another night to get their first win for Jay.

Next up the Indiana Pacers, and the return of T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic. Both of whom are enjoying good seasons with this young team. As I mentioned, this team has not enjoyed the toughest schedule in the NBA as they are 7 – 13 at this point. They do have some good talent on this team and with T.J. coming back to Toronto, they should have an emotional lift and play a spirited game. Danny Granger, Marquis Daniels, and Troy Murphy round out the starters who as a group are all at or above 10 points per game with Granger averaging 23.1 points per game. This is a game that the Raptors should win, but they will need to correct a few things first. They can not let Danny Granger roam free and attack from all parts of the floor. They have to contain the break and they have to get solid interior defense from the front line.

Friday we head to New Jersey to play Vince Carter and his Nets. Devin Harris has quickly developed into a top level guard in this league and the Nets are enjoying his development with 2 wins in a row and a 7 – 3 record in the last 10 games. With Brook Lopez developing into a solid front line player, the Nets are not just Vince Carter any more. Yi Jianlian and Keyon Dooling bring energy and solid rebounding to this team that has been thin up front with Eduardo Najera and Josh Boone out.  Any game between the Raptors and the Nets has a sideshow atmosphere and I look for more of the same.

As I see this week developing, the Raptors will be hard pressed to beat the Pacers in what could be their only realistic shot at a victory. Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon are going to have to develop some defense very quickly, Jermaine O’Neal will have to continue to score, but more importantly, provide this team some offensive rebounds, which they are 30th in the league. Andrea Bargnani had a great game against them last time and I look for him to continue his solid play on defense, but I would love to see him scoring at a 15 – 20 per game pace. Anthony Parker was burned the last sequence by Rudy Fernandez as he stood and watched the Trail Blazers grab offensive boards and find Steve Blake to kill us. That kind of effort won’t do! I think that Joey Graham should be given a shot at starting, but I suspect we won’t see a change any time soon as this team has such a thin bench as Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon are flying way under the radar. Unless this team suddenly finds some character, it will be a long week.

Posted on: December 7, 2008 8:58 pm

Raptors - Week 6 in Review - Transition Week.

This past week in the Raptors schedule saw the end of an era, the beginning of a new one, and 4 games this team will need to quickly forget to begin to build some sort of success with the rest of this season. Here is the week in review as I saw it!

After wins against the Bobcats and the Hawks, the Raptors embarked on a road trip which had stops against the Lakers, the Nuggets and the Jazz who are all at or near the top of the western conference and at or near the top of their game. Though they were coming off two wins, the Raptors had begun to develop nasty habits on both offense and defense that teams had begun to exploit. Defensively, the team was struggling to maintain leads and maintain any sort of consistent effort in the area of perimeter defense. Heading into games that feature some of the premier perimeter players in the league right now, the Raptors needed to find someone to step up and take that role to heart or find a way to play better team defense. With Jermaine O’Neal still nursing his sore ankle, prospects heading west were ominous at best. With the inconsistent play, it was clear that Sam Mitchell’s job was hanging by a very thin wire and he was on a very short leash at this point.

Heading into Los Angeles the Raptors started the tough 3 game trek against the Lakers looking to see if they could elevate their game to a new level. The first quarter was exciting and with a shoot out looming, the quarter ended 34 – 29 for the Lakers. After that point, the Lakers pulled away and over powered the short handed Raptors leading 61 – 51 at the half. The Raptors showed a lot of heart outscoring the Lakers 30 – 29 in the third, but the Raptors were never really able to mount any kind of sustained scoring as the Lakers would create a turnover or grab a rebound and run the floor scoring lay up after layup on the slower Raptors. The Lakers score 18 fast break points to the Raptors 7 and with Kobe on the bench for the 4th quarter they pulled ahead for good with their bench out playing the Raptors all over the floor.

