Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘portland trailblazers’

Raps outlast Blazers to exact sweet revenge

Posted by Arsenalist on January 13, 2008

Portland Trailblazers 109, Toronto Raptors 116 (2OT)

The biggest gaffe of this game wasn’t Jamario Moon fouling Travis Outlaw on a four point play which tied the game. It was the Raptors NOT fouling Brandon Roy when he rebounded the ball in the first overtime inside the arc with the clock ticking down and the Raptors saving their foul for yet unknown reasons. Roy’s three which sent the game to double overtime where the Raptors eventually prevailed should’ve never have happened and is a prime example of the players being unaware of the situation at hand. But let’s put the break on the negativity and praise the Raptors for hanging in there against a tough, tough (the repetition is warranted) Portland team that refused to die and crashed the offensive boards to stay in the game.

Now this is a quality win. There’s no reason to jump up and down when you beat Philadelphia or New York but downing the NBA’s hottest team after being deflated twice by deep bombs deserves a lot of praise. Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker were huge on the offensive end for us and Carlos Delfino chipped in with 16 increasing the bench production which has been missing of late in big games. It was good to see Bosh attack the rim in the overtime periods when it mattered the most and to nobody’s surprise he had success. Aside from having 38 points and 14 rebounds, he had 3 huge blocks and changed many Portland shots saving the Raptors at least 10-12 points. He was the reason we won and Nate McMillan acknowledged that:

“We didn’t have an answer for Bosh”

Give credit for Jamario Moon for atoning for his end of regulation error by coming up with blocks on Roy and Jack which spawned fast break opportunities. He had to be the happiest guy on the team because even if nobody would say it, this game was on him if things had gone south in OT. This might be the place to mention a site dedicated entirely to Jamario Moon where we learn that Moon is going to the slam dunk contest. Reminds me a little of the obsolete rickbrunson.com.

How about Sam Mitchell putting out bosh Bosh and Calderon in the game at the start of the fourth? Was that refreshing or what? I guess he learned his lesson after Darrick Martin had handed the Blazers the game on the west coast and took no chances putting his two best offensive options in the game facing a six point deficit. It’s a no-brainer really but for Sam, it’s an improvement. It wasn’t a fluke that the Raps went on a 7-0 run with Roy on the bench at the start of the quarter turning this into a game that was going to be decided by the slimmest of margins.

Anthony Parker who many want traded for crazy rebuilding reasons poured in 25 to singlehandedly keep the Raptors in this game early when Roy was having his way with us. The Raptors who’ve been guilty of helping off the wrong perimeter player so many times were making the same mistake in this game by leaving Roy open by having Parker help on the player driving into the rim from the weak side! Roy lit us up early when Parker was on him blowing by him at will on a few occasions, it was then that we put Jose on him with specific instructions to NOT provide help under any circumstance. The move worked to some extent because Roy didn’t get open looks from the perimeter and was forced to score and create by driving, something we can live with. On the other end the Blazers chief defensive strategy is to to switch on every screen and they can afford to do that with the personnel they have. The Raptors did excellent in exploiting the resulting matchups like Calderon/Outlaw, Bosh/Outlaw, Calderon/Przybilla, Parker/Aldridge and all kinds of G/PF switches where Portland offered the Raptors to contend with.

Bosh comes under fire for taking too many jumpers and if you listen to Chuck and Leo and also look at Sam’s reactions to him shooting springers, I’m inclined to think that Sam is of the same mind as the fans when it comes to Bosh settling for jumpers. Bosh had success literally every time he drove the ball early and even then he was shooting 18 footers, it boggled my mind because that was playing right into Portland’s hands. The one horrendous side effect of him shooting jumpers is that when he was missing, there was nobody to rebound the ball for us because Portland’s rebounding positioning was intact. When he drives and misses, Moon, Delfino, Humphries have an opportunity to grab the offensive board against a Portland defense that’s busy trying to contend with an aggressive Bosh.

It’s become apparent that defensive rebounding is our Achilles heel, this is a long standing problem that requires an immediate solution, hopefully before the trading deadline. Quite simply put, Bosh needs some help and Humphries, Moon and Rasho aren’t enough to contend with the tall trees that teams put out against us. Don’t believe me, check out the rebounding distribution in this game for the Blazers and compare it with the Raptors’. I for one am ecstatic when the ball just bounces behind the backboard to give us possession – no chance of an offensive rebound there! Seriously though, I think Bosh is doing a phenomenal job rebounding the ball and boxing out considering how much energy he’s been exerting on offense. Bargnani, God bless his soul, is a good man with a good heart but his development as a rebounder is too slow for us to expect anything on the boards for him. I fear a Bosh injury if he has to keep playing like this because right now he’s playing every possession with his heart on his sleeve.

