You wonder how they are going to turn this thing around as well. They do have 2 games with the Wizards with a game vs the Hawks in the middle. The Wizards are so dysfunctional in comparison to the Raptors it is like night and day. Lot's of folks were high on the Wizards in the pre-season. I was not and they are a mess and that mess begins and ends with Gilbert Arenas. There is the usual number of injuries and Antwan Jamison has been on fire since his return from injury. The Hawks are a team that I do not like at all but that being said even I have been impressed with them this season. So if folks are waiting for a stretch of games for this team to turn it around it is a long wait. They play 4 in 5 nights in this upcoming week. 3 of those on the Road where the Raps are just 2-8.
But it is Monday and a none game day so why write about it when you can talk about it. You forgot? No worries so did I but here is a belated episode 2 of this week in the DNB.
Here is your link and I will be clocking in early at 12:45 so Join Me HERE
Antonie Wright was in the game as well and drives and scores. Hedo hits a 3 pointer to give the Raps a short lived 25-24 lead. Wallace would but C's back on top and Rondo in a mismatch against CB4 would get to the hoop and draw a foul. Bargnani would get to the line and cut lead to one and Wallace would nail a clutch 3 near the end of the Quarter. Johnson an offensive foul the 5th turnover of the quarter for the Raps. Rondo is an equal opportunity blow by beat-down artist as he schools Jack to score for Boston to close the quarter. C's close the quarter with the largest lead of the night. It was 33-27 for them after 1.
Celtics were shooting 83.3% and Rondo had 8 points and 5 assists and this looked ugly early. After the Celtics opened with a score Jack would get the score plus the foul that he would cash in making it 35-30 men in green. Raps actually showing signs of D and Jack would score in transition and Raptors has lead cut to 2 at the 37-35. Amir Johnson shows hustle and gets a hook in the lane as a reward and Raps despite a terrible defensive effort trailed just by 2 with the score 41-39. Johnson would leave soon after with his 3rd foul.
Sheed hit his second 3 of the night and Bosh would answer with a 2 and trailed 46-43. Marco...3 ball and this game was tied as logic suggested it should not be. Pierce would hit a 3 and Bosh the counter punch 2 and Raps were in it. If they had this offense in Charlotte they could have won. However this is not Charlotte and getting a win was not going to be easy at all. The Pierce 2 has been changed to from a 3 to a 2 and we are tied at 48. The game was tied at 50 with 3 to play. Two easy baskets for Kendrick Perkins...Bosh gets a response and the lead was 2....Hedo makes a 3 and the Raps lead 55-54. That would be the score at the half and it makes little sense but the Raps lead 55-54.
Raps shooting 66.7% and Celtics 67%...D is just a rumour in Boston on this Black Friday in the U.S. Raps come out and score only to have Boston tie it with a 3 making score 57 all. Raps a little mini 4-0 run and they are on top making the odd steal and play to get the score in transition for Hedo. He has 15 points and looks like the Hedo we were suppose to get. Rondo just took the ball away from Bosh and no one running back allowed Rondo a chance to show his dunking styles. Pierce a basket and back to even at 61. K.G was robbed of a basket plus a foul..a terrible call. But it was made up quick as Ray Allen would make and get the foul call. Celtics took a 64-61 lead. C's would get an easy dunk and get the lead up to 5 points.
Raps were in the danger zone at the mid point of the 3rd quarter. How would the play in this final 5 minutes would be key for them. Early signs were not good as the Raps give up 2 more and commit a turnover leading to 2 more and the lead was 9. For anyone who does not believe Rajon Rondo is good he was giving you more evidence as he was pushing the Celtics to a 10 point lead. Raps offense had come to a halt and there lack of D the entire night was shinning through now. The game that was once tied now had the Celtics up 15 points....make that 17 and the Celtics lead 82-65. Bargs hits a 3 but that was needed like 4 minutes ago. Celtics closed that final 5 minutes like the championship contenders that they are taking a 87-72 lead to the 4th.
Huge slam by Pierce and Chris Bosh is down on the play and slow to get up. Triano and Rivers exchange words and Raps frustration was boiling over. Bosh was ok but where was his team standing up for him. GET WELL SOON REGGIE...THAT IS WHERE WE NEED HIM. Raps got a little bit back into this thing after that blow up as a Hedo 3 pointer would cut the lead to 10 but I am serious disturbed at how no one stood up when the team's star gets taken down. Ray Allen would answer with a 3 pointer. Chris Bosh would answer that with a slam and he had 20.
Raps would continue to fumble and bumble with another turnover. C's don't cash in and Jack would score to get it to single digits briefly. Celtics would score and Raps would answer. Eddie House would hit a dagger 3 ball to make the lead a dozen. The time was slipping away and it was 99-87 with 7 to play. Raps just had given up to much ground to get back in this one. It is sad it took their star player getting kneed in the gut to wake them up. Celtics would weather the storm and take the lead back up to 14 points and lead 105-91. This game was lost at the end of the 3rd. However this 4th quarter was like a slap in the face to the Raptors and sadly most of the men in the white shirts just took it. Raps have just put it on cruise control so will I. They are on the way to falling to 7-10 as they trail 110-98. A hard foul by Jack with under a minute to play is nice but was needed earlier. Raps lose this thing 116-103.
Honestly what happened at the start of this 4th Quarter was wrong. I said it when T.J Ford was taken out in Atlanta. Again when Calderon was elbowed in the head later that year by the Hawks. Now tonight when Bosh gets a knee to the gut from Pierce. STAND THE HECK UP AND BE COUNTED. I want to see a raptor pop someone in the face and say we are not taking it anymore. Would that player get suspended. No doubt...but he would be an instant fan favourite and maybe make people think twice the next time. I can guarantee you that if Reggie Evans is in this game no way that goes with zero response. The heck with boxscores this is about HEART not STATS!!! Stand up for your star that has busted his butt for this team all year.
Yes today marks the end of year 2, and the start of year 3 of the Dino Nation Blog. I have said this many times, that the Dino Nation Blog was the best idea that I have every had at 2am in the morning. I was feeling pretty depressed and was wondering what the heck I could do with my life. I had just had my birthday and was not getting any younger. What came out of that depression was what has turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. I could not have imagined the idea that I had would grow to what it has become. I feel very blessed and fortunate to have had all the great experiences the Dino Nation Blog has brought my way. Through the hard work of myself and the support of Raptor fans it has become something to be proud of. I would be approached last fall by Scott Carefoot to partner the blog with The Score. That was a great opportunity and has lead to other things for me personally. Also prior to that I would reach out to Eric Smith who would help me get in touch with Paul Jones and Jack Armstrong and all 3 have been regular guests here since. Those 3 guys were the first guests that the Dino Nation Blog would have. From there it would grow and build from there. Matt Devlin since coming to the Raptors has been a frequent and regular guest. We have had to many guests to mention it has got that good. Even of late the Dino Nation blog has started to get players in the NBA in the blog. T.J Ford has been here a couple times, Demar DeRozan and Reggie Evans as well. Along with countless numbers of media folks. In this last year the biggest accomplishment has been starting to have access to the Raptors. I want to think Jim LaBumbard for that, it has been a great experience and something that is helping me do more and learn more. In the history of the Dino Nation Blog I have worked with everyone from EA Sports, Georgetown University, Washington Post and Turner Sports and NBA-TV. All of that from an idea at 2am in the morning. Not to bad.
