Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

TJ Ford, villain or hero?

Posted by Arsenalist on March 13, 2008

Toronto Raptors 106, Golden State Warriors 117

Good fightback by the Raps but in the end it’s awfully hard to beat the Warriors at their own game. We fought valiantly but came up just a few chucks short of pulling a memorable victory at the Oracle. The Warriors just wouldn’t miss, they shot a blitzkrieg-like 56% and were hitting everything in the fourth quarter (73%). Our perimeter defense barely resisted and fell for the first drive-fake every time conceding Golden State an open 18-footer at their command, which Baron Davis and Monta Ellis did well to exploit. We tried to stay on pace by trading baskets and had TJ Ford leading the onslaught in the fourth but eventually the well dried up for him and a couple TJ misses and a Bargnani turnover was all it took to turn a 1 point lead into a 7 point deficit. Seeing how we were down 20, there’s a moral victory somewhere in here.

Anthony Parker had another solid performance (22/9) but took only two shots in the fourth which TJ had long before decided to be the time where he’d take the game over singlehandedly yet again. TJ went 4/9 in the quadrant and kept the Raptors in the game but in an entirely different manner than how the very effective Kapono/Parker/Delfino/Humphries/(Ford/Calderon) lineup had shaved the lead down from 20 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Perhaps if we’d just stuck with team ball and had decided to continue to trust our teammates, our successful strategy of moving the ball around a porous GS defense would’ve also worked in the fourth. But this is a trend we’ve seen over the last couple weeks, TJ coming in and getting a high shot and point total but the Raptors end up losing the game because he eventually runs out of gas and points. A team high 18 shots off the bench for a team high 23 points. To his credit this time around he did have 8 assists but it’s hard to look at that after yet another fourth quarter where it was all points, no assists. Villain or Hero? You decide.

Andrea Bargnani needed more touches, his four turnovers weren’t very glamorous but he was 5-9 FG and looked to do the right thing on offense every time he had possession. Very similar to the Laker game, Bargnani needed to be involved in the plays early and often because Don Nelson’s side didn’t have a clue on who to put on him and Bargnani did well to exploit both size and quickness mismatches. If a better distribution of opportunities had fallen his way, he would’ve been in line for a bigger night. We can blame the others for not giving him the ball, but at some point you have to demand it by giving them a succinct message about how you won’t tolerate Delfino looking you off. Michael Grange made an honest post about some of the things that went wrong last night, I like his take on Kris Humphries, nothing that you didn’t already know but good to see it brought up:

This is a good example of why his playing time can be so erratic: Early in the fourth he hustles and draws a foul on a loose ball situation; hustles again and forces Golden State to lose the ball out of bounds after an offensive rebound on the same trip. So far so good. Then he takes a fading 18-footer with 20 seconds on the shot clock, which would be a bad shot for Bosh, and is unthinkable for the Hump, but he’s not always thinking.

The Raptors stayed in this game by shooting 50%, holding their own on the boards (38-40) and by going to the FT line. The technical area where this one was lost was perimeter man defense, missed rotations underneath and 17 costly turnovers leading to 21 points, a 54-38 points in the paint drubbing and a 23-5 ass-kicking in fastbreak points. Before the game even started it was known that the first team that would decide on playing defense would win the game. That wasn’t the case, neither team slowed down or picked up their D, it just so happened that we went dry before they did. The Raptors (especially the second unit) deserves a lot of credit for not folding after being down 20 early but slowly chipping the lead away in a professional and patient manner, not by jacking up threes.

You can’t really complain after this one, GS is leaner, meaner, more athletic, more talented and have a game plan, however crazy it is. They want you play an up and down game where the shot-clock is only 16 seconds long and any shot as long as it’s open is a good one. We got suckered into playing their game and although we competed, the chance of us winning in such a high-wire affair was always low. The alternate would’ve been to slow things down and force half-court execution but I’m not sure we would’ve fared much better. This was Sam’s type of game, no plays, just do whatever the hell you want but make sure you rebound. Simply put, the better talent one.

Liners:

  • Monta Ellis can get any shot he wants anytime he wants it. He tore us a new one in the first three quarters and Baron took over in the fourth.
  • I watched this entire game on mute. Sure, I missed a few things here and there but overall the experience was far more enjoyable, will do it more often. Any stupid Chuck/Leo convos?
  • Coming up is Denver which should be another L and after that is our only chance at a W in Sacramento. For those counting, the Wiz are 2 1/2 game back.
  • The Warriors came into the game as the best offensive (110.80 PPG) and worst defensive (107.64 PPG) team in the league. On this night, we beat them to the worst defense award.
  • If you happen to have a sick fetish for Primoz Brezec and want the Raptors to desperately resign him before he turns his back on us and goes on to join the Knicks and become league MVP, you might want to check out ResignPrimoz.com. I don’t know who’s behind the site but I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s Brezec himself.

