Archive for the ‘Joey Dorsey’ Category

In a battle of two banged up teams, the vastly superior side came out on top. But give the short-handed Raptors credit. They gave it a good fight and had the sell-out crowd buzzing.

The 14-point margin is no representation of the game witnessed by nearly 20 000 at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors played the Celtics tough from the opening whistle, and for most of the game, matched them blow for blow.

While Toronto never actually won a quarter, they did dabble with the lead a few times and trailed by just one at the half.

Up until late in the third quarter, neither team had opened up more than a six-point lead.

The pace of the game was frenetic in the first half, with both teams playing a little on the sloppy side. This style made for some exciting basketball, and clearly seemed to favour the younger, fresher legs of the Raptors. Hence, why they were legitimately in this game.

The other reason the Raps were hanging around was DeMar DeRozan. Coming off of a career-high 37 points in Houston, many wondered how the sophomore would respond. Any critics were silenced early, as DeMar attacked the basket fearlessly, knocked down some jumpers and got to the line a respectable eight times.

DeRozan has been, and likely still will be, inconsistent for some time (He went 11-0f-25 tonight). But something about his demeanor has been different in the last two games. It really does look like something “clicked” for him.

The Raptors also got the usual inspired performances out of their young bigs rotation of Joey Dorsey, Amir Johnson and Ed Davis. The trio combined for 29 points and 32 rebounds, while staying mentally checked in on the defensive end. Joey Dorsey, especially, impressed with 13 and 13. It will be interesting to see how Jay Triano handles his minutes once Andrea Bargnani is ready to return.

The fun-loving good times were bound to end at some point against the Celtics, and sure enough, they did. Paul Pierce got hot, Ray Allen was Ray Allen, and slowly but surely, a three or four point lead became nine, then 12 and so on.

Realistically, the Raptors were not supposed to hang with the Celtics, let alone beat them, even without Garnett. But if you watched this game, then you know the Raps had their chances to take control.

Every time Toronto made a run, whether it was to take the lead early on or to cut into the deficit later in the game, it always ended in the same ways. Either a great look was wasted, free throws were missed, or the ball just didn’t bounce the Raptors’ way.

Linas Kleiza, Jose Calderon and Leandro Barbosa missed a ton of open shots that could have changed the complexion of the game (The trio was a combined 9-of-38 from the field) and the Raptors, as a team, were an atrocious 10-22 from the charity stripe. When you’re shooting that poorly, you’re not going to win close games against teams like the Celtics.

And about those bad bounces, how many more times do we have to see this? The Raptors will actually play a solid defensive possession, maybe knock the ball loose, bodies go flying, and yet somehow, the ball finds its way to the other team’s best shooter for an open three. It seems like this unfortunate sequence of events has become commonplace in Raptors games, and over the course of a tight ball game, those plays add up and usually bite you in the you know what.

Next up for the Raptors are the Bulls, in Chicago. You’ll remember that the last time the two teams met, the Bulls absolutely punished a beat-up Raptors squad.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan -41 Min, 27 Pts, 11-25 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 5-8 FT, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

Celtics Player of the Game: Paul Pierce -36 Min, 30 Pts, 10-15 FG, 3-3 3Pt, 7-8 FT, 7 Reb, 4 Ast (Pierce also threw down a ridiculous dunk that took the wind out of Toronto’s sails, then left the game shortly after because he sprained his ankle)

Goat of the Game: Leandro Barbosa – 29 Min, 8 Pts, 3-12 FG, 0-4 3Pt, 2-3 FT, 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 5 TO

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No…seriously.

I could probably leave those two words as the entire recap, and people would find it understandable.

The last time the Raptors won in Dallas was 1999. Some decent, solid and pretty good Raptors teams have made attempts during the last decade, but all fell short. So with the Mavericks emerging as one of the best teams in the league this season, the Raptors being 10-20 and starting without Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon, I would have laughed in your face if you told me the Raps would be in this ball game, let alone would win it.

Yes, I know the Mavs were missing their best player and potential MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki, but if you look at the active rosters coming into tonight’s game, the difference in talent was still incredible. (Jason Kidd has nearly five-times as many career starts as the entire Raptors starting lineup in Dallas had)

Like the night before in Memphis, Toronto got off to a good start and built up an early double-digit lead. The Raps were up 23-13 after one quarter, but it was the team’s resilient second quarter that left me impressed. The Mavs went on a 12-0 run in less than three minutes to tie the ballgame, but instead of collapsing as usual, the young Raptors responded.

Toronto employed the “bend, don’t break” mentality fans have been waiting to see, and survived the Mavericks’ run. In fact, the Raptors actually responded so well that they were up by 13 again just minutes later. Another Mavs run cut the lead to just six at halftime, but the Raptors were showing they could hang around, and then some.

After a first half of ugly basketball, you had to expect Dallas to pick up the pieces in the second half. But it never really happened. The Raptors came up with timely stops and timely buckets in the third quarter to hold a semi-comfortable five point lead heading into the fourth.

The bonehead play of the game came via Linas Kleiza, who was ejected in the third after arguing his way into two technicals. Kleiza was arguing a traveling call that replay showed he had no business fighting. The demoralizing part for the short-handed Raptors was that Kleiza had been the team’s leading scorer (with 16 points) up to that point.

Later, Jerryd Bayless rolled his left ankle for the second time in the ball game, while also appearing to injure his knee. So now the Raptors were trying to pull off a massive upset on the road without their best player, without their starting point guard, without their leading scorer on the night and without their backup point guard.

Some how, they found a way.

While he chucked up a few head-scratchers, Leandro Barbosa also hit a couple of big shots in the fourth quarter and did a nice job of knowing when to slow the offence down late in the game.

The Raptors deserve all of the credit for pulling out the win, but the Mavericks also deserve to be dumped on for allowing it to happen.

They had their opportunities to take control, but it seemed every time the Raptors gave them a glimmer of hope, the Mavs shot themselves in the foot by settling for questionable jumpers or throwing the ball away. I bet most of you would have assumed the story would be the other way around.

If you’re looking for one group of players, or one player in particular to heap praise on, then look no further than Ed Davis and the Raptors’ post players. Davis had a career night playing against one of his dad’s old teams, and the combination of Davis, Amir Johnson and Joey Dorsey was a formidable force inside. They battled in the post on every possession, on both ends of the floor. They kept loose balls alive and got their hands on 50-50 rebounds, and contributed to the Raptors 48-24 advantage in points in the paint.

It must be said though, that part of the reason Davis, Johnson and Dorsey were able to dominate inside was that the refs seemed to be letting them play for most of the night. There were a number of occasions when a play that would usually result in a Raptors foul was left uncalled, and I do believe it contributed to the upset.

Considering that the last time I wrote a recap, I had to write about a disgraceful effort at the ACC, this was a refreshing 750 words. Like I’ve said before, if we tear this young team apart (as we should) when the effort isn’t there, then we must credit them when they pull off gritty, inspiring results like this.

Raptors Player of the Game: Ed Davis – 31 Min, 17 Pts, 6-8 FG, 5-8 FT, 12 Reb, 3 Stl, 3 Blk

Mavericks Player of the Game: Jason Terry – 35 Min, 18 Pts, 8-19 FG, 2-8 3Pt, 0-1 FT, 4 Reb, 6 Ast

Goat of the Game: DeShawn Stevenson – 20 Min, 2 Pts, 1-5 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 2 Ast, 1 TO

It was easily predictable that the Lakers would score 120 points against the Raptors — the Lakers have the best offence in the NBA (113.5 points scored per 100 possessions) while the Raptors have the fifth-worst defence (111.2 points allowed per 100 possessions). The Lakers have a ton of weapons which allow them to put up big numbers even when Kobe Bryant plays just 28 minutes and Pau Gasol only plays 30 minutes. Andrew Bynum’s back and he’s didn’t get any smaller while his knee was healing, Shannon Brown could start for most teams but averages fewer than 20 minutes per game for the Lakers, and Matt Barnes (who we briefly thought had signed with the Raptors in July) can hit open jumpers when he’s not playing his brand of in-your-face defence.

The Raptors tried playing a zone for much of the game and it worked for a brief stretch in the third quarter, but zone defences are vulnerable to three-pointers and that’s what Barnes shot to essentially finish the Raptors off in giving the Lakers a 12-point lead with just over three minutes to go.

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Now THAT’s what you call an NBA ass-kicking. Last night, the Bulls were Georges St-Pierre and the Raptors were Josh Koscheck (only not nearly as douchey). The Bulls connected early and often and while they didn’t technically knock their opponents out (because they let the Raptors make the score look semi-respectable in the meaningless fourth quarter), the Raptors were thoroughly outclassed by a much, much better team.

Have you ever forgotten how good a player is because he’s been injured for a while or because he previously played for a team you don’t go out of your way to watch — like, say, the Utah Jazz? Well, I’d like to go on record as saying that I had forgotten how good Carlos Boozer is. His numbers tell part of the story (34 points, 13-for-17 shooting, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in just 26 minutes) but here’s a handy infographic to show how he had his way with the Raptors’ big men under the basket.

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At least "The Raptor" provided some form of entertainment

With Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon out of the lineup against a rolling Bulls squad, we got what should have been expected: a wire-to-wire beat-down at the ACC.

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