Lakers game stats

Kobe Bryant - 23 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
Pau Gasol - 24 points, 8 rebounds
Andrew Bynum - 18 points, 10 rebounds
Trevor Ariza - 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Lamar Odom - 3 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals

47/92 - 51.1%
15 offensive boards - 54 total
34 assists
10 steals

Team Rebounds - 10
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 13
Fastbreak Points - 18
Points In The Paint - 58
Second Chance Points – 30

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers
Andrea Bargnani - 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks
Jose Calderon - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists
Anthony Parker - 19 points, 2 assists
Jamario Moon - 11 points, 3 assists, 3 steals
Jason Kapono - 11 points
Joey Graham - 7 points, 4 rebounds - 3 offensive
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal
Kris Humphries - 3 rebounds, 3 steals

34/88 - 38.6% - 11/25 - 44% 3 points
36 rebounds - 11 offensive
23 assists
13 turnovers
11 steals
6 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 17
Fastbreak Points - 7
Points In The Paint - 32
Second Chance Points – 10

As we can see, this game was lost on the glass with the Raptors ending up -18 for the night but a more telling -4 on the offensive glass. We were -11 in assists, and -26 on points in the paint. The Lakers ran the ball at will and scored on open shot after open shot in transition. This game was a good effort, but it was very obvious to most observers that this Raptors team had no clue defensively both in transition and on the perimeter. It was too much to ask our thin front line to compete with the solid and deep Lakers squad who seemed to play as hard as they needed to until they got up a few in the 3rd, then let the very talented bench take over and finish this game.

Next up for the Raptors, the Nuggets were waiting. With Jermaine O’Neal set to return, this game offered a hope that the Raptors would have some strength inside again. Though he provided 12 points, it was no where near enough to slow down the Nuggets and this game was over very early and was the last game in the Sam Mitchell era for the Raptors organization. Here are the game stats.

Nuggets game stats

Carmelo Anthony - 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
Chauncey Billups - 24 points, 14 assists
Nene - 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks
Kenyon Martin - 11 points, 4 rebounds
Linas Kleiza - 12 points, 4 rebounds
J.R. Smith - 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
Dahntay Jones - 5 assists, 9 points

49/82 - 59.8% including 13/24 or 54.2% from 3 point range
46 rebounds - 5 offensive
37 assists

Team Rebounds - 11
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 16
Fastbreak Points - 27
Points In The Paint - 50
Second Chance Points – 10

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 24 points, 12 rebounds - 5 offensive, 5 assists
Jose Calderon - 9 points, 7 assists
Jermaine O'Neal - 12 points, 3 rebounds
Roko Ukic - 13 points
Andrea Bargnani - 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Kris Humphries - 4 points, 8 rebounds - 3 offensive
Jason Kapono - 0 points

34/93 - 36.6% including 5/17 - 29.4% 3 point shots
39 rebounds - 12 offensive
21 Assists
10 turnovers
6 steals
4 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 8
Fastbreak Points - 17
Points In The Paint - 28
Second Chance Points – 9

The Raptors were outplayed all over the floor and the lack of both creativity and any defensive pressure at all cost Sam his job, signaling the beginning of the Jay Triano era. We did see a vast improvement in the play of Roko, but again, this Raptors team was out rebounded by 7, but on a night when the Nuggets shot almost 60%, they had no real need to rebound to control the game. This game was ugly early and most turned it off by half-time, I watched Amadeus!

Friday took us to Utah to take on the Jazz who were as vulnerable as they have been all season long. With Carlos Boozer out and Andrei Kirilenko recouping from an ankle injury, the Raptors had an opportunity to control the game inside. That never happened. Mehmet Okur showed why he is considered one of the best shooting Center in the game today. He scored from inside and from outside, short jumpers, fade away, off the dribble and off the break. Jermaine O’Neal had no ability to stop him as he had no help any where. When Bosh was on him, he had shots from 7 to 10 feet and very little pressure from the weakside. I guess defensive bad habits and bad attitudes take more than 1 or 2 practices to correct. Most of the time teams that have a coaching change seem to take to the floor with a bit more energy and a bit more focus in response to the firing. This was not the case for the Raptors. They looked listless and helpless all night long. Not the type of response Bryan Colangelo was looking for and I am sure Jay expected more from his guys, but I guess we can excuse them for not wanting to compete, but the effort they played with was awful. Here are the game stats.

Jazz game stats

Paul Millsap - 17 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks
Mehmet Okur - 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Deron Williams - 14 points, 5 assists, 2 steals
Ronnie Brewer - 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals
Andrei Kirilenko - 7 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Matt Harpring - 14 points, 7 rebounds including 4 offensive
Kostas Koufos - 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal

49/95 - 51.6%
13 offensive rebounds 52 overall
31 assists
12 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 25
Fastbreak Points - 9
Points In The Paint - 66
Second Chance Points – 15

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 18 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers
Jose Calderon - 10 points, 8 assists, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 13 points, 5 rebounds
Jermaine O'Neal - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Andrea Bargnani -7 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Jason Kapono - 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Jamario Moon - 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Will Solomon - 7 points
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 4 assists, 1 steal

36/82 - 43.9% - 4/17 for 23.5% from 3 pt range
38 rebounds - 3 offensive
23 assists
23 turnovers
8 steals
10 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 16
Points In The Paint - 44
Second Chance Points – 2

Allowing 66 points in the paint is inexcusable at an NBA level. The Raptors were beaten by a very good team, and they looked unable to run simple plays out of an offensive set. The coaching staff has a lot of work to do.

Sunday, the Raptors hosted the young Trail Blazers featuring 2 players that Bryan Colangelo MIGHT have drafted rather than Andrea Bargnani. With both the 2nd overall pick after Andrea, LeMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy drafted 6th in the lineup, one can only wonder what might have been. Here we have yet another game that the Raptors opened up a 16 point lead only to see it disappear as yet another team exploits this teams inability to guard on the perimeter. Steve Blake looked like Steve Kerr out there and the Raptors had no way to hold on to the lead. This game will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many Raptors fans as we seem to be seeing the beginning of a Chris Bosh meltdown underway. During a very tight third quarter that saw the Raptors recover from a 10 point deficit to take a lead, we saw Chris Bosh decide that he was the best option from outside the arc with Jason Kapono open to his left. Jay Triano seemed to bench him after that selfish play and he was on the bench for the first 8 minutes of the 4th while Joey Graham and Jason Kapono and Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon and Jermaine O’Neal were able to build a 5 point lead with 3 minutes left. Chris Bosh came in and although he did manage a block late, he scored only 4 points in the second half, was blocked twice and turned the ball over and took fade away shots over a much smaller defender too many times to consider it coincidence. I have never seen him play for himself so much and on the final inbound pass, he tried to dribble from outside the arc with a wide open Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon in his line of sight, he threw up a horrible shot over LaMarcus, looking for a foul I guess. I have not often seen him play so poorly when the team needed him to compete. I hope that they can work things out as he is too valuable to this team to watch him play this way. I hope this is not an indication of any more unrest within the walls of this locker room. Here are the game stats

Trail Blazers game stats

Brandon Roy - 15 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
LeMarcus Aldridge - 20 points, 8 rebounds including 6 offensive, 2 blocks
Steve Blake - 19 points including 5/8 3 point baskets, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Greg Oden - 10 points, 10 rebounds - 5 Offensive, 2 blocks
Rudy Fernandez - 16 points, 8 rebounds - 3 Offensive

36/82 - 43.9% including 12/24 - 50% 3 point shots
48 rebounds including 18 offensive
19 assists
3 steals
5 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 12
Fastbreak Points - 2
Points In The Paint - 24
Second Chance Points – 20

Raptors game stats

Jermaine O'Neal - 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 6 blocks
Chris Bosh - 19 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block
Jose Calderon - 15 points, 13 assists
Jason Kapono - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Joey Graham - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
Andrea Bargnani - 5 points, 4 rebounds

38/77 - 49.4% including 8/17 - 47.1% from 3 point range
31 rebounds - 4 offensive
26 assists
8 turnovers
7 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 8
Points In The Paint - 34
Second Chance Points – 10

I think there were a few things that I really liked from this game and a few things that concern me greatly. Once again, the Raptors were -17 on the glass with only 4 offensive boards while giving up 18 offensive boards to a very active Trail Blazers team. Offensive boards reflect the heart of a team and the Raptors played this game with no desire to attack the offensive glass. That one fact alone keeps them in a very small window to grow as a team offensively as they could have sealed this game late with a couple of tough rebounds and a couple of loose ball plays that the Blazers seemed to be the only team wanting the ball most of the game. We gave up 12/24 or 50% from 3 point range to a team that is known as a good shooting team. Steve Blake, like Vince Carter, killed us with a huge 3 point shot on a very similar play that the Nets ran on us, maybe the Raptors are the only team that doesn’t dissect game film to figure opponents tendencies out before the game is played. Jay did a great job with the rotation after the team had lost the lead. They continued to work the ball around and a balanced offense was the result with 5 guys in double digits scoring. Watching the last 3 minutes and the meltdown of Chris Bosh as he was very much in the way the second half, was difficult after watching them battle hard to put themselves in a place to be one rebound away from beating this very good team. We did only have 8 turnovers which was great but our lack of perimeter defense killed us again.