26 Responses to “TJ Ford, villain or hero?”

  1. josh said

    I don’t think i can wear my TJ ford jersey to the raptors games anymore. Something bad might happen to me

  2. Ellie said

    I respect the offensive energy and aggression Ford brings late in the game, but trying to do it all himself is ridiculous.

    Maybe Sam needs to tie him to a chair, prop his eyes open with toothpicks and make him watch an endless loop of Garnett’s “we-not-me” commercials.

  3. Birdman said

    Agreed Josh – it’s almost like after TJ got injured, his body returned but his head became possessed by Mike James.

    What really got to me was a critical possession with about 6 minutes left in the 4th: TJ carries the ball over half-court, promptly decides to dribble away 22 seconds of the shot clock while pretending to look for a teammate and then chuck a Delfino-like 26-ft prayer. Clang. GS Rebound. Down the floor they come. Ellis scores.

    What was he thinking? Can someone tell me please? Does he want to be the hero that badly? AP is on fire, give him the ball! Why isn’t Smitch screaming from the bench?!? As the PG it’s his job to distribute.

    The disappointment wasn’t worth the extra hour of sleep I could have gotten. Ugh.

  4. cuzzy said

    Early in the year (pre-injury) Ford scored a lot but of course he took second fiddle to Bosh. He had moments of out of control but you sort of accepted it. He never looked this stuck in ball hog mode.

    Even when he returned he meshed very well into the team and came off the bench leading the second unit.

    Then, he decided he was going to come in and be a chucker. Score a lot but really kill any chance for a team game or win.

    I am all for him breaking down the other team and scoring at will but this is the NBA.

    Unless your name is LeBron or Kobe, defenses are going to figure out you are a one man show and not even try to guard anyone.

    Ford needs to ease back a little (Sam does too if he is the puppet master of this).

    I know it sucks right now but when Bosh comes back I think it will all fall back into place.

    I can only hope the Sixers have not overtaken the team in the standings.

    http://cuzoogle.com/2008/03/13/the-beard-puts-golden-state-on-top/

  5. cuzzy said

    Oh Arsenalist, good call on the mute. If you need to know the moronic banter, I did type my post as the game was going so that will catch you up.

  6. Raps Fan said

    man, i couldn’t watch it on mute, BUT, will try it based on your reccomendation. i actually had negative expectations for last nights game. i thought it would be like 143-117 final sore, so the fact that the game was played out the way it was, i’m not upset (but not happy).

    as far as tj goes, dude is a hero. once bosh gets back in the lineup, things will work themselves out. i have no doubt. until then, i have no solutions though.

    the second shot parker took in the 4th was with 2 seconds left in the quarter, so really, he only took 1 shot. fyi.

  7. […] – Arsenalist […]

  8. khandor said

    Watch & see … TJ is about to be re-installed as the starting PG for this team … within the next little while (prior to the end of the regular season schedule).

    What is this prediction based upon?

    A summary of Sam Mitchell’s thinking, is as follows:

    a) We cannot continue on with the current situation, ie Jose starting and TJ coming in off the bench … because (i) we are losing games, and (ii) TJ is scoring so many points for us, by dominating the ball with the 2nd unit, as (ii) Jose’s performance is tailing off.

    b) With CB4 back, however, if we re-insert Ford into the starting line-up, there will be fewer scoring opportunities for the starting PG because ‘the Man’ will also have returned, as the focal point for the offense … which, in turn, will limit Ford’s FGA’s without any specific instructions (to do just that) from the coaching staff/management.

    c) With CB4 & Ford back into the starting line-up … Calderon will be able to re-establish his former role, coming off the bench with the 2nd unit … distributing the ball to the shooters in that group who need a pass-first PG to assist their efforts … which Jose can do (i) because he’s done it well before, and (i) his performance, as a starter, has slipped recently.

    d) Once Ford & CB4 are both back … everything in Raptorland will return to normal, ie as it was prior to the Ford/Horford incident … and, then, we will be ready for the 1st Rd of the playoffs, clicking on all cylanders.

    e) If Colangelo wants to make a player personnel move this summer, with Ford, this will enhance/re-establish his ‘value’ to the other teams in the league that might still be interested in his services as a viable starting PG (eg Atlanta, Sacramento, Indiana, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Seattle, LA Clips & Minnesota) … since the GM has stated for the record that he has every intention of re-signing Jose Calderon, as a restricted FA.

    Just you watch & see.

  9. khandor said

    Arsenalist,

    Another 1st class game recap, on your part!

  10. whyarewecalledraptors said

    While I agree that having Ford in the starting lineup will allow him to swallow his ego and play real basketball, it will not work out very well in the end.