Channing Frye and Travis Outlaw’s points hurt us because they all seem to come when we were in the business of trading possessions with them in late regulation and overtime, both are two players that I would love to see on the Raptors. I was one of those who thought that Portland won the Randolph deal by acquiring Frye who still hasn’t reached his potential and needs more minutes to show just how productive he can be. As for Outlaw, he’s improved his outside shooting to the point where you have to be cognisant of it when guarding him, same for Martell Webster who possesses the combination of athleticism, ability and skill that’s a coach’s dream. But hey, we got Jamario Moon who held his own against Outlaw for the most part of the game, yeah he got scored on a few times but the rookie never lost focus.

An awesome and hard-fought win for the Raptors where Bosh led the way and Parker provided key scoring early, Calderon pitched in late and Moon played good defense in overtime redeeming himself for his 4-point play foul. Let’s not forget Carlos Delfino who when he decides to be more than jump shooter can be real asset to us. Coming up next is Detroit which by all accounts and Las Vegas predictions should be an L, let’s see what the Raptors learned last week when they handed it to us at the ACC.

One-Liners:

* Outside shooting is such an important part of the Raptors that unless we don’t hit our outside jumpers at a minimum 45% clip, we’ll have trouble staying in the game.

* This game came down to who will step up defensively first and the Raptors did that through Bosh and Moon in OT. Calderon’s key steal on Aldridge iced the game.

* Charles Barkley things Portland will miss the playoffs. That’s just crazy talk.

* You must check out Darrick Murray Martin and his “big balls” dance.

* It’s hard to find a weakness in Brandon Roy’s game but if you look really hard you’ll notice that if you force him to drive, help if he beats his man and rotate properly, you can contain him.

* We need to get Kapono some looks, he’s being wasted right now and is given zero space on the perimeter. It’s a tough situation for the Raps. Maybe we need to put him on the same side as a Bosh post-up so his man is the one that’s helping on the Bosh doubles.

* Bargnani wasn’t awful today, he had a couple hoops but got bit by foul trouble. It’s almost like he doesn’t know the rules in the NBA about hand-checking and what constitues a foul. When he does get called for fouls, he’s got that look which says, “That’s a foul?!?!??”. He should’ve taken Roy to the rim on the post-up, instead he shot the ball like it was a time-bomb.

* Jarret Jack helped us out by going 4-16, Aldridge was 5-17 but Bosh had a lot to do with that.

* Raps get out-manned 52-44 on the boards but make up for it at FT line 18-23.

* Best game of the year so far.

* Podcast #2 tomorrow. If you missed the first one, click here.

Later.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 32 Comments »

A 7 point 4th quarter lead on the road needs to be valiantly protected, not Darrick Martinized!

Posted by Arsenalist on December 20, 2007

Toronto Raptors 96, Portland Trailblazers 101

This one hurt real bad. It hurt bad because we had a chance to win it and should have won it. We shot ourselves in the foot by playing bad fourth quarter defense and not putting our best players on the court at the right time. The momentum of this game completely shifted at the start of the fourth when the Raptors led by Darrick Martin scored 4 points for the first 7 1/2 minutes of the quarter. Two ill-advised shots by Martin and some very poor spacing and execution during this stretch turned a 7 point Raptors lead into a 3 point deficit. This was where the game was lost: not having Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon on the floor early enough in the fourth and completely ignoring Rasho Nesterovic.

darrick martin It makes my stomach turn every time I see Darrick Martin on the floor and watching him run the Raptors into the ground in the final quarter was exasperating. Leo threw a stat out saying that when Portland was trailing at home to start the fourth, they’d won more than they’d lost. Did Sam Mitchell expect the lineup of Murray/Kapono/Bargnani/Delfino/Humphries to withstand a Portland run? You need at least one guy on the floor who can create his own shot otherwise you’re just begging to get run on, and that’s what happened, they made a run and we stood silent. By the time Bosh and Calderon were injected Portland had the momentum and despite us trying to shoot ourselves back in the game it was too little too late as a bad foul by Jamario Moon and a Travis Outlaw offensive rebound put Portland further ahead and the Calderon turnover on the break iced the game. Throw a couple phantom foul calls on us in there and you have a 1-1 road trip when it should’ve been 2-0.