How all of that is possible is because of a few things. Well first and foremost it is my own personal hard work and dedication. I invest far more time than most would imagine or dream. After all this is still as it was from day 1, a solo effort by me to run this thing. There has been some folks that have helped along the way with designing logos and some of the things that I am truly clueless about. It also has taken people having faith and trust in me to be able to do a professional job. The other important thing is it takes all of you. The people who come here loyally each day and support the Dino Nation Blog and me. I value that very much. I am happy to have got to known some of those loyal readers. Many who have become followers on Twitter as well. I tried to take a lesson from Chuck Swirsky. He... if you every have e-mailed him, you can vouch for this, that he will almost always will reply and do it with amazing speed. I have done my best to build relationships with the people who have supported me. Just like I have tried to do with the guests I have in the blog.
The thing that has always kept this thing going in the right direction is that I never stop to be satisfied. Once I get to a goal that I have set or completed some challenge I have set out, I move on and set new ones. I am proud to say even some of the goals I had that I felt might have taken longer have been reached. One of the things I want to focus on this year is growing the Dino Nation Blog. I feel that everyone that covers this sport, watches this sports or is involved in it need to help it grow. I hope that one day there is a true nation of people out there loving this sport in this country. I have always tried to keep the Dino Nation Blog to a level be it someone has just discovered basketball to a life long fan could both enjoy it. One of the mistakes I see people making is not thinking in terms of the casual fan. Those are the folks that can help build the sport of basketball to exciting new levels for the Raptors, The Sport and Blogs like this one. I also hope to look for more chances to do things on the air so to speak. I am proud of the interviews I am doing and think they are well done and think have reached a level of respect. Granted I always think that I can be better and improve.
That can sometimes be a challenge, because as many of the regular readers know I look after my disabled mother as well. I want to thank her for allowing me to take advantage of the chances that have come my way through out this process. She has allowed me to take time to do the things that are part of making this all work. I am very happy that even though to this point the success this blog has achieved is minor (At least to me) that she has been able to share in that with me. She has never wanted to let her issues stand in the way of my dreams. We work together to try and make sure that does not happen. I love her with all of my heart and really give 100% of what I have to care for her and at the same time make her proud.
So I thank all of you for your support and invite you to come along for the ride to where ever it may take me. I also ask you that if you really love this blog and this sport to share that with others. I want this blog to grow but I also want this sport to grow and the support of the Raptors as well. If these last 2 years have taught me anything it is there is a lot of people in this country and around the world that love the Raptors, The NBA and the sport of basketball. I also want to thank all of the folks that produce great stuff for basketball fans here on the Internet. I respect all of the people that work in the blogging community that cover the Raptors and the NBA. I hope that in my own small way I am helping change attitudes towards blogs and the work that all of us put into them. It really is important for to always look to expand and grow on what we do. Some still think in out dated terms that we all live in basements with our moms. Well I do live with my mom but for the reasons above. I don't have a basement though and I do have a education in broadcast journalism. It is important to change that stereotype and image. I have taken what I do and made it into basically my job. Some folks do blogs as a hobby or just for fun. However I encourage everyone to take what your doing seriously and work hard at it. That is really the case for a lot of you already. Still know that if as a group if we want to be taken seriously it takes everyone to push themselves to compete. I think there is room in this world for the established media and the people who do this. I have always shown the folks in that media the respect that they have earned. I try to take that same professional approach as them in what I do. I think the folks that I deal with respect me as well.
Some days are better than others. I still expect far more from myself than anyone out there does. I always am trying to push myself to be better and bigger each day. In this past year I have done a lot of learning and growing and hopefully am better for it. The Dino Nation Blog was really built at a time of true hopelessness. It was a last shot at making my dreams come through. It has given me so many experiences that I never could have imagined. Some experiences that I thought would take far longer have happened. So if you ever feel like you are down and out, I hope this blog can be an example of hope. I am reminded of what Michael Irvin said in his Hall of Fame speech in football..." Look up, Get Up and Never Give Up". That is one of many things that I draw inspiration from.
So whatever your dreams are never let them go. However understand to make your dreams happen it takes hard work and lots of effort on your part each and everyday. I truly believe if you work hard and have true talent at what you are trying to do you can succeed. I hope that in some small way I am an example of that. No matter what happens in the future for me, I will always be grateful to all the people who have supported me and the people that read this blog are near the top of that list. I will always be humble and amazed at how so many people have offered me support to help live my dream. I never lose sight of how truly lucky and blessed I have been in these past 2 years. This has been truly one of the best times in my life. I thank you all for being part of that.
Now that was a lot nicer than talking about the Raptors vs the Celtics wasn't it? Maybe the Raps can get some kind of DNB Anniversary Miracle win. Not likely but still win or lose this is fun each day...but yes it is more fun when it is win.
I have made it no secret how much I am a fan of T.J Ford. The passion and desire he takes to the basketball court is far greater than his physical size. It was one of the true personal hi-lights for me to talk with him in the summer time. It has been a career for T.J that has been filled with challenges that a lesser person would have given up. So it goes without saying it was great to meet him in person and chat with him from Tuesday Pre-Game In Toronto.
Thanks to T.J for talking with me. The website we mention is called Texas360now.com and is a website that has players that went to Texas and are now in the pros. Kevin Durant, D.J Augustin , T.J and many others contribute to the site. They also give away stuff the odd time on there. So if you are a Longhorns fan or just a fan of a former Longhorn it is worth checking out. Happy Thanksgiving to T.J and any of you folks reading this blog in the United States.
From Ric Flair Country WOOOOOOO!!!! It's tip time in Charlotte North Carolina!!! Raps sporting the alternate blacks for this one. Bobcats end up with it and Tyson Chandler has impact right away with the tap back for 2. Chandler would impact on D as well blocking Bosh's first attempt but Jose Calderon would get it and stick a jumper to get Raps on the board trailing 4-2. Demar DeRozan does one thing very well already in his young NBA career and that is get to the line. He makes a pair at the stripe and it is tied at 4. Stephen Jackson and Bargnani swap baskets to keep the score tied. Hedo and Jackson again for the Bobcats swap scores. A missed lay-up for Jose turns into points for Felton in transition. Bosh would get to the line and cut the Charlotte lead to just 1. But Stephen Jackson was getting heated up as he scores again. Amir Johnson said to me last night if they miss shots I will be there to get a putback or a tap in. Well Bosh missed and true to his word he taps it back in and Raps trail 13-12. Amir was not done as he runs the floor and gets a basket in transition and had 4 quick points off the bench. Raps on top 14-13.
Bobcats would take the lead on a bucket in transition and Jose Calderon would create a turnover and flip it ahead to Demar DeRozan for the easy dunk. Not big on style points but it counts for 2 points. Chandler split a pair at the line then Bosh would get to the line thanks to Chandler his second foul and he was off to the bench. Bosh would split a pair at the line and the Raps again had a 1 point lead at 17-16. It would remain that way to the official's time out at the 3 minute mark despite Jackson getting an open look in the corner. Marco Belinelli makes a sweet drop off for Amir Johnson for the flush. Johnson got a block on D but the rookie Gerald Henderson cashed in for 2 grabbing the ball of the block. Raps would get a basket and D.J Augustin would turn the ball over but the Raps could not push the lead to 5. D.J would drop a dime and Bargnani would answer with a score. Last second Jack for Jack would not fall. Raps were grinding it this one out to have a 23-20 lead after 1
Both teams were not shooting it well with Bobcats at 36% and Raps at 34.5%. They both would miss on their opening trips. Bobcats would get a block then a turnover and score off both in transition. Amir Johnson would score again to give the Raps the lead briefly. Bobcats would score to take the lead back at 26-25. After a one for two effort at the line Bargnani would score and tie it. Gerald Henderson showed you why he got some consideration to be a pick for the Raptors with a nice jam. Amir Johnson was having a good night as he scored and has 10. Bargnani gets a shooters roll for 3!!! Raps on top 32-31. Raps had no turnover in 1st and they had 4 in this quarter the latest slammed home by Henderson in transition. Another Bargnani 3 would even up at 35.
Bosh would pick up his 2nd foul with 6:01 to play but remains in the game. Turnover number 5 would lead to a Wallace jam and the bottom line was the Bobcats were scoring far to easily. Charlotte already had 19 fast break points just past the mid point of the 2nd quarter. Bobcats were nursing a 40-37 build on Raptors mistakes. Bosh was doing a solid job getting to the line even with his 2 fouls. He makes a pair and the lead was back to 1. Gerald Wallace would take a spill after being fouled by Antonie Wright. He would make both at the line. Jay Triano wanted to talk it over with the Raptors trailing 43-39. Bosh would make his way to the line again it isn't flashy but effective. When he makes the shots that is which he did. Stephen Jackson has been scoring it well as he adding to more to his total. Bargnani had a sneaky 15 points as he gets another kind role for a score. Raps were also not doing a good job on the defensive glass as the Bobcats make them pay with second chance points and lead 48-44 in the late going of the first half. To easy for Gerald Wallace. Bosh would finally score some points not from the line making his first field goal. Felton would score in response and Jack could not have an answer. Bobcats took a 6 point lead to the half leading 52-46.
Raps shot just 37.2% and Bosh had only 1 field goal. Wallace and Jackson a combined 31 points and the Bobcats put up 32 points in that 2nd quarter. DeRozan gets 2 points getting on the glass after a Jose miss from 3. Demar scored again and Raps had the lead to just 2. Bargnani missed an easy one and Bobcats would score off the miss and Diaw who had left injured earlier was back at hit an open 3. Bobcats had the largest lead of the night of 7. Hedo Turkoglu would hit a 3 pointer and shave lead back to 4. Bargnani missed another easy one with a chance to cut the lead to 2. He would pick up a foul on the other end sending Wallace to the line to the pair. Raps were not hitting shots and giving up far to easy scores to the Bobcats as Jackson drove and scored on a lay-up. DeRozan and Wallace traded baskets. Bosh would score but Jackson would answer and get fouled and the lead was 9 at 66-57. Finally as Jackson drove and dropped it for Diaw for yet another easy score that would cause Jay Triano to call a time out. The lead was back at 9 with the Raptors down 68-59.
Time out did not help an easy steal and score for an easy basket for Raymond Felton. Bobcats lead had grown to alarming 72-59. Yet another Bosh miss and the Raps were labouring badly. This game was rapidly falling out of reach. Marco Belinelli hit a 3 point to cut the lead to 12. But the Bobcats would take a turnover and get the Wallace slam in transition plus the foul. Another transition basket and Jay Triano uses yet another time out. Clipboards quiver in fear for their lives. Raptors were down 17 and showing no signs of being able to comeback. In fact quite the opposite this lead was growing and growing fast. It was 81-62 and the Raps after no turnovers in the first were giving up the ball like it had the plague. D.J Augustin drove it to the basket and scored....Bobcats were owning their paint. Fitting way to end the quarter as Amir Johnson could not make a chippy. Raps were struggling to score and defend which makes for a lethal combination. Bobcats lead 85-67 after 3.
Charlotte just keeps rolling along as they start the quarter extending the lead to 23 points. Bosh would hit a jumper just his 3rd made FG and the lead was back to 20 at 90-70 Charlotte. Bosh would get another score but it should be far to late you would thing down 18 with 10 to play. Really there is not much left to say about this one unless the Raptors find some kind of miracle. There is no evidence of that happening despite Bosh finally starting to getting rolling scoring wise. He had 18 points and 13 rebounds but despite the nice fantasy line with the double double it was not a good night for him or the Raps.
Honestly the Raptors have just become a Jekyll and Hyde act that just is getting more frustrating and troubling as this season rolls along. Raps are at 76 points at the mid point of the 4th quarter they had 74 at the half last night. The most upsetting is the defensive effort or lack of one. The Raps will fall to 7-9 and a far from good 2-7 on the road including loses to the Grizzlies and Bobcats. All of this and the next team you have to face in Boston on the road on Friday. Technically a battle of first vs second in the Atlantic Division. This was ugly and not changing as the Bobcats lead 98-76 with 5 to play. In fact the Bobcats could have had a team dunk contest with the number of throw downs the Raptors have allowed. Raps just continue to sink into the abyss trailing 105-76 with 3 to play. You can say the team got in late and this is a back to back playing a team that was waiting for you, but there has been no fight or grit from this team since the first quarter. The short of it, is everything that may have gone right last night went wrong tonight with the score getting to become a growing embarrassment. The final score is 116-81 to a team that was 4-9 coming into it. There is really no one with the possible exception Amir Johnson that can be trilled with their performance personally. Collectively it was one of the worst efforts of the season that has already had some solid candidates. Enough said. For the truly brave here is the boxscore to this train wreak
Reggie Evans -" I have been doing real good keeping my composure. But lately I am kind of losing it a little bit. I am getting real anxious to get out there. Just to feel the flow and be around my teammates. I'm getting anxious and stuff. That is how I am feeling right now. "
There has been a ton of expectation on when Reggie does get back. Some seeing him as the answer to the Raps defensive troubles. Not to mention as Reggie said above he is clearly itching to get back out there. Given that is there reason to be a bit cautious as the temptation would be to go flat out trying to make up for lost time.
Reggie Evans- " I'm definitely going to have to fight it. But I am just going to have to go hard in practice and go hard with my weightlifting coach and go to the track to help me with my endurance. I am probably going to have to a lot of stuff on and off the court to kinda of prepare me for when I go out there. When I can start jogging and stuff. "
So it will take a lot of work for Reggie to get back. However he is motivated to do it and is really looking forward to it. While he has been out, the guy who is his locker next door neighbor Amir Johnson has been playing well and doing a lot of things that Reggie can bring. Here is what Reggie had to say about the play of Amir so far.
Reggie Evans- " He has been doing real good. He has been bringing great energy, running the floor really well, having a great attitude and working real hard in practice. That is why you are seeing good results on the floor. "
Amir and Reggie joked around about some lotion that Amir was using that is Reggie's. It is some high end stuff apparently so Reggie told Amir how to get his own. But it was all in good fun. The Raptors really seem to have a good vibe in general in the locker room. I spoke to Amir post game about his play not this lotion situation after the game last night. He did not play as much as he has been last night. In part because Rasho Nesterovic had a nice night, his best since returning to the Raps. But Amir is bringing hustle and banging on the boards.
Amir Johnson- " You took the words out of my mouth. That is my job to get in there and bang against guys, block shots and everything else you said."
Amir is getting some offense from his hard work. Here is what he said about that.
Amir Johnson- "Absolutely, I am always on the offense glass if they miss a shot I am going for that putback or that tip in."