As I started this by saying, it was a very difficult week for the Raptors and we played 4 very good teams and perhaps the western conference champion and we struggled in every aspect of the game. Some interesting facts I found this past week by the numbers.

1) 49.5 – average number of points in the paint given up in the past 4 games. This means that over the past week we have given up a lot of very easy baskets. With the Raptors averaging only 34.5 points in the paint a game, that is a huge disparity and one of many reasons why we struggle so much from game to game.
2) 181/351 - 51.5% - the combined opposition field goal percentage. You can’t let teams light you up every night. Not only are the Raptors getting beat inside, our lack of solid perimeter defense is reflected in the high shooting percentage. For a team like the Raptors that struggles on offense, we can’t continue to let teams score 1 out of every 2 shots they take.
3) 50 rebounds given up per game with 12.75 Offensive boards per game allowed. We can not expect to succeed on any kind of consistent basis giving up those kinds of numbers on the glass. Rebounding reflects the heart of a team defensively, from the numbers shown here, we have a long way to go.

Though it was a tough week, I think that the move to Jay was a step in the right direction and the game Sunday showed that the team does have the talent to compete should they chose to, but I am afraid the tendency towards mediocrity this team has displayed so far this season has become systemic in nature and will be very tough to overcome from the top to the bottom of this roster.

This week we also saw a much improved Joey Graham begin to reveal some character and some heart. I think he is ready to start as what we have had just isn’t good enough and we have some very tough games coming quickly. Roko Ukic has begun to show us the skill he has and as a young guard, has provided some much needed rest for Jose. Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono had some good minutes scoring this week as did Jamario Moon. Here’s hoping that those guys continue their improvement on both sides of the floor. Andrea Bargnani is becoming a force defensively but has paid the price offensively. It is a very difficult thing to balance, but this team needs him to score as well as provide tough defense, but the improved defense will provide him opportunities to score in transition more as the tempo of this team improves offensively and in transition.

If you made it through this, thanks and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Posted on: December 6, 2008 10:50 am

Raptors - Jazz - Review of a team in Turmoil

Turn out the lights, the parties over! Jay Triano started his coaching era with the Raptors Friday night with a game against the Jazz. To say it wasn’t a good start is an understatement. The Raptors came into the game after losing to the Lakers and the Nuggets and then losing Sam Mitchell as coach on Wednesday. After a short practice day Friday, the Raptors had to quickly regroup and play the Jazz without Carlos Boozer. Usually when a coach is replaced, the team responds with some passion or emotion or some sort of spark for the new coach for whatever reason, but usually the players will respond and step up their play for at least 1 game. As has become the norm with this group of Raptors, there was no passion to be found anywhere.

On a night when we found out what a big baby Glenn Davis really is after Kevin Garnett called him out for playing lousy defense while his Celtics were UP 25, we watched a team fall deeper into a pit of mediocrity. After an opening play dunk by Andrea Bargnani, the guys looked good moving the ball up the floor looking for the break a few times, but after getting a 10 – 5 lead, the Jazz ended the quarter on a 28 – 13 run. Deron Williams scored 10 in the quarter running past Jose Calderon at will. Mehmet Okur used every trick in his vast array of tools to school both Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh from the inside out ending the game with 21 points in only 29 minutes of playing time. The Jazz early attacked the basket and found absolutely no defense being offered up by our inside guys at all. Anthony Parker and Joey Graham offered a little bit of resistance, but it was no where near enough to stop any of the Jazz players. Paul Millsap ended the night with 17, D-Will ended with 14, Andrei Kirilenko had 7 off the bench, Matt Harpring dropped 14 and added 7 boards, Kosta Koufos had 10 as the Jazz offered their consistently balanced attack to which the Raptors could offer NO defense at all.

To a man, the Raptors looked emotionally drained and showed no emotion as the Jazz just kept taking shots in the key all night long. Whether it was a layup, or 7 footer, the Raptors just stood there helpless. What I saw last night has little to do with coaching. First, the few highlights for the Raptors. Joey Graham continues to show he deserves more time on the floor with a solid game and 13 points and 5 rebounds. He picked up 4 fouls, but at least he was engaged defensively and showed some intensity. If he continues his improvement and can cut down the fouls, he should keep the pressure on to put him on the starting lineup soon. Roko Ukic seems to grow with each passing minute on the floor. He looked more composed and very comfortable on the court and his 7 points point to his improvement as he scored most on layups or breaks. His bringing an up tempo style to this team will be critical as we look to over haul the team from the top to the bottom. Will Solomon added 7 and seems to have begun to control the ball with only 1 turnover. I am not saying he is ready to play heavy minutes yet, but I think he knows what it is he needs to do to play at the NBA level.

