Last Game of 2010

The Raptors will close out 2010 in Houston taking on the Rockets. Where injuries are the story yet again. Yao Ming in gone for the season and there is talk the Rockets might be shopping his expiring contract. Aaron Brooks also missed a big chunk of the season. Despite all of that the Rockets sit a game below .500 which if they were in the East would make them a playoff team. But in the West that is only good enough to leave you in 10th place. They recently added Terrence Williams as part of that 3 way trade with the Nets and Lakers. Add him to a mix of young players like Kevin Martin, Courtney Lee and a few others. Martin leads the Rockets in scoring and has been a good fit since being acquired by them from the Kings. They also have Louis Scola has become one of the better power forwards in the league. In terms of the Raptors it is a case of who is healthy and the answer is not a lot of people. Add Bayless to the list of walking wounded. He had X-Rays on the injured ankle and they did come back negative. But highly doubtful we would see him tonight. Jose Calderon say out the last game will see if he is able to go. Bargnani is not on the trip. Weems and Johnson both still dealing with bad backs. Raptors are MIBT -Mobile Injured Basketball Team at the present time.

The Basics: Toronto 11-20 (3-8 vs West) Houston 15-16 (Have won 7 of their last 9)

When Last We Saw Them: The Raptors showed a ton of heart and effort to earn a victory over the Dirkless Mavericks. It featured more injures to add to the list and some true guts the likes of which we have not seen in a long time. Speaking of long time it was the first win in Dallas since 1999.

Key Match Ups (Assuming people are healthy): Kyle Lowry will be facing someone that is banged up be it Calderon, Barbosa or by some minor miracle Bayless. He should be able to take advantage of that. Kevin Martin and Demar Derozan should be a interesting match-up. DeRozan will need to stick with Martin and not lose track of him on defence. If he does it could be a long night. Finally Scola vs Amir Johnson will be a good battle. Scola is physical and will make it tough on a banged up Amir Johnson. Ed Davis maybe can help out some coming off the best performance of his young career.

Other Things of Note: Raptors for 2010 are 35- 45 not including tonight's tilt in Houston. Raptors are even worse in Houston than they have been in Dallas with just a 3-12 record all-time in Houston.

Where is it on? Still Sportsnet Uno

Thank You for the supporting the Dino Nation Blog for another year. In 2011 we hope you will do the same. All the best to all our readers and Happy New Year to you all. May the new year bring you happiness and joy.


"Behind Enemy Lines"

I know the Raptors' 84-76 win over Dallas was huge for morale but I wouldn't get too excited. They beat a Dallas Mavericks team missing their star player in Dirk Nowitzski and two others in Dominique Jones and Rodrique Beaubois. Now I know some wouldn't be able to pick Jones and Beaubois out of a line up but when you are missing your pivotal player plus two young guns, this means the bulk of the playing time and work falls to the rest of your team who may not be used to their roles changing or need to adjust to the added responsibility. In any case, the Raptors need to build on this and attack this week's games with gusto.

Friday, December 31st - Toronto Raptors @ Houston Rockets

  • The Raptors have played the Houston Rockets one other time this season on November 19th. The score was 106-96 for the Raptors.

  • The Raptors lead the first two quarters of this game and came up with 9 more than Houston did in the fourth to take the win.

  • During this game DeMar DeRozen played 42 minutes and produced 15 points. This is way too long in my opinion and will prove to be detrimental in Friday's game considering the Raptors' current injuries.

  • Raptors' Injuries: out and day -to- day are Andrea Bargnani (strained left calf), Peja Stojakovic (swollen left knee), Sonny Weems (back spasms), Jose Calderon (sore ankle), Jerryd Bayless (ankle injury). Amir Johnson is back in the line-up but also playing through back spasms.

  • Houston's injuries: out with no real timeline for returning - Jared Jefferies, Yao Ming, Ismael Smith.

  • Raptors' key to this game: No more injuries and come out blazing in the first two quarters.

Sunday, January 2nd - Boston Celtics @ Toronto Raptors

  • These two teams have played twice this season and split the wins. November 21 - 102-101 for the Raptors and November 26 - 110-101 Boston.

  • In the Raptors win, all of the Raptors' starting line-up averaged 32-39 minutes, all contributing. DeMar DeRozen had only 6 points.

  • In the Raptors loss, Andrea Bargnani and Hose Calderon averaged 35 minutes each and combined for 23 points. For Boston, uncharacteristically, Rajon Rondo produced only 4 points while playing 35 minutes. However, Boston came out hard and were up by 11 going into the second quarter and the Raptors played catch-up after that.

  • Boston currently sits at the top of the East at 24-6 as of Thursday.

  • Boston's Inactive list: Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Delonte West.

  • Key for Raptors: Forget you are playing the top team in your division and come out hard in the first half.

Tuesday, January 4rth - Toronto Raptors @ Chicago Bulls

  • These two teams have played once this season so far - December 15 - Bulls took it 110-93.

  • During this game, Carlos Boozer was the key for the Bulls. His production value was high by playing 25 minutes and putting up 34 points.

  • For the Raptors during this game, Jarryd Bayless was highest in production with 32 minutes, 20 points.

  • On the Bulls Inactive list: Johnlll Lucas, Joakim Noah.

  • Key for Raptors: Believe in your conditioning and ability to go the distance with this team and no silly mistakes like turnovers during transition.

Wednesday, January 5th - Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers

  • The Raptors and Cavs met once this year so far: October 29 - 101-81 for the Raptors.
  • During this game, the Raptors lead the first three quarters in points. The bulk of the points scored for the Cavs came from the bench: Antawn Jamison with 13 and Daniel Gibson with 9; their top two.
  • DeMar DeRozen had a better night versus the Cavs than the last time he met the other opponents he will meet this week: 14 points for DeRozen, 19 for Kleiza and 20 for Bargnani.
  • The last time they met, both teams shared the same record: 1-1. As of Thursday, the Cavs are 8-24 and bottom of the East.
  • Cavaliers' Injuries: Mo Williams (left hip flexor strain), Daniel Gibson (left thigh contusion) - both will be reassessed Friday. Joey Graham (right quad strain) is out indefinitely.
  • Key for the Raptors: Don't get over confident. As of Thursday the Cavs are on a 5 game loosing streak and looking to snap it with help from their bench.

Thanks for joining me today. I hope you have all have a great New Year, be safe and I will see you Tuesday for more "NBAz in 7 Dayz".


Raptor Fans Can Walk A Little Taller Today

In a season that did not promise much in terms of expectations and has had few great moments to it. Last night in Dallas of all places, where the Raptors had not won in ten tries, fans were given something great to remember. The Raptors were a beat up bunch of Dinos heading into this one. Even without Dirk Nowitzki playing, most of us if not all of us expected the under manned Raptors to get hammered by one of the best teams in the NBA minus it's top player. After all the Raptors with more healthy bodies were no match for the Memphis Grizzlies.

But something pretty unexpected and magical happened last night. You first had Ed Davis, the Raptors lottery pick come through with the best night of his young NBA career. In just game 14 of his NBA Career to date, he put up 17 points had 12 rebounds and 3 block and 3 steals. It was one of those moments where it can cause you to be hopefully for the future, for both Davis and the Raptors. You also had Amir Johnson playing with a bad back and logging 42 and half minutes. You had Jerryd Bayless turn an ankle but refuse to take a seat with no Jose Calderon. Only to injury the ankle later and not be able to continue. It was the first time in a long time in terms of toughness someone reminded me of Alvin Williams. I have joked in this blog before if someone shot Alvin in the first half of a game he would have the bullet removed and play the second half. It has been a long time since we have seen such collective grit from the Raptors. I would be just as proud of there effort today in a defeat as I am in the fact they won.

The Raptors showed pride which when you are 10-20 (heading into last night) in the NBA is seldom seen from teams with a record such as that. In a season that has had few bright moments this may perhaps be the brightest. It wasn't the established guys on this team in Bargnani and Calderon that were part of it. It was the new young wave of talent that Colangelo has built. I hope Jose was taking notes on the bench and Bargnani was watching this from where ever he was. This is what Raptor fans want and crave. Julian Wright has a small fan base among hardcore Raptor fans. Why? It is simple because he gives all that he has when he is on the floor. Including last night taking a big charge down the stretch in a win. Why was Matt Bonner popular, aside from his Chuck Swirsky given nickname of the "Red Rocket"? The answer is people believed he gave all that he had on the floor ever single night. Unlike a Bosh or a Carter or even a T-Mac these guys don't talk about it they are about it in terms of effort. You put the heart and desire of guys like Alvin Williams, Jerome Williams, Matt Bonner or Julian Wright into a Vince Carter or a Bosh you would have a player that could be an M.V.P. Bill Russell the great Celtic legend said that "hustle is a talent cause not everyone does it." Heart is also a talent cause not everyone plays with it.

In a season that likely will not have many memorable moments when we look back on it 5 years from now this was perhaps one of them. At a point when Raptor fans had become tired of the losing and had probably lost a bit of their desire and passion, their team gave them some reason to be proud of them. Raptor fans have always really only asked for a few things. They want you to love the city and the country. They want you to go out and bust your tail and try to win. That really is all they want at the end of the day. The hard worker will always have a path to be a fan favourite in Toronto.

While this is as the saying goes just 1 game of 82, last night was more than that. It was a sign that this team will keep fighting and scrapping hard. I also want to give credit to Jay Triano. I have never been comfortable with Jay as the coach. I have had my doubts from time to time. However one of the things I admired about the Raptors under Sam Mitchell was that they would play hard or they wouldn't be playing long for Sam. The fact this team gave that effort under Jay Triano is a credit to him as well. He clearly has his teams full attention and is getting the effort out of them on more nights than he doesn't. While the win loss record is not good the fact this continues in terms of effort is good. Many teams once they reach a certain point turn it on cruise control in the NBA. The Raptors clearly have not done that and are quite literally putting their banged up bodies on the line to prove it.

If you did not enjoy last night's game, then I am not sure what it would take for you to enjoy a game. There was a fight in this team that has been lacking even in the some of the years they were better than they currently are. If those teams had this fight, they might have actually got out of a first round of the playoffs. While the playoffs are not in this squads short term future. When they do built to the point that they are a playoff team let's hope they keep this fire and fight they have shown.

As the title says, today as a Raptor fan you can walk a little taller and feel a little more pride than you likely have in a long time. That was a game worthy of it. The Raptors may have nothing left for the Rockets and lose by 25 but they gave all they had to get a win vs Dallas and that should be commended regardless of what happens on Friday.


Raptors Have A Win For The Ages In Dallas.

The beaten down Raptors roll into Dallas with No Jose, Andrea, Sonny and Barbosa and Johnson were game time decisions but would give it a go. When you consider all of that it almost seems only fair the at Dirk Nowitski was not going to be in the line up for Dallas. Even with that could this banged up group hang with one of the best teams in NBA this year? It would seem highly doubtful but that is why they play the games.

1st Quarter

The Raps got off to a good start, that Bayless to Dorsey combination we have all been talking about hooking up for the alley opp and Raps had 8-3 lead in the first 3 minutes of this one. Joey Dorsey was getting the start. Former Raptor for a little while Shawn Marion made some free throws and had a score to cut lead down to 10-7. Amir Johnson hooks up the Rook Ed Davis for a dunk and Raptors were beating the Mavericks like they were the Cowboys 14-7. A time out for the Mavs to get things organized. Demar DeRozan got called for a travel but soon after made up for it with a score plus the foul on a very nice drive the basket. Unlike last night makes and 1 and the plucky under manned Raptors still led 17-11. Raptors had been doing a good job taking care of the ball but another DeRozan travel and silly offensive foul on Kleiza. The good news is Dallas was not taking advantage of the mistakes. A rare 2 made free throws for Brenden Haywood. He would later foul Ed Davis sending him to the line. Davis not the greatest at the line himself split two and was tied for lead in scoring for the Raptors. He and DeRozan both had 7 and Raps lead 21-13. It was Dallas looking like the Raps with 7 turnovers and Dinos had a 23-13 lead after 1.

2nd Quarter

Dallas shot just 20% in that first quarter. A season best on D for the Raptors this year. Oh and did we mention the Raptors have not won in 10 tries in Dallas? Wright to Davis for a dunk. But Dallas got on a 7-2 run and it is was 25-20 Raptors and Triano needed a time out and took it. I am pretty sure giving up a wide open 3 was not part of Jay's plan in time out but that is what happened. Mavs extend this run and it was 12 and we were tied at 25. Ed Davis had 11 point 7 boards and 3 Blocks are you kidding me? Teams were battling for control with score 29-27 Raps on that last Davis bucket. The Davis show continued as he has a first half double double and the Raps were sparked on a run and lead 34-29. Ed Davis was filling the stat sheet he has 3 steals as well. The latest lead to an Amir Johnson basket in transition and with the Raps up 5 it was time for Dallas to call a time out. Here is some more bad news though as Bayless twists his ankle and that would be bad with Jose out. Bayless wanted to stay in the game but takes a seat. Barbosa in for him gets a steal and the beat goes on with a transition hoop and Raps lead 36-31. Bayless back in nails a jumper and Raps were on another run and led 40-31. Kleiza for 3 and book it the Raps were on a 14-2 run and Dallas has to burn another time out with Raptors up a dozen. Linas was not done as he nails another 3 and the lead was up to 14. Dallas would stop the bleeding with a mini 5-0 run to get it back to single digits. Make that an 8-0 run with a Terry 3 ball. Raptors perimeter D has not been good despite all the other good stuff. Raptors take a surprising 46-40 lead to the half.

3rd Quarter

The signs were there this might not last but who thought the Raptors would be up 6 at the half in this one? So maybe the Raptors can keep surprising in this one? Dorsey split a couple free throws then Bayless hooked him up with an easy 2. Demar DeRozan hits and Raptors come out of the locker room on a run. DeRozan another 2 on the rainbow jumper and a 7-0 run and a 53-40 lead would cause for an early Dallas time out. Mavs came out of time out and started a reply run of their own. Jason Terry hit a long 2 in the corner and it was 55-46 Raptors. Both teams went cold after that and DeRozan would get to the line to try and break the scoring drought. He split a pair at the line and the lead was 10. Jason Terry is perhaps one of the more under rated guys in the NBA. He is very good and shows just how good with a pretty jumper to bring it back to single digits again. A big Chandler dunk and foul and Mavs were back in this thing. The and 1 was good and this was a 5 point game 56-51. Linas Kleiza had a meltdown with a turnover and didn't like the call and wouldn't shut up and got two technical fouls and was gone. Dallas made 1 of 2 and it was a 4 point game. But the Raptors kept on fighting and built the lead back to 59-52. Tyson Chandler got a tech to help that along. Julian Wright a nice pass in transition and leads to a score...Raptors lead was back to 8. If there is one beef the perimeter defence has been ugly and Brain Cardinal takes advantage with a 3. The plucky Raptors would take a 5 point lead to the 4th up 64-59.

4th Quarter

Another 3 to start the 4th and Mavs had got it down to just a 2 point lead. But as they have all night Raptors answer and push the lead to 5 on an Amir bucket. Mavs score and then Bayless finds Amir for back to back Raptor scores for him and Raps lead 69-64. That might be the last assist of the night for Bayless though as he goes down in serious pain from that same ankle he injured earlier. He turned it again and this time I think he will not be able to solider on. The Raptors in effect have no point guard for the last 9 minutes of this one. Barbosa the closest thing to one would go out there. He himself was a game time decision. Jason Kidd a big three pointer and cuts the Raptor lead to just 4 with score 71-68. The Raps hustle was off the charts they were diving on the floor and doing everything the could. Barbosa pressed into action would hit to big hoops to make it 75-68 Raptors with 5:13 to play. More Barbosa magic and a heart and hustle charge take by Julian Wright. Raptors against all odds and logic had another 8-0 run and led 79-68. Amir Johnson with a bad back had played 41 minutes with a bad back and still out there hooks up Demar DeRozan for 2. The Raptors were 1 minute away from first win in Dallas since 1999 and one of the most gutsy wins in Raptors history. Raptors would hang on and do just that. Raptors win in improbable fashion 84-76.

Ed Davis had a career night and every guy in red that stepped on the floor with the exception of 1 gave a tremendous effort. Raptors had no business winning this game but someone forgot to tell them that. You can only hope they can bottle this effort for the future when they are healthy and at full strength. I can not recall a game in which the Raptors played with so much heart in their history. There was every reason to give up and they did not. Full marks to the Raptors and we can all party like it's 1999 cause that was the last time the Raptors won in Dallas. People will likely bring up a game vs Washington where the Raptors had only 9 players and I believe 2 or 3 were on 10 day contracts in which Raps won. This was different from that game though. Raptors just refused to give up. If you missed watching this game you missed something special.

"NBAz in 7 Dayz"

My Christmas was pure bananas. Every year, try as I may to be organized, this year I forget gifts and my famous apple pie for Christmas dinner. My solice? Five NBA games on Christmas day. Ahhhh. The best part? Dinner was at my sister's place this year and her husband Brian is a huge basketball fan so it was two against my Dad and my brother-in-law Aaron. If they polled for stress-level ratings of Christmas past, this year would take the cake. Alas, TV ratings make the grade and based on fast national ratings, NBA games airing on ABC and ESPN delivered the highest growing audience ever. The much anticipated match-up (and eventual smack-down) of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat increased its viewing audience by 45% over last year's game (Cleveland vs Los Angeles) in the same broadcast window. At the end of the day, ratings gage the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into the same program. So these stats show basketball and turkey consumption go hand in hand. Let's consume some serious news makers over the past week, including: LeBron James 'water and Love' comments, Larry Brown being fired as Head Coach of the Charlotte Bobcats and Shaquille O'Neal's fine for speaking his mind.

All is fair in Love and war

Let's clear this up. After Heat practice on Monday, LeBron James said he "didn't mean to upset anybody" when he called the NBA "watered down" last week. He also said his comments regarding the league being more popular in the 1980s due to fewer teams and more stars on top squads were not meant to hurt anyone either. He claims he is not saying leave the Nets or Timberwolves high and dry but for the need to see players like Kevin Love playing somewhere other than in Minnesota. He does have a point. Look at Kevin Love's stats. He leads the league in rebounding with 15.6 and is averaging 20 points. Plus, he also leads the league with 25 double-doubles. Pretty impressive, right? Let's face it. LeBron James is not the first person to think this or say it out loud for that matter. Fans and officials across all professional leagues have thought it, too. Don't kid yourself. NBA Commissioner David Stern is not counting out this argument but continues to subscribe to the theory expansion, no matter how financially viable, makes the league more attractive. Look at what is happening to the Hornets. The owners step down without real investors to take over, are all smile and giggles about the Hornets being such a great investment opportunity and yet they throw their hands up and walk away from what is clearly a mess. Forget the fact LeBron James has a target on his back already for "taking his talents to Miami". His argument about the league's talent being spread out makes some sense. Take a look at some of today's bottom benchers who are making mad dough and have the privilege of calling themselves professional athletes. Insert these guys into the game 20 or 30 years ago and the words "professional basketball player" would not be on their resume. These are the guys most upset at LeBron's 'watered down' comments. They should be. A new Collective Bargaining Agreement is on the horizon and they are wondering where they fit in.

Michael Jordan goes back on his word

Think back to when Larry Brown was hired as Head Coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. Michael Jordan (Bobcats owner) said he wanted Larry Brown to coach this team as long as Larry wanted to coach it. Then a few weeks ago, Michael and Larry met on 'how to improve the team' and 'how to play better basketball'. They met again recently and apparently decided the team could be playing better basketball and a change was needed. So since they were in a soft schedule according to them, now was a good time to make the transition to interim Head Coach Paul Silas. Sure, when you are loosing games by 30 points or more, a change is definitely in order. But to argue Larry Brown stepped down on his own free will is a complete fabrication. "Yes, Michael. Our Bobcats could be playing better. Why don't I just step down as Head Coach and let someone else give it a try?" Who are we trying to kid? This is Michael Jordan - an intense athlete in his playing days and proving to be just as ruthless in his quest to win as an owner. My only question is: does he have enough pocket change to buy the Maple Leafs?

Shaq on the Attack

This is just laughable. Shaquille O'Neal has been fined $35, 000 by the NBA for his public comments about the officiating. On Christmas, Boston played Orlando and got beat 86-78. He criticized the referees in this game after picking up his sixth foul when Magic center Dwight Howard fell to the ground wrestling for position. Shaq said, "I just wonder why I have never gotten that call in 20 years. Don't pick and choose when you are going to make the call...That's what happens when you get control freaks". No, that's what happens when you try to change the game abruptly after players are used to being the control freaks. Everyone just needs to settle down and take a time-out. Inconsistency in officiating issues are also plaguing professional soccer where they are considering having an official parked at the goal. Not sure if this would work in the NBA but when the dust settles, we all need to move on. The moving on part is harder for some than others.

Thanks for joining me this week. I will see you on Thursday for more "Behind Enemy Lines".

Big D Will It Stand For Dirk Or Dallas?

It would appear Dirk Nowitzki is doubtful for tonight vs the Raptors. He is scheduled to have an MRI on his right knee today according the Dallas Morning News. The X-Rays from last night when he left there game vs the Thunder revealed no structural damage. But given all the Dirk means to the Mavs find it hard to imagine he will play tonight. He is officially listed as questionable. Andrea Bargnani who was compared to Dirk often when he was drafted. He will not be there as well as he is not travelling with the team. As for the rest of the banged up Raps Amir did play with his bad back last night will see if he can go again tonight. Weems sat out last night and unless he had a miracle over night would expect he will be out tonight. The Raptors even with no Dirk will need to play more like the team in the first quarter last night and not like the team that showed up for the rest of the night.

The Basics: Toronto 10-20 (on 3 game losing streak) Dallas 24-5 ( 9-1 in last 10)

When Last We Saw Them: The Raptors came out with a strong start and faded away in the 2nd and never came back. Another decent night for Linas Kleiza in the starting line-up once again for injured Weems. Nothing much to be excited about at all. It was a very blah night.

Key Match Ups: Jason Kidd and Jose Calderon should be a good showdown. They have some playoff history and Kidd is not exactly blazing fast anymore. Jose was not great last night but in fairness not many were. Demar DeRozan and DeShawn Stevenson is another one to watch. Demar needs to stick with his man on D and attack the hoop on offence. He was one of many that struggled at the line last night. A general match up will be the Raptors perimeter defence vs Dallas and there many options to make 3's. If Dallas starts hitting 3's the Raptors are dead.

Other Things Of Note: Mavs have won 10 straight at home vs Raptors and are 19-9 all-time vs the Raptors.

Where is it on? Still SportsNet Uno!!! 8:30 Tip Time


Short Handed Raps Visit Graceland

No Bargnani, No Weems and Johnson not 100 percent but will give it a go. Also no Peja and Reggie. In this one. What would a short handed group of Raptors have to offer a Grizzlies team on the 2nd half of a back to back? It was time to find out.

Kleiza gets Raptors off on the right foot with a basket. After a Calderon bucket Grizz would come to life and get a bucket in the paint and an easy slam off a steal by Rudy Gay were tied at 4. DeRozan sticks a jumper later after his turnover and it was 10-7 Raptors. Raptors shooting it well 6-9 to start the latest was a Calderon jumper and it is 12-7 men in Red. Grizz still in Christmas mood with 4 turnovers and Raps taking advantage as Kleiza hit again and Raps on a 10-3 run lead 16-8. Kleiza had a wide open 3 but missed it, stuck on 16-8 and the Grizz call a time out. Davis missed but Kleiza the tap back and he is 5-7 early. Derozan the hustle play leads to him getting the hoop and harm. Time out with and 1 to come and Raptors leading 22-10. DeRozan missed the and 1 after the break. Raptors had a 9 point lead with under 2 to play. Bayless draws a charge on Gay saves the Raps giving up an easy 2. But then Bayless Travel with 2.1 second left and Raps up 8. Grizz would do nothing with the 2 seconds and Raptors had a 24-16 lead after 1.

Bayless nailed a 3 ball and the streak lives for those who care but more importantly Raptors lead was 31-20. From that point the Grizz got on a run and cut the lead down to 5 with the score 31-26 with 7:07 to play in half.... time out Triano. DeRozan drives to hoop out of time out and draws contact get to the line....splits a pair and he was just 2-5 from the line. More double D with the slam in transition. However Rudy Gay would answer with a 3 pointer then a bucket and the foul. Gay a steal and a chance to tie it up but they throw it away. Only to have the Raps give it right back and Grizz tie it up at 34. Yet another turnover out of time out and Grizz take the lead 36-34. Just a very sloppy game by both teams the Christmas spirit of giving was in full effect. Kleiza nails a 3 to give the Raptors the lead back 39-38 with just about 3 to play. This was not pretty but the Grizz had fought back in front 44-41. Raptors had more turnovers in this half than people returned gifts today. Maybe not that many but seemed like it. A Conley bucket and a charge on Bayless was not improving anything. A buzzer 3 would make it look more respectable than it was but Grizzlies still up 48-44 at the half.

Well as bad as Raps played in the 2nd they were only down 4. Grizzlies had 8 and DeRozan had 4 to start the 2nd half. Raptors were struggling and the Grizzlies had built up the lead to a dozen with score 62-50 with 7:13 to play in 3rd. Raptors respond out of time out with 8-2 advantage. But a Conley 3-ball would get the Grizz lead back to 9. Raptors just didn't look good on D and giving up easy transition points was not helping matters. Grizz were back up a dozen and Raptors were struggling to get anything. A good example of what not to do was a Barbosa pass on a 2 foot shot to end up with a miss from 3 for someone else. Raptors were down 77-63 and Grizz were shooting 55% after the 3rd.

Really don't have a lot to say about the 4th the Raptors were there, and Grizzlies let them hang around at times, but eventually laid the smack on them to close the door. In the end it was an 11 point Raptors loss and it offered few positive signs after the 1st Quarter. Memphis take it 96-85 an Raps had 25 turnovers and were just 5-14 at the line that is 2 ugly stats in what was a pretty ugly game.

Welcome Back, Hello Grizzlie Bears

Got to get back in the groove. The Raptors last game before the Christmas break was forgettable hopefully you had a good holiday and have forgot about it. The Grizzlies played last night and defeated the Pacers 104-90. The Raptors are on this road trip minus Andrea Bargnani and face a back to back with Memphis and tomorrow the Mavericks. Given that, Raptors really need to get this one because the odds of them beating Dallas are fairly slim. Who will step up? Good question but someone needs to do so. The Raptors also added Ronald Dupree which is a curious move that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Dupree was cut loose in the pre-season to get the Raptors down to 15 bodies. The Raptors had been going with an open roster spot since the trade that saw Jack, Banks and Andersen shipped to New Orleans for Bayless and Peja.

The Basics: Toronto 10-19 (3-10 on Road) Memphis 13-17 (5-5 in Last 10)

When Last We Saw Them: Raptors checked out for holidays early even though they were there in body they were not in spirit. They also were a banged up group as Bargnani and Johnson never lasted the whole game due to injury. Jerryd Bayless never even made it to the floor with food poisoning. By the end of this game Raptor fans likely wanted to throw up themselves as the Raptors were pretty brutal.

Key Match Ups: Rudy Gay comes off a 30 point performance vs the Pacers and will match up with Linas Kleiza? Sonny Weems has had back trouble prior to the Christmas break and likely has lost his starting job to Kleiza. Gay would be a tough match-up for either. Marc Gasol can be a pest and with no Andrea Bargnani Ed Davis and Joey Dorsey will get all they want from him all night long. Last but not least if Amir Johnson is good to go he will have a big load to mange will Zach Randoplh. He comes off an 18 point and 16 rebound performance vs the Pacers.

Other Things Of Note: The Raptors have 6 of the next 7 games on the road where as we mentioned are 3-10 on the road. Andrea Bargnani did not make the trip with the Raptors. Toronto is just 2-8 in their last 10 games. Raptors have dropped 3 straight to their former Canadian rivals. The trail in the all time series as well with a 13-16 record.

Where is it On? Sportsnet UNO (In fact this entire Road Trip is)


Christmas, Love and Basketball

One of the things I try to do when I talk with NBA players is find things they have in common with all of us. At Christmas time we all can think back to the gifts we got and remember them fondly. One of the things we also have in common is a love of basketball. So when we were small, be it NBA players, bloggers or just fans we all likely got some basketball memories from Christmas. Some that may have even sparked why we love the game today. We all likely have a story of some basketball related gift we got from Santa or Mom and Dad. So when I was at the last game I covered before the holiday break asked a number of Raptors and former Raptor Kris Humphries the best basketball gift they got as a kid at Christmas.

Like I said decided to include some of you as well as some of my colleagues on the Internet and twitter followers too. So here is what some of their answers were.

Holly Mackenzie From The Score AKA @Stackmack- For as long as I can remember have always got a basketball book and a Lakers Calender, even thought I am more just a fan of the game now.

Adam Francis from Raptors HQ- I'd have to say a Mark Price poster (used to be a Cavs fan) of him hitting a free-throw with the slogan "Right on the Money."He was killing the "career free-throw percentage" category at the time, and even with some sub-par seasons post-Cavs, still holds the record!

Tom Liston from Raptors Republic- Wasn't for Christmas, but it was trip to see Bird/McHale/Parrish/DJ/Ainge at the Boston Gaaaaarrden. Amazing memory.

Ray Bala from Can Ball Report- The closest thing that I've gotten that was basketball related was a video game-Double Dribble for NES or Bulls vs Blazers for Sega Genisis.

Audley Stephenenson From NBA Breakdown- It had to be the Double Dribble video game for my Nintendo!! talk about cheesy graphics! I loved the close-up graphics when you went in for a dunk. I still remember the digitized voice when it started up "Double Dribble" (computer voice) Played for days with no water or food

Ryan McNeill From Hoops Addict.com - I got was a Huffy basketball net back in the day.

Danielle De Graauw From OUR DNB Staff- A Magic Johnson vintage t-shirt from sister. She saved up to buy it for me. Plus in high school, my parents got me a pair of tear aways I still wear and oh yeah, that Shaquille O'Neal bath set with the sponge as a basketball and net to dunk as I washed..for sentimentality the t-shirt and for humour the SHAQ gift.

Kid Raptor from Kiss 92.5 and Twitter - My Kid Raptor jersey =) <-- which he got from his Uncle Mocha. His dad @TheRounder said a Raptors Dance Pak calender <--but I am pretty sure they didn't have those back when he was a kid or Raptors for that matter.

Brett Poirier a Raps Fan and DNB Reader- When I was 12 I opened a tiny box that had hotel reservations for a spot in Toronto, another note in the box said open my next gift, their I say plane tickets for my family to Toronto. I started getting really excited, and finally got to the last box, in it were Raptors tickets 5 rows ups!!! They played the Nuggets that day, with melo and A.I on the team. ill never ever forget that x-mas gift.

Some other ones from folks on Twitter.

@BayanQ- As a kid my best bbal gift was a bball net outside my home. I would have loved court side seats though! :P

@ThatPatty- Lil Sport Hoops. I was using that bball net well into my teens. It owes me nothing after years of rim abuse.

@Yarock- Trashcan backboard! I dunked so many homework assignments in my Carter jersey

@RyanJHTurvey- Best x-mas gift I got was the Jordan book Rare Air. Looked through it thousands of times.

You might say what is the point to all of this. Well there are a few of them. First be people NBA stars or just the average person we all have memories of being kids. Second we all have a common bond in a love of basketball. Aside from that it great to share our fond memories of the holidays. May these holidays create some new memories for all of you that read the Dino Nation Blog. A special thanks from me to all of the people that contributed to this. May they and you all have a great holiday and get to enjoy family and friends and the spirit of the season. May still have one more DNB surprise before the day is done. But just in case not... Merry Christmas to you all.

Oh wait a second...I never answered this did I? Well for me my mom would always get me tickets to a Raptor game when she could manage to afford it. Actually more to the point a few games. My mom always tends to go above and beyond what you tell her. I remember, the Christmas after my father passed away, she asked me for a list of what I wanted. So I made one giving her what I thought was a list of options. Instead what I got was every single item on that list. I was floored and did not know what to say. But be it 1 gift under your tree or 101 this season is about having a good feeling in your heart and sharing that with the world. This is my gift to all of you that read the blog the whole year through. It never cost me a thing but time and effort and hopefully it made you think or made you smile. If it did that make sure you pass on that smile or thought to someone else.


No Second Miracle For The Raptors

Ok straight to the who is in and out for the Raps. Bayless is out with food posioning and Weems still out with the bad back. Amir has some back issues as well but will go. Bargnani a knee and an ankle but will go and Jose will remain in with the sore foot that caused him to miss 4 games. All that out of the way it is time to but a wrap on the Pre-Christmas schedule.

The game starts with a bang as Jose hooks up Demar DeRozan on the the massive Alley Opp! Rodney Stuckey was back in Detroit line-up and he gets a steal and scores and it was even at 4 early on. Raptors were not great but good enough to be up 15-12 and Pistons have lost 8 straight on the road. Back to back Raptor scores from Ed Davis nice to see the rookie getting on the board as he got donutted against the Lakers. Demar DeRozan off a steal lead the break and made a nice drop of to Kleiza it is Christmas time better to give than receive. Disgruntled Rip Hamilton makes the 3 pointer and give Pistons their first lead 24-23. That would be the score after 1.

T-Mac was hearing it from the fans but hit a corner jumper to tie it at 30. Tracy McGrady was feeding off the boos and was a big part of helping the Pistons build up a 7 point lead. Make that 9 as Stuckey Sticks one. Basically you remember the first time these to teams played? De Ja Vu through 2 quarters and that is not a good thing if you remember.

There would be no miracle come back this time around. T-Mac, Rip Hamilton and friends would keep the party going for the entire second half. The Raptors had a lot of folks leaving the party early. Amir Johnson had to raise the white flag with his bad back. Bargnani had to leave the game early as well. Raptors were dropping like flies and it was just to much to over come. Raptors let this game get away in 2nd being out scored 38-21. In the end Raptors end the the pre Christmas sked with a horrible 115-93 loss.

The positives.....Hmmm. The Raptors dance back looked cute in Christmas outfits. The Raptors also get time of to rest and get healthy which they need with a long list of hurting folks. No game till the 27th Grizzlies. Anyway it is the holidays I am not going to let it bring me down. Some Christmas stuff for you today before we take a mini break for the holidays. Will still be working for The Score over the holidays though. But the Blog will be taking the 24-26 off for the most part.

A Christmas Visit From Matt Devlin

Matt Devlin joins us just a few days before Christmas to talk a bunch of things. We start of talking Christmas Shopping and then talk about the Jack Armstrong and Eric Smith CD from Brooklyn to Toronto. Which you can purchase tonight if you track down Eric at the game for just 5 dollars which goes to The Team Up Foundation. You can also get it online if you are not in the Toronto area go to Eric's Blog "The Rap" for details on how you do that. Even get into he and Jack and their Bon Jovi singing that has been a big hit at the ACC this year. But we do get down to basketball as well, with thoughts on tonight's game vs the Pistons. As well as some thoughts on the Young Onez, Andrea Bragnani, Ed Davis and others. Even a little talk about players playing internationally and if that becomes another issue to solve in the CBA. It is a good talk with Matt and hope you enjoy. In getting to more games this year get a chance to get to see Matt more often but have to remind myself to get him and all other regular guests in here more for you folks.