In the second half of the back to back likely going to see more of Amir vs Charlotte. That is a little what's up with Amir mixed in. But some more on Reggie. He has really been encouraging and trying his best to cheer on his team. Although the best way Reggie can bring his toughness is by being on the floor he still offers some encouragement to his team to be tough. Offering them advice such as this.
Reggie Evans-" I just try to encourage them. Pump them up. Go at them (The Other Team) don't let them push you. Push first and hit first because sometimes you want throw the first blow before you get hit. You don't want anybody hit you to wake you up. You want to....BOOM...let them know you there."
In the games we have seen Reggie out on the bench we have know he was there for sure. He has been up and cheering just as hard as he plays when he is out on the floor playing. Reggie has also become a fixture on Twitter (@ReggieEvans30) and is pretty good at responding to the tweets that come his way. I even started a fun segment for the blog called "Bet That" which I started on the weekend if you missed it. Reggie has given me his blessing to role with it. It is meant to be all in good fun and is based around the expression "Bet That" Reggie will often use on Twitter.
Reggie was sad to see his Iowa football squad go down to Ohio State. But he hopes for the best for Iowa in the bowl season as Iowa should get in a bigger bowl game. No firm word on when Reggie will be back in the line-up but safe to say he is hoping it will be sooner than later at this point. Reggie is an aggressive hard dude on the floor but off it is a nice guy that is fun to talk with. Hoping he can get back to 100% and get out there and contribute with his basketball skills. Having Reggie in practices and games will help make this team better and definitely tougher.
Chris Bosh-" We know that Charlotte plays at home and they are a tough basketball team. They are going to play hard. We have to have them match are energy. It's going be a challenge for us we can't just walk in and and beat them. There is always challenges every week. So this is another challenge for us. I think it is good for us. We are playing a team we can't underestimate. They are going to play hard. It would be nice to have 2 wins in a row going into Boston."
There is also just the mental aspect of being at .500 with 2 very tough challenges to face in Boston and Phoenix. It has been hard for the Raptors to string wins together given the difficult schedule they have faced. It is the second hardest in the NBA to this point. It makes the games that they should win all the more crucial and vital. A loss to Memphis erased a win that was unexpected vs Cleveland. It is encouraging that both point guards seem to be hitting their stride at the same time. There has been some debate on who the starter should be but Jose of late is putting that to the back burner with his play. Still Jarrett Jack is playing well also. If the Raptors can recapture what they lost with Ford and Calderon this team will be successful.
Both teams come in off a win looking to make it 2 in a row. Chris Bosh was correct in how the Bobcats play at home where all 4 of their wins have come at 4-2 while struggling on the road at 0-7. Raps are not exactly tearing it up on the road as well with a 2-6 record. Granted that includes those tough 2 tough trips the Raps have been on. Get a win here and maybe you catch the Celtics sleepy after all that turkey from U.S Thanksgiving? Trying to think optimistically. It would be great if the Raptors could string some wins together but when you look at the early schedule it is hard to figure out where that can happen. One of the most bitter loses last season came early in the season to Boston after blowing a 20+ lead and eventually losing to the Celtics. The faces have changed but the Raptors still have had issues holding leads.
You may be able to afford a off quarter vs the Pacers or Bobcats but against the Celtics or Suns it will not be possible. The defense has been taken to task and rightful so. However it is not like the Raptors have not shown flashes of being able to play acceptable to very good. They reality is you are not always going to be able to shoot the lights out. That fact is even more true on the road. If the Raptors get to U.S Thanksgiving with an 8-8 record despite all of the ups and downs that would be pretty good. Honestly when you looked at the schedule and been honest about things that would have been perhaps slightly above where you might have thought this team would be. They have had chances to be even better than that. It is easy to get focused on the negative aspects but the fact this team is scoring at rate that is even more than Bryan Colangelo could have hoped for is a very good thing. Maybe slower than folks would like but this team is starting to show signs of getting it together. They have done it fight through some injuries along the way as well.
Pacers and Raptors and I was in the house. It is a great thrill to say that for me. It is not everyday that you can do this so I tried to make the most of it hopefully. Some cheers for T.J Ford unlike the boos that fans had for V.C. All hands on deck minus Reggie Evans as Wright and Belinelli were dressed and back in the line up. Not exactly a full house at the ACC but folks in Toronto tend to arrive late it would fill up a it more later. Raps need wins in the next 2 badly vs Pacers and Bobcats. After that it is Celtics and Suns.
The Raptors would come out and have a first half for the ages. They scored 74 points just shy of the team record of 79 for a half. This was done with little help scoring wise from Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. Jose Calderon and T.J Ford went at it. Calderon had 15 points and Ford 10 as the 2 former PG's did battle. It was clear both had a little extra in the tank for this one. Calderon also had 5 dimes to just 1 for T.J. The other member of this PG triangle Jarrett Jack was facing the Pacers for the first time and he lead the bench with 10 points. The bench accounted for 30 of the 74 points that Raptors racked up. It was a 74-53 lead for the Raptors at the half.
The Pacers would come out in the 3rd Quarter and make a run. They would get as close 5 points but the Raptors would hang on. Danny Granger was leading the Pacers charge scoring 13 in the quarter. Like in the win over Miami, Jarrett Jack was getting some timely baskets for the Raptors including a score near the end of the 3rd quarter to push the lead back to 8 points. It seems that Jack has been the right guy in the right place of late and is making big shots when this team needs them. He would have this to say about that after the game.
Jarrett Jack- " I got to credit that to my teammates being aggressive and making the proper reads and finding me when I am open. All I try to do is knock down the shot when the ball swings my way."
Jack also talked about this team needing to be able to step on the throat of teams and close them out. In addition to not just rely on the offense to drive them. The defense that went MIA in the 3rd quarter would return in the 4th. The Raptors saved there best defensive quarter for last. After giving up 39 points out of the locker room they would only surrender 20 in the 4th. It was not CB4's night offensively shooting 5 of 19 and just could not make his jumper fall. He would still be a factor with 12 boards 4 blocks and a steal. On a night with T.J Ford in the building, it would be a very Fordron like effort from Jack and Calderon. Check out there combined numbers. 39 points 13 assists and 2 steals, Calderon was 8 for 11 from the field and Jack a perfect 7 for 7. In the end it was an impressive offensive display just a few points shy of a team record for offense.
Bosh seemed happy with the win and happy that his team played well around him. There have been some nights where there have been big efforts from him and not much help to be found. Despite the offensive explosion the team remains focused on the defense. When I asked Chris if he felt the offense had been over looked at how well it had been and the fact they can score with anyone was being overlooked he had this to say.
Chris Bosh-" No...We know that we are going score the ball. We know that we can score and that is not the issue and it never will be. If you want to win basketball games it's all about Defense. If you can't D Up your not going to win"
That being said it still has got to feel good to know that you can score to the level the Raptors can. The Raptors still have time to improve on defense. When we get to later stages of the season Chris is 100% correct that it is all about the defense. In the playoffs where Bosh and the Raptors hope to be it is even more so. but when you can shot it at 58% and score the way they did tonight, offense can sometimes win as well. Not that you want to make a habit of it. The win tonight has the Raptors leap frog Indiana in the standing. Raptors will take the 123-112 win and hope to get back to .500 tomorrow with a win in Charlotte.