    If I was Jose and TJ was put back in a starter after losing a few games for the team, I would sign off on the Raptors and go somewhere else. Sure Jose is considered the “ultimate professional” or “teamplayer” but he is a competitor who wants to play. He has earned a spot to be considered a top PG in the league and he will leave Toronto, albeit in a professional manner.

    The raptors are in a bit of a tough spot considering Jose’s contract situation. Given that TJ has a few years left on his contract BC and Mitchell may not feel too bad hurting TJ’s feelings for a while just so they can secure Jose in the offseason.

  11. arsenalist said

    I think a couple posts ago I mentioned that we might need to give TJ his starting job back just to quell his inferiority complex. It might allow him to play a more controlled game without feeling the need to prove something. whyarewecalledraptors’s point that we can afford to piss him off for a little while until we resign Calderon is a valid one but I don’t think (based on what I’ve read/heard/saw) that Calderon has any qualms about coming off the bench as long as he’s taken care of financially.

    The one silver lining in all of this is that TJ’s putting up big numbers and that will help his trade value because there will always be a coach that will think that he might be able to control TJ and make him into a great PG. I hope that happens here in Toronto but the odds of that happening with a lame coach like Mitchell and the dynamics of Forderon is little.

  12. raptor fan said

    haha i agree with ellie… but seriously he is pissing me off now. Way too many shots for a guy who cant shoot for shit!!

  13. Raps Fan said

    khandor, i do agree with your thinking on tj being a starter again. i called it way back when, but still, at this point of the season? if he was going to get his starting role back, it should have been sooner.

    i hope jose doesn’t walk in the off-season. we need to get something useful for whichever guard (my money is on tj) that leaves the team.

  14. cuzzy said

    I also think TJ will be starting again before the playoffs.

    It seems to be a better fit for all.

    Does anyone think Bosh and Ford being good friends plays into the whole future of TJ being a Rap??

  15. khandor said

    FWIW … please don’t take my ‘prediction’ to mean that such a move (re-inserting Ford as the Starter) would be something I condone happening with this team, in the immediate future.

    On the contrary, if I was in Sam Mitchell’s shoes (or Bryan Colangelo’s), this is not what I would do with the Ford/Calderon tandem.

    http://khandorssportsblog.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/a-new-mo-is-finally-etched-in-stone-for-the-raptors/

    Recall when I referenced in earlier posts, the impossibility involved with trying to close Pandora’s Box, once the Genie has been released from its magic bottle.

  16. FLUXLAND said

    Jose will never play anywhere other then the Raps. Look at Primoz. He said he was done if it don’t work here. The reason all European players love playing for the Raps is because we don’t treat the player like the Americans. Jose will never leave. Plus, BC will match anything and no one will go over 8-10 per year.

    @Cuzzy – hell yeah it will. Notice how BC likes having guys on the team that are geographically linked in some way. Every guy has someone to relate to. For sure that will play a part.

  17. pugz said

    as long as TJ Ford continues to break records in FG shots attempted the Raps will never win.

    from the very beginning he is my most disliked raptor.

    all the way for jose.

  18. SAMisCOY said

    I’m all for TJ starting. As Raps Fan said before, TJ lost his job due to injury (which we ALL can agree sucks). Jose played out of his mind, and made it a VERY tough choice for the fans (we’re STILL arguing), MAYBE the coaching staff, and NOW for BC.

    TJ was brought in as a starter. Let him finish as a starter. Jose, for whatever reason (burn-out, loyalty, Agent (is a big) Zero, [insert guess here]), has played DOWN a level since TJ came back. Draw whatever kind of conclusion any of you want for that, all I know, is this will NEVER be solved, until one leaves–sucks, but who doesn’t think it’s true.

    I STILL think TJ is a good PG. They are BOTH good, starter quality PG’s, with VERY different strengths.

    TJ was brought in to emulate the fast-paced, run-and-gun, style-of-play, which I BELIEVE, suits him! Now, you just have to surround him with players that CAN play with him. Guys that will move w/ out the ball, cut hard, and have GOOD HANDS, etc.

    If this is the last we see of TJ, then at least give him/surround him w/ players that can make him shine.

    Now instead of debating how this should have been done already by BC, Smitch, etc. bla-bla-bla …

    … can anyone come up with players on the CURRENT Raps team roster (sans Bosh, due to injury), that can help TJ flourish and guide the team? and THEN, a line-up of the bench with Jose, that can either slow down the game to keep a lead, or keep things close?

  19. khandor said

    FLUX,

    re: “… Jose will never play anywhere other then the Raps.”

    I’d be willing to make you a ‘friendly wager’ that this assertion you’ve made will be proven to be incorrect … before the end of Calderon’s career in the NBA.

