Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘jason kapono’

Hollinger be talking; Kapono be thinking; Sampson be signing; Manatee be resting

Posted by Arsenalist on October 1, 2008

The name’s Sampson. Jamal Sampson. The initial reaction to this signing was much like the ones of Hassan Adams and Willie Solomon: Who? Once you get past the disappointment of signing somebody on the fringe of the association the normal next step is to wonder what he can do for us. At the worst it’s a move that will replace Maceo Baston, at best he might turn into a Loren Wood or Jelani McCoy. The numbers aren’t flattering and he’s bounced around (the Raptors are his 7th team) but who knows, with some playing time he might be able to show us a little something something. All the best to Sampson, I mean that, hopefully he puts up a fight in training camp and gives Humphries a run for his money.

If you really want to read between the lines you could say the Sampson signing is insurance for Nathan Jawai. The Raptors are taking every precaution with The Manatee’s heart condition. The question that comes to mind is whether we did a proper physical before we drafted him. He missed most of summer league and couldn’t get past media day, not being crude here but isn’t it too soon to be seeing specialists? This one’s got early retirement written all over it. All the best to him too, he seems like good people. I really wanted to see how he reacts when he’s put in the game to defend Dwight Howard, I’m taking he’s seen nothing like the sort before. NBA initiation, it’s the best.

Hollinger’s Raptors preview is out and he’s predicting a 47-35 record (tied with best ever) which would be good for third in the Atlantic and fifth in the East. To sum it up he’s saying that our interior defense is our biggest strength and the lack of depth in the backcourt our biggest weakness. Hollinger’s a closet Raptors fan who wants us to trade for a more experienced reserve. Well, we all do but since we refuse to pay the luxury tax and have a plethora of small and unproven contracts, we can’t make a move. So we better learn to live with what we’ve got. In summing up last season he brings up 1 good and 1 bad point. The good: We were better than our record last year and should’ve piled up more wins but the TJ Ford saga and Bargnani’s regression while playing heavy minutes cost us wins. The bad: He once again brings up his stupid, retarded and nonsensical point differential argument and uses it to argue point #1. There are many things wrong with giving any sort of weight to point-differential without considering records against +.500 teams. After all beating a good team by 1 point is much more indicative of a team than blowing out a sorry opponent by 20.

Dave Feschuk is back and his initial offering is weaker than an Arsenalist 3AM post. And that’s weak. The subject of the matter is Jason Kapono and how he was two players last season: a good one and a crappy one. Says Kapono about his inconsistent playing time and performance:

“Partly the blame’s on me, I’ve got to perform in the short time that I do get, and then extend my minutes. Hopefully now I have earned somewhat of a chance to kind of work through an oh-for-2 or oh-for-3 start (from the field).”

“Partly”. Let me finish of his thought for you: Sam Mitchell didn’t know how to use me and I was just trying to get mine in an offense that is based on freestyling. I’m a shooter and you can’t yank me after I miss my first two shots – see, I’m not Bargnani or Humphries. And so I didn’t play great defense last year, well, who did? Cut me some slack here, this time I don’t have Delfino to compete with and I’m damn sure that Adams and Solomon aren’t taking any PT away from The Kap. As long as I get some consistent playing time and have some idea of when I come in to the game I’ll put up some numbers. Running a play for me would help too, I can’t do this on my own. I tried last year and you should give me credit for that instead of talking about my 4 3’s all spring. You know?

There’s an article about Will Solomon in the Sun. It’s about how he left a couple million dollars on the table and went to Europe instead thinking there was more money there. Fast-forward six years and its no longer about the money but the pride of playing in the NBA. I don’t know, something tells me if he had gotten Delfino-money in Europe he’d manage to suffocate that pride for a few more years. Again, good luck to Solomon. He’s also good people. Plus he seems like a motivated guy who could play hard for a new contract. Always good to have those unless they start jacking up shots to pad stats (see Voshon Lenard).

Finally, Matt Devlin’s thinking that Jermaine O’Neal is looking “lean and strong” and by O’Neal’s own admission he’s never worked out this hard in the summer in quite some time. Andrea Bargnani was working on his back-to-the-basket moves at Tim Grgurich’s Big Man’s Camp and Sam Mitchell wants him to play “18-feet and in”. That sounds good on paper but Bargnani’s mid-range jumper had back-rim written all over it last season and he was far more comfortable shooting the 3, a lot like Bruce Bowen. Don’t know how that’s going to work but I’m all for moving Bargnani closer to the basket.