Had a chance to chat with Reggie Evans and T.J Ford as well as a it with Amir Johnson...All of that in the coming days. It was a great night at the ACC and for 2 years running I have been in the house to watch the Raptors beat the Pacers. Although as I joked with T.J that I must be doing something right as I was sitting in the stands last year and this year had media access. I just had my birthday yesterday and meeting my favourite NBA player in person and watching my favourite NBA team win makes a heck of a belated birthday present. I always will remain a fan in my heart and that will not change nor will I hide the fact that I am.
I am going to be hustling hard looking to talk with as many folks as possible taking advantage of this chance to have access to games. Will see how it works out. It is really a great thrill to have got to this point that I get chance to cover some games and Raptor events. It is a big step in the right direction for the Dino Nation Blog. So if you happen to watch the Raptors Game and see a large hand holding a tiny silver recorder that is my hand.
I will try to give the odd tweet (@ Dinonationblog )while I am busy scrambling around. The game tonight is on The Score as is the game with the Bobcats. Early word is with the exception of Reggie Evans it will be all hands on deck for the Raptors tonight. Belinelli coming back was announced yesterday and looks like Wright may go as well. So time to get ready to go and hop that Go Train to the T-Dot. Unlike Ron Artest I will not rush out the door and forget my clothes. If you have not checked out his appearance on late night T.V worth checking it out.
Why some feel the need to tell people how they should feel is beyond me. If you want to boo Vince Carter who am I to tell you not to do that. Who is anyone to tell you that. I have be accused of being a Vince Carter hater. I am not and personally I never would boo him myself. I don't hate Vince the fact is I pity him in many ways. You may say why on earth would you pity someone that has millions and is a star in the NBA. The reason is pretty simple actually. Vince Carter should be in the conversation with Kobe and Lebron as the greatest players in the game. But he is not and why? The answer is Vince has never taken his massive talent base and used it to it's full potential. He could have been one of the greatest to play this game. Instead of pushing to be that, Vince was more concerned about winning a slam dunk title and playing in All Star Games. When you think about what Vince will be remembered for, it would be more than likely one of 2 things that will be the greatest accomplishment of Vince Carter's career. It will be the Slam Dunk title he won in Oakland or it will be a dunk in the Olympics where he jumped over a french draft choice of the New York Knicks that never would be a factor in the NBA. While Kobe lives and breathes to win titles and M.V.P's, and Lebron is looking for a title ring and a billion dollars. What does Vince do? The same things he always has done. He smiles, shakes hands and cracks jokes and once in awhile reminds you how good he can be. Vince Carter could have and likely should have had a hall of fame type career. But instead you are not even certain if he would get his number retired by the team that launched his NBA Career. Vince Carter is frustrating for many because if they could have the skills that he had they would live in a gym and try to get every last drop out of them.
Vince Carter is not a bad person because of it. He did a lot of good for people in his time here. People often forget that aspect of things. Still at the end of the day for whatever reason you choose to dislike him that is your personal choice. Stan Van Gundy chimed in on this whole circus that is Vince coming to Toronto. He said that they see it as a joke and he thinks people just boo for the sake of booing. That half the people booing likely never saw him play in his time here. Normally I love Stan and am happy to agree with him on most things. However on this one he is out to lunch. Is there a small element of what he is talking about. Sure there is some who just follow the crowd so to speak. However there is a true bitter feeling for many that boo and it is something that will never go away. It's not Stan's fault he just doesn't truly understand.
I wonder what Chris Bosh thought as the Boos rained down on V.C. If he is thinking of ending his days in Toronto he could be thinking that could be me. If that ends up being true it would be sad to me. While Vince never has used his full talent as mentioned above. I think Chris Bosh has built himself into a superstar. He has worked hard to be an all-star and for everything he has got. I think when Chris Bosh goes out on that floor you get the best he has to give on a given night and you have got that from day 1 to today. No matter what Chris ends up doing at the end of this season. I find it hard to believe I would ever want to boo him for any reason.
What I also don't get is why people get so bent when Vince and Demar DeRozan get mentioned in the same sentence. I don't think Demar or anyone was saying he is better than Vince right now. Vince won rookie of the year and had a breakout first season. Things can change but at this point you would not think Demar is on that quick a rise to the top. He shouldn't be as he only played a year in college. Vince was older and more NBA ready when he came to Toronto. What Demar is for me is the next one. Will he ever be as good as Vince it is far to early to tell. If pressed to come up with an answer to the question I would say no. However that does not mean Demar can't still be Heir Canada. The man who one day will be king. There is no question that Demar can be capable of doing some of the things Vince did. I think he can win a dunk contest some day. He can bring the excitement and wow factor that Vince once did. I don't think we will ever hear Demar say dunking is overrated. Vince Carter will always be a part of the story of the Raptors. However that does not mean there can not be a new chapter for Demar. Vince Carter and his legacy is not something that needs to be protected like he was a God. V.C was not a Jordan and about the only thing they share in a school they attended and the fact both have won a Dunk Contest. Actually they both are Olympic Gold Medalists as well. Personally when Demar said "Air Canada" was back I applauded the kid. Let him dream big and give him the chance to get there. I am confident that he will work hard to make it happen. Demar in terms of work ethic is much more like Bosh than he is Carter.
I guess the point to all this is no one has the right to tell you how to be a fan and what you care to boo or cheer. The WWE has given the tag of Bizzaroworld to Toronto. This is because the fans in Toronto often by design would screw up the WWE Plot lines by Cheering when they should have been booing and vice versa. The NBA is not scripted entertainment and no one should try to script the fans that fill the arena. The greatest thing about what I do is getting to write about a team that has passionate and crazy fans. That is a great thing and I am not about to do anything to insult that passion and tell you what and who to be passionate about. In this blog I have never taken away my passion for the people I respect and enjoy. So it would not make any sense to tell you what to think or do in that way. You may like Jose Calderon and think I am far to hard on him. That is cool. You might have liked Joey Graham when he was here. Whatever it is that is your right and do not let anyone tell you what to feel or think.
I do my best to entertain and inform folks. But what you take away from what is written or the interviews is always up to you. I just want folks to remain passionate and for this team to be successful. I love what I do and the fact that I am writing on my Birthday should speak to how much I do love what I am doing. So for all the people who are trying to end what I guess is ANTI-VINSANITY....you have no chance to stop it anymore than you did stopping VINSANITY itself. Raptor fans are not robots and they will do what they feel. If this team does not perform how they feel they should they will boo. When you look at how Atlanta is begging just to get fans, just be thankful for the fact, that fans and having passion is not a problem here. So embrace it, do not try to mold it or shape it. Just let it be. After all that has been Vince's attitude for awhile so he says. I am not sure If I believe him. Deep down I think he hopes it will all just go away but it never does. Unlike his Cousin Tracy McGrady who LOVED all that came with being public enemy #1. Vince has never been comfortable with it...much like he never truly seemed to be comfortable with being the leader of this basketball team when he was here.
Bet That- It may be an adjective that means something is very good or is a dead lock.
So here we go....
ON Reggie's Injury-
All Raptor fans want to see Reggie back on the floor so the can chant...REGGIE...REGGIE...BET THAT!!!
When he does come back he will have an impact and the Raptors will be tougher....BET THAT!!!
If Reggie could have a bionic foot he would have already been out there kicking butt with it...BET THAT!!!
On The Magic and V.C
The ACC will rain boos down on V.C....BET THAT!!!
Why is Dwight Smiling? Cause he doesn't have to face Reggie...Even Superman fears Reggie Evans...BET THAT!!!
Raps need to guard the 3 point line....BET THAT...TIMES 2!!!
Let's Go Raptors...V.C Sucks....BET THAT!!!
Stan Van Gundy win or lose will look disgusted with at least 50 things he sees today....BET THAT!!!
Reggie vs _______
If Reggie went up for a rebound against King Kong and Godzilla. Reggie gets the rebound...BET THAT!!!
Back in the day Barney is lucky he faced Barkley and not Reggie on SNL...because Reggie would have beat him down far worse....BET THAT!!!
If Reggie had his own show Reggie vs. It would be better than Shaq's silly show....BET THAT!!!
Marv Albert should consider hiring Reggie Evans to be his Body Guard....BET THAT!!!
When Reggie returns we predict for the people who have to face him in the words of Clubber Lang...PAIN...BET THAT!!!
Around The NBA
Nets need a win bad....BET THAT!!! They just lost to the Knicks.
Brandon Jennings is the Rookie of the Year...BET THAT!!!
OKC is for REAL...BET THAT!!!
ATL is lousy sports town....BET THAT!!! Go support your Hawks
So that is your first installment of the Reggie Evans inspired BET THAT. Now that you know how it goes if you want to contribute your own ideas to BET THAT....Tweet me your BET THAT on my Twitter account and you may see your BET THAT in the next one of these we do this. You will get credit for anything that is yours. Thanks to Reggie for allowing me to use his expression and hopefully make a fun blog that people will enjoy almost as much as they love Reggie Evans. Get well soon Reggie and get out there and knock some people on their butt...BET THAT!!!
If you want to hear how it all went down I live blogged this one for the Score. This game was basically the opposite of the Raptors loss in Utah. It was Miami that was fighting up hill most of the night and in the end they ran out of steam at the very end. Dwyane Wade had 30 points and so did the youngster Chalmers but it in the end was not enough. Bosh and Bargnani both recorded double doubles in the win. What made it even more impressive is the Raps history coming off a west coast trip in their first home game back they have only managed to win 27% of the time. The Raptors won another time in similar circumstances in the year they won their only Division title. The Raptors came home to face the Cavs and Lebron James with a terrible record and coming off a winless west coast trip. They would shock everyone and beat the Cavs and many point to that game as a turning point for that team. They like this team had a lot of new faces and were struggling to find an identity.
Things will not get any easier as the Raps face a Magic team that is feeling good about itself with a win over Boston. They are without Nelson for 4 to 6 weeks but so far have been able to make due with a guard combo of Jason Williams and Anthony Johnson. The Raptors will not be able to get away with making all the turnovers that almost cost them the game vs Miami. They will need to clean that up and be very aware of guarding the 3 point line as the Magic have to many shooters to mention that can make that shot. This will also mark what turns out to be the only regular season appearance of Vince Carter in Toronto. When the Magic came in earlier in the month and blew out the Raptors they did it without Vince, Rashard Lewis and Michael Pietrus. It will be no easy task for the Raptors to even their record at 7-7.
But the Raps can take some confidence from a win over Miami into the Magic game. They can also feel confident that they can score with this Magic team and that is not a luxury that many NBA teams can claim. You can expect to see a little more of Rasho Nesterovic in this game to match up with Howard and Gortat. Although Amir Johnson has been doing solid work and should Rasho not be effective he will likely not be given to much rope to work with. Johnson has been a great spark off the bench and gives this team a lot of the things they hope to get from Reggie Evans when he returns.
Speaking of Reggie I am going to be starting a new segment in the Blog called "Bet That". Which is an expression that Reggie often uses in responding to his followers on Twitter. I asked Reggie if he was cool with the idea and he gave me the green light. So I hope people will enjoy it most of all Reggie. It is designed to be something that is a bit more lighter and funny and when you see the first one hopefully you will get the idea. I will get some instant feedback on it from Reggie himself most likely when I am in the house covering the Pacers and Raptors on Tuesday in T.O. So I better get this right or I am in big trouble...LOL. So look for that new segment late tonight or tomorrow and hopefully you will find it entertaining and amusing cause that will be the idea. To give you an example of it. Here you go.
The Toronto Raptors are happy as hell to get a win over the Miami Heat...BET THAT!!!
The ones in the actual segment will be more funny most of the time but each and every item ends in BET THAT...which near as I can figure means something is very good or a deadlock. I will get the proper definition on Tuesday.
It was a year ago today that The Score.com announced the launch of it's sports federation. The Dino Nation Blog is proud to have been part of just 2 basketball blogs that were part of that launch. I want to thank Scott Carefoot and The Score for a great year together. It has been a great thrill to work with a network that I feel has always had a passion and love for basketball. I have really been proud to have a The Score logo on this blog for the last year. I hope this partnership will last for years to come. Next week it will be the Blog's anniversary so I will not go to much into what has gone on in the last year for now. But needless to say I have come a long way and taken the Dino Nation Blog to exciting new heights. I thank Scott for all his hard work on behalf of the Sports Federation and he has always been great to me personally and I have enjoyed being able to work with him over this past year. In that year I have also got to meet and know several other folks from The Score and they have all been great to me. Holly Mackenzie, Randy Urban, D.J Bennett and others. It has been great to know them as well. It also great the we have now added Nat from Heels On Hardwood and Romy for Hip Hoop Junkies to our basketball family of the sports fed. Also Scott of course has Raptor blog as well.
Now on to what we do talking Raptors basketball and the NBA. The Raps return to the ACC with a 5-7 record and 1-3 west coast road trip in the rear view mirror. A though test for the Raps in D-Wade and the Miami Heat. The Heat like the Raps come in on a losing streak and have lost 3 of their last 4 games. Despite doing little in the off-season the Heat have had a decent start to the season prior to this skid in the last 4. The Heat are basically a team that goes as it star does. D-Wade has struggled and so has the Heat. After a fast start to the year Jermaine O'Neal has been having injury issues of late. I know that will shock both Pacer and Raptors fans.
Miami is a team on a given night that can get hot from beyond the arc. Chalmers is a youngster that can make the shot and when he is hot make it consistently. They also have Richardson who in his time with the Suns was a deadly 3 point gunner. The Raptors defense has been leaking every where as of late though not just at the 3 point line. The Raps have been dealing with injuries to Hedo and Wright and have yet to see Reggie Evans suit up for a game that counts. Depending on who is healthy for the Raps it will make the match-ups a challenge.
Michael Beasley is growing into a solid NBA player in his second season. He is another guy that you must account for. The Raps need to get on the glass and avoid giving up second chances. That happened far to often against Utah. Amir Johnson has been doing a solid job working at on the glasses. Jay Triano has been giving Amir lots of minutes based on his hustle and effort. Unfortunately despite the work of Amir and Bosh on the boards it has not rubbed off on some of the other folks. Andrea Bargnani has a couple big rebound night's on his scorecard but has not been getting on the glass in the way you would hope given his size. He also has had his defensive effort called into question. He has been struggling and when people mention the struggles of Calderon on defense his name comes a close second.
What becomes frustrating for the fans and I am sure Jay Triano as well is the lack of consistent effort from his team from quarter to quarter forget game to game. The start tonight will be key. The Raps need to engage an A.C.C crowd that should they see the type of start we saw in Utah could turn early. The expectation level of fans was to expect a team that would be improved on defense and they have seen anything but that. Flashes of it but very few full 4 quarter efforts. If you wanted to be the complete optimist you could say the Raps for parts of the games on this trip did not look out of place playing Suns, Nuggets and Jazz. They have proven that they really can score with anyone in this league. All of that being done with point guard play from Calderon and Jack that is far from what booth can do on the offensive end.