As for the starters, well that is another story. Chris Bosh has probably heard the last of his MVP calls this season as he has developed a nasty habit of not playing defense at all. He is considered the leader of this team and if that is the case, he needs to leave it on the court every minute he is on the floor. He is NOT a 3 point shooter. His game is taking the ball to the hole and creating mismatches and causing defenses to over rotate on him and kick the ball out. He has lost confidence in his team mates like Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono who look lost at both ends of the floor and have given up playing on the defensive end all together. Jamario was a shot blocker when he entered the league and with his talent and overall athleticism, he should be a much more able defender, but he has stopped attacking the hoop and has begun to stand around the 3 point line hoping the ball comes to him. The problem is, teams leave him alone because they know he offers no real threat anywhere on the floor in a set offense. He looked much better when the tempo was pushed and as that becomes more a part of our offense, I hope to see him return to form as he can be a real asset to this squad running the floor. Andrea Bargnani continued his solid play on defense and was truly the only real bright spot defensively with 4 blocks and 6 rebounds on a night when we got destroyed on the glass, again. We know he won’t have many 3 – 12 shooting nights so right now, I feel he is our most consistent player at both ends over all. Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon have decided that defense is no longer an aspect of the game they have any desire to contribute to and Jermaine O’Neal has become a sideshow on this team offering little on offense and not much on defense. IF he is hurt to that extent, then keep him off the floor and let the other guys figure out what to do without him. The problem is, he was brought here to provide that solution and he has not been able to perform at a level required to do so the past 3 weeks. The Raptors have struggled greatly since that Nets game and that horrible foul he suffered the injury on. Anthony Parker seems unable to defend anyone at this point and grabbed no rebounds and only 8 points against the Jazz. An over all terrible effort by him at both ends of the floor last night that can’t continue from here going forward.

So, what do we do now? Jay Triano and Bryan Colangelo have a huge amount of work to do with this team. It won’t be easy to fix without a major over haul and perhaps some player movements that won’t be popular. Right now, all of our resources were moved when we gave up Rasho Nasterovic and T.J. Ford to the Pacers for Jermaine. It is becoming clear that the plan has not and will not provide the solutions it was designed to bring. That leaves us very little resources to make any real trades with that don’t include what most would consider our “untouchables”. I will discuss this issue in my week in review to come later.

Posted on: December 4, 2008 9:10 pm

Raptors - Jazz - A game Preview

Welcome to the Jay Triano era of the Toronto Raptors. I won’t dwell too much on what was a sad end to the tenure of Sam Mitchell as we all have opinions and I hope we can all just wish the man success as he moves on to new things.

Well, the Raptors travel to Utah Friday night to take on the Jazz who are 8 – 3 at home so far this year having dropped a game to the Heat as Dwyane Wade scored 23 and the Jazz were again without Carlos Boozer who is out and has been for 8 straight games. Also injured are Andrei Kirilenko and Brevan Knight. While Boozer has been out, the Jazz are 4 – 4 and with Deron Williams back in the lineup, this team can still strike fear in the hearts of many teams that have back court issues. So the Jazz will bring Mehmet Okur, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Miles and the emerging Paul Millsap to the floor. Injuries to the front court leaves this team vulnerable inside and I anticipate they are aware of the front court that the Raptors can field

The Raptors under Jay Triano will still be lead by Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon with Andrea Bargnani and Anthony Parker as well as Jermaine O’Neal. Should Jay decide to start Jamario Moon to open the floor and add some much needed tempo to the offense, we could see a different game plan entirely as Jay begins to implement new facets to a struggling offense. Should the Raptors choose to attack the inside, the Jazz are weak up front with injuries to key front line players.