That’s it for this morning. Eid Mubarak!

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

Competition in summer spending + Potpourri

Posted by Arsenalist on September 25, 2008

Besides the economy coming to its knees there are other things happening. The most important one being Raptors TV going full (real) HD this season. This means you can watch Paul Jones and Eric Smith copy Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon in the greatest of quality and with the loudest of buzzers. That show is such a blatant ripoff of the ESPN one that it makes me want to switch the channel in shame.

Training camp starts on September 30th and there aren’t any real question marks on the roster which happens to be very well set. Maybe the starting small forward position needs to be sorted out (just like last year) but Moon seems to have a solid grip on the situation. The would-be usurper here is Kapono who has the argument of spreading out the defense in favor of him. I think as much as we would like to see him get more playing time with Bosh and O’Neal, defense wins over offense here.

Tim Chisolm (who I think is awesome and needs to be a beat writer for the Raptors) has another piece out where he’s talking about the Thunder while comparing and contrasting them to the Portland Trailblazers. Nice article, check it out. Interesting thought I had while reading it: You know how the Raptors are gearing up to make a run at free agents in Summer 2010? Well, the Thunder have one up on them. They only have Nick Collison under contract after that year and his salary is $6.75M – that’s it! Contrast this with the Raptors who will have $32.8M tied up (still very much under the cap). The question then becomes which is a more desirable city to play for and the answer should be obvious unless old Canadian prejudices still stand. Either way we’ll have some competition that summer and it wouldn’t even shock me to see us resign O’Neal to a smaller contract if he has two decent years with us. Others competing with us include Golden State, Atlanta, NJ and Minny.

CBS is ranking the top point guards in this league and Jose’s coming in 11th. I have no problem with that, actually I have no problem with 1- 9 except maybe Arenas at #4 might be a stretch, but I can look past that. What I can’t look past is Kirk Hinrich being #10!?!? Hinrich’s a good shooter and happens to have long arms which has automatically labeled him a “good defender”, aside from that he’s lacking in quickness, lateral movement and play-making. I’ll take Jose over him any day, actually I’ll also take TJ over him any day as well.

Article about Matt Devlin in the Sun. Let me sum it up in a sentence for you: He’s not as loud as Chuck Swirsky but there’s quality in the guy and you all should see this season.

In some divisional news the Nets are going to have a short leash on their team and will not tolerate anything less than 100%. I can’t help but think these are comments geared directly towards one Vince Carter who has played 100% about 1% of the time while with the Nets. I like the post in the comments section: They got nothing for RJ b/c they think they’re going to get Lebron in 2 years. Just for that, I won’t go to any games the next 2 years..

Remember, new uniforms tonight. I’ll try to post pics later (not that you can’t find them elsewhere).

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 13 Comments »

Should we worry about Jason Kapono’s defense?

Posted by Arsenalist on September 11, 2008

The man is a dead-eye shooter who needs an inch or maybe two to get his shot off. Not since Dell Curry have we seen a marksman of his caliber and yet he manages to get lost in the Raptors offense which is designed almost exclusively for the three point shooter. After going through a dreadful drought last spring Kapono managed to pick himself up in the playoffs and had a post-season that made us fans re-think just how valuable he could be to this team.

Kapono came off a decent year in Miami and basically conned Bryan Colangelo into giving him a huge contract. It surprised a lot of us and the fact that it happened on the first day of free-agency made some of us question Colangelo’s priorities (remember, defense and rebounding were problems back then too). Since he’s come here there’s been a constant ebb and flow in his game which borders from being anonymous to lighting it up, there’s very little middle ground. Despite all the inconsistency I think I speak for most Raptor fans when I say that we’d rather have him on offense than any one of Jamario Moon, Hassan Adams, Willie Solomon or Joey Graham. We know his shooting is an asset for us but how much are we willing to give up on the other end?

