The Raptors played the Bulls tough in the opening quarter, and though the offence was brutal, the Raptors’ defence was keeping them in it. At 23-18 after one quarter, I was actually beginning to believe we could have a decent ball game on our hands.
The second quarter quickly erased those positive feelings. The Bulls lit up the Raptors for 40 points in the second frame on 70 percent shooting to take a 63-44 lead into the half. For all intents and purposes, the game was over. Both teams likely knew it, and the fans in attendance certainly knew it.
A look at the boxscore shows that the Raptors enjoyed a solid second half, but the truth is that the Bulls continued to dominate well into the third quarter. The mildly respectable 17-point final margin is thanks to a fourth quarter run the Raptors put together while Chicago’s stars enjoyed the action from the bench.
With little to say about the game itself (the Raptors lost a game they were supposed to lose, and without Bargnani, the game definitely went according to script), we’ll get to some individual evaluations.
Ed Davis impressed in his first career start, responding to the challenge with his first career double-double. Yes, he was eaten alive by Carlos Boozer in the low post, but the effort was there on every single possession. Joey Dorsey also had a career-night for the Raptors, racking up a double-double of his own in 29 well deserved minutes.
Leandro Barbosa led the team with 21 points on just 13 field goal attempts and Jerryd Bayless added 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting while committing just one turnover. DeMar DeRozan struggled, but I was happy to see the youngster attacking the basket, despite the fact the ball wasn’t bouncing his way.
Sonny Weems, on the other hand, continues to frustrate supporters. About a month ago, I wrote a very complimentary piece about how Weems had hustled and played his way into a role in the future of this franchise. Now, he has more than played his way out of that opportunity in my eyes. He’s playing selfishly on the offensive end and seems to have lost interest on the defensive end.
For a guy that earned his minutes on tough defence and attack-minded offence, he’s now letting guys blow by him with ease and jacking up foolish jumper after foolish jumper. In his last four games, Weems has earned just one trip to the free throw line, despite taking 43 shots during that span. That’s unacceptable for a starting wing player.
There were a few moments that stuck out in particular. I’m not sure if it was noticeable on tv, but in the second quarter, Leandro Barbosa looked ready to shoot a technical before Sonny walked up to Leandro and exchanged words with him. Next thing you know, it’s Weems taking the technical free throw, and he clanks it. On another couple of occasions, a Raptor (Barbosa once, Wright another time) seemed to be instructing Sonny on where to be in the middle of an offensive possession. Both times, Sonny remained in the same spot (on the perimeter asking for the ball). Barbosa was visibly frustrated with Weems after one of those plays.
As I did last night, I will now segway from Sonny Weems to Jay Triano.
If you were in attendance at the ACC, you likely noticed Tom Thibodeau doing more coaching up 25 than Jay Triano did at any point. Many fans sitting around me were complaining about Triano’s hesitation to call timeouts while games get away from his team. Its not his biggest flaw as a coach, but it is something I’ve also noticed of late.
Late in the third quarter, a group of fans in the upper bowl tried to start a “fire Triano” chant, and it got me thinking about my feelings towards Triano’s current job-status. For the record, I don’t believe that Jay is the problem or believe another coach would necessarily be any better than 9-17 with this roster. But I also believe that only a fool can’t see that Jay is a problem right now, and he probably should have lost his job after his team stunk it up in the biggest game of the season (game no. 80 versus the Bulls) last season.
At some point, I stopped seeing Jay as a “player’s coach” who let his young guys play through struggles, and came to realize he is never going to be the type of coach who can motivate, fire up or discipline a young, developing team. And that’s the kind of coach this franchise is missing right now.
What I think or you think is clearly irrelevant, and the man whose opinion matters, Bryan Colangelo, has (unfortunately) never seemed to lose confidence in Triano.
Raptors Player of the Game: Joey Dorsey – 29 Min, 12 Pts, 5-8 FG, 2-2 FT, 13 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Blk (When Joey Dorsey is your best player, you’re in trouble)
Bulls Player of the Game: Carlos Boozer – 26 Min, 34 Pts, 13-17 FG, 8-11 FT, 12 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk
Goat of the Game: Sonny Weems – 30 Min, 7 Pts, 3-10 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 1-2 FT, 2 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 TO