Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Hornets efficiently dismantle Raptors

Posted by Arsenalist on March 30, 2008

New Orleans Hornets 118, Toronto Raptors 111

I never quite figured out how the Raptors had won their earlier meeting with the Hornets so going into this one there was some optimism that we might be able to get a win against the West-leading Hornets who by all accounts are a vastly superior team. And that superiority showed throughout the game as New Orleans was rarely threatened and remained in complete control with the exception of some inspired play by the Raptors bench late in the fourth.

David West took it upon himself to establish New Orleans early by taking it straight at Rasho Nesterovic and Chris Bosh getting results in both matchups. The Raptors started Nesterovic on him but it quickly became evident that barring intervention, West might just eat Rasho for dinner. Midway through the first quarter Bosh was given the task of handling West but it hardly mattered, West ended up going 8-11 in the first quarter helping the Hornets to a 37-28 lead. The other player who we didn’t have an answer for in the first quarter was Bonzi Wells who was using his strength to easily back up the frail frame of Jamario Moon for easy hoops around the rim, leaving the eager shot-blocker’s swat-attempts flailing. It wasn’t until Linton Johnson was introduced in the fourth quarter did Bonzi finally get a matchup that he couldn’t exploit with ease. More on that later.

Looking at the stats, everything’s fairly even across the boards: rebounding, assists, turnovers, blocks, steals, second chance points etc. But the one thing that sticks out like a virgin in a whorehouse is the obscene 60% that the Hornets shot. I was at the game courtesy of Alt Raps and here’s how I saw it: the Hornets got the matchups they wanted very easily. TJ Ford’s guarding Chris Paul and the next thing you know Peja Stojakovic is posting him up, Jason Kapono’s trying to check Mo Pete and you turn around to see Tyson Chandler scoring over him etc. etc. Ford was by far the most exploited matchup and the Raptor failed to hide him properly. The Raptors were unable to fight through on simple screens and allowed New Orleans that half step going to the rim. Once Chris Paul had any daylight, waiting was Chandler in the paint and Stojakovic on the perimeter to make the Raptors pay for their negligence in deciding when to switch and when to stay. Mitchell did his usual “throw your hands in the air” like there was nothing we could do:

“You try trapping him but he backs out of it and splits it. He made some passes tonight and I don’t even see how he found the guy and he didn’t miss any shots. They’ve got great shooters and some nights you have to hope the guys don’t shoot the ball as well. He just makes the right plays. I can’t tell you one time tonight that he didn’t make the right play.”

Chris Paul’s 16 assists weren’t off the spectacular kind, the decisions he had to make were easy because the Raptors defense was so out of sync and and so prone to allowing penetration that the hardest pass he made all night was an alley-oop to Chandler for a dunk. In short, we didn’t make life uncomfortable for them with Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, Chris Bosh and Forderon all failing their respective defensive assignments. Anthony Parker was a complete non-factor going 2-2 and played some shoddy defense on Stojakovic – somewhat to be expected given Peja’s craftiness.

On a night when Chris Bosh had 21/7, we needed him to have a much bigger game, if not on offense by getting Chandler/West out of the game, then by establishing himself as a defensive presence against the agile and impressive David West. Bosh came up short but at least he tried, the same couldn’t be said for Jason Kapono or Andrea Bargnani. Kapono was inserted into the starting lineup to matchup with Morris Peterson (nice welcome by the crowd) but went a quiet 0-3 and was a non-factor. Note to Sam: Stop relying on Jason Kapono to create his own shot. That’s not his game, that’s not what he was hired to do, that’s something he’ll never do. He’s a shooter, a pure shooter who needs an offense around him to get him shots. Start drawing some plays for him because if you want him to be more than a 5th wheel on offense come playoff time, he’ll need your help.

Pre-game Andrea Bargnani was practicing shots from behind the backboard which I thought weird for a 7-footer center. As I pointed this out to Alt Raps, he correctly quipped, “That’s probably because that’s where he ends up when he tries to drive”. Hahaha. Seriously though, WTF? He may as well have been shooting from there in the game because his inconsequential 0-3, 3 rebounds and uninspired defense on Chandler was stuff made to forget. He’s like a ghost on the floor, he doesn’t have a clue of what to do and he just drifts around waiting for something to happen that’ll get him involved in the game. And that something hasn’t been happening of late because he’s being far too passive in his approach to the game. Sure, Sam is to blame for not having a legit play for him but he doesn’t have a play for Moon either and he doesn’t have any problem jacking up shots, grabbing a rebound or two and getting involved in the game. Maybe Bargnani should talk to JM on tips on how to have the announcer call your name out more often other than to specify a foul. Before you call me a hater, let me just say he did have one good play: a drive and a lay-off to Bosh for a dunk. Not exactly #1 pick stuff but hey, it’s early, we got to give him at least another 3 years ;)

Let’s talk about the heart-warming comeback featuring our very own Linton Johnson. Johnson, Humphries, Calderon, Delfino and Moon cut a 20+ Raptor lead down to six with 90 seconds left before West and Chandler answered with layups to ice the game. Johnson was able to stop Bonzi Wells, Humphries hit the offensive glass against Chandler, Delfino and Moon dropped a few bombs and suddenly this was a game. Now with the score that tight you might wonder why Sam didn’t bring back Bosh into the game and have a go at things. I say he made the right decision, Bosh/Kapono/Rasho were getting banged around too easily by the Hornet big guys and didn’t deserve the chance at a win. The bench deserved to be in there down the stretch and its just unfortunate we couldn’t get a couple more stops.

The fans started booing in the third quarter when the Raptors were in a funk and down by 17 or so. Pathetic, why do these shits even bother coming to the game if they don’t even understand that we’re playing the best team in the West. Then they figure to cheer really loud on a meaningless three at the fourth quarter buzzer? Wankers.

Charlotte tomorrow, I imagine the Raps will be looking for revenge after that 32-0 second chance point drubbing. At least that’s what I hope. Anybody else glad TSN might die?

23 Responses to “Hornets efficiently dismantle Raptors”

  1. Bankai said

    Hey nice blog, I did mention before the game that I wasent optimistic about this game at all. I mentioned that I watched the replay where the Raptors beat the Hornets last time and came away scared. I noted that the game looked like a off night for the Hornets as they were struggling with their shot for most of the game, maybe it was because it was New Years Eve. Despite shooting pretty poorly for the most part, they still looked like they were going to win until Paul missed those FT’s. I then stated the Raptors will have to bring thier A game to compete with this Hornets this time because compared to what they have been doing to other teams in the league, the Raptors win looked like an illusion. Sadly enough the Raptors did not bring their A game and this time they struggled against a determined Hornets team looking to prove that. The Hornets simply executed whatever they wanted to perfection and the Raptors simply did not have any answer for the Hornets having their way with them. The only bright spot was Linton and Humphries providing the energy late in the 4th. But sadly again, it has to take a 10 day’r and a guy who barely plays to bring the energy and no nonsense attitude to fight against them. This should open some eyes that this team while they are certainly lovable, at times, they are too lovable for their own good.

  2. Bryan Colangelo said

    What the hell was I thinking? Bargnani and Kapono?

    For the 100th time, I’m really sorry.

  3. cuzzy said

    We forgive you BC, I mean you did not ask for Kaponer to start did you?

    I am ready for the playoffs to start…….lets get this over with one way or another.

    NO is better no doubt but there were too many smiles and laughs for a team getting their ass kicked and fighting for playoff seeding.

    Arsenalist, I commend you for the effort you put into your posts……if only the Raps brought it like you.

  4. AltRaps said

    Like Bankai said, it’s sad that my man Hump and a 10 day guy bring the noise while guys who could be here for 2-3 years making 6-8mil a year look like they’d rather be anywhere else.

    Let me say this, but preface it by saying I have love for MoPete and what he did for us while here: Being a major-media hater, I can’t believe how much begging and cajoling was done to try and make sure we “paid Mo respect”. Eric Smith, Cluck Jerksky, Doug Smith, the guys at the Sun, on the Fan, etc all wrote articles/had talk shows telling people to give him a standing ovation, a nice long one. Just because of that, I’m glad it didn’t happen. I’ve long been one to say that the fickle, blind, idiotic “fan” will do as they are told like blind lemmings. Tonight gave me some hope…a glimmer…well, until as you point out, they booed their home team AGAIN. That’s support?? Pathetic.

    Want to share the cost of buying up http://www.resignlinton.com?

  5. Raptors2009 said

    I didn’t get the fans booing either, and in the third quarter?? Those are garbage fans, the only time a team deserves to get booed is when there’s an obvious lack of effort. The Raps got outplayed today, the probably could’ve come out with more intensity but it’s not like they played like a bunch of Zach Randolphs. West is a beast and he was making no secret of abusing our big men. Great player. Would’ve like to see Bosh respond by going off on him but over the years I’ve realized that that’s too much to ask.

    AltRaps – the fans did just enough to welcome Mo Pete. A loud cheer when he was introduced and some early applause. That’s all you need, nothing more.

  6. AltRaps said

    Agreed, Raptors2009. It was nice and just right. Herbie also didn’t draw it out and went on announcing the lineup, which also helped.

  7. David Moro said

    Oh come on.

    They really couldn’t have made an effort to stop SOMETHING?

    The perimiter, the outside, SOMETHING?

    Seriously. Look, I lknew Peja was going to destroy us, but did it have to be West too?

    Make a &*&*(*(&(*&descision. Either you are going to trap HARD on a play and give soemthing up (like say, a Chris Paul three as opposed to a Peja three) and man the f up.

    And Chris, where the F was the D? At least try to crown West a few times to show you are in it.

    I don’t know. We were hopeless defensively because it looked like we were experimenting the whole night.

    Kapono starting against the most athletic run and gun team in the West? Really?
    Our slwoest center guarding an elite power forward who can drive b aseline?
    F&^&*^^at least let Bargs foul out first, he might at least make west take free throwsinstead of open dunks because at least he can move his feet.

    Smitch looked to be using this game as a practice sesssion reather than a game–and so the Hornets took full adfvanatge.

  8. AltRaps said

    Further to our discussion earlier re: Linton and the playoffs…

    http://startelegram.typepad.com/mavs_fullcourt_press/2008/02/roster-deadline.html

    Says here that

    “The scenario I should have stated is that a late-season roster addition is NOT eligible for the playoff roster only if that player was on another team’s roster as of March 1. So, for example, Jamaal Magloire, a center the Mavs are interested in signing, he can be added to the 15-man regular season roster at any point and still be eligible for the playoff roster because the Nets resleased him prior to March 1.”

    Now, Linton was on the Suns roster after March 1. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/basketball/nba/wires/03/27/2030.ap.bkn.raptors.johnson.0168/)

    Hmmm…

  9. AltRaps said

    David, New Orleans forced a switch on almost every possession to get the look they wanted. Rasho wasn’t on West, but played the switch and West schooled him. Same when TJ and Jose were out there together…they ran screens to get TJ guarding a big and rammed it down our throats.

    It was a clinic in that sense and nothing we had could stop it.

  10. David Moro said

    Look, I know they executed really really well bt I don’t know.
    You see Peja manning up Ford one on one for like 4 or five dribbles…do you think it might behoove someone to come over and help?

    They just should have trapped whatever the switch was + stayed on Peja (essentially leaving only the point guard/Peterson open on a swing).

    I know there’s only so much they could do but at least zone out the post and give up the perimiter then. You simply can’t be giving up a different switch every freaking time down the court. At least be consitent in what you’re gonna give up.

    And for God’s sake, leave Jamario in so that maybe they might get discouraged from throwing the oop uside our heads.

    At least if they even left peja open they could’ve hoped he would got tired instead of letting West own them for 22 before the half ended.

  11. David Moro said

    Actually…I have reconsidered.

    I was working at 7 this morning (South Korean time difference) and got back late for the TSN feed.

    Smitch’s problem is that he panics (realgm: panaces).

    When West was killing it with his jumpshot, Smitch decided to “switch it up” instead of wait for him to cool off.

    That’s when all the other players started to exploit the switches we were trying to propagate.

    West might have got 40 today–but this game is much closer if we simply let him get his and shut out the others. Heck, Rasho and Bosh got 32 anyhow…we could’ve made up the difference somewhere else (like say, by keeping the team under 50% for the game).

    Meh, they are a better team than we are, but Smitch sure as h*ll didn’t do us any favors today again.

  12. Raps Fan said

    raptors suck. Did you guys get the roast beef? At the end of the day, the hornets are a much better team, what are you gonna?

    The answer to that rhetorical question is compete. At least the showed up and on time. Two out three aint bad…

  13. DoctorMaurizio said

    Dr. Maurizio personally invites one and all to The Great Veneto Escape.
    See the tiny Italian village where Linton Johnson was born. The place Linton was known as “Negro Mago”. The place where Dr. Maurizio met Linton at age 11 and, personally, conducted a “physical examination” that very same day. Learn to speak fluent Italian like Leo Rautins. Enjoy free Pizza Pizza flown in fresh from Toronto. Enter to win today.

  14. FAQ said

    It was funny watching TJ attempting to defend Paul from behind and looking at the back of his uniform as he blew by.

    Then when TJ was bringing the ball down on offense, the fans started booing. What did they see that those on TV didn’t??

    When Sam put in Linton that was the sign that he gave up on the game. Interestingly, Linton attempted to show what he could do, and his play and decision-making when he had the ball was acceptable.

    The Raptors are evidently not an ‘athletic’ team and are dependent on their jump shooting and 3-point shooting. Most are not capable of creating on their own to drive to the basket .. whether it be a lack of physical or mental ability.

    The Raptors are a team under construction, what with all the new players on this season’s roster, and the fact they are in the playoffs is surprising. Enjoy them regardless of their failings.

  15. Raps Fan said

    i wouldn’t say surprising FAQ, they are definitely a playoff team in the east. but you are right, not as athletic as we were lead to believe, not as deep, not as good, not as well run (well, some of us didn’t believe they were well run to begin with).

  16. […] – Arsenalist […]

  17. Johnn19 said

    Raptors inconsistency can drive you crazy. How are they to win games against good teams with this kind of effort from their starters???

    Ford 10 pts, 6 ast, 4 turnovers, in a game vs the best PG in the NBA
    AP 2/2 and 5 pts from our SG who is supposed to be 2nd option
    Bargnani 0/3, 4/4 FT’s, 4 pts
    Kapono-invisable
    Bosh a jump shooter, owned by West with 13/21 32 points
    Starting 5 outscored by 102-50 by Hornets starters

    Brian Colangelo, HELP, HELP, Mitchell is not the problem, we need some players who can COMPETE !!

  18. Raps Fan said

    dude, that bosh picture is priceless. that and the one of delfino doing his hamster impersonation are my standouts of the year, hands down.

  19. FLUXLAND said

    TSN is not going anywhere… although everyone on that network.. especially the hockey guys need to go. It’s been nauseating watching them age on TV over the last 20 plus years. Sad really, none of those poor sucker got jobs anywhere else.

    There is rumors of a TSN 2 coming.. so I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

  20. khandor said

    Toronto’s in a back-to-back tonight and … if not for the fact that this is a re-acclimatization game for the Bobcats following their extended Western Conference road-trip … Charlotte would kick the Raptors collective behinds, once again.

    As a result, it’s gonna be interesting to see which of these teams makes the fewer mistakes coming down-the-stretch tonight in the 4th Quarter.

    Whichever team does … will probably end up winning the game.

    TJ Ford played a terrific 1st Quarter vs Raymond Felton … BUT there is no way that Jose Calderon should be matched up vs Earl Boykins during this 2nd Quarter.

    TJ Ford SHOULD BE playing vs Boykins and Calderon should be playing vs Felton.

  21. khandor said

    As I said … whichever team made fewer mistakes coming the down the stretch was going to win this game … and the Bobcats (particularly Felton) were absolutely terrible in the last 6 minutes.

    Great job by TJ Ford … abusing Felton.

  22. Bankai said

    ^^

    Thats how a TJ led team seems to play, A Ford led team plays like that, and for some reason the other team inclines to do the same. It would only depend on who makes less mistakes and makes a couple more buckets in crunch time will win.

  23. khandor said

    Yes … and that is also how a TJ Ford led NBA team exits from the 1st Round of the playoffs.

    … where there are fewer (no?) Raymond Feltons to play against.

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