It is always nice to catch up with Matt and as I said at the end of the interview all the best to him and his family. All the best to all of our regular guests and their families in this holiday season. We will have one or maybe two Christmas surprises for you tomorrow so please when you have a couple minutes in this busy time of the year come check those out. One more game to re-cap as well tonight vs the Pistons.

Raptors Wrap Things Up With Pistons

Toronto Raptors finish off their schedule prior to Christmas with the Pistons coming a calling in this holiday season. There is talk out of Detroit that Richard Hamilton is not a happy camper. The Pistons after signing Charlie V and Ben Gordon last season instead of improving have even gotten worse. The Pistons once dominated the Raptors. But the Raptors have swept the season series last year and earlier this season had a franchise record 25 point comeback win in Detroit. Joe Dumars is no longer thought of has one of the smartest G.M's in the league. The sellout streak in Detroit is long gone. Here is a Christmas stat for you, the Raptors were 1-10 in the game before the Christmas break prior to Jay Triano taking over as coach. Under Triano they are 2-0 and also are 2-0 in the game after the Christmas break. It possible to extend that to 3-0 on both counts with the Pistons tonight and Memphis on the 27th.

The Basics: Pistons 9-19 (2-12 on the Road) vs Raptors 10-19 ( 8-11 vs East)

When Last We Saw Them: The Raptors landed the first punch on the Champion Lakers with a lead after the 1st Quarter. From there the Lakers would take control of this game in the middle quarters and have enough left to hang on for an easy win. Kleiza made it back to back big games/good games for him and the Raptors were without Bargnani and Weems. Demar DeRozan was also nice in this one.

Key Match-Ups: Rodney Stuckey has been banged up and T-Mac played the point in an OT win over New Orleans on the 19th. Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless need to take advantage of this advantage for the Raptors. Amir Johnson vs Charlie V is a interesting to watch. Charlie always seems to get up for games vs the Raptors and Amir when he can stay on the floor can be effective. While Andrea Bargnani status is unknown but if he plays the Pistons may not have anyone that can match up with him. But at the same time on the glass Ben Wallace on some nights can hit the retro button and be a force on the glass.

Other Things Of Note: Raptors have won 2 straight at the ACC vs Detroit but are 9-19 all time vs the Pistons. Despite the Raptors Miracle comeback in Detroit when they trail heading into the 4th Quarter they are 3-14. You might be surprised to know the Raptors actually have an advantage on the glass averaging 41.4 rebounds to just 38.8 for the Pistons. Talked with Matt Devlin with his thoughts on tonight's game and a lot more and that will be up on the site shortly or already is depending on when you read this. We also will have a few Christmas Posts for you tomorrow and then take a couple days of for the holidays.

Where is it on? Rogers Sportsnet (All Regions)


"NBAz in 7 Dayz"

Have you ever been out shopping, saw something, bought it and then wondered what to do with it or who to give it to? This is the state the league is in right now. The National Basketball Association has completed its purchase of the New Orleans Hornets and doesn't have a clue who to give it to or what to do with it. All they are saying is they want to re-sell it to a buyer who will keep the team in New Orleans. Technically, the board of governors has given its anticipated approval of the purchase. Translation: 'We are OK with this but not liking the situation'. As you may know, the Hornets were founded in Charlotte by George Shinn (soon-to-be former majority owner) in 1988 and moved to New Orleans in 2002. A move would not be good at this point considering the travelling this team has done (no pun intended). However, don't kid yourself. The NBA says it wants the team to stay in New Orleans but if no appropriate buyer comes along and someone with deep pockets is interested and wants to move it, what do you think the outcome will be? Hmmm. I need to get a gift for my Dad's birthday at the end of the month...(checking wallet)...shoot. No $300 million. But if NBA Commissioner David Stern is telling the truth he wouldn't sell it to me anyway. I would move the team to Canada - Vancouver, Montreal, Alberta maybe. Call me crazy but a girl can dream. Let's move on to a dream that will likely end for Yao Ming and three-way between Phoenix, Washington and Orlando.

This could be the end of Yao Ming

I don't want to say it out loud but this is the worst case scenario. The Chinese Media were already reeling earlier this year about the NBA schedule and how tough it is on their star export, Yao Ming. I will give credence to some of their worry that in all likelihood, Yao Ming has potentially played his last game. It hasn't happened yet but if and likely when it does, it would be a crushing blow to his career, to the Houston Rockets and to the national basketball program in China. I was having a debate with my friend Jae the other day on why he'd rather watch NCAA ball over the NBA. One argument was for the rules and the other was for playing for the love of basketball. If Yao Ming leaves professional basketball, we will be loosing this type of player - one who plays for the love of the game. I give him respect for carrying the hopes and dreams of his country and for being one of the truly good guys in the NBA.

Shaking things up before the New Year

I think the most excited guy in the three-way trade between Phoenix, Washington and Orlando was Gilbert Arenas. He wanted to leave Washington so bad he probably had his bags packed already anticipating a trade. For both sides, it is a new start. Gilbert Arenas is now in an Orlando Magic uniform playing for a team that is a playoff contender. For the Washington Wizards, they are unloading the $60 million Arenas is still due over four years and the nagging knee injury that limited Arenas to less than 50 games in the previous three seasons. This is likely the reason the Wizards weren't able to make the trade until now and why other teams wouldn't want to take on Arenas. Remember though, Otis Smith was with Gilbert Arenas at Golden State and has a close, personal connection to him. Now Smith is the President of Basketball Operations for Orlando and welcomes Arenas into the fold. This is where Arenas needs to be. He needs to be working under the direction of a team who still believes in his former All-Star abilities and willing to take a chance on him.

As for Rashard Lewis? Not so happy. This will be a real test of character for Lewis since he has been traded from a finals contender to a lottery team. "I'm a basketball player. The trade happened, and so be it. I am just going to go out there and be professional". Does this sound like a guy who is happy in his new surroundings? No. He is acting more like being in a room full of people you don't like on New Year's Eve waiting for the ball to drop. Smile and nod. He sees it as a challenge but he also joins Kirk Hinrich and Josh Howard two veterans on the team. A team built around number one overall draft pick and rookie John Wall. Good yet not so good for a guy like Rashard Lewis. I think Lewis' saving grace will be Wizards' coach Flip Saunders, who coached Rashard during the 2001 Goodwill Games. He believes in Lewis' flexibility in playing different positions and contributing to a team that needs a common thread holding it together. Rahard Lewis may be that thread.

Speaking of hanging on by a thread, let's talk about Vince Carter in Phoenix. I am really starting to think of Vince Carter as a cat with nine lives. He is little by little using up his chances to reinvent himself. Now he gets to play with Steve Nash, the Suns' conductor and consummate set-up man. He also gets to play under a new system which centers around running and 3 point plays. Will he fit in? Time will only tell. I would love to be a fly on the wall in that locker room, though. They have to be whispering about getting Raptors' rejects in the line-up. Now Hedo Turkoglu is out of Phoenix and back in Orlando. This is the craziest part of the deal in my opinion. Why would Orlando trade Hedo and accept him back again? This is like sending your kid off to boarding school because you don't know what to do with them and taking them back because you have to. At the end of the day, it is a business and then a game in times like this. Let's just hope they remember the playing for the "love of it" part.

This week the DNB will be running a holiday piece in place of "Behind Enemy Lines" - be sure to look for it. I will see you as usual next Tuesday for more "NBAz in 7 Dayz". I hope you get to enjoy some time off with family and friends. Cheers.


A Home For Hump With The Nets?

Kris Humpries joins a growing list of former Raptors we have talked with. I have always thought it is something important to do when the opportunities come along to do so. He came to the Raptors in a trade for the poster boy of the Rob Babcock Era in Rafael Araujo. The fact Colangelo was able to trade Araujo for anything beyond some athletic supporters was amazing. If you think that is harsh by all means check out the stats from his 3 year NBA Career. It only took Utah a year to give up on him, it took Raptors two. Humphries meanwhile, entered the draft early from Minnesota. He was the freshman of the year in the Big 10 and decided to jump into the draft and was taken 14th by the Utah Jazz. Life under Jerry Sloan clearly was not working. So he was off to to Toronto. He was a pleasant surprise and turned some heads in the pre-season in 06-07 his first year as a Raptor. He always seemed to have potential to be more than he was with the Raptors. But he often seemed to forget he was not number 1 option on offence at times. His numbers would suggest his career has taken steps forward at each stop along the way.

