Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Raps beat ‘Cats to avenge earlier embarrassment

Posted by Arsenalist on March 31, 2008

Toronto Raptors 104, Charlotte Bobcats 100

That was an extremely hard fought win which required our starters to play capacity minutes, anything less from them would’ve meant a loss. Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Rasho Nesterovic logged 46, 41, 36 and 28 minutes, respectively, as Sam Mitchell’s hand was forced by the ineffectiveness of the bench who managed to net only 7 points. It’s a good thing our starters were somewhat rested in the New Orleans spanking otherwise this one could’ve easily gone south. Last time we played them they outrebounded us 50-37 and had 32 second chance points, this time around we won the rebounding battle 39-38 and that kept us in the game. Down the stretch when we needed points Chris Bosh delivered more often than not by attacking Jared Dudley and getting to the FT line, effectively punctuating a somewhat inconsistent evening for the Raptors.

The terrible perimeter defense was terrible once again. Raymond Felton and Early Boykins had little trouble getting past TJ Ford and Jose Calderon, the latter getting exploited seemingly on ever possession. Once the first line of defense was penetrated, Charlotte’s options opened up with the beneficiaries being Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor. TJ Ford was on fire in the first quarter and could do no wrong in leading the Raptors to a 39-32 advantage. Zero bad decisions, excellent passes and timely shots earmarked TJ’s performance but then again giving up 32 in the first quarter isn’t exactly great defense. The tide turned in the second quarter when Calderon was introduced to face Earl Boykins who ran circles around him and completely changed the dynamics of the game. It went from being a Raptors offensive showcase to Charlotte giving us a lesson in fast-break basketball, aggressive takes to the rim and open jumpers all created because of guard penetration.

It wasn’t just Boykins and Felton that had success in blowing by their man, Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace were doing the same and offsetting hard-fought Raptor scores on the other end. Anthony Parker’s sound 20 and Rasho Nesterovic’s 14/11 were absolutely massive in this game and lifted the pressure off of Bosh who had his hands full with the tight-checking Jared Dudley. Our offense labored in some stretches of the game but for the most part, there was more movement in our sets than we’ve seen in some time. Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker filled up the lanes well and were always in motion in the half-court sets, that’s what happens when TJ Ford is at the top of his game. He’s so quick and decisive when he’s at full-steam that his teammates need to keep up with what’s going on in his head. Twice he found Moon early on the break for dunks and once Parker found him on the break for a layup, these are plays that happen because of sheer hustle and TJ brought that tonight. Sure, Felton’s 10/10 were impressive but he did not finish the game strong and made some very bad decisions tilting the advantage in favor of the Raptors. Kinda disagree with this article that calls the Raptors effort “dismal”, I thought they played well enough given their recent form.

Charlotte was killing us on the weak-side cuts all-game long (especially in the second quarter), we were a step too slow fighting through screens and Wallace and Richardson were getting easy scores. What was adding to the misery was Charlotte pushing the ball up court, getting into their sets early and executing them by getting guard penetration. The Raptors looked fatigued and didn’t have a defensive answer. TJ Ford’s introduction into the lineup eased things up a little and we went on a 4-0 run to end the second which cut the lead from 9 to 5 giving us something to build on in the third. By that time Bosh was rested, we were sharper on defense, hit the glass hard and Rasho/parker picked up the scoring. It was evident that if we played a 5 on 5 game from this point out, we’d have a good shot to win it because our defense had picked up and Charlotte’s offense wasn’t nearly as active or efficient – it’s that first game back from West theory again.

Jason Kapono didn’t see the light of day after starting against the Hornets. Good decision on Sam’s part, unless he was guarding Matt Carrol there wasn’t a damn chance that he’d be able to guard anybody on the Bobcats. They’re 2/3s are too quick and too good. Chris Bosh’s primary advantage against every PF in this league save Kevin Garnett is that he’s significantly quicker than them and he put that quickness to good use against Okafor who can’t stay with Bosh. Charlotte switched Dudley on him in the second half but Bosh still managed to get to the line. Dudley made his life harder but give credit to Bosh for still having a say in this game.