    Are you game? (to stand by what you wrote there ↑ ) :-)

    SamisCOY,

    re: “… can anyone come up with players on the CURRENT Raps team roster (sans Bosh, due to injury), that can help TJ flourish and guide the team? and THEN, a line-up of the bench with Jose, that can either slow down the game to keep a lead, or keep things close?”

    STARTERS
    PG – Calderon
    OG – Moon
    SF – Graham
    PF – Humphries
    C – Bosh

    KEY SUBS
    PG – Parker
    OG – Kapono
    SF – Delfino
    PF – Bargnani
    C – Nesterovic

    It’s a no-brainer … to a top-flight NBA coach who actually knows what’s he’s doing.

    PS. Of course, you could always put Ford into Parker’s spot; and, put Parker into Delfino’s spot, with the 2nd unit. :-)

    It’s called … thinking outside the box … which is what a top flight NBA coach, for example, like Phil Jackson is paid a lot of $$$ to do.

    PS. All I ask is that … if you start to spread the thought around elsewhere on the internet … of shifting Moon to the starting OG spot, and AP to the back-up PG role, and Joey to the starting SF spot (to address this team’s REBOUNDING problem) … you give credit to where you first read the idea. :-)

  20. Birdman said

    Wow, that starting lineup is laughable. We’d get blown away by 80% of the teams in the league before the second unit ever made it onto the floor.

    In other news, PUT AWAY YOUR PROGNOSTICATION TOOLS! Looks like the Raps have a 5.8% chance of making the NBA finals. This from John Hollinger (pfft!). I think he’s being generous.

  21. khandor said

    Birdman,

    And I suppose … before the season started … you thought the Houston Rockets’ current starting line-up of:

    Rafer Alston, T-Mac, Shane Battier, Luis Scola and Dikembe Mutombo

    was actually capable of winning 20 games in a row, in the NBA, as well?

    (putting a top-flight, versatile, team together … in the NBA … means searching for the ‘right’ combination of players … as opposed to thinking in a stagnant way)

    :-)

  22. Birdman said

    First off khandor, the Rockets first won 13 games in a row WITH Yao, before winning 7 in a row with that group.

    Second, you can’t possibly tell me that your Raps starting 5 come close to the Rockets lineup (even without Yao)? I think the key difference is that the Rockets’ lineup has a bit of everything – star scorer, glue guy, rebounding, blocking, etc. Meaning, Dikembe is a TRUE center, T-Mac is a TRUE SG, and so on (maybe with the exception of Alston). That starting 5 you assembled has Moon and Bosh playing out of position.

    You’re right in saying that you need to assemble the “right combination of players”, but in order to meet your “top-flight” requirement, the players have to actually be good; a title I’m wary of laying on Moon, and especially Graham.

    I think we’re ignoring a massive factor in all this – RICK ADELMAN. I really can’t explain why the Rockets have been winning so much – for sure a large part of that is luck. However, with a good coach, mediocre teams become great. He actually runs plays, unlike our COY. And by your definition of “stagnant”, I doubt Smitch is anything but what with his baffling and constantly changing rotation. I think he’s searching for that combination you’re talking about.

    So to answer your question, no, I didn’t any team was capable at winning 20 in a row let alone the Rockets. But then again, nobody thought the US would win at Lake Placid in the 80s, nobody thought that the Florida Panthers would make the NHL Finals in the 90s, and nobody thought the Rockies would make the World Series. Sh*t happens, even with so-so lineups.

  23. khandor said

    Moon is a 2 in the NBA … and Chris Bosh is a 5.

    :-)

    btw … Joey G is a rebounding, don’t-shoot-except-for-corner-spot-up-3’s, defensive specialist (ala, Bruce ‘Karate-Kid’ Bowen) who is best-suited to play 3/SF, in the NBA.

    And, Hump … if allowed to play major minutes, next-door to Bosh (C) … is a very serviceable high energy 4/PF, in the NBA.

  24. khandor said

    Lastly …

    in the Rockets vs Raptors match-up:

    Alston v Calderon
    T-Mac v Moon
    Battier v Graham
    Scola v Bosh (on D)
    Yao vs Humphries (on D)

    you might be surprised just how effective that starting line-up would be for Toronto vs Houston

    especially with some of the advantages that exist for the Raptors when they get to their 2nd unit, coming off the bench … e.g.

    Brooks, Jackson, Head, Hayes, Landry, Novak and Mutombo

    vs

    Ford, Parker, Kapono, Delfino, Bargnani, Brezec and Nesterovic.

  25. Birdman said

    You forgot one KEY matchup:

    Adelman v Smitch

    ‘Nuff said!

  26. khandor said

    You’re correct … but, we were speaking expressly about the players.

    :-) :-) :-)

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