In his words he says, "I came into the league and nothing was really easy for me." Humphries continues on to say "Everything has just been kind of a process, and I improve along the way." Which he has and no more so than in his most recent stop in New Jersey. He has started more games this season for the Nets with 21 than he had in his entire NBA Career prior to that with just 8 starts (2 with Raptors). He has taken advantage of the struggles of Favors the 3rd overall pick of the Nets who you would have thought would be starting for Jersey. Favors has not started a game and is scoring 6.5 points per game and has averaged 5.5 rebounds. In comparison Humphries has 7.9 points per game with 9.1 rebounds and is shooting 53.8%, which are all career highs if he keeps it up, at his current pace.

It really seems like Humphries has found a basketball home with the Nets. Humphries said "It feels like it, but in the NBA you never know what happens. We just had a couple players traded off our team" in reference to the trade with the Lakers and Rockets. Sasha Vujacic would be making his debut with the Nets that night at the ACC. Joe Smith and Terrence Williams were off to L.A and Houston as part of the 3 team deal. Humphries added, " The NBA is just a constant cycle," which for a guy that has played on 4 teams in his 7th year in the NBA seems a logical way to think. But you hope for his sake he might have found a place where he can stay awhile.

Part of that cycle he refers to applies to coaches as well. His head coach in Toronto is now his assistant coach in New Jersey in the form of Sam Mitchell. Hump had these thoughts on being reunited with Mitchell, "Sam is a real good coach and he is part of what were doing here." He continues on to say " He always keeps it interesting." Has Sam actually mellowed at all from his days with the Raptors? Hump says "How People see him now versus than is a little different. But it is a different role." He continues on talking about the differences in Sam, "It's interesting, it is probably different for him going from being the head coach to an assistant but he is doing a great job with it." Still there might be some of the old Sam left and he has not changed entirely. When asked if there were flashes of "the old" Sam, Hump said the following, " Every once in awhile something will happen and I wait to see if he is going say something. Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't, because he is an assistant now and has different responsibilities."

It sure seemed like the same Sam earlier in a scrum with the Toronto media with perhaps one large exception. Sam use to always refer to how easy the media had it in comparison to him. Some work with NBA-TV in his time away from coaching has changed his opinion. On his brief stint in the media he had this to say, " It was fun, it was different. There is a lot of work that goes into it. It is not just showing up doing it. There is a lot of research that goes into it so you actually know what you are talking about. Numbers and stuff." Mitchell continued to say "It gave me a different impression of little you guys really work." Which got a laugh from everyone. He mentioned that he liked everything except for the Friday night shifts at NBA T.V, where he would end up leaving somewhere around 3 am. See Sam Mitchell this is not so easy!!! But I truly miss Sam and I regret that I never got to cover the team in his time here. I miss my Sam Mitchell laugh of the day. Which happened almost everyday that he was coaching the Raptors.

When I asked about Kris Humphries time in Toronto and what he takes away from it? Hump looks back on it in a positive way. " We went to playoffs twice up here. Just winning games and I played with some great team mates." He continues on to say " I Really enjoyed some of the people on the staff. Obviously I think I got better as a player. It is part of my journey." It is strange to me how Toronto has such a bad wrap with folks in the U.S, but if you talk to the players that have been here it is rare they will have anything negative to say about Toronto. They can't all be lying can they? I never bothered to ask if he got NBA League Pass when he was here. I also didn't ask about the whole Kim Kardashian stuff. I don't know if I have developed any rules to doing interviews. But if there is one I try to follow, it is that I won't ask anything that I wouldn't answer myself. If someone asked me about who I am dating my answer would be none of your damn business. We are a basketball blog if you want that kind of thing go check out TMZ Sports or something. Unless it impacts on a player in a negative way, I could care less, even than I really wouldn't want to go there. But as was stated Humphries is currently having the best season of his NBA Career. If Kim Kardashain has a blessed thing to do with that I could not tell you. But if she does, good for Kris Humphries. I wanted to tell him this but chickened out. He was my mom's favourite Raptor, not for how he played, she just though he was cute and adorable. I am not sure if people banging on the glass against him would agree. Hump was part of our journey too as Raptor fans, and at least for me will stand out from the crowd.

Two J.B's and Microphone.

James Borbath and Jerryd Bayless. The J.B show in the DNB once again. Jerryd is working on his chemistry with his new team and I am working on mine with him. This was recorded Friday prior to the game with Nets. At the time we were not sure if Jose Calderon would be back. But Jerryd did have 4 starts under his belt. We talked about that. We also talked about him coming out with some very strong and direct comments he made post game after an ugly loss to the Bulls. It often is said that is tough for players to focus in at this time of year with the holidays and all. But that is not a problem for Jerryd according to him. What has been a problem since we spoke, he has been feeling under the weather. I thankfully am in good health, so he did not catch this from me. He also is having to get use to being back in his regular role backing up Jose. So here is our brief little chat.

Bayless has made fans in a hurry with that attitude of wanting to work hard and grow with this team. For those of you that believe in the whole concept of tanking and trying to get a better pick come draft time, it is guys like this that make that concept silly. Everyone wants to win and if guys don't have that attitude do you really want them on your team? Jerryd Bayless by speaking out after that Bulls game likely added to his growing fan base. You want guys that hate to lose. When a team or players become accepting of losing you have a serious problem. It seems pretty clear Bayless will never be one of those guys. It also seems clear that by speaking up, he is comfortable here, and with time might be able to grow into a leader for this young group.

He was also one of a bunch of guys that took part in my little Christmas feature I am doing. The question he answered and all the other players in this answered was this:

What was the best basketball related gift you got as a kid for Christmas?

I am not just asking players though. I am asking some of my fellow bloggers and all of you that read and listen to the DNB to share your answers as well. So leave a comment or tweet it to me @Dinonationblog. Going to try and get as many as I can into the feature which will be done Thursday this week it is looking like. So share you basketball Christmas memories with me. Only thing I ask is keep it brief and to the point. Really enjoyed talking with Jerryd, the guy he replaced in Jarrett Jack was very good with the media and that is something that is true of Bayless as well.

Some Thoughts On Raps And Lakers

I must apologize off the top. Did not get a preview of this game done. Someone called a wrong number early on Sunday morning, and next thing I know had went back to sleep, and it was almost time to work. I was unable to watch this one as I was doing a NFL game for The Score. It was a pretty amazing game with Eagles comeback win over the Giants. But it is Monday and a new week so time to turn the page and move on. First thing to do is get caught up on the Raptors. After that got to get a few interviews done that I owe you folk. Jerryd Bayless and former Raptor Kris Humphries. So going sit back and take in what you all likely saw yesterday. Offer some thoughts on what all went down with the Lakers and Raptors.

1st Quarter Thoughts

  • With No Bargnani interested to see how things go for Pau Gasol against Ed Davis.
  • Raps were hanging around early Klezia getting another start with no Weems.
  • An early 7 for Kleiza and yet another injury has cost a player is starting spot? Think so, sorry Sonny.
  • Kobe Bryant is good....but I bet you knew that already...LOL
  • Demar got schooled by one his idols Kobe was there then he wasn't
  • Raps for whatever reason sometimes play Lakers tough...this looked like one of those.
  • Kobe is making a highlight reel in just the first quarter.
  • Julian Wright getting some minutes with no Weems nice to see. Joey Dorsey to with no Bargs
  • Matt Barnes was a Raptor on Twitter but a Laker in life...he checked in.
  • Tied at 24....Feeling sorry I missed this one live looks like good game so far.
  • Amir Johnson with a serious throw down. Bayless the dime drop.
  • Amir is off to a fantastic start. Raps are too 8-0 run and Raps lead 32-24...WOW.
  • Raps up 6 with No Bargs, Weems or Evans? Pretty good.

2nd Quarter thoughts

  • I was doing NFL like I mentioned, It is a copycat league they say. NBA not so much why to more teams not run the Triangle Offence?
  • Jack reflecting on Vince Carter joining team #4. Reminds me of the Kobe comment that had Vince and Tracy stayed he felt they would be battling Raptors for years coming out of East :(
  • Lakers were off to a good start to the 2nd. No doubt Phil was not happy after 1.
  • Former team mates in Portland in Blake and Bayless....think so.
  • A early Solomon Alabi sighting? You don't play him vs Bulls and you do here? Happy for him though. His first significant minutes of NBA career.
  • Bayhawks 4 and 5 out on floor with Davis out there too.
  • Ok Luke Walton is scoring that just can't happen...COME ON NOW...Lead history tied at 37.
  • Gasol with Alabi on him...This won't go well and it didn't.
  • Demar DeRozan getting to the line and he GETS UP for playing the Lakers.
  • Mid second and 0 fouls for Amir and he has 12 points if this could happen more often it would be great.
  • Lakers were picking Raps a part on D.
  • Kleiza another 3...don't watch Sonny.
  • Raps O on fire and D on Ice...as a type DeRozan got a steal..still chilly D.
  • QUEENSBRIDGE....Just cause I saw Artest on the floor.
  • Lakers took control in that 2nd Quarter but Raps had a lot of fight and effort. Need this against teams you can hang with.

3rd Quarter Thoughts

  • The education of Demar DeRozan continues as Kobe is teaching him some serious lessons.
  • Takes it right back on O at Kobe and Gasol...Hoop and Harm.
  • Ed Davis missed a lay up......Oh youth!!! Frustrating. Missed another chippy!!! UGH!!!
  • Kobe gets hacked by Davis and still scores....Lakers up 14
  • Ugly miss from 3 for Kleiza but shot clock was running down.
  • Lakers were outscoring Toronto 40-18 since the first....YIKES!!!
  • DeRozan getting to the line another hoop and harm. When Demar is good he gets to the line.
  • Nice move by Amir for a score but to much Kobe to much Gasol Raps were still down 2 touchdowns.
  • Demar should study this game tape for two reason. What he SHOULD do on Offence and what he Shouldn't do on Defence...He has 13 points in the 3rd and 17 overall.
  • Nice passing play DeRozan to Dorsey behind the back to Kleiza for the easy 2.
  • Raps are on a run an are now down just 1 TD.
  • Joey Dorsey showing a little something something. but missed two free throws.
  • Reason Raps are doing better on offence...Ball Movement...Excellent!!!
  • Amir leaves with a bad back....2 young onez on the shelf with bad backs if your counting.
  • Barbosa a buzzer beater and Raps were hanging around or hanging on for dear life.
  • Derozan ends up with 19 in QTR that is why you don't give up on this kid. When he gets it and HE WILL....WOW

4th Quarter Thoughts

  • Barbosa missed a 3 that would have been big cutting lead to 6.
  • Matt Barnes shows how you foul some one....What might have been...Oh Well.
  • Raps have but up a good fight but signs are there the tank might be close to E.
  • Laker Bench getting it done lead by Bynum and Brown with 14 each.
  • Jose has 11 and 9 perhaps Bayless motivated him when he was out...Just saying.
  • Julian Wright gives Jose Dime 10 with a Transition Dunk.
  • Kleiza a 3 and forget what I said about gas tank Raps were within 6.
  • Tough miss Raps could have got even closer. Bynum makes them pay on the other end.
  • Blake 3 and crisis averted for L.A.
  • Kleiza has strung together to solid efforts as a starter.
  • Forget to mention Amir is back from the back trouble.
  • More of what might have been with a Barnes 3.
  • Raps creep back to within 7 but I know how it ends and not much time left.

Final Score- Lakers 120 Raptors 110

Final Thoughts....Effort Good...Defence Bad...Offence Really Good considering lack of Weems and Bargnani.


Ed Davis Makes His DNB Debut

I will be the first to admit that I was not sure what to realistically expect from Ed Davis. When you consider he missed a chunk of his final college season at UNC and just prior to start of training camp he injured his knee requiring surgery. Davis would have to re-hab and fight to get back to make his NBA debut. He would have to make a stop in the D-League with the BayHawks. In just 2 games down there he averaged 10 points 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in just 17.5 minutes. We have no idea how long Davis was suppose to stay with the Bayhawks. The reason for that was the injury to Reggie Evans that Bryan Colangelo admits changed the plans for Davis. Since getting the call up from the D-League Davis has played 10 games he has averaged 5.2 points and 5.9 rebounds in an average of 18.9 minutes per game. He just had his first start and used it to record his first double double with 10 points and 10 boards exactly. So that is where we started this brief chat with his impressions of his first NBA start.

Terry Davis was not a lottery pick like his son. He didn't come from a big college program like his son as well. He signed as a free agent with the Miami Heat long before they had the superstars they do today. As you will see if you check his career stats he bounced around the NBA. Dad made a total of 632,000 dollars in his first 2 years in the NBA compared to 1.5 million and change that his son will bank in his first year in the NBA as the 13th pick in the draft. It sure seems that Ed has learned a lot from his father. Jay Triano said in a recent interview on the Fan 590 that Davis has done anything that coaches have asked him to do. He suggested that it was just a matter of the coaches making the demands of him. That Ed has not got to the point that he will do it on his own. But if he is asked to do anything he will. Davis clearly seems like a coachable type of player and has a background that offers him a realistic view of the life in the NBA.

While comparisons to Chris Bosh are not really accurate, Davis other then being a left handed guy out of the ACC does not remind me of Bosh at all. Well he is a little skinny like a Bosh was as well. However the comparison stops there. I feel he can be a better defender than Bosh ever was or will be. I also feel that he will never match what Bosh was on the offensive side of the ball. But the fact he missed so much time and has made the jump to the NBA without looking out of place speaks to his skill and in house knowledge. Not to say that he will be better than any of these guys, but Evan Turner, Derrick Favors and DeMarcus Cousins have all had a lot rougher transitions to the NBA than Davis has had. All 3 picked higher than Davis and you could say have struggled to fit in on the NBA level. That clearly does not seem to be the case for Davis.

Ed is one of a number of guys I asked a question for a special Christmas feature I am going whip together. I could use your help as well with it. The question is simple enough. What is the best basketball related gift you received as a kid? If you got an answer for that leave it in the comments or tweet it to me @Dinonationblog. Some of the better ones I am going to use in this feature as well. We still have interviews with Jerryd Bayless and former Raptor Kris Humphries to come for you as well in the coming days.

Raptors Close The Show On The Nets.

Good news prior to this one. Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon both game time decisions would in fact suit up and start. That was good news for a Raptor team that struggled badly without both against a very good Chicago team. The Nets although improved from last year which was not hard to do. They still are a brutal road team and this one was of course at the ACC. Also not only were Andrea and Jose back but Linas Klezia was back in the starting line-up. Sonny Weems did not play due to a sore lower back.

Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani both went of to acknowledge their former coach. They are the only 2 players that remain from when Mitchell coached here. That really shows you the amount of change this franchise has been through. Game started out with the Nets and Raptors trading hoops, then some sloppy turnovers by the Raptors, but the Nets were not taking advantage of them as much as they could have up 8-4. Raptors would go on a run from there with Jose dropping a couple dimes as part of a 6-0 mini-run to take the lead 10-8. Ed Davis checked in as Amir had 2 early fouls giving Davis some early minutes. Devin Harris with the blow by and Ed Davis was not there on the help and easy lay-up and Nets were now on top 15-12. Former Raptor Kris Humphries helped out his old club going just 2-4 from line as he was fouled on back to back possessions. Raptors were in a bit of a nip and tuck battle with the Nets early on. Nets would take a 23-21 lead to the 2nd quarter.

Nets came out and scored first 4 points of the second to get a 6 point lead. Both teams were finding it a challenge to score, not because either team was playing great defence necessarily. As Sam Mitchell might say, they were missing a lot of shots. But New Jersey was getting to the line and had got the advantage back to 5 with score 35-30. A crazy sequence of volleyball like action would eventually lead to a easy Andrea Bargnani lay-up that actually took at lot of effort to get to that point. Jose Calderon would later hook up Amir for an easy 2 but Nets were still out in front. Nets after that bucket would get a small burst and up the lead up to 7. Harris missed a chip shot and Raps would find a wide open Barbosa for the uncontested lay-up in transition. Raptors were labouring to score with just 38 points with 2 minutes to play in the half and the Nets lead had grown to 8. A total blown coverage allows Demar DeRozan a clear runway to the basket and he is more than happy to take flight for the throw down. In end of it Raptors were down a half dozen at the break 48-42.

Raps came out with some pep in their step and scored the first 5 points of the half. Klezia would make it back to back 3's to tie the game at 50. An early and bad foul on Amir Johnson would send Outlaw to the line for 3 and that was 3rd foul on Amir. Outlaw made all 3 at the line and Jersey was on a 7-0 run and led 57-50. Raps were speeding up the pace and got to within 3 until Kris Humphries cut down the lane and Kaboom...Nets led 61-56. However, Hump would commit a turnover and then fouled Demar DeRozan. Raps were left down 2. Bargnani with a rare poster making slam would tie the game at 61 and get a huge pop from the crowd. Bargnani had 10 in the quarter and was looking really good at this point in the 3rd. But the Nets, on what was a 2nd night of a back to back for them, were scrappy and build back a 4 point lead 67-63. Amir Johnson's foul troubles continued and that got Joey Dorsey some PT as Amir would sit with 4 fouls. Raps were just struggling and a DeRozan attempt from 3 was not going change that. That miss would lead to a easy lay-up for THE MACHINE that is Vujacic. Nets were taking to many shots at Raptors were inviting them to take long range jumpers by playing zone and Nets were happy to accommodate them. It led to the Raptors tying the game at 69. Devin Harris a fade away jumper would nose the Nets in front 71-69 after 3.