If you got the game PVR’d, fast forward to :30 seconds left in the second half and listen to Jack Armstrong talk about the Raptors situation, I’m going to try and summarize: This team needs to find a consistency going into the playoffs that it hasn’t been able to achieve all year long. They don’t bring the right defensive attitude and concentration on a game-by-game basis and their perimeter defense need a lot of work. The way we’re playing right now it’s a first round exit and we need to be a lot better in the first round, especially on defense.

Once again Jack is bang on about the team. We’re fortunate enough to have a somewhat easy schedule to end the year which is an excellent platform of going into the playoffs on a high note in terms of confidence and on-court play. The biggest thing we need to work on in these last few weeks is our defensive mindset. We can’t allow guard penetration based on a pump fakes, we can’t be late in our close-outs, we need to do a better job of fighting through screens, rotating when our teammates are beaten, concentrating on keeping our man in front of us, reading the scouting reports and playing to the players’ weakness. Just take today’s example, why are we playing Felton so tight knowing that he’s a 39% shooter? It’s things like these we need to iron out before the post-season starts and it’s a race against the clock.

I think Jamario Moon’s play deserves some mention, very solid night 6/7 for 15 points and 2 blocks which would’ve been converted to 4 points easily. There were a couple instances where he passed up opportunities to drive but he did run the break well, stuck the mid-range jumper, never forced a shot and played good enough defense on Gerald Wallace who can be a lot to handle. Write off Calderon’s bad game to the pest that is Earl Boykins. The game was played at a frantic pace when Boykins was in command which did not suit Calderon who was left chasing the little munchkin all around the floor.

The Raptors show good concentration in the second half in pulling out a win on the road against a team that’s been playing really well. Can we win consistently with 7 points from our bench and the starters being worked like mules? No, but I’ll take this win. I don’t want to be the guy who said I told you so but I told you so. TJ hit rock bottom in Utah and from that point on his performances have been controlled and very much in the context of the team game. I think he’s going to have a huge say if this team is going to finish strong and threaten in the playoffs. Having said that, I do think he’s a gonner in the off-season, but that’s a subject for another post on another day.

Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night and we got two reasons to beat them: get a grip on the 6th spot and help NJ get into the playoffs. Yeah, I want to see Boston vs. NJ, I think the Nets can win two games in that series.

Oh yeah, check this out, it’s Chris Bosh vs. Phil Jackson.

Top Rap? TJ Ford.

24 Responses to “Raps beat ‘Cats to avenge earlier embarrassment”

  1. AltRaps said

    In a few ways, this was a lucky win. Still, it was nice to see this team play hard for most of 48 minutes.

    I saw a lot of questionable calls go our way and I think that got into the Bobcats heads a little bit. Liked seeing how Bosh played Omeka on both ends of the floor. Not often you feel like he is a non-factor. Bad game for Jose.

    Tonight showed why I’m not putting any value in the fact that we are playing “sub .500” teams most of the rest of the way. We aren’t much better, last time I checked. You don’t think the Miami’s and the New Jersey’s aren’t going to come out all fired up? This last run of games will show what this team can do in the first round. If tonight was any indication, it will be fun to watch, but the result may leave something to be desired.

  2. arsenalist said

    AltRaps, Jack Armstrong summed it up for me, I might go back to the PVR later and listen to exactly what he said. He pretty much was saying that this team’s fortunes depend entirely on it’s defensive performances.

    I think Charlotte’s definitely better than their record and they were coming off some pretty nice wins. I wouldn’t classify this win in the same category as NY or Miami, I think this was a much tougher challenge.

    Atlanta on Wednesday should be a test – they’re hunting for wins.