Raptors badly could use a win heading into what will be another tough challenge vs Orlando. They will not have Jameer Nelson but will have both Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis which they did not the last time they visited the ACC earlier in the month. Raps at worst need to get 2 out of 3 on this home stand. The one major difference from the team that won a Division Title to now is the way they play at home. The win total at the A.C.C has been on a steady decline in recent years. The fans still fill the building and if you give them reason to cheer they will. But as great as fans can be they can not defend anyone and they can not make shots. It takes the team to light the fuse to allow the A.C.C to explode.
Chris Bosh is playing like an all-star and the Raps need to take advantage of this great stretch by Chris and start getting some wins out of it. While Chris might need to step up off the floor and challenge this team to be better. Maybe that has happened behind closed doors we never really know. However a more vocal Chris Bosh might mean a better Raptors team as a result. I remember a game on the west coast in which he got into Andrea Bargnani. I wouldn't mind seeing some more of that when needed. Not just directed at Andrea but at anyone that is not pulling their weight on the floor.
I will be live blogging this one for The Score. I picked up that job along the way in this year. That is a lot of fun as well and nothing for me beats getting to do a Raptors game. So please come join me and be part of the fun that is a Score Live Blog. I will post the links later in the day (When I get them) both here and on Twitter. Speaking of Twitter, I chatted with Reggie Evans on there yesterday. I had an idea for a new feature for the Dino Nation Blog based on Reggie. I wanted to get his blessing before I did it and he did give the thumbs up. So over the weekend we will have the first edition of "Bet That". Which if you have ever tweeted with Reggie is a popular response of his when someone tweets something he likes or agrees with. It is meant to be a fun thing and hopefully everyone will enjoying. Including Reggie cause if he doesn't I may not make it to another year of working with The Score. Only kidding Reggie is a great guy and I thank him for his blessing of my new segment for the blog. We all look forward to when he can get out there and contribute. Still not sure when that will be. Hopefully soon. Last and not least the DNB is heading back to the ACC. I am going down to cover the last game of this home stand where T.J Ford and the Pacers come to visit. It should be fun to finally met up with T.J face to face. I was thrilled to have him as a guest here over the summer. I will be working hard to get lots of cool stuff for the Dino Nation Blog while I am in the house at the ACC. It is not something I get to do on a regular basis so I try to make the most of these chances.
1- Chris Bosh has been playing like a champ. The Raptors record of 5-7 may not suggest that but his numbers truly do. He has 10 double doubles and leads the league in that stat. Enjoy all the Bosh you can this season. It would be a shame if he is not here next season. So do yourself a favour and enjoy him while he is. In fact let's take it a step further. Let's all do the best we can as Raptor fans to get this guy voted in to the starting line-up for the All Star Game in his hometown of Dallas. He has given all he has to the Raps his entire career so let's give something back.
2- Marco Belinelli- Proving to be more than just a buddy for Andrea Bargnani to hang out with. A lot more. He has been instant offense off the bench and is fitting in well on this Raptors squad. Will it be long before he gets to co-star in a pasta ad Or maybe he will do so well he will get his very own. Dare to dream. But jokes aside Marco has been pretty good and looks to be a keeper.
3- Antwan Jamison- He is back and my fantasy squad needs him. He came out and had a great performance in a 31 points and 10 rebounds. The Wiz get the upset win over the rival Cleveland 108-91. So welcome back and as much as I need him the Wizards need him more as they are just 4-7 even with the win.
1. Raptors D- The house is getting torched and the Raptors have just not had enough effort consistently to be good enough. The Raptors as an organization to a man have talked about defense and it being the key to being successful. So if fans are all fired up as to how they have failed to bring the goods on D, the blame falls to them. If the Raptors said we are going to focus on being a great offensive team and challenge teams to score with us. That would be a different story. However they have sold fans on a platform of defense and now they need to live up to that promise. Much like a political platform the Raps have not delivered on the promise that they made. There is no polls to go to vote out the Raps. However fans will be heard and you can count on that. In fact you are already hearing them.
2. LBJ Retiring 23- I am glad that Lebron James wants to honour M.J. Good for him. However before we all bow to the King. Here is a thought...maybe Lebron James has made up his mind about 2010. If he has and the plan is to stay in Cleveland he will profit from his act of honouring M.J. The same as Kobe did when he swapped 8 for 24. When it comes to retiring the number throughout the entire league I am not down with that. Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and many other legends have their numbers retired where they played. It was good enough for them. They never bailed to go play baseball for a few years. They never had a comeback in Washington that fell kind of flat when all was said and done. Jordan is on of the greatest of all time, some will say the greatest. That is fine but he is not Jackie Robinson who had his number retired in all of baseball.He was a pioneer breaking the colour barrier in the sport. Jordan was a great player but he did not change things other than how much money folks can make doing this. Was he a hero for Lebron, Kobe and others it would seem he was. But that is not reason enough to hang 23 in every building in the NBA. Name an award after him or do something to acknowledge him but that is not it.
3. Allen Iverson- Shame on you for bringing God into the farce that was your move to Memphis. That lasted about as long as your rap career. The Answer is not able to figure out the answer to his own problem. Accept that you are now on the other side of your career and take advantage of your skills and go win a ring. There are a lot of guys like Charles Barkley that wish they still had that chance. Don't throw away that chance to make some fast money and save your pride. They say pride goes before the fall. If wearing a Grizzlies jersey was not a big enough fall how about a Knicks one. I had grown to respect A.I over the years. That respect for him is falling fast.
So if you have comments on these or have your own 3up and 3 down let's hear them Dino Nation.
This season is really honestly all about 1 thing and 1 thing only. KEEP CHRIS BOSH. That is why I was angry with how this team played in L.A and it is why this entire season I have taken the attitude that what was good enough in the past isn't anymore. This team is not going to be better without Chris Bosh anymore than it was better without Vince Carter. So they need to find a way to be a winner and convince Bosh of that fact. That is the mission. That will take getting to the playoffs and once there having a chance to win if not winning a round at least.
You can keep up with Zack on Twitter @Zcooperstown on Twitter. If you are a fan of basketball or video games he is a must have on your Twitter follow list. Look forward to talking with Zack down the line as the season moves along. He is also leading his division in a Fantasy League we both are taking part in. Where am I? Don't ask...injuries have crushed my fantasy team from the jump. Day after I drafted Jamison he is out till tonight. He is expected to be back in the line-up tonight for the Wizards and I need him. More important for Raptors is Deron Williams is also expected to be back for the Jazz as we mentioned in the interview.
Nuggets win the tip and we are off and running as Nene scores on the Nuggets first trip. Bosh has an answer with a fading jumper for 2. Jose Calderon with a block..HE DID WHAT? Yup...Calderon a block leads to a Demar DeRozan 3 pointer which is also rare. Antonie Wright is in the starting line-up in place of Hedo by the way. He takes a charge on Nene looked like he was in the circle but will take it. DeRozan hits a 2 point jumper and he has 5 as part of an 8-0 run to give the Raps an 8-2 lead early. Wright an ugly miss as the Nuggets have fought back to down just 2. The ball went out off Denver and Jose hits a jumper to make it 10-6 Raps. Bargnani picks ups his second foul early and Amir Johnson checks in. Anthony and Calderon trade buckets and Raps lead 12-8. Demar DeRozan has a hot hand hits a jumper then gets it on the break and draws a foul. He makes 1 of 2 at the line and has 8 points early to lead the Raps.