Bargnani was looking healthy and get this the drive and score which Andrea can do, but also taking one on other end on the numbers. Bargs would score again and give Raps first lead since the 1st Quarter. It would be short lived as Farmar made 1st three pointer of night for the Nets who had been 0-8 prior to that. Farmar would hit another 3 and then a slam on a steal and Raps called the time out with score 79-73. A rebound for Kleiza out of time out gave him a double double with 14 points and 10 boards at the time. But more importantly the rebound would lead to an Andrea 3. It was part of a 7-0 run out of time out that left Raps up 1...80-79. Harris would give Nets lead back briefly but a Klezia 3 would change that and a steal led to a Barbosa bucket, Raptors on the strength of a 12-2 run had 85-81 lead. Andrea Bargnani was laying the smack down on Kris Humphries a guy that Andrea knows he can beat from old days? Whatever it was Andre has ZERO fear of Hump and was taking it to him. Raptors now had an 8 point edge with 4 and change to play. Raps looked like the team that had the energy and it was showing. Amir Johnson fouls out with 3:34 to play a tough night for him in foul trouble the whole night long.

Raptors shooting got a little chilly and Nets had pulled back to make this a 4 point game with under 3 to play. Brook Lopez was at the line and made 1 of 2 and the lead was down to 3. on the other end Demar would get himself to the line and he would also split a pair leaving us at 90-86. On defence double D looked to draw a charge but no luck and Lopez was back at the line and made both this time. A 2 point ballgame as Raps lead 90-88. Bargnani took advantage of a switch and nailed jumper over Harris. Hump a bucket on the other end and a huge rebound and it was the Nets ball again down just 2. Outlaw an airball and Sasha a miss...Bargnani the big board with under a minute to play. Time out Raptors need a basket and they get an major way from Demar DeRozan with the HUGE THROW DOWN!!! Lopez would score, another time out and Barbosa the 3 off the kick out from Bargs and TURN OUT THE LIGHTS PARTY IS OVER. Raptors were going to take a win home on a Friday night at ACC.

It was not the Young Onez so much at the International ones on this night. Bargnani (32 points 9 Rebounds) , Calderon (15 points and 14 Assists) and Klezia (18 Points and 12 Rebounds) were all outstanding. Bargnani the most of that group. He was a true game time decision as even when Jay Triano talked to media pre-game he still could not confirm if Bargnani would play. Jose did an excellent job running the offence and was not a liability on D on many occasions that I can recall. While Klezia gets the surprise start and makes the most off it. At times it wasn't pretty but the Raptors will take the win and not worry about the style points. They closed the show with a bang and that is what counts. Make the final Raptors 98 Nets 92. That makes it 6 straight vs the Nets overall and Raptors our .500 at home with 7 up and 7 down.


TGIF DNB Preview- Raps vs Nets

The biggest question for the Raptors before they even talk about the Nets is will Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani play? According to Jay Triano on the Fan 590 yesterday it is possible they might but not likely. He seemed to suggest that Calderon was more likely than Bargnani. If both don't play it could be another long night at the office for the Raptors. The Nets are struggling and are 2-11 on the Road and 2-8 in their last 10 games. They are coming in off a win over the Wizards at home. That being said the Wizards are 0-13 on the road themselves. We could see Sasha Vujacic who the Nets got in a trade that many feel is bulking them up to make a run to acquire Carmelo Anthony from Denver.

The Basics: Nets 7-19 (4-13 vs East) Raptors 9-17 (6-7 at ACC)

When Last We Saw Them: The Raptors were only 10 strong and it was not nearly strong enough. The Bulls bullied the Raptors all over the ACC. Carlos Boozer did anything and everything he wanted. The Raptors were without Andrea and Jose and they could have used both.

Key Match-ups: Devin Harris is coming in off scoring 29 against the Wizards last night. He made a living at the line making 14 of 17. Jerryd Bayless if Jose is not able to go will draw this tough assignment. If he can keep Harris under control that will go a long way towards a Raptor win. Brook Lopez would be matched up against Andrea Bargnani if he plays or rookie Ed Davis. If it is Davis and not Bargnani this will be a tough assignment for the rookie. But he can change shots and can battle on the glass which will both serve him well against Lopez. As for the Raptors advantages it may be at an unlikely spot. DeRozan and Weems should have the advantage over Farmar and Ross. The being said Jordan Farmar has been very good for the Nets so much so that they have been playing him at the 2 spot to get him in the starting line-up. He really took off replacing an Harris at the point when he was injured earlier in the season.

Other Things Of Note: This is the first meeting of the season between these two and Raptors have won 5 straight in this series and 2 straight at the ACC. Raptors have an advantage in all of the team stats you care to look at with the exception of free throw% but they do score almost 10 more points a game. Sam Mitchell returns to the ACC for the first time since he was fired by the Raptors. He took a job this summer as the lead assistant for Avery Johnson with the Nets. Tonight is also the first night you can purchase from Brooklyn To Toronto the Christmas album that Eric Smith and Jack Armstrong have put together. It only cost 5 bucks and the money is going to Charity. How do you get it? You need to track down Eric Smith at the ACC or after the game over by Real Sports. They will be selling copies of the CD at the Raptors 3 remaining home games before Christmas.

In Case You Missed it: I decided to have some fun and write a letter to Santa on behalf of all you Raptor Fans. I made some additions to this so even if you read it maybe you missed the additions I added when I checked my list twice.

My Game Plan: First to get my CD that I mentioned. After that looking to catch up with former Raptor Kris Humphries as well as Jerryd Bayless and who knows who else. Also might do a fun thing with a Christmas theme with anyone that I talk with tonight. Will see how it all works out. I will be in the house at the ACC for the last time this year looking to get some good stuff done.


A Letter To Santa For Raptor Fans

Dear Santa,

I wanted to write you a letter on behalf of some good boys and girls that cheer for the Raptors. Sure they boo sometimes, they may even call some players not so nice names. They sometimes put their desire for Pizza ahead of the team. But for the most part they are good people. They have been through a lot this year. They got told see ya on Twitter by a guy they loved for 7 years. If nothing else please make sure this guy is on the naughty list:

I also would like to strongly suggest that this guy is on the naughty list as well:

If you can't give him coal at least give him a razor to shave off the silly beard he has grown it is nothing like yours. While we are on the topic of who does not deserve presents make sure not to forget this guy:

He lied about being sick and tried to steal some girl's phone for taking his picture. He is just bad news Santa. Now on to some things we would like for our team. First on our list is 3 guys. They all have been good and really great to the fans. But they need some help with their game Santa. They even changed their name from the Young Gunz to the Young Onez for the kids. Well and because the NBA apparently thinks Gunz are not a politically correct toy anymore or nickname. Just ask the franchise in Washington about that.

If you could tell Amir not to foul as much and Sonny and Demar to take less jumpers that would be great to. Maybe promise them really cool gifts next year if they do. Now on to our friends from other lands, too many to have photos of.

  • Andrea Bargnani- How about a trampoline to help him jumper higher and maybe get a rebound.
  • Jose Calderon- We have been asking you this for long time but anything that makes him faster so he can stay in front of all those quick kids in the NBA
  • Linas Klezia- Really just anything you got that can help this guy out would be great.
  • Solomon Alabi- Playing Time Santa he gets none.
  • Peja - Some thing nice for when he leaves us. After all his contract is going to give us lots of money next year.
  • Leandro Barbosa- A nice DNB Elf told me I forgot him. He is from Brazil and I am pretty sure Steve Nash never gave Canadian Winter justice, so how about a Parka Santa to keep him warm.

Who else is left don't want to forget anyone like last year with Marcus Banks. Oh.... how about Ed Davis. He needs a weight room with lots of weights. He could use a few pounds unlike us Santa. Reggie Evans needs to share some of that milk people leave you to help make the bones in his foot heal faster.

There is also Julian Wright and Joey Dorsey... what do they need. PT that is what they need. They want to play just like all the other kids. Why is Triano being such a Grinch to them? It isn't fair Santa. Oh and I almost forgot one of our newest Raptors. Jerryd Bayless he seems like a nice kid. if you can help him not turnover the ball so much that would be great. We really like him aside from that.

As for Jay Triano and Bryan Colangelo. Well they need help Santa. I admit we are not always the nicest when we talk about these two. So anything you can do to help them make this team better we will take.

While for Raptors fans. We just want some Fu...Frigging Wins Santa!!!... and maybe some patience would help us all too. If you had anything to do with the win in Detroit... thanks for that. Not sure if you can make any of these things happen. But when you are a Raptor fan you have to have a lot of hope and faith. So... I have faith in you Santa to get the job done.

Oh shoot I almost forgot:

That is Candice from our Dance Pak. Kat and her and all the rest of the Dance Pak are good girls. Whatever they ask for... just give it to them Santa they have earned it. So that is about it. Hope all is well, and if you can make the Lakers beat the Heat by 20 on Christmas Day that would be great too. Have a Merry Christmas and all of us Raptors fans will try to be good....well except for February 16th....we can't promise to be good on that day.

Happy Holidays

The Dino Blogger, James Borbath

P.S- Also check out this little guy:

That is Kid Raptor he is the little one. For all the little kids like him that want basketballs and jerseys and stuff... hook them up Santa!!!We need all the basketball fans we can get up here in Canada!!!