I personally think his problems on defense are highly exaggerated and we can and should be able to do things to increase his floor time while still being able to make a half-decent defensive stand. Listed at 6′ 8″, Kapono has more than enough size to stay in front of a shooting guard and take away the dribble penetration by laying off of him. He doesn’t have the quickness to take away the jumper by playing tight but 1 out of 2 ain’t bad here. The same holds true when defending SFs except they have posted him up with great success. We obviously need to provide him help here just like we did with Jose Calderon or Anthony Parker. Kapono’s case is no different.

Sam Mitchell has generally done a terrible job of hiding player weaknesses on defense and Kapono is Exhibit A. Kapono started 7 out of 81 games last year precisely because Jamario Moon happened to be a better defender. Keep in mind that this is on a team that has trouble getting off to good starts. Instead of allowing Kapono to have an impact on the game Mitchell often became gun-shy and chose to err on the side of caution by not playing him in favor of Moon who proceeded to miss countless jumpers in the fourth quarter costing us games aplenty. There’s no doubt Kapono has defensive issues, he doesn’t have great lateral movement or great speed but we knew that before signing him. There has to be an effort on the part of Mitchell to utilize Kapono and hide his weaknesses by clever double-teaming, cutting off baselines, forcing his man in an uncomfortable direction or even some ball denial. We saw none of this last year, the reaction to Kapono being posted-up was usually always a double-team coming out of nowhere which segued into an open three. C’mon, we need to be smarter and stop using the “bad defender” label to waste his offense. It’s very mid 90’s New York Knickish.

Kapono’s showed in the playoffs that he’s got the ability to be crafty and score in ways you wouldn’t have thought he could. His leaners, floaters, mid-range jumpers and even drives to the rim are something neither Jamario Moon or Joey Graham could dream of doing. We beg Moon to drive to the rim but ignore that Kapono’s only 3% behind him (Moon, Kapono) when it comes to “Close” shots and has a higher eFg. Granted the rebounding numbers aren’t there but starting next season when the rebounding duties are off-loaded to Jermaine O’Neal, why not play Jason Kapono even more?

Kapono’s major problem is that he’s very cautious about his FG percentage and shot selection, almost to a fault. Instead of taking his changes with a semi-contested three he’ll fake the shot, dribble-drive, do some more Reggie Miller fakes and then end up passing the ball. After such plays you just wonder how bad shooting the ball early on would’ve been. Leo Rautins asserts that this quality is a great one which keeps the defense honest. If you look at his playoff performances, I agree, if you look at the second half of the regular season, I disagree. You have to ask yourself what changed between the regular season and the playoffs. The answer is not a technical one, it’s simply that that Kapono started to assert himself on offense and started to look for his. If we can get a full season of his playoff performance last year I don’t think any one of us will mind whether Tracy McGrady goes to town on him in the post as long the Raptors as a team are doing their best to circumvent the situation.

Jamario Moon may be a better defender and come up with some spectacular plays on occasion but how many times have you seen him get absolutely burned by the likes of Bonzi Wells, let alone McGrady? The point is that if Moon is 5 apples better than Kapono on defense, Kapono is 10 apples better than Moon on offense so overall Kapono’s got 5 more apples. It’s time we recognize that and switch the playing time of these two players around. The result of this switch will not affect our perimeter defense to the degree most people think it will and more importantly, it’s imperative for the O’Neal experiment to succeed. As I mentioned in my previous post, we can’t afford to let the defense seduce Jamario Moon into jump shooting.

Check the feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 27 Comments »

What does signing Will Solomon say about the Raptors?

Posted by Arsenalist on July 29, 2008

The multi-faceted player that Bryan Colangelo hinted at acquiring didn’t turn out to be Bonzi Wells or Michael Finley but Will Solomon. The Raptors have signed the 6′ 1″ guard to a contract for the upcoming season and it’s logical to think he’ll be playing the role of Darrick Martin. The combo-guard played the last two season in Turkey and was the 33rd pick in the 2001 draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies. He also happens to look a little like Milt Palacio and if his play is anything like the former grandmaster, we are in good hands.

