It’s amazing how much can go on in 24 hours. Lately work has turned my world upside down and it has been hard to find a spare minute. It was just yesterday AM that I told Franchise I would write the re-cap (much to his surprise) but that I would probably have to tape the game and watch it late night. At the time I was thinking there shouldn’t be much to write about anyway because the Raps should take this one in a walk.
During the day I pondered the significance of the Raps 1000th game. The final conclusion was two fold. The first was that although it was a milestone this was nothing that significant. Second, TSN in lieu of the 1000th game proved for the 1000th time that it should not be covering basketball (Matt Bonner on the All-time Raps team?!). Nevertheless, I figured I would talk about the easy win and how the Raps were really getting their act together.
Well a few things happened between then and now. The first event was that I was graciously offered courtside seats. I have never sat on the floor and this was an experience not soon to be forgotten. Some of the noteworthy activity included the lead singer of Alexis On Fire and his date Leah Miller (dead beat) the Much Music VJ looking like they would have had more fun pulling out each others fingernails then watching a basketball game, sitting near CB4's girlfriend (seriously she must have called him "baby" 300 times over the course of the game and apparently had some inside joke with Josh Powell about muffins), and getting to listen to these guys talk on the floor. Hearing the guys trash talk and communicate while playing D is amazing although I have to mention that I couldn’t understand a thing Chris Kaman was saying....although no-one seemed to understand what that dude was talking about because I think cave-man stopped being an internationally recognized language 2000 years ago.
The other big change over the past 24 hours is that now I have to write about how the Raps soiled the bed against a weak and very shorthanded Clippers team rather than how they marched towards another victory. Right off the bad I have to say that this was a horrific loss. Just brutal and here’s why.
First, the Raps did a horrible job against Mr. Maggette. Early on it was clearly evident that the former Dukie had it going on and was feeling it. Yet nevertheless the Raps left Maggette open for easy shots and defenders were consistently late on their rotations. If you wonder why Raps fans dream about having Maggette at the three spot now you know why. Not only was Maggette feeling it from the outside but he got to the line 13 times! In the first half he couldn’t miss yet the Raps for some reason didn’t seem to think that double teaming his was a good idea. Mitchell did a poor job adjusting on this evening. But this folks is not why this was a bad loss...
Despite Maggette’s solid performance this game was actually won when he was on the bench. From the latter stages of the third quarter up to the 5 minute mark of the fourth Coach Dunleavy kept Maggette off the floor yet it was during this same period of time that the Clips went on their run. During this stretch the ageless one Cuttino Mobley and Al Thornton took over on the offensive end. Of course it’s not like Mobley or Thornton were unconscious. The run was the result of the Raps sticking to "Plan A".
Ahhh.....Plan A. It can be described in two words - Jump Shot. Unlike the game against Miami the Raps were having a tough time finding their stroke and once again there was no Plan B. Having no Plan B is simply unacceptable. Despite numerous opportunities to tie or take the lead in the game late the Raps simply would not stop shooting from the outside. It was like the Toronto team was allergic to the rim. Possession after possession the Raps would jack-up a 15-20 footer to no avail. Meanwhile on the other end the Clips, in particular the aforementioned Al Thornton, were attacking at every opportunity. What made this even more frustrating was that the Raps had the Clippers in the bonus early on in the fourth. It wasn’t that the Raps had to get to the hoop and score, they just needed to get fouled.
I must ask, how does BC think this approach is going to work, in particular in the playoffs? This team clearly needs a player on the wing that can create his own shot and get to the rim. Objectively when you look at this team you would think that it would be Jamario Moon but for whatever reason he is hesitant to attack on a regular basis. I’m not sure if it’s because this Toronto team is a little soft, or whether it’s just a skill set this team is missing on the perimeter. Either way this needs to be addressed soon whether by trade or in the draft.
Now there are some positives to take from the game. To me the most refreshing thing to see was the play of Andrea on the defensive end. Quite to the contrary of what one poster believes Bargs did a fantastic job on this evening against Kaman. Despite the fact that Kaman had a double-double, down the stretch Bargs was solid against this much improved big man. He held his position, didn’t leave his feet and didn’t give Kaman any easy hoops. There is no doubt that Bargs, like many others, was guilty of settling from the jump shot, but seeing solid defense against such a solid player is a very good sign.
The other big positive was the return of TJ Ford to his home court. The crowd game his a solid standing ovation when he checked into the game. Ford was also solid in his 12 minutes of game action handing out 6 assists.
Last, a big props to Purolator and the Raps who donated 100 pounds of food to the Daily Food Bank for each rebound grabbed by the Raps.
Nevertheless it is hard not to have a bad taste in your mouth after this loss. In fact, it was not until after having completed this recap I realized I didn’t stick to our usual format. The loss really makes me question whether we are not destined for another first round loss. Even watching a rookie school CB4 down the stretch made me wonder what we can expect when the "second season" comes around.
If one thing is for sure it’s that this was a game that got away and in a tight battle for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs one that could come back to bite the Raps.