Another good game, another tough loss. The Raptors are making an art of entertaining their fans, while still losing enough to stay in the Anthony Davis hunt. As usual, a few thoughts on the game and then some quotes I couldn’t get in to my story.
- DeMar DeRozan really needed that game after being a no-show too often of late. I keep harping on this, but he needs to be that aggressive player in order to succeed. He also took better control of the ball, which is needed since he can’t be turning it over off of strips 1-3 times every night.
- You have to appreciate the Spurs. Nobody ever pays any attention to them, yet all they do is win. Tony Parker: “We are nine in a row so if nobody talks about us, that’s good, we’ll keep playing good basketball.”
- Definitely some strange units out there. Dwane Casey said he was searching for offence with Bargnani, Bayless and Kleiza out. That left more defensive-minded players like James Johnson benched. He said he gave the red hot DeRozan a long break because of the back-to-back. Thought DeRozan would be able to give more down the stretch if he did that.
- Anthony Carter looked finished earlier this year, but now has found his game and is contributing.
- This team sure finds novel ways to lose eh? Five second call one night, two hands on the ball another. A foul out of bounds …
- The Raptors need to have better court awareness and stop taking a ton of offensive fouls. Too many Raptors are charging into opponents and it hurt them on Wednesday.
- Amir Johnson had been struggling mightily to hit mid-range jump shots this season, but he was nailing them on Wednesday
ONE OF A KIND
Metta World Peace one game, Popovich, the next? As a reporter, you can’t beat that.
The irascible Popovich is always a riot. With a dry, quick wit, Pop mixes bemusement with frustration as well as anybody.
He had some gems before the game:
To a larger crowd of media than he is used to: “It’s Toronto and San Antonio, take a break.”
On whether Cory Joseph should have stayed longer at Texas: “What am I, the answer man?”
On Joseph’s biggest challenge: “(Said dryly and in a short manner) “He’s a rookie.”
Some quotes on Joseph:
“I don’t try to put pressure on myself, I just try to focus on the gameplan, play hard and let everything decide itself.
(Talks to Tristan about once a week). Only had like a week of training camp. Wanted me to get some game experience. Everybody looks at the D-League like it’s a bad thing, but Austin’s a good thing for me. Good coaching staff. (Soak up) A whole lot. Decision-making, what decisions I should do within the system. Just try to soak up as much as possible. Anybody can play in this league just given the opportunity.
(Watch Texas?) Obviously I miss it, but I’m happy where I am now. I watch them a couple of times when I’m able to. Hopefully they can win this next couple of games to solidify themselves in the tournament. That would make me happier.
Talk to Myck. Tell him to run your team, make sure you get the wins.”
“They played them all the way to the end. Just tough games for Toronto.
If we play like that, move the ball great and everybody’s healthy, we have a good chance to go all the way.
We played basketball all season long then TD got hurt and Manu went down the last game (last year).
On Cory: It’s tough as a point guard he’s not playing that much and we don’t practise so it’s tough for him to get some minutes because he doesn’t know the system, he doesn’t know the plays and Pop, sometimes he calls plays he didn’t call for 10 games. I’ve been here 11 years so I know the plays, so it’s tough for Cory. When you’re a point guard and you have a coach like Pop, you need practice time and you need to know all the plays and right now we never practice, we just rest, play, rest, play. He’s talented, we just have to be patient with him.”
“Health is an important thing in this league and when you don’t have it you search. Tonight I was searching for any group that could help us.
This is a difficult team to play. We’ve played three emontional games, and I think our team competed in each of them. My hat is off to our guys because I think they competed and any basketball person, in seeing who we have in the floor, talked about how we competed.
That’s important to me, to the organization going forward. It’s going to help us once we get our program on the right spot. We want to continue this culture of playing hard, competing and putting yourself in position to win. What we have to do is execute … executing down the stretch. The game within the game (double dribble, holding call even though he was out of bounds). All the young guys need to learn how to play in those situations.”
“DeRozan. His major challenge this summer is going to be getting in the weight room, getting bigger, getting stronger. (Looking at Kobe and LeBron) looking at how big and strong those guys are and keeping the athleticism.”
“Good for psyche? No question. We don’t want to be satisfied with close, but with the growth that we’re making against the top teams (without top scorers), my hat is off to the guys who competed. The guys took up the slack.”