Once again the Raptors tap into the international market to address a need. Nathan Jawai, Hassan Adams, Roko Ukic and Will Solomon were all snatched from foreign teams and combined the quartet has very little NBA experience. With the exception of Adams who played a year with the Nets and Solomon who played the better part of a season with the Grizz, the Raptors incoming crew lacks meaningful NBA experience which could come back to haunt them. If Joey Graham and Kris Humphries remain on the 15-man roster come November, we’ll practically have 6 “scrubs” on the team. This evaluation might seem harsh when applying it to Roko Ukic but until he’s gotten himself in a groove and played through his initial NBA season, expecting anything significant out of him is probably unfair, just like it would’ve been for Calderon’s first year.

When Colangelo was talking about “concentrating talent” on the team earlier in the year I didn’t expect this degree of said concentration. After Jermaine O’Neal, Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and Jason Kapono, we are severely reaching for talent and ability. The “Big 3” will need to produce at a very high level and with great consistency if the Raptors plan on hiding their weak bench, something which used to be their strong-suit only a year ago. Say what you will about Carlos Delfino but the man could come off the bench and spark the team with his offense and defense, albeit not with great consistency. Right now we’re asking Hassan Adams to fill that role which you would think would be a drop-off. We’re asking Ukic to make-up for TJ Ford which you would also think is a drop-off (at least next year). We’ve basically replaced Rasho Nesterovic with Jermaine O’Neal which by itself is a great improvement but when you look at all the overall addition/subtractions, its hard to definitely say whether we’ve actually improved or not – especially considering the relative improvements other teams in the East have made.

If Colangelo is to be believed this signals our last signing of the summer which has to be disappointing. Colagenlo’s most important off-season has consisted of one big risky move and a few signings that are unlikely to have an impact given the talent of the players and the coaching philosophy on this team. Asking Mitchell to integrate half a dozen new players with below-average talent is asking too much and will result in us putting too much pressure on our Big 3. Taking Boston’s example last year this might not all be bad but keep in mind that Boston’s supporting cast was superior and their three stars are future Hall of Famers. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, we’re nowhere close to the Celtics in terms of core talent or supporting cast.

Maybe Colangelo’s thinking is to test out the Bosh/JO combo and see if it actually flies and if the team is doing exceedingly well by the trade deadline or is one player away from legitimately contending, then make a move to acquire another true talent. This “wait and see” approach makes some sense but it sure puts a damper on a summer where much was expected of the Raptors. There were obvious weaknesses at the end of the season (rebounding, perimeter defense, athleticism) and we’ve addressed them to some degree but this pessimistic observer feels its hardly going to be enough.

The last thing I want to see on the Raptors is players being stretched out of their ability and ask of them things that they’re not capable of doing. We saw this last year with Jamario Moon and are poised to see the same complaints being directed at the likes of Hassan Adams, Will Solomon and Nathan Jawai. It’s a slippery slope when you start expecting things from scrubs and get annoyed when they don’t deliver. The supporting cast Bryan Colangelo has assembled does not fill me with confidence, mainly because of their lack of proven talent and experience. Sure, they might have potential to be good players but how long can we afford to wait? I though the plan was to fix the Raptors this summer, not sign players that in the best case will turn out to be average NBA players.

We’re not even close to contention.

Jason Kapono talks about the O’Neal trade and how it’ll help him get his shot off. He reckons O’Neal will do for him in Toronto what Shaq did for him in Miami. An optimistic view of things but I see what he’s saying. If you combine Bosh’s quickness in the post with O’Neal’s back-to-the-basket game you’ll get a diverse set of double teams which can open up the offense given the right pass out of the double.

“If O’Neal’s playing well on the block, that’s going to help us out. The more shooters and post players you have, you have the balance to create problems for the guys on the defensive end. Defenders must choose between helping out on the post or guarding guys who can make shots on the perimeter. It makes you want to get training camp started just so you can get him in here and used to our system and our sets and used to the guys. You can’t expect J.O to learn our system in two weeks. Obviously we are going to have a tough time in the pre-season and have a few bumps in the road.

I give Jermaine two practices to learn our entire “system”.

Matt Devlin finally replied to my email and it was a long one too. The Swirsk’s replies were never more than 10 words and I suspect Devlin’s will get shorter too once the season begins. He sounds like a very humble and honest guy but that’s what they said of Charles Manson. There’s an article about him in the Globe where he talks about how he’s going to focus the attention on the players and how he’s not a “hometown announcer” aka homer.