  3. Pickstar said

    This game pitted two of the greatest and most cerebral, HOF coaches the league has ever seen, with Sam Mitchell and Sam Vincent. [Sarcasm]

    In all honesty these two coaches should not be in the same arena together let alone facing each other in a game. Both are horrible coaches, with a basketball resume shorter than a high school coach. Watching both teams just freestyle it on offense and defense, is horrible, because it puts everything in perceptive when you watch a well coached team play together.
    I have been ragging on Sam Mitchell for a while now, but in all fairness to him he has been improving somewhat (I think?). However, my problem is that we don’t have the time to develop a a coach and yet try to build a contender. Every team is trying to build a contender or at least a solid playoff team. The way this team is constructed, requires a coach that calls each offensive play from the sideline because no one on this team can create a shot for themselves besides TJ Ford, and maybe Calderon. Sam never had the required experience to be a head coach of a team, yet he got the job. His coaching staff is also suspect. The only guy I trust on that staff is J Triano, only because he has the experience and also has an organized offense and defence system. Even as a player Sam Mitchell wasn’t that good, having a passion to win is one thing but getting done is another.

    …also does anyone get a little scared when you see TJ Ford on the floor in crunch time?

    This is my opinion, so many of you may disagree with it.

    Thats my two cents.

  4. Pickstar said

    Oh Yeah.

    Bosh cannot play 40+ mins on a back to back with another game on Wednesday. If Sam continues to ride him like a mule, I guarantee he will be burnt out for the playoffs.

    Armstrong said win now worry about the fatigue later– that becomes a big problem come down to playoffs. Bosh is a big guy who is told to and has to do a lot. From what i see he is not conditioned to do this day in day out.

  5. khandor said

    If only every Raptors’ opponent was playing their 1st game at home following an extended Western Conference road-trip, with a neophyte NBA head coach (Sam Vincent) and an erratic PG (Raymond Felton) at the helm … how Toronto’s most talented players would be able to dominate.

  6. TauEpsilonNu said

    Only caught the last 5 min of the game and that was tough to watch. FT makes win games. Thanks for the recap.

  7. Mister said

    I disagree with the comment that Sam Vincent and Coach Mitchell haven’t “paid their dues.” What exactly is paying your dues? Did Doc Rivers pay his dues? What about Byron Scott? In the League, if you have talent + chemistry, you win. Look at Pat Riley, he’s a coaching legend. When he had the Showtime Lakers, they were among the greatest teams of all time. Now the Heat have the worst record. It has zero to do with his coaching. Its the situation and talent level. Doc Rivers got fired from Orlando. Went to the Celtics. The Celtics were a bad team last year. So why do they have the best record in the league this year? Because Doc Rivers finally paid his dues? No, its because they signed KG. Big ticket. Look at Larry Brown and his last year with the Knicks. Dont put it all on the coach. Thats scapegoating. “Vincent and Mitchell don’t have the resume of a high school coach” ?? How many high school coaches play ten plus years in the NBA?

    Sam Mitchell is doing a damn fine job with what he has to work with. There’s other factors that prevent the Raps from reaching that next level. Thats a good discussion for the off season. As far as calling plays everytime down the floor. That would eliminates the fast break. Most of the set plays coaches call basically involve just getting the ball into the hands of a certain player.

  8. Wham said

    “He’s so quick and decisive when he’s at full-steam that his teammates need to keep up with what’s going on in his head.”

    Well said, I’m not making excuses for TJ but part of the problem is that his teammates aren’t in sync with what he’s trying to do on offense. A lot of his turnovers end up being caused because of a cut not being made, a screen not being set etc. He’s doing a better job lately and coming off the bench was one of the big problems.

    Mister – agreed on Sam ‘n Sam paying their dues to get in the NBA, I don’t have an issue with their resume, it’s much better than Lawrence Frank, JVG, SVG and other coaches who haven’t been players. I’ve always questioned Mitchell’s IQ is a coach more than his resume. He’s a great motivator but I don’t know if he’s a legit NBA coach just yet, until he develops a philosophy and style of play along with some plays the jury is out on him.

  9. cuzzy said

    Thank you very much Arsenalist for doing a great recap once again. I for the life of me could not get into this game and ended up flipping around to other stuff.

    I am not sure if I just need a break from Ch-Eo or I am just ready for the playoffs. I mean I know the Raps are not playing well enough to win but maybe it will be nice for it to be over and time to tinker with the team.