So here is what I see Friday night

Jazz Starting lineup:

C – Mehmet Okur
PF – Paul Millsap
SF – C.J. Miles
SG – Ronnie Brewer
SF – Deron Williams

Raptors Starting Lineup:

C – Jermaine O’Neal
PF – Chris Bosh
SF – Andrea Bargnani
SG – Anthony Parker
PG – Jose Calderon

I think the difference in this game could be bench depth believe it or not. With the Jazz thin at the PF and SF positions, the Raptors should be able to rotate Joey Graham and Kris Humphries in and out and keep the guys fresh and on top of their game. I would love to see Chris Bosh take around 20 free throws as he returns to attack mode on the offensive end with Jermaine there to take care of Mehmet, I can’t see C.J. Miles or Paul Millsap stopping Bosh, O’Neal and Bargnani on a consistent basis. Rotation will be key as they guys need to keep fresh to take advantage of the thin front line. Rebounding will be critical as the Raptors need to establish their positions inside and maintain the advantage of the glass at both ends. Should the Raptors end up + 10 on the glass, they will have a great shot at stealing this road victory. On defense, we will need to be much better on off-ball awareness and work hard to challenge every shot the Jazz take. I would love to see Jay win his second NBA game and his first as the official head coach of the Raptors. I can’t wait for game time.

Posted on: December 4, 2008 9:48 am
Edited on: December 4, 2008 11:04 am

Welcome the Jay Triano era of the Toronto Raptors

Jay Triano becomes the 7th head coach in the history of the Toronto Raptors after they releaved Sam Mitchell of his duties early Wednesday morning after a 132 - 93 defeat at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. Here is a brief biography of the first ever Canadian born head coach in the NBA.

Jay Triano (born September 21, 1958 in Tillsonburg, Ontario, raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario) is the current NBA head coach with the Toronto Raptors. Triano, gained wide attention during his long years of coaching the Canadian Olympic basketball team. He is also a former National basketball team player, who competed in two Summer Olympics, starting in 1984.

He began his collegiate career as a student at Simon Fraser University where he held 11 school records, including having the most career points with 2616. He was drafted in the later rounds of the 1981 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers but never played in the NBA.

Triano was a national team player from 1978-90, captained the team from 1981-1988 and played in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. He led the Canadian team that won Gold at the 1983 World University Games in Edmonton, Alberta. He played three seasons of professional ball, two in Mexico and one in Europe.

After retiring as a player, he became head coach at his alma mater, Simon Fraser University. In 1995, when the Vancouver Grizzlies debuted, he became Director of Community Relations and worked as the colour commentator for their radio broadcasts. In 1999, Triano became the head coach of the Canadian national men's basketball team. He led them to a 5-2 record and 7th place finish in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, losing to France by just five points in the quarter-finals. Three years later, he became assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors, becoming the first Canadian-born coach in the NBA. He served under Lenny Wilkens, Kevin O'Neill, and Sam Mitchell.

Triano was recently named an assistant coach for USA Basketball. On February 13, 2008 Triano served as head coach of the Toronto Raptors in their 109-91 victory over the New Jersey Nets, in place of head coach Sam Mitchell who was absent from the team as a result of the passing of his father-in-law, making history as the first Canadian to serve as head coach for a regular-season NBA game.

On December 3, 2008, Triano was named interim head coach of the Toronto Raptors after Sam Mitchell was relieved of his coaching duties. He is the the first Canadian-born head coach in NBA history.

So now we have a new coach, but we still have some glaring weaknesses. Jose Calderon has never been a great on ball defender, and now that he is hobbled by a bad leg, he is even slower and has a hard time covering toast. Chauncey Billups and Dahntey Jones blew by him all night long scoring most of their points in the paint. Chris Bosh is playing great offensive ball, but has trouble against a double team and the elite defenders such as Kevin Garnett, and seems lost without Jermaine O'Neal beside him covering his backside. Jermaine has been hurt and has been inconsistent on offense, but a force on defense. His rebounding has kept us in several games this season and is sorely missed. Our wing play from Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono has been spotty at best and awful on defense. With Andrea Bargnani playing some defense, we have been able to contain some of the damage, but not consistently though progress is looking good. Anthony Parker plays against the leagues best scorers night after night and guys like Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade make most players look bad, but he has had good and bad games, but the collapse against the Nets as Vince Carter scored 12 points in 25 seconds to tie us and then win in overtime was just awful as Anthony could not stop him at all. We have no back up guard as Roko Ukic and Will Solomon have not developed enough game to stay on the floor, though the game against the Nuggets showed us that Roko can play at this level. Joey Graham has shown flashes of the guy we drafted, but is not able to play at that pace all the time. Gritty and tough he is best utilized slashing to the lane. Let's hope Jay can find a way to use that skill.

Jay's first game on Friday against the longest serving coach in the league will be a good test as the Jazz host us with no Carlos Boozer. Deron Williams and Paul Milsap will be tough for us to stop. Welcome to the NBA head coaching ranks Jay. I hope your stay is pleasant and prosperous.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com