Ricky Davis signed with the Clippers and Renaldo Balkman got traded to the Nuggets in a move that fails to make sense for the Knicks. Andris Biedrins got re-signed for 62 million over 6 years, sounds like overpayment but given today’s NBA market its almost fair value.

Till tomorrow.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 47 Comments »

Playoff positioning + Jose’s Blog + Moon’s the favorite + the bad signing that is Kapono

Posted by Arsenalist on February 15, 2008

Meaningless Playoff Positioning

If the playoffs started today the Nets would grab the 7th seed while Philadelphia would round out the top 8. The Raptors would start their first round series in Cleveland. We’re 6 games ahead of New Jersey and 3.5 games back of Orlando which is in 3rd spot, the difference between the 3rd and 6th seed inclusive is 7 games. By doing some simple math and throwing some probability in there it’s not hard to see that the Raptors are destined to finish somewhere between 3rd and 6th by season’s end. Catching Orlando is possible, but unlikely, the Magic haven’t showed any signs of letting up and even if we take advantage of our relatively easy schedule, Orlando can counter by taking care of business on their own end, long road trips or tough stretches evade the Magic too and they’re playing 16 of their remaining 28 games at home.

Barring major injury or a severe drop off, the Raptors aren’t going to fall 6 games in their remaining 31 games. Although New Jersey is only 2.5 games behind Washington (who get Arenas back soon), they won’t be going north in the standings. All this is coming back to the likely scenario that we’ll face either Washington, Cleveland or Orlando in a first round playoff matchup. As the team stands right now, the Raptors will be underdogs in any of the three matchups and the chance of pulling off a playoff upset remains equal in all cases. Orlando and Cleveland provide a rebounding challenge with a touch of star power while Washington presents an athletic, quick and explosive team that will be hard to contain.

So even if the Raptors play exceedingly well and manage to equal their 47 win mark (which would entail going 19-12), we’ll end up avoiding a matchup against a team we could realistically beat, i.e.: New Jersey, Philadelphia, Atlanta or even Chicago assuming the previous two make it. My point? Our next truly worthwhile game will be in April. The rest of the regular season is simply about earning a little respect, padding the win total and trying to get home-court advantage (which might not be as great as it sounds given the Raptors home performances).

The age-old phrase “jockeying for playoff positioning” doesn’t really apply here because there isn’t a significant advantage to be gained by moving up or down between the 3rd and 6th spots. The X-Factor in any playoff matchup will be the availability of Jorge Garbajosa. Garbajosa who’s often looked at as the missing ingredient that’s caused our rebounding and defense shame might be able to provide what many are asking in a trade. I’m not one of those people. He provides some grit and is an excellent team defender, but his 4.7 rebounds a game and inconsistent outside stroke doesn’t excite me.

Jose Calderon’s Blog

You have to love Jose Calderon for what he’s done for this team this year. There’s nothing I can write that’ll do his play justice so I’ll just quote his blog entry where he’s thankful for even being considered for an all-star birth:

“I started the season as a substitute and it was absolutely unthinkable that as a reserve for a team like the Raptors and with an average of less than twenty minutes playing time per game, I could aspire to be in the NBA All Star team. But it has gone like this, you cannot imagine the number of supporting messages I received on my web-page and there have been many articles published in Spain, Canada, and the USA also rooting for me. The truth is that I am very proud of this and I understand that there are other players who have performed as well as or better than me to be there.”

Much better than this snide little cunt.

Jamario Moon in the Dunk Contest

For what it’s worth, I have a feeling Jamario Moon’s going to win the dunk contest. And this prediction isn’t even based on his taking off from well beyond the FT line, it has more to do with the sheer confidence he seems to have. Watching his interview at halftime of the Nets conquest, the man seemed ready to bet his first-born on it and looks to have some tricks up his sleeve. Plus, he’s got the backing of Reggie Miller and Ernie Johnson.

The reason it’s hard to watch the dunk contest is because winning it doesn’t mean that you’re the “best” dunker in the league anymore. That title belongs to Vince Carter who if he wanted could’ve won it for 7 years straight. Some great dunkers that should find their way into the competition include Kenyon Martin, Kobe Bryant and Baron Davis. The NBA’s half thought-out rule of having players with limited amount of experience is one of the main reasons why interest in the competition is low. For all of the NBA’s emphasis on fan participation, I’m surprised nobody’s thought of having the fans vote the dunk participants in, that way you’ll generate the interest it deserves.