Wright hits a 3 ball and the Raps are doubling the Nuggets early 18-9. Maybe that horrible start back in L.A has helped the Raps learn it is important to come to the gym ready to play. Raps keep it rolling along as they go inside to Bosh who scores on the hook shot. Fellow team USA member Carmelo Anthony answers with a bucket and then another. Raps have a turnover and here come the Nuggets. Mello at the line looking to add to his personal run..he makes 1 of 2. Another mistake and Raps pay for with an easy score by the Nuggets. Raps lead is now to just 20-15. Carmelo is on fire as he is scoring all the points for Denver. Belinelli an ugly first shot on his night. Raptors were not looking good but still up 4 with score 23-19. More Mello and he has 14 and is keeping the Nuggets in this thing single handed. Birdman gets an offensive board and score. Sonny Weems going against his former team gets on the score sheet. Chris Bosh back in the game and scoring off the offensive glass. J.R Smith answers with a 3 and the Raps lead is just 1. Ty Lawson gets REJECTED by Sonny Weems out of bounce....welcome to the league rookie. Raps escape the first quarter with a 29-28 lead.
I forget to mention it made me smile to see Joey Graham sitting on a bench that was not the Raptors. Jack starts the second with a drive and score and he needs a play like that. J.R Smith missed an open look for 3...Raps catch a break there. They do not the second time around, as J.R gets the kind roll of the rim for a 3. That ties it up at 31. Bargnani makes a pair at the line. Belinelli and J.R Smith trade 3's. After that ANDREA BARGNANI DRIVES AND PUTS THE BIRDMAN ON A POSTER. Belinelli gets back in on the act with another 3 ball. That is like a Rocky Balboa 1, 2 combo punch. Raps lead it 41-34.
Sonny Weems gets rejected by the Birdman. J.R Smith and Belinelli trade 3 balls again and it is 44-37 Raps. Smith on the drive this time after a Bargnani missed 3. Weems opens up the bank in Denver and adds 2 points to his total. Jack is having a better night tonight and he draws a foul gets to the line and makes a pair and extends Raptors lead to 8. Raps looking a bit out of gas and Nuggets closed the gap to 5. Call Jack-Alley and Weems-OPP as they hook up to get the Raps lead back to 9 with 5:14 to play they lead 54-45. Weems is getting more PT and taking advantage of it. Demar DeRozan hits a jumper over Mello looking really good. Nuggets would push back and get an assist from the refs. Bosh had what looked like a clean block and it was called goaltending. The Raptors lead that maxed out at 11 had been cut to just 4 as Mello was having a half (He has 21 in half) despite his Nuggets trailing for most of it. Raptors lead 58-54. The calls were not going the Raps way and Jay Triano was an unhappy man and had a right to be. Nene would get a basket and the Raps lead was just down to 2. Nuggets with some help from the guys with the whistles had tied it up at 58.
Bosh hits a jumper and hits...Mello answers with a score and he would get a foul call as well. Missed the and 1 to give the Nuggets the lead. Tied at 60 with 1:30 to play. Off an inbound play Calderon takes and makes for 2. Nuggets answer with a Nene basket. Bargnani hit a nice leaner and got a block on D. Raps lead it 64-62. Raps would get the final possession and a chance to add to that. Raps would not score and Mello would get out on the break and hit a lay-up. Score tied at 64 at the half. 23 points in the half for him and Raps fans were getting to see why some folks are talking MVP for the man they call Mello.
I mentioned in my interview with Matt Devlin today how impressive the Raptors offense had been. That they could score with anyone in the NBA. The first half of this game is like exhibit A to that argument. The problem is the Nuggets can score with anyone as well and we had a ABA style halftime score and both teams shooting north of 50%. Bosh has not been to the line yet in this game. Mello has been and that is one of the reasons the Nuggets are in this one. Mello was 7 of 8 from the line as part of his 23 point first half.
Bosh scores on a second chance off a Jose miss to open the half. Billups blows by to the hole and it is 66 all. Demar DeRozan had a good first half and started the second as he draws foul on Nene and gets to the line. Makes them both. Nuggets would answer and a Bosh turnover and another Denver score they had their first lead since 2-0. Jose Calderon answers with a 3 pointer. K-Mart and Bosh trade baskets and the Raps lead was 1. Bosh gets to the line for the first time on the night and missed the first and got a heck of a sweet bounce to have the second one fall. The game was tied once more at 74.
Nuggets were getting to the line and then Mello hits for 2 and Denver had it largest lead of the night of 5. Carmelo does it again and he has 27 and the Nuggets lead is 7. Time Out RAPTORS!!! Raptor failed to score out of the time out but the Nuggets fail to score as well. Sonny Weems wants PT and he is getting it and using it well as he scores another basketball. Belinelli would follow that with a score plus a fouls Raps had the lead down to 4. Another call would draw the ire Jay Triano. The Nuggets had an 8-2 run going and lead 89-81. Raps just seem a step slower this half and the Nuggets are still coming strong. The Raps defense was labouring and the Nuggets were getting some easy scores 94-85. The Raptors had the gas tank light flashing and needed a spark badly. A foul on Carmelo Anthony was not what they had in mind. Denver takes an 8 point lead to the 4 quarter leading it 97-89. Anthony had 32 points after 3 quarters. Nuggets were shooting 60% and that is not good.
J.R Smith hit the deck and hit the shot over Rasho and that may just tell you all you need to know. Everything was going the Nuggets way. Open 3 for Afflalo and this game was off the rails. Jay Triano was forced to call a time out but it may have been to little to late. The Raptors trail 104-89. A Bosh miss leads to points in transition for Denver. Back to back buckets for Bargnani but it was a case of to little to late.
The Raptors just seemed to not have anything left and they seemed frustrated by the calls not going their way on this night. A clear path foul would give the Nuggets 108-93 lead. There real is not a lot to say about what is going on at this point. We did get a Jack Armstrong HELLO and at this point that might be the hi-light of the quarter. Bosh would get technical foul and was unhappy and a foul after that Bosh thought was shooting and the Refs did not. The Denver lead had swelled to 18. Before Bosh would get himself thrown out. His streak of scoring 20+ had come to an end.
Patrick O'Bryant and Pops Mensah-Bonsu checking in for Bosh and Bargnani tells you all you need to to know. About the only positive on the night was the performance of Demar DeRozan. He was in during garbage time and working with a career high 17 points. Also Joey G you remember him right? He was getting in some time. The Score? You really don't want to know. Raps were down 124-105. Carmelo Anthony was making head band fashion statements and telling jokes to Mr. Big Shot. While J.R Smith checked out blowing kisses to the crowd. It was not quite as bad as when Sam Mitchell coached his last game. However it was closer to that than it was to good. The Nuggets takes this one by a score of 130-112. Nuggets shot 61% and the any thoughts the Raps had solved their defensive questions...think again
A first for Demar DeRozan he leads the Raps in scoring with 17. Bosh had just 13 on the night only getting to the line twice to go along with 14 rebounds. No time to cry about it though as the Raps hop a plane heading for Salt Lake City and a date with the Jazz.