    This year has been hard to watch (well at least the last month or so).

    I am sure I will get back into it, well maybe not for the Hawks…….

    anyways, thanks again.

    Did anyone else read about LeBron’s interest in the Raptors?

    http://cuzoogle.com/2008/04/01/lebron-james-wants-to-be-a-raptor/

  10. Dinosty said

    I am glad to hear you give Jamario some props. He’s slowly learning that taking it to the hole doesn’t mean you’re going to get bodychecked or injured. I’m going to give him props in my post later today, but he has been smarter on offense the past five games than he’s been all season.

  11. Johnn19 said

    Raptors in the 4th qtr made 3 baskets and 19 FTs (8 by Bosh) for 25 points and no assists, and a win by 4 points. That from the the worst team in the league in getting to the FT line. The NBA where you never know what is going to happen.

  12. Raps Fan said

    only took moon 74 games to learn, that makes me feel good about him as a player. he has been playing well though, limiting the number of jacks. he needs to be practicing those though because come the playoffs, he’s gonna be given like 10 open looks a game, and will need to knock them down.

    pickstar: everyone in the league is tired right now. what differentiates the superstar from a really good player (i wont name names) is the ability to play through fatigue, injury, and what have you, and excel. just something to chew on,

    shit, i’m tired right now, and made it into work, will do a good job, and go home. no difference for athletes.

  13. Johnn19 said

    Ford and Calderon played the 3rd and 4th quarter with only 2 assists by Ford and 0 turnovers and Raptors still won the game. Sometimes numbers are not a true indication of effectiveness.

  14. khandor said

    April 1st messages can sometimes be amusing. However, some astute observers are not easily fooled.

    Moon did nothing different in this game than he’s done to this point in his NBA career. The difference was where he was given the ball by his teammates.

  15. […] – Arsenalist […]

  16. Dinosty said

    Uh, sorry Khandor. Moon’s gotten the ball plenty, more than he expected to be truthful, but until now he’s been relying on a shaky jumpshot instead of taking it to the rack. The energy and focus of late is different than we’ve seen for the past few months.

  17. khandor said

    Dinosty,

    Let me be more specific for you … if that will help.

    When Moon cut to the basket yesterday, several times the ball was passed to him.

    Some he dunked; some he made layups; and some he ended up going to the free throw line.

    When he was spotting up on the perimeter, did Moon ever receive a pass from a teammate and then initiate a drive to the basket that he was fouled on? (yes or no)

    Moon is being played out of position on this team, right now.

    Right now … Jamario Moon is a 2, in the NBA, not a 3.

    Something for you to consider …

    If San Antonio plays the following line-up:

    Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Tim Duncan

    What position is Bruce Bowen playing? [Hint: It isn’t what most of you might think. :-)]

  18. arsenalist said

    Khandor, Moon is a 3 and is not being played out of position. He’s not a good enough shooter to be a 2 and can’t even come close to creating his own shot, something which is a prereq for most 2’s. Yeah, Anthony Parker isn’t great at it either but he can use screens and has a little postup game, Moon has nothing in his game which resemble scoring options. Plus a 3 is usually always one of the better defenders on this team so Moon fits that bill too….there’s a lot of things wrong with calling Moon a 2, I just named a few.

  19. khandor said

    Where in the NBA Guidebook does it say, “A 2 needs to create his own shot.”

    Where does it say, “A 2 cannot be a good defender.”

    Where in my message did I say, “Moon is a ‘good’ 2”?

    [Hint: I didn’t.]

    This is an example of what I’m talking about … when it comes to understanding how the NBA works, and the perceptions of some Raptors’ fan(actic)s.

    ————————————————————

    Yessiree … some NBA coaches can make the mistake of ‘thinking’ that a player like Jamario Moon is a 3 in this League … BUT the really good ones know that he is actually a 2, right now, given the constraints/limitations to his individual game.

    Specifically … Jamario Moon is a ‘poor-average’ 2 who (i) can defend 2,3 & some small 4’s, AND (ii) is a fantastic shot-blocker/rebounder at this position.