For more Moon love and bagfulls of free shoes, check out Dave Feschuk’s article in The Star.

Jason Kapono and some thoughts on the 3-point shoot out

Kapono’s primary threat in this event might come from Peja Stojakovic and Steve Nash who are two pure shooters that don’t need to be set in any sort of way to unleash their threes. But knowing Kapono and how much he values shit like this, I’m guessing he’s practicing right now. I’ll be surprised if he loses and so will everybody else. His soft uniform release is ideal for a competition which puts premium on quickness and rhythm.

If you had to assign a grade to Kapono’s play, it would probably hover somewhere between a C- and C+. He’s been neutralized as a perimeter threat and the original assumption that he’d open space for Bosh by spreading the floor have been all rendered untrue. Teams are still able to double Bosh successfully by helping off of people other than Kapono – usually Calderon who’s taken good advantage. If I had to pick one area where the coaching staff has failed us, it’s been in getting Kapono off. When a great who happens to be your GM’s chief off-season signing only takes 98 threes (1.92 a game), it’s either a bad signing or some bad coaching. You decide.

Till another day. If you’re using an RSS reader (don’t know why you wouldn’t), latch on the feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

Raptors concede to Pistons in 3rd quarter…kinda…except Bosh came back in the 4th….but not Calderon, Parker or Delfino…WTF?

Posted by Arsenalist on January 15, 2008

Toronto Raptors 89, Detroit Pistons 103

Did the Raptors just concede this game in the third quarter after the lead ballooned to 16? Fine, I can convince myself to live with that even though a 16 point lead isn’t exactly a mountain to overcome, but what gets me is the starters remaining on the bench once we cut the lead to 9 with 10:40 to play. After the bench led by Juan Dixon, Joey Graham and Rasho Nesterovic managed to slice the lead to manageable levels, Sam Mitchell chose to rest the starters in anticipation of Sacramento tomorrow. I was completely dumbfounded by this move because at that point you have to put back Calderon, Bosh, Parker and Delfino in the game and hope the momentum shift will continue and maybe you can cut this lead down further, especially with Wallace on the bench. Mitchell conceded the game way too early and the Raptors didn’t even bother giving themselves a shot in the fourth quarter. Now what made entirely no sense was the re-introduction of only one starter, Bosh, in the fourth quarter with 6:22 left and a 10 point game. So you don’t bring back the starters with a 9 point lead a 10:40 to play but you bring back one starter with a 10 point lead and half a quarter to play? Makes no fucking sense.

Let’s move on past this insane substitution pattern and talk about what lost us the game: turnovers and helping off the wrong person. The “Points of Turnovers” stat is often misinterpreted in my opinion because it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the other team scored because of your turnover, but rather after your turnover. Today, the former was true. Every time we turned the ball over (14 in total), Detroit was off and running and getting easy baskets in transition making it look easy. If that’s not bad enough, we also let our guard down defensively and committed a very familiar sin: helping off a shooter. The biggest culprits included Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono who have a fetish for helping out when they should just stick to their man, it’s no surprise that Hamilton and Billups ended with 39 and 20. They make jumpers for a living and we made their living very easy, especially Rip’s.

A couple posts ago nolagunner had made this comment on the blog leading me to give Bosh more of a break for not driving the ball enough:

I’m not being snarky here, but has anyone considered the idea that Bosh doesn’t drive every time because he’s fucking exhausted? I mean, the man has to pace himself given all he’s being asked to do.

It’s an excellent point although my beef with Bosh has as much to do with him not posting up enough as not driving enough because driving can be taken away by a defender if he gives you space, taking away someone’s post-up game is much harder. Either way, today he did neither. He completely and utterly settled for the outside jumper and never challenged any of the Detroit power forwards into defending him. Detroit was more than content letting him shoot from outside and Bosh fully obliged. He wasn’t even rolling on the pick ‘n rolls opting to attempt a 20 footer. His most aggressive move was reserved for late in the fourth quarter when nothing mattered, not very POW like. Anyway, once that avenue of scoring was shut down, we never had a chance in this game but thanks to Delfino, Parker and Calderon willing the Raptors back into this game, the lead was only one at halftime leaving the door slightly open. The said door was quickly slammed shut after the Raptors started the third in the same way they started the game: turnovers and leaving shooters open. Once the lead bubbled to 16, the events described in the first paragraph transpired, leading me to conclude that we didn’t do all we could do to win this game.

Jason Maxiell’s 9 rebounds and 8 points really hurt us because they came through offensive rebounds and some hard-nosed banging down low. It occurred to me that we have a player who can contend with Maxiell, his name is Kris Humphries who only played 8 minutes while Maxiell logged 27. Humphries must’ve killed Sam’s dog and raped his cat because if there ever is a game where your power forwards need to log minutes, it’s against Detroit. I don’t remember Humphries doing anything to warrant an exile to the bench in his 8 minutes, do you? He traveled once but that’s only after he tore down a rebound over Maxiell and McDyess and lost his footing. Somebody please fill me in.

As tradition dictates, any post-game post must have at least one paragraph about Andrea Bargnani so here goes. This time he managed to grab five rebounds (practically fell in his lap) but unfortunately it came at the expense of scoring 0 points. I guess you take the good with the bad except that we’ve been taking a whole lot of bad and very little good this season and as the stats indicate, today was no different. He was out-hustled by McDyess on a couple occasions and was also caught trailing plays much to the chagrin of Mitchell who was once again forced to yank him. I’m not sure what the solution here is, I’m not a coach or a GM, I’m an unpaid blogger who doesn’t see an end to his misery. The best I can suggest is to somehow light a fire under his ass so he plays harder and stronger. We even might have to take that previous statement literally to get him going. We need a second scorer to beat good teams, on a night like tonight where our primary scorer is MIA, a player like Bargnani becomes even more important.

The officiating was terribly poor with the Raptors getting the short end of the stick on every occasion prompting Sam Mitchell to very audibly yell into the microphone, “Why can’t you just say you blew the call?” followed by a prudent “Fuck you!”. Who needs coaches wearing mics when you got Sam? Take that ESPN and ABC. But shit usually happens for a reason, the Pistons were way more aggressive than the Raptors and earned the calls. The Raptors on the other hand rarely attempted (let alone made) a shot inside the paint. Today was the best example of just exactly how perimeter oriented we are and just how much we need somebody who can play in the paint.

For me it’s never whether you lose or win, it’s how you lose or win. I didn’t like the way the Raptors played or the way Sam coached this game, I thought we could’ve come closer and challenged Detroit in the fourth but for whatever reason we didn’t. I had this one circled as a loss in the 4 in 5 stretch so it’s not a shock we lost, but it’s still a tough one to swallow. Sacramento tomorrow will not be easy.

One-Liners:

* Parker/Delfino/Calderon got us to within 1 point of the Pistons in the second quarter, they deserved a chance to do the same in the fourth.

* The Raptors settle for the jumper even when they’re in transition and have numbers in their favor.

* Give the Detroit defense some credit on shutting down Bosh, they gave him space so it was harder for him to use his blow-by quickness. But they didn’t prevent him from attempting postups, that option was there all game long.

* If there’s one good thing about tonight, it was that Kapono got some shooting practice. Hopefully he got some of his rhythm back.

* The team as it is right now can make the playoffs no problem, they might even be able to get home court advantage. But winning a series or two is an entirely different matter. We have a big hole at the 5 spot and there’s not enough scoring from the 3. 1 and 4 are the only spots where we’re solid with Anthony Parker being the lone gunman at the 2.

* Sam Mitchell didn’t talk to Andrea Bargnani for three weeks! That is a sign of horrible coaching, you need to communicate with a player, you can’t isolate him and shut him out and magically hope he gets better. Tough love doesn’t work like that.

* This was the longest I’ve ever seen Calderon stay on the bench. I still can’t get past the fact that we conceded so early.

* My heart stops every time Moon shoots outside of 15 feet. Lucky for us, he’s making his share over the last couple games but it’s still scary that him shooting jumpers is something we’re encouraging and seem to be looking at as a source of offense.

