• Practice was what you’d expect for a team just returning home from a five-game road trip after dropping the final four games. There wasn’t a lot to come out of it. The good news is that Reggie Evans practiced. The bad news (depending on how you think about things), that Andrea Bargnani did not. With four home practices scheduled for this week, the team was able to get in a practice with a five-on-five scrimmage, something they haven’t been able to working around back-to-backs on the road.
  • While Bargnani said that this is a good time of the season for the younger guys to play big minutes and improve, Jay Triano said the team will continue to play guys who are healthy the way they normally would during the season. He said they will keep their rotation and wouldn’t consider shutting anyone down unless there is a health concern.
  • Here’s Triano on the team’s approach to injuries/shutting guys down as the season comes to a close:
“Not unless it’s an injury that’s going to be harmful to somebody down the road and cause future consequences. We owe it to our fans to continue to play the guys that are healthy. If a guy can’t play and he’s not 100 per cent, we’re going to treat it the same way we did in mid-January but we’ve got to play the guys…If it’s something that’s going to jeopardize someone’s career then we’d shut them down.”
  • One thing that was interesting to me was the difference in responses from Bargnani and Triano when asked whether it’s tough to stay motivated at this point of the season. While Triano said that the guys have been good and focused when in practice, Bargnani took a different stance when he was asked whether it was hard to find motivation, saying:

“Yeah, of course it’s hard. You’re playing for nothing because you’re out of the (playoffs) but you’ve got a lot of motivation to find to keep playing.”

  • Playing for nothing. Ouch. More alarming to me, however, was how he answered a question about what he is focusing on and trying to improve in the final weeks of the season. Rather than talking about defence or rebounding, he mentioned his jumpshot, dribbling and post-up moves. Glad he wants to improve on the offensive end, but there’s more to basketball than scoring points.
  • Triano brought up the point that while the young guys on the team are motivated to get better and prove themselves, the veterans on this team are also motivated because they’re in contract years and trying to buy more years in this league by putting in solid performances down the stretch of this season, even though they have already been eliminated from the playoffs.
  • Triano also said he’s had individual talks with his players to address the issue of staying focused while also discussing what their goals should be over the last few games of the season.
  • Amir Johnson wore a beautiful pair of cool greys and they were easily the prettiest shoes in the gym. The ugliest? Alexis Ajinca’s green shoes that went with the Raptors green St. Patrick’s Day uniforms.
  • Biggest smile in the gym: DeMar DeRozan when PR wizard Jim LaBumbard told him he didn’t have to talk to the media today.