    (Note: I have yet to say what Jamario’s deficiencies are. :-)]

    When the Raptors staged their comeback in the last 4 minutes vs New Orleans … which position do you think Moon was playing?

    Line-up:

    Calderon, Moon, Delfino, Johnson, Humphries. Did Moon take and make ‘catch & shoots’ OR did he execute a series of spectacular drives to the basket?

  20. arsenalist said

    When did I say a 2 can’t be a good defender? But yes, a 2 needs to be a legit scoring option and they need to be able to create their own shot. There’s no guidebook anywhere which tells what a player is supposed to do but anyone can tell you that your SG is supposed to be able to shoot the ball and provide a scoring punch.

    But all that’s besides the point, Jamario Moon is 3 because of his body type, shooting skills, athleticism, height and everything else about him. Especially when you consider the rest of the team, that’s the only logical place he fits – but that doesn’t mean he’s playing out of position.

    You can’t stick him at the 2 spot because that wouldn’t make any sense based on how shit happens to work (at least from what I’ve seen in basketball over the years). Maybe he can defend the 2 but that’s about it, Sam’s right in playing him at the 3 and I don’t hear anybody in the media or fans complaining about Moon’s position.

  21. Crank said

    khandor, you’re polluting this space. Moon makes a couple jump shots in the fourth quarter and you want to start him at the 2 now..you’re advocating him shooting jumpers and are ok with him passing up drive opportunities…doesn’t make sense…I suppose next time Linton Johnson makes three jumpers he’s good enough to be a SG too eh?

    Also, we’re adults here and there’s no need to to talk to us like kids with your smiley faces, hints and stupid questions. Form sentences for a change and drop the condescension.

  22. khandor said

    If you cannot ‘see’ the game like the outstanding coaches this League has known over the last 40 years … e.g. Red Auerbach, Bill Russell, Bill Sharman, Red Holtzman, Tommy Heinsohn, Hubie Brown, Lenny Wilkens, Dr. Jack Ramsay, Billy Cunningham, Pat Riley, KC Jones, Chuck Daly, Phil Jackson, Rudy T, Gregg Popovich … then, it makes it very difficult to truly analyze what is happening on the floor, accurately, at any given point in time.

    Arsenalist,

    “Plus a 3 is usually always one of the better defenders on this team so Moon fits that bill too”.

    My apologies … if I misinterpreted what you might be this remark, re: a 2’s ability to defend.

    Much like my Man, Byron Scott … neither do I think very much of what anyone in the media (who is not a basketball coach, eg. like Charley Rosen or JVG) might have to say about whether or not Moon is a 2 or 3 in the NBA.

    Where does Gregg Popovich play Bruce Bowen with Parker, Ginobili, Oberto and Duncan?

    ——————————————————————–
    re: I don’t hear anybody in the media or fans complaining about Moon’s position.
    ——————————————————————–

    The people who are complaining that Moon doesn’t drive enough and spends his time ‘camped out on the perimeter’ too frequently … would not be voicing this displeasure/concern about his game if Moon was being perceived as a ‘poor-average’ 2 … which is what he is, right now, in the NBA.

    These types of people WANT Moon to be something different than he is right now.

    Unfortunately … for them … he is what he is, right now.

    The NBA game is not about developing players … it’s about utilizing your resources to the best of their ability.

  23. Paps said

    Moon is a 3. There shouldn’t even be a debate about it.

  24. khandor said

    Paps,

    Agreed … there is no debate here.

    For the average NBA coach and the average Raptors fan … Moon is not a 2.

    There are only a small number of people in the basketball world who can actually see, in advance, that Jamario’s CURRENT skill set is best utilised in the NBA by playing him at the 2 position.

    Do I expect others to realize this because it’s me that’s telling them so?

    Not a snowball’s chance in H*ll.

    ——————————–

    In Peace, Victory & Excellence.

    PS. Championship success in the NBA game is predicated upon CREATING advantageous MIS-MATCHES for your team and minimizing the mis-match advantages held by the opposition … playing Jamario Moon at the 2-spot accomplishes that for the Raptors.

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