What are we to make of the Toronto Raptors’ complete ownage of the Phoenix Suns this preseason? In their two meetings, the Raptors outscored the Suns by a shocking 72 points. In their other four games, the Raptors have been outscored by a combined 25 points. I know it’s only preseason, but I think it might mean that the Suns are finally going to crash to earth after six straight winning seasons with an average win total of 55. It appears they’re going to miss Amar’e Stoudemire more than they might have thought and the Hedo Turkoglu acquisition could prove to be an even bigger failure than I envisioned.
While Linas Kleiza was the first star yesterday (23 points, eight rebounds, four assists), the Raptors also benefited from strong performances by Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, Jarrett Jack and Reggie Evans. I’ve been steadfastly against the idea of Reggie being in the starting lineup this season, but if he sticks to what he’s good at like he did yesterday (29 minutes, 12 rebounds, just three field goal attempts), I can see the benefit of having his veteran leadership and toughness in the starting five. I say this with the expectation that Johnson is still going to get 25 minutes of PT on the regular — particularly if he delivers consistently like he did yesterday (17 points, 11 rebounds, 8-for-9 shooting).
- Hedo Turkoglu clearly doesn’t understand why Raptors fans hate his guts: “I never said anything about the city at all. I was the one who wanted to come here and play. I think people were upset that I left and I guess that’s why they’re mad at me.” No, Hedo. We’re mad at you because you were a fat, lazy plug while you were here and put the Raptors organization in a difficult spot when you forced a trade with over $40 million left on your hideous contract. (torontosun.com)
- Say what you will about Dave Feschuk, he usually delivers at least one good zinger per column. Case in point with the ending to this Turkoglu column: “If the faithful in these parts have been guilty of one thing, it’s for making the mistake of expecting a well-paid athlete to actually care about his craft.” Boom! Roasted! (thestar.com)
- Jeff Blair predicts that the boos could be directed at Andrea Bargnani if he can’t consistenltly play like he did yesterday: “Bargnani’s first half had better be a harbinger. Otherwise, does anybody seriously doubt he’s set up to be the target for Raptors fans this season?” (globeandmail.com)
- Meanwhile, Linas Kleiza looks like he could be what we were hoping Turkoglu would be — a smart, unselfish, hard-working, gritty baller. Jay Triano is enjoying Kleiza’s versatility: “When he plays at the four, he gives you an opportunity to spread big guys away from the basket; if you put a smaller three on him, it gives us an opportunity to post up a guy that he might have an advantage over.” (thestar.com)
- The always-entertaining Reggie Evans drops some pearls on Raptors fans with James Borbath (Dino Nation Blog)
- I have to be honest and admit that I don’t particularly care about Canada’s national basketball team (probably because they’re not very good at the moment) but I still find it a little nauseating that Leo Rautins has been granted a two-year extension as coach of the men’s team, as reported by Doug Smith. Does anybody actually think he’s done a good job so far? (thestar.com)
- Don’t bother trying to win the LeBron James poetry contest because you’re not going to come up with anything better than TBJ commenter “NoiseMekanik” (The Basketball Jones)