* Am I the only one who wants to lunge and claw at the screen every time they show Darrick Murray Martin on the screen. Yeah, Dixon was clanging it 1-8FG but I’d still rather see him in there, at least when he chucks, it has a chance of going in.

* Richard Hamilton’s line included 16-22 FG (5-6 3 FG). Isn’t this a little excessive? Didn’t it click to the Raptors to cover this guy after he had made his 10th open shot?

* Jason Maxiell is type of player that the Raptors are desperately searching for. Somebody who plays close to the rim, uses his body and hot his jumper and can rebound. An unbelievable pick by Dumars late in the first round, now that is some good late drafting.

* Detroit is unbelievably patient in their offensive sets. After examining mismatches with the utmost care, they find a way to exploit them by making the perfect pass and then to top it off, finish with composure.

* Nobody give me the “We were resting the starters for tomorrows game” excuse in justifying Sam benching the starting unit with the game still up for grabs.

* If you missed the second podcast, check it out here.

I apologize for this post being so long.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments »

Kapowned!

Posted by Arsenalist on December 15, 2007

Toronto Raptors 104, Indiana Pacers 93

I’ll say little about the game because if you saw it you know it was a gutsy effort on the road that speaks volumes about the potential for this club. If you didn’t see it, maybe NBA.com can help you out. Down 17 in the third quarter this had all the ingredients of a loss that might make you wonder if we can ever shed the .500 mark: bad defense, stagnant offense, confined to the perimeter, you know, the usual. That’s when the defense picked up after the injection of Carlos Delfino and that’s when Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon led the charge that brought us back into the game. After that it was just riding Kapono’s hot outside shooting for a big road win.

Let’s dedicate this post to Jason Kapono. Not since Dell Curry have I seen a trigger man with a release like Kapono’s. And even then I might argue that Kapono’s is better because he’s shot-ready faster than Curry was. A debate for another day. Just take a look at the sweet stroke:

Indiana dominated this game for the better part of the evening and if it weren’t for Kapono getting hot from the outside and Kris Humphries escalating his interior defense on Jermaine O’Neal while also scoring in the paint, this was going to be a loss. CB4 kept us in this game early by playing smart interior basketball and was our primary rebounding force all the way until the end. Enough can’t be said about Kris Humphries and his contribution on both ends of the floor, you expect the defense but when you get the offense it just gets sweeter.

Contrast Hump’s plays with that of Bargnani’s (two very bad looking offensive fouls) and you notice a man playing with confidence and a man who is unsure of what he wants to do on the floor. It’s getting a little embarrassing watching Bargnani out there and although I STILL think he’ll get out of his funk and end up contributing to this team, he looks very, very confused out there. Hopefully him and the coaching staff can sort things out and get him game-ready but as Jack Armstrong said, “a lot of this game is played between the ears” and I’m not sure of Bargnani’s mental makeup. This stretch is the first test of his NBA career and so far he’s not handling it well, we’ll see how he does in the big Boston game coming up.

Good to be a Raps fan, solid fight-back win in Indiana where it looked like we’d get blown out at one point. I didn’t even talk about Calderon because we’re all so used to him being brilliant that it doesn’t even get mentioned anymore.

One-Liners:

* Example of Chuck Swirsky’s hypocrisy: Chuck questions Jim O’Brien decision for not taking out O’Neal with three fouls. Jack Armstrong mentions Sam Mitchell’s done the same with Bosh. Chuck changes topic.

* Jamaal Tinsley is a very good player who Jose Calderon had issues guarding. Lucky for us whatever damage Tinsley did, Jose countered.

* Chris Bosh took too many jumpers to start the fourth quarter. I know it’s overly critical but Bosh should be driving to the rim 90% of the time.

* I’ll bet money on Jose Calderon draining a wide open three over Anthony Parker.

* If Kris Humphries starts draining that 15 footer, he’ll average 15pts a game this year.

* Juan Dixon played well in limited minutes, his spell in the second quarter kept the Raps in the game.

* I don’t want to see Jamario Moon shooting after he hesitates, those never go in.

* Carlos Delfino, Carlos Delfino, Carlos Delfino, Carlos Delfino, Carlos Delfino…..

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 14 Comments »