I’ve mentioned Chris Bosh’s infatuation with the jumper in almost every post but I have to mention it again. He was far too passive for the better part of the game and the frustrating part about it was that just about every time he drove to the rim he had success. It’s a very simple formula: go with what’s been working and don’t settle. Now a line of 18/11, 6-13FG, 6-6FT isn’t that bad but if you saw the game you know it should’ve been 26/11, 6-13FG, 14-16FT. That’s the difference between winning and losing; But it’s not fair to dwell on Bosh’s performance because even though he could’ve done more he did enough for the rest of his team and coaching staff to carry us through.

andrea bargnani brandon roy
Do you think Brandon Roy made this shot?

We’re getting nothing from Bargnani, nothing at all. How does 2 points and 2 fouls sound for a #1 pick? He was supposed to be a big part of this offense and a big part of this team this year but when you’re getting Mamadou Njdiaye like performances from Bargnani it’s left up to the likes of Kris Humphries to carry the offensive load, and no matter how well he plays (13pts/5rebs) it’s evident that we’re being stretched. Watching Brandon Roy tear it up on offense as he climbs the ladder to super-stardom gives me a slight respiratory problem, I would have to not be human to not wonder what could’ve been if David Stern had called out his name instead of the Italian Stallion’s Pony’s. Even Bargnani’s defense deserted him in this game as he looked clueless when boxing out his man or even switching on the pick ‘n roll. On one pick ‘n roll he ended up guarding Humphries’ man for no reason other than laziness during that crucial stretch in the fourth. It’s nobody but his fault that he’s struggling. I’m a Sam Mitchell critic but he has given him a more than fair shot of getting significant playing time, Bargnani was awful on defense today and just as bad on the other end. You can’t just stand behind the 3pt line and “demand” the ball, defenses have shown that all they need to do is crowd him and that’ll be the end of his perimeter game. He needs to find other ways to score like fight for good post-position, run the break, roll instead of pop on the screen, try to take advantage of his height by sealing his man etc. Right now he’s just waiting for something to happen that’ll get him open shots but that’s not how the NBA works, not once teams have gotten a chance to see you for a year. Completely unrelated but here’s what Rudy Gay did tonight.

I have to question the playing time of Rasho Nesterovic. Rasho was playing very well early on grabbing offensive rebounds, scoring on putbacks and jumpers. In other words, Portland had trouble dealing with the weight he was throwing around the rim. However he was taken out in the first quarter and returned in the third to play a few meaningless minutes and that was it. No sign of Rasho in the crucial fourth period where Portland got a couple huge offensive rebounds that put this game away, I can’t help but think Rasho could’ve helped. It was sad to see Anthony Parker’s solid all-around game completely wasted because of some bad substitutions and bone-headed plays down the stretch.

From the positive of Rasho Nesterovic let’s celebrate the end of Jamario Moon’s honeymoon which happened precisely at 2:27 of the fourth quarter when he fouled Travis Outlaw who was attempting a Jordanesque fadeaway from the edge of the three point line, a shot that you want him to take. But it’s not just this indiscretion that’s inexcusable, it’s his shot selection which varies between painful and gruesome. A pull-up jumper from 19 feet? Are you kidding me man, how can you not get pulled for that? Sam Mitchell’s been showing a little too much faith in Jamario Moon of late and it’s highly questionable when you have Joey Graham sitting right there begging for playing time. What happened to competition between players driving the Raptors? Moon’s unneeded aggressive help defense early in the shot clock has allowed his man to score on more than a few occasions and this isn’t a case of blaming the rotations either.

I’ve failed to mention our perimeter defense which led us down yet again. It’s fair to say that Calderon’s defense on Steve Blake was very poor to start the game and never got much better. On a night where defense would win the game the Raptors failed to play any and let their guard down in the fourth quarter by conceding open layups and critical offensive rebounds. This was a great game to watch with some end-to-end action for the first three quarters and the Raptors were right there till the end. They needed their big guns to play more in the fourth quarter, Thursday is an off day and there would’ve been plenty of time to rest.

One-Liners:

* Krish Humphries is a warrior. The work ethic, the competitiveness and the desire to get better are all there. I love the guy.

* Jose Calderon should’ve been more selfish and exploited his matchup against Blake and Rodriguez.

* Delfino was a complete non-factor, I think he should be playing more point instead of Darrick Martin (even typing his name is painful). Or how about Dixon running the point, a weird DNPCD for him tonight.

* The communication on defense in the fourth quarter wasn’t there at all, before or after Bosh and Calderon came in.

* Kapono is playing very well especially considering nobody runs any plays for him.

* I could write a long paragraph just tearing Bargnani to shreds but it’s not going to help anything. He simply needs to get his confidence back, figure out how to drive to the rim so that his game opens up for him. It’s painful to watch him and it hurts me.

* Provided Portland can keep Roy and Aldridge together and add a couple veterans, their window for a run at the WC finals isn’t far away.

It’s